Archaeologists tell us that people have been weaving things for more than 20,000 years. Since fibers decompose over time, remains of ancient weavings are rare, and most artifacts are things like spear points and pottery. Sometimes ancient people used a simple, portable loom and other times just their hands. Early people wove fabrics, floor mats, baskets, and even roof structures for early homes such as pit dwellings. And what about fences?
It can be very exciting for children to know these things and to be a part of such an ancient art form, especially when they can do it simply, like our ancient ancestors did. Simple looms are easy to build and your children can fill hours of time, inside, outside, on the road, weaving anything and everything into their projects. Here are the instructions. Have fun!
Materials for Your Simple Frame Loom
Total Cost – about $11 – $12.00 / Total Time – about 1-3 hours depending
- Two pieces 3/4″ thick x 1.5″ wide x 11″ long
- Two pieces 3/4″ x 1.5″ x 16″
- These four pieces can be cut from a planed six foot 1″x2″ board that you can get from a lumber seller. Look for a high quality one to avoid warps and knots. You might even get them to cut it for you if you ask.
- COST – One six foot board about $5.50.
- Gorilla Wood Glue is rated high and doesn’t foam. Ask around. I like Gorilla Wood Glue because it dries slower than epoxy and gives you time to fine tune the overlapping pieces. Let it set up for a few minutes and when it gets more sticky you can make final adjustments so that your frame is even and square.
- COST – 8oz. bottle about $3.50.
- Flat, thin piece of wood to use as the shed stick – 1/4″ thick x about 2″ wide x 12″ long. A paint stir stick can do a fine job with modification. The shed stick needs to be as long as the loom is wide. COST – free
- You need a carpenter’s square to help you get all four corners as square to each other as possible. Or a square corner of a room or workbench. You can be creative but make sure whatever you use is square. COST – borrow one or improvise.
- Small, skinny flat head wood screws – #6 screws 1″1/4 is a good size. COST – 4 for $1.25. (OPTIONAL – see below)
- Access to a drill with a small bit. COST – borrow one or skip this step. (OPTIONAL)
- Fine grit sandpaper. COST – 1 sheet $.80
- Sand your wood pieces a bit to get rid of any rough spots. Don’t forget the ends where little slivers hang out.
- Set up all four wood pieces with the short ones on top of the long ones and line up the corners. This makes a rectangle and the pieces will be lying flat, not on their edges.
- Lift up each short piece, one at a time, and glue it to the long pieces. Use enough glue to make it stick well but try not to let it ooze out. You can spread it with a Q-tip and if there is a bit of ooze it can be wiped off with a wet cloth, cut away later with an exact knife or sanded off. Make sure the loom frame corners are very square so it isn’t lopsided.
- Weight the corners down with a big heavy book, for about 30 minutes, then let it finish setting up according to the directions.
- Once this is completely dry, you can screw the corners for more security. Best to pre-drill the holes with a fine bit and be sure to use screws that are small and won’t go through to the other side. Small screws are also less likely to split the wood. I put the screws on the front but the back side will work well, too. If you can’t get your hands on a drill then skip the screws. Just make sure you have done a good job with your gluing. NOTE: After using these looms for awhile, both with and without the screws, I see no need to screw the corners together. The glue makes them very sturdy, plenty sturdy. In the future I won’t screw them at all – just Gorilla glue! If I discover a problem in the future I will edit this post.
- “What’s this?” you say? I’ll tell you more about it in the next post, Frame Loom Weaving.
- Sand the ends so the corners to round the corners nicely. This will take a few important minutes to make sure that your shed stick slides smoothly through the warp yarns. You can oil the stick very lightly and wipe it well before you use it. Over time it will develop a soft surface from you handling it and you will treasure it. .
That’s it! Now, you can stain or oil or paint your loom, or just leave it natural and let the patina build over time. Wouldn’t this make a great birthday gift for one of your children’s friends?!
In the next post, Art With the Kids – Frame Loom Weaving, I will show you how to set up the warp threads, how to get started, and how to finish a project.