Where did four selvedge warping come from?

Four selvedge warping for tapestry is something I've been interested in for years. I've followed the adventures of weavers such as Susan Martin Maffei, Michael Rohde, Tommye Scanlin, and especially Sarah C. Swett as they used this technique in their work.

As Sarah Swett and I were shooting the video for our Fringeless: Four Selvedge Warping online class, Sarah talked some about how four selvedge weaving has changed the way she practices her craft. Listen in the video below.

I believe that Susan Martin Maffei was one of the first people to use this concept in the USA in contemporary work--at least she was the one who taught the people who taught me. If you want to go to the source, Susan teaches this technique in her video series (also done with Archie Brennan). The DVD series is called Woven Tapestry Techniques and can be purchased HERE.

I have a strong suspicion that four selvedge tapestry warping as practiced today came to us from Andean weavers over many centuries. Andean textiles frequently contain discontinuous warp and it is a short jump from there to making a tapestry with three discontinuous warps where you only weave on the center one... which is exactly the process that I am using to weave four selvedge tapestry today.

Michael Rohde and Sarah C. Swett both learned four selvedge techniques from Susan and they modified her technique a little bit to use a jig for consistency of size. With a simple jig it is easy to produce multiple tapestries of identical size.

You can find out more about Fringeless on my website and you'll find three different trailer videos about it HERE (super short), HERE (a little longer), and HERE (the one above). Registration is open and the class content will all be available July 9th.

Making a jig is not a difficult thing. I have heard more people than I expected express doubt that they can manage this piece of the process and I want to say that you CAN make a jig. There are a couple different ways you can do it. You can use straps or string and a couple of sturdy sticks or you can make one out of PVC pipe quite easily. Have a little confidence in yourself. You just have to be able to buy a length of PVC pipe, purchase one simple tool, measure the lengths, and push them together on Ts that you get at the hardware store. I'll show you how to do this in the course, but the photo below shows you what will need. 

Simple cutting tool which is NOT sharp for PVC and copper pipe. All you do is tighten and rotate.

Still don't believe you can do this?

How about this.

I'll post a short video on my YouTube channel in a few days showing you how to build  a PVC jig. If that doesn't convince you, nothing will. Of course you can also "make" a jig out of two sticks and six straps or strong pieces of string.

It is so easy to throw up roadblocks for ourselves. Don't let this particular excuse be the one that keeps you from trying something new.

A special opportunity: win a tapestry by Sarah C. Swett

Sarah wove three small pieces during the filming of this course. She would like to have a drawing to give them away and the first drawing will be on July 10th for everyone who registered for the course before midnight MST on July 9th. So get your early bird price and you'll automatically have a chance to win a tapestry woven by Sarah.