rigid heddle loom review

18 09 2008

In order to do this, I want to preface it by saying the Harp is not reviewed.  So if you are looking for that review, you won’t read the whole post looking for it.  The rigid heddle looms I have used and am familiar with are the Beka, Leclerc Bergere, Leclerc Penelope II, Schacht, and Ashford.

The simplest is the Beka.  It’s a very rudimentary loom.  It’s a very simple design, inexpensive and easy to assemble. I like the Beka because it’s an inexpensive way to have rigid heddle looms to take from art center to art center without renting a larger vehicle.  They are lightweight, and graceful looking.  If you have never used any other type of loom, or any other rigid heddle loom, you may be satisfied for a while. They are too rudimentary for me to use for long.  As a result, I don’t use them for the art centers anymore.  The block that holds the rigid heddle up, or down, is just that, a block of wood, as a result, the heddle slips off a good deal.  I also don’t find it comfortable as a lap loom.  I just doesn’t rest well against the table, and if tilted, the rigid heddle is even less likely to stay in the up or down position.  If you have the money for a better loom, don’t spend your money here. This loom should cost approx $110 for a 20″, and $127 for a 24′ .  Included equipment are 2 stick shuttles, a pickup stick, and a threading hook.  Be aware: No warping device is included!

Schacht rigid heddle looms Schacht is an ok lap loom.  Again, it’s very rudimentary, streamline, and graceful looking. It’s very light weight, and easy to travel with.  I like the Schacht for the same reason I liked the Beka.  I also like the fact that Schact notches the block that holds the rigid heddle up, or down.    As you know, anything with the Schacht name is not “economy” priced. I dislike it because it is rather an economy loom,by design, yet at nearly twice the price of the Beka. The warp brake is tightened by screwing the block on the back beam, which allows slippage, leading to frustration in my classes.  So between the price, and the slippage, I don’t use Schacht. It comes with a clamp, warping peg, stick shuttle, and threading hook. Generally, these looms cost approx $180 for a 20″ loom, and $200 for a 25″ loom.

Ashford has a nice looking loom.  It’s a lot like the harp without the warping board attached.  I thought I was really going to like it.  It looks rather modern with it’s colorful ratchets and it’s wonderful instruction booklet. Another nice thing about this loom, is that the craftsmanship is quality.  The looms are soundly constructed, finished nicely, and fairly well designed.  The very best feature of the Ashford Rigid Heddle looms, is the clear, instruction manual that accompanies the looms.  A full color instruction booklet that is nearly failsafe is priceless for self-taught beginners.  This is a wonderful feature!  For some reason, however, I find the ratchet/dog system failed me several times, and winding on the warp is not a simple task, because the loom doesn’t have a crank on the warp beam.  All of the above mentioned looms are simple in design, and structurally should make very good lap looms.  I found this one is the best lap loom. It rests easily on the table, and the heddle stays firmly in place when the warp is sufficiently tight.The 24″ runs about 165.00 and it comes with 2 stick shuttles, 2 threading hooks, a clamp, and the precious INSTRUCTIONS!

Leclerc Bergere is a tabletop rigid heddle loom.  It has metal ratchets, and dogs, handles to wind the warp on, and the rigid heddle securely rests in the notched “castle post”.  It’s a more complex design than the aforementioned rigid heddle looms in that it is raised off the table by legs, and has a castle type device for the heddle, rather than simply a support block.  It comes with a styrene boat shuttle, 2, 28″ long stick shuttles, metal lea sticks, a set of 2 warping blocks (each has 2 pegs for creating a cross in your warp), and warp sticks with cord.  As you can see, this is a loom, and if you want to learn the entire process of warping, this is a great place to start.  You get a lot of equipment for a weaving studio, and a very good table top rigid heddle loom.  I really like this loom.  It’s good for me because as an instructor who travels to art centers(that don’t own looms) to teach, I can take a loom that I can actually teach the entire process of dressing a loom on, and it translates to the student’s floor loom also, because the loom is designed to be dressed back to front like a floor loom.  The rigid heddle rests firmly in the notches, and there is a ‘rest’ position for threading it.  it travels well with the loom warped by simply putting rubber bands around the joint where the rigid heddle rests in the castle post.  It comes with a very clear, though instruction booklet that will easily get a beginner started with the loom, and with some elemental tapestry techniques.  However, what I don’t like, is that it is not graceful and complact.  It doesn’t have a simple design, and really isn’t a lap loom.  Also, although I like Leclerc looms a lot, the craftsmanship on the older Leclerc looms is better.  The craftsmanship on the loom is rudimentary.  At just $165, this 24″ loom stands head and shoulders above the others for my purposes. (best overall rigid heddle loom in this review)

Leclerc Penelope II is a rigid heddle tapestry loom.  It is weaves 22.5″ and works as an upright double rigid heddle loom.  It can be used with a single rigid heddle, but comes equipped with 2.  The craftsmanship is very good on this loom, the beams are braked with metal ratchets and dogs, the beams also have cranks for easy beaming of the warp.  As the loom is designed to be used vertically, the rigid heddle supports are designed to hold the heddles securely in this position.  The loom is designed to be warped with lea sticks, and in a ‘back to front’ fashion.  Again, this makes it a wonderful pre-cursor to a floor loom, if that is the direction the weaver is headed.  This loom gives very good tension on the warp, and is comfortable for a variety of tapestry techniques for tapestry, but is not an efficient loom as a substitute for plain weave, or pattern weaving quickly because of it’s upright position.  I’m very impressed with this loom.  It comes with tapestry bobbins, metal lea sticks, 2 warping blocks, which have 2 pegs each, for creating a cross in your warp, heddle hook, and 2 long stick shuttles.  Now, for the downside, it also comes with an instruction booklet that has instructions for the Penelope, but not the Penelope II.  As of the date of this review, I had not been able to get instructions from the company on how to use the 2nd rigid heddle with the loom, as the instructions are for a single rigid heddle design.  Thanks to Schacht for the clear instructions on how to thread a 2 heddle rigid heddle loom. What do I not like about this loom?  As I mentioned, it’s not for someone who wants to ‘crank out’ rigid heddle work. Other than that, I can’t come up with a single thing I don’t like. It’s definitely a rigid heddle loom for the tapestry weave, or a weaver who wants to do 4 harness work on a rigid heddle loom.  .  At $235, this loom is a bargain. (I own 5 of them, and am getting ready to order 3 more… mostly for teaching, but occassionally, for some ‘me’ time).Excellent loom

Bye for now.





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