How Are Tapestries Woven? Once only the preserve of privileged and affluent members of society, tapestry wall–hangings are no longer confined to the owners of grand houses, stately homes and palaces.
Modern weaving techniques now make it possible to reproduce in exquisite detail these beautiful decorative and historical works of art, making them accessible to everyone in a wide range of subjects and at affordable prices.
Three different stages are involved in the weaving process. As the first stage, a designer creates the artwork [cartoon] for a new tapestry from an original or museum illustration. Once the finished artwork is approved, it is interpreted into a technical design called a ‘mise en carte’. From this technical artwork, a Jacquard is produced. This is a series of perforated cards, a system invented in 1804 by Joseph Jacquard [1752-1834] enabling intricate designs to be mechanically woven.
Then the weaving loom is set up. This process is known as ‘warping’ and is a lengthy and delicate operation, involving the attachments of approximately 12,000 horizontal warp threads to the corresponding number of vertical-heddles. When the Jacquard card has been placed on the loom, the trial process may now begin. The warp yarns run from the back to the front of the loom, while the shuttles carry the weft yarns across the loom from side to side. Each of the perforations on the Jacquard card will activate the movement of the warp threads, allowing the weft yarns in the shuttle to pass correctly between the warps, thereby creating the design. Once an acceptable trial result has been achieved, the weaving process can begin.
The weaving process requires much skill & attention to detail. A weaver has various tasks to fulfil in overseeing the operation of a loom. His skills include placing the correct weft spools in the shuttles & renewing them when necessary, also controlling the weaving tensions. The weft yarns are carefully selected from a vast range of shades, in order to achieve the desired tones in the tapestry.
Developments in Weaving
Along with hand painted ‘mise en carte’ cartoons, computerisation is now being used. Although digital scanning is used, designers have to modify & enhance the designs before completion.
In addition to the traditional looms, new electronic manufactured by the Dornier group [Germany] have been set up. The use compact disks to replace the Jacquard punch cards, giving more flexibility and consistency to production.
The majority of our tapestries are woven In the Flanders region of France/Belgium. After the weaving production the tapestry panels are carefully checked, cut into individual designs then made up in our own workshops in.