With an Awful Lot of Gusto

With a bit more understanding, and an awful lot of gusto, I set to work restoring the loom. My internal archaeologist told me that I needed to take detailed photos with scales in black-and-white, medium-format film in order to properly record the state of each piece before I irrevocably changed it. With this done, I separated the pieces that were sound from those that needed serious work, and at random chose the most difficult piece of the whole restoration: the right-hand cape. Its ends were fine, but insects had chewed and bored through the wane present in the middle of the piece on two faces.

I cut a 1/4"-deep grave (recess for a patch) from one face and a 1/2"-deep grave on the other face, both measuring about 3-1/2' long. With this done, I had removed material without a clear solution in mind – a solution I would not find until returning to it as the very last piece to be restored.

Luckily, the other side of this same rail was also chewed, so the next day I was back at it. This time I opted to try my hand at a tricky scarf joint, just to challenge myself. I had been using a rasp across the end grain of the abutment to get it dead flat, but no matter how much or little I rasped, I was not getting the fit I wanted. Then the lightbulb went on: I should line up the two pieces and cut a saw kerf to even out the shoulders. The remaining damaged rails saw similar treatment, and with a new-to-me trick up my sleeve, I was off to the races.

–Nevan Carling, excerpt from “Warp & Weft: Weaving Academic Research with Handcraft in the Restoration of a Loom,” in Issue Eleven


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