I once made many notes about rigid heddle looms, thinking of writing a book, but then Sprang took over!
Recently looking at those notes, (as I am trying to organise my so called archive) I see details and diagrams which I derived from a reproduction of a painting called Sagrada Familia by Martin Torner, about 1460 (in Collection Villalonga, Palma de Majorca). I regret that I did note record the name of the art book in which I found this picture.
It shows a small frame loom about 18 inches wide. The warp is wound around a fairly thick beam and passes through a fixed rigid heddle then over a breast beam as in a normal loom. The strange thing is that the completed band then passes back to the warp beam, around which it is wound in the OPPOSITE direction to the warp! So turning the warp beam both releases new warp and winds on the completed band simultaneously.
Of course there would be tension problems due to warp take-up. These are neatly overcome as follows. As the band leaves the breast beam, en route to the warp beam, it is allowed to sag down almost to floor level, and this part is held under tension with a weight, hooked over the band. So the band leaves the breast beam, angles downwards to the weight, then upwards to be wound onto the warp beam. As weaving proceeded and the warp take-up makes itself felt, this weight would obviously slowly rise; but the tension would remain constant.
Incidentally, the painting shows the shuttle being entered by the right hand from the far side of the warp, while the left hand pushes down the already-woven band close to the fell to create the shed. All in all a very informative painting.
Does anyone know more about this very ingenious arrangement?
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Updated May 2, 2000
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