Commercially availableare mostly evenly coated basic woven and knit structures. There is nothing fancy, distinct or particularity interesting about their aesthetic appeal. They are metallic, shiny and uniform. What if you could weave your own conductive fabrics. For one you could tailor the electrical properties of the fabric to your own designs, and for another you could add colour, texture, patterns and aesthetic qualities to the material. This post goes over an example of weaving your own to incorporate some of these elements.
This post covers the process of weaving based on three different setups: a hand loom, a computerized hand loom and an industrial jacquard loom.
The following is not meant to be read as step-by-step instructions, rather it is documentation of a particular process that gives an overview.
Weaving on The Hand Loom
Front and back of a string of sample pieces woven on the hand loom.
Using The Computerized Hand Loom
Software: Weavepoint >> http://www.weavepoint.com/
Working with the Industrial Jacquard Loom
Software: PC Weave, PC Edit
Software: ScottWeave >> http://www.scotweave.com/about/a-scotweave-timeline/
The process of creating a weaving pattern with PC Weave, a terribly inflexible software. The newer version of the software, called Scottweave looks to be much better and has a more intuitive workflow.
Design your Pattern
When you think about designing a textile pattern you have the end-result in mind. But to get from the pattern you have in mind to a fabric you have to deconstruct your pattern into the threads and bindings it will be made up of.
This step is almost impossible to do thoughtfully before you have run through the whole process and experienced what the results of a pattern you have made are. So don’t worry if this step does not make sense right away.
Basically what you need to plan, in order to turn your pattern into a weaving pattern is how the threads you plan to use in your fabric with weave in and out of the warp to create the different colours and textures you have in mind.
Bindings are noted in the following format, where black indicates the warp thread and white the weft thread. On the right side of the binding notation you can note which weft thread is being addressed, because you might be using multiple different colours.
Here are examples of three different bindings. The first is an 8-shaft binding (because it repeats every 8 wefts) that addresses only one thread. Despite the fact that the second two bindings are 16 squares high, thtey are also 8-shaft bindings because every other row addresses a different thread. The thread addressed is indicated by the black square to the left of the binding pattern.
Here is an image taken from the Scottweave website that might help give a better idea of what the binding patterns represent.
Create the Pattern in Illustrator
Once you have a rough idea of how bindings will influence your design pattern you can start to create a weaving design of your original design. This entails dividing your design into areas that will have different binding patterns, while they may optically look like the same surface.
based on your Use colours to differentiate not just your resulting pattern but how you will have to divide the pattern up into different bindings. Use different colours to differentiate areas that will be made up of different bindings. These colours do not represent the final design.
Create your Bindings
I found it convenient to label my pattern and then go and design the bindings for the different areas.
The following illustration shows the binding patterns with the bindings coloured in to match the different types of threads i want to use.
Legend of thread colours:
Once you have imported your pattern into the weaving software it will allow you to map different bindings to the different colour areas of your pattern, resulting in something like this.
Open in PC Weave
To open your pattern design in the weaving software you first want to make sure the image is RGB and does not have any anti-aliasing between colour fields.
When exporting your pattern from Illustrator, select high resolution, RGB colour and un-tick the anti-alias check-box. Then open your Pattern in Photoshop to further reduce any anti-aliasing that still might have occured. In Photoshop select Image –> Mode –> Indexed Colour. And then copy your image to your clipboard (select All >> Copy).
Open PC weave and it will automatically open the image stored on your clipboard.
Weave. In PC Weave rescale your image depending on the types of bindings, thickness of your threads and setup of the machine you are weaving on (this knowledge comes from experience). If necessary reduce colours to only the number of colours you have in your file.
Assign bindings to the colours you used in your pattern and then PC Weave can create a weaving pattern from your file.
The weaving pattern will look somewhat like this. On the left side of the pattern the grid is left blank. This is where you can now go back in and assign which thread gets used in which part of the binding. Not the most user-friendly software. And if you want to make any changes, you have to repeat this whole process of importing, rescaling and assigning binding patterns again.
Front and back of fabric.
Barbara Layne >> http://subtela.hexagram.ca/CV.html
Maggie Orth’s woven thermochromic displays >> http://www.maggieorth.com/
Lynne Bruning’s Instructables >> http://www.instructables.com/member/Lynne+Bruning/
Elin Igland’s Work:
Woven piano hanging >> http://ateliernord.no/prosjektarkiv/soft-technology/soft-technology-pa-galleri-314/elin-igland/
Jaquard Woven Synthesizer
OS LOOM >> http://www.osloom.org/
Ilan Moyer’s loom >> http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=3500