Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Saturday, August 14, 2010

bead twining basics or you too can charge $900 for string and beads

I’ve been finger weaving since the late 1990’s (god I feel old now) but along with finger weaving I’ve been interested in just about all aspects of natïve weaving used during the 18th century be it the oblique weave, braiding or twining. One type of weaving that I have found really enjoyable is the Bead Twining method. This type of weave can be seen on a number of pieces collected in the south east during the 18th century as well as some items from the Northern part of the country. Items ranging from powder horn straps, hair garters, belts to garters still exist in collections being made using this technique.
Before I go on I need to clarify one debate about this type of weave.. You can do this type of weave without any loom. You simply use your fingers to twist the warp cords onto the proper weave. Another type can be done using a heddle loom and you can see the warp cord being passed up and down over the warp. One thing I have found is you can with practice do the same weave without a heddle. You simply use your fingers as the heddle and not twist the weft cords. If you get more into this type of weaving and look at original items you can see just what I’m talking about.
Back to the show…ok lets try a simple hair garter to start with. This garter is based off an example from a private collection as well as a piece attached to the “scalp hat” in Aberdeen ,Scotland. In Smith’s narrative this may be the “narrow beaded garter” he mentions being wrapped around a piece of his scalp lock. So to start you need: 6 pieces of 2 ply yarn about a foot long, a lot of white beads (6/0 to 8/0) and about a yard of linen thread attached to a narrow needle and a narrow dowel rod
Step 1. Attach your yarn to the dowel rod. You know all 6 pieces near the top of them and wrap them around the dowel rod.

Step 2 tie your linen thread to the dowel rod and put 2 beads on the thread. You then separate the 6 threads on your index finger (3 on the front 3 on the back) and pass the thread between these threads. You then give the first two threads a half twist, the second two a half twist and the last pair a half twist. This locks the 2 beads in between each set of threads.

Step 3 You pass the weft with two beads back thru the warp strands and twist each pair of warps over the weft. AND repeat!!! It’s that simple.

To finish off the garter I simply take the weft thread and pass it back and forth thru the last 2-3 rows of baeds and then cut the weft flush to the warps. i'll post some detailed pix later when i get my hands on a better camera

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