Yesterday we assembled the antique barn loom that I purchased while at the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival. The loom has sat in the back of the truck since our return the end of September. With our last fall foliage Bed and Breakfast guests leaving on Saturday, we finally had time to devote to the loom. The previous owner had carefully disassembled the loom using blue tape to mark and label every joint so that we would know how to fit the pieces back together. Many exclamations could be heard as each piece slid into place. All of us found ourselves caressing the wood. After 150+/- years, it had been worn smooth by the many hands who had woven with it.
There is something magical about an antique. I become mesmerized thinking of the lives that have touched where my hands now lay. The warmth and wear of its wood tell of its hard use and it almost seems to come alive again knowing that it has fallen into someone’s home who will treasure it once again. We all became silent as we set the last piece in place, the seat where the weaver sits as he or she slides the shuttle back and forth, beating the weft yarn with the large beater bar. I could hardly wait to sit on the seat. I ran my hand along the smooth wood and slid my legs over the bench. As I climbed onto the bench, I pondered the lives of those who had sat where I now sat. I wondered if a little child had sat there with its mother or father while they wove, or had a grandmother woven her family a woolen blanket on the loom to keep them warm. I wondered where the loom was first used and how many pieces of cloth had been woven on it.
While I marveled all of these questions, my husband was running his hand over every section of the loom. His eyes scanned the golden brown wooden surface. His thoughts were not on the lives who had woven on the loom, but rather on the craftsman who had built the loom. “Look!” he exclaimed, “See that mark? The craftsman put that mark there when building the loom.” He marveled at how each part worked in relation to the entire loom. The levers, spokes, beveled edges, peg holes, and the mortise and tendon joints all tell the story of how the artist built the loom with meticulous care.
This antique loom, has found a new home in my fiber studio in our 150 year old barn. It brings warmth to the room, and the tells of the lives of many individuals who have woven on it and the individuals who have been clothed by its fabric or kept warm by its blankets.