11 May 2015

Infographics in 'Studies in Primitive Looms'

One time after work I wandered down the call numbers for Home Economics looking for a vegetarian cookbook and found Studies in Primitive Looms by H. Ling Roth. It is a survey of hand looms from around the world. Today hand-weaving isn't the primary way of producing textiles, but in some parts of the world these ages-old loom types are still widely used (e.g. the Andes). For craft weavers, I imagine non-western looms would have a lot of appeal because they would be easier to afford and store than traditional European looms.

The infographics in the book are clear and detailed. In the preface to my 1981 copy, it pays "grateful acknowledgement to ... the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute for the gift of the [printing] blocks" but doesn't say who the illustrator (or printer) is. Now on to the pretty pictures.


This diagram illustrates the basics of how a loom works and is presented at the beginning of the book. It helps readers understand almost every other graphic in the book.

This diagram could just have been written, but how much less clear would it be without the pictures?

Love the 3/4 views going on here. 

There are a couple of gorgeous illustrations of warped looms with a woven pattern that aren't as informative as some of the warping diagrams below. But I think they're actually more informative than photos: if I were trying to reconstruct this loom, I'd prefer this drawing to a photo. Another reason these illustrations may have come into existence is that most of the looms they are based on are held in British museums--I doubt the museums are able to warp and display every loom. At the museum, this loom may only exist as a bundle of sticks (hopefully in archival storage). 

This map of Africa reminded me of Edward Tufte's insistence on the clarity black and white graphics.

These are my FAVORITE diagrams in the whole book. They show how the loom is warped and the resulting pattern. 

This image reminds me of a favorite Edward Curtis photo. One question that comes to mind when I see outdoor looms like this is 'and if it rains?' but perhaps people only weave outdoors in very dry climates.

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