Sunday, June 14, 2009

DIY: Native American Mat Loom

I am so excited about this native american craft project, cause not only was the mat loom freakishly easy to build and use - but it was free & works so well we've already made a few bad ass floor mats since yesterday! This primitive loom requires more then one person to operate because of it's size - 2 peeps or more is good.

We built ours out of bamboo since that's what's growing around the house - some other type of wood or rods could be used also. The other materials you'll need are some kind of twine (string, fabric strips, hemp, jute, or whateva' floats ya boat) and something to make your mat out of (vines, grass, hay, bamboo husks, corn husks, cattails, dried reeds, ect...)
Step one: Hammer in six 3 ft high poles in a straight line- each one being 6 inches apart (Like in the pic above).
Step two: Hammer in two more 3 ft. poles 6 feet across from the other 6 poles. These should be totally even with the other poles creating a perfect imaginary rectangle (kinda looking like a tiny bed). VERY tightly tie on a cross bar to the two poles (as shown in the pic below).
Step three: You'll need 12 pieces of twine total. Tie the first six from the cross bar to each pole in the line of 6 (see pic below.)
Step four: Tie the remaining 6 pieces from the cross bar to another pole, stick, or rod (AKA "movable warp") - (see pics below of the process for reference, this is the thing that'll move up and down). These pieces need to be tied much further out then the poles because that twine will be used in making the mat - if your loom is 6 feet then tie the "movable warp" twine about 10 feet long.
We used bamboo husks that fall from new bamboo shoots and organic cotton fabric scraps tied together. The possibilities are endless with what materials to use, so check and see what's available around your house.
Step one: One person needs to operate the "movable warp" (the part that moves up and down), and another person starts at the opposite end by shoving in the husks. Working with me here is Nikki and Bort - they are placing the husks in between the organic cotton strings and holding them tight while the "movable warp" stays up. Once it's in, the "movable warp" comes down. Pulling it very tight and firm, which weaves the husks into place.
Step two: This is how it goes...hold warp up and shove in husks...hold warp down to the ground and shove in husks...hold it up and shove in more husks...hold it down and shove in husks...
Keep repeating this with steady flow.
What happens is as you build on this pattern you'll see your mat quickly being woven - it isn't a long or hard process and it's especially fun to do while listening to the classic rock station on the radio. ;)
Step three: Once you get to the end of your loom, all that needs to be done is cutting the strings and tie off the ends. Cut them loose from the cross bar and from the "movable warp" like in the pic below.
This is what the mat looks like in the raw before trimming the edges to be uniform and straight. Me and Nikki are the farm hand version of Vanna White... Ta-da (the sounds of wind chimes and wheels of fortune!)
If it's good enough for Toots, then it's good enough for me. I am sitting on this soft cushy mat as I type this blog. :) Yay!



Meg said...

Now that is super cool. Perfect for yoga, and relaxed floor dinners. As well as making you home deco so natural and chic.

Leslie @ the oko box said...

Thanks Meg-!!
I think if i piled two together it would make a good sleeping mat, camping mat, etc... I sit on it everyday now while i type on my computer, and lay on it when i am tired during the day- i love it!
plus it's chem free & natural - no smells or outgassing involved. :)