The tour of the workshop took our group to two weaving areas - the first of these was concerned with weaving tapestries on basse-lisse (low looms) on which the warps are almost horizontal. Unfortunately we could not take photos inside but I have managed to find a picture online:
|David Cochrane weaving Easter Day, designed by William Crozier, 2009|
The tapestries being woven at Gobelins were very fine, with a high number of warps per inch. When I was there it seemed like a laborious process, with work progressing slowly. When I mentioned this to Jonathan Cleaver, one of the weavers at Dovecot, he said that in fact the low loom technique is supposed to be faster as it has a pedal system to bring the back warps to the front during weaving. Why did it seem so slow to me? I think the answer is to do with my perception than the French weavers' actual speed. Because of the use of mirrors the process seemed less fluid than the weaving I had witnessed previously - instead of glancing at the design, the weavers had to stop and place the mirror. It was an eye-opening experience and raised many more questions than I had thought it would.
The other area of the workshop was concerned with the weaving of Savonnerie rugs - you can see a picture on this blog. These are woven much like an upright tapestry, except the weft is looped around each warp, created a loop of yarn which is then trimmed with scissors to create the rug's surface.