The Creation of Tapestries

A Jacquard loom is a mechanical loom that was invented by Joseph-Marie Jacquard early in the 19th century. It revolutionized the way tapestries were woven and made the process much faster and easier. While it did help to automate the process, tapestries were still hand made. A Jacquard loom used a series of punch cards to control the weaving of each pattern. Before the Jacquard loom was invented, weaving a tapestry was a labor intensive process that relied on many experienced professionals to produce a tapestry and the process could take years. The Jacquard loom made it possible for weavers to concentrate on the creativity and quality of their designs. It also standardized weaving quality and made tapestries available to new markets. The Jacquard loom was the beginning of the mechanized production movement of tapestries and textiles.

The Jacquard loom uses a process that uses punch cards to control the sequence of weaving movements that otherwise would be done by hand. Tapestry weaving remained a complex process even with the Jacquard loom as there was still a lot of repetition as threads had to be continuously looped. The Jacquard loom did make the process easier, however, as it created the patterns out of the individual threads that otherwise would have to be woven by hand. The Jacquard loom automated much of the weaving process of individual threads and made creating a tapestry much easier than it had even been before.

The punch cards were the integral part of the weaving process of the Jacquard looms and allowed a weaver to create many tapestries with the pattern stored on the card. Because the cards controlled the pattern and could be reused, the weaving industry began to develop a degree of standardization in designs, patterns, and quality.

The Jacquard loom was the precursor to many later machines that automated repetitive tasks. It was discovered with the invention of the Jacquard loom that machines are better at repetitive tasks than humans but although the machines punch cards were responsible for weaving, the design and creativity that went into creating a tapestry remained the job of the artist. Perhaps the most important development of the Jacquard loom was taking the tapestry out of the realm of the rich and opening up the market to a class of people who could not previously afford hand woven tapestries.

Modern Jacquard looms have taken the automation process one step farther by using computers to store the information for a tapestry’s design which eliminates the need for punch cards altogether. Today jacquard looms are computer driven, but still create tapestries by weaving not by other methods such as silk screening.

Even modern Jacquard looms control only the weaving process, not the tapestry design. No two tapestries are ever the same because of the natural variations in all threads and textiles, even though the weaving process is automated. The unique nature of woven textiles is one of the reasons even modern tapestry wall hangings have such a high value and are prized today much in the same way as they were in the Middle Ages.

Published on September 4, 2009 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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