Monday, December 03, 2007

Tablet weaving - gold brocade

I've just begun my latest large commission, a tablet woven band based on the Anglo Saxon burials at Taplow. The band will not be an attempt at a true reconstruction, primarily because some assumptions have to be made with regards to the ground weave and the limitations of modern materials. It will, however, be a band based on available research and using the correct techniques.

The ground weave is a fine wool, hand-dyed with weld and indigo to create a nice green. The brocade weft is gilt plate - a flat metal strip as opposed to metal wraped around a core. The design is based on the analysis of the gold remaining in the ground, as shown in Cloth and Clothing - Early Anglo-Saxon England AD 450-700 (Penelope Walton Rogers).

I decided to use my very large inkle loom to warp this band, as opposed to my tablet weaving loom. Normally, I would work silk brocade by weighting the warp threads, but I am conscious of the fine wool breaking if it hangs for a long period of time (and as brocade is time-consuming for even the smallest band, that really is an issue!) My other concern was the use of the flat plate when winding any finished weave around a beam to move the weaving on. The flat plate marks so easily - imagine a piece of tin foil - the slightly thicker type - that is very similar to the plate. By using the inkle loom, the whole of the band can remain relatively flat and avoid most types of marking.

Tablet weaving - especially brocade, doesn't always work on an inkle loom. It really depends upon how much space you have for the tablets to turn. Because this is a large loom and I use very small tablets, it does work. But using the 'standard' of either doesn't usually, so if anyone fancies trying it, do a test first!

The picture is of the first piece of weaving - the flash if off so the picture is fairly dark, but the gold shines much better here (it looks black if the flash is on!)


  1. Wow! That looks absolutely amazing! The gilt plate is so...golden! Is it real gold, and in that case, where can I get some? :-)

  2. Thank you! The plate is gilt - gold on silver plated copper. It is No11 broad plate from Benton & Johnson, The gilt is more yellow than the photo, which has a bit of a red tint to it as the flash is off. It is lovely and shiny though! They do the same in 2%WM; the highest standard available for metal threads, but of course this is pricier!

  3. Stunning!
    Look forward to seeing it in person, I hope!

  4. wonderful work!

  5. It's very lovely and the green ground is coming through very nicely on my computer.

  6. Hello, Benton & Johnson's website is under maintenance, and the only gilt broad plate I can find is the No6. Do you know how this compares in size to the No11?

  7. Hi Laura
    No. 6 is 2mm wide, whilst No.11 is 1mm (give or take!) I hope that helps!

  8. Yes, thank-you, that is very helpfull, now if only I could find someone in the States who carries it; currenly my closest source is Austraila... lol

  9. I'm afraid I can't recommend anyone Laura, though I do know that B&J will send to the States, so maybe worth emailing them anyway?


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