My Changing Perspective

John Mullarkey, Handwoven contributor and tablet weaver par excellence, tells the story of his journey as a weaver.

John Mullarkey Dec 15, 2015 - 4 min read

My Changing Perspective Primary Image

Elisabeth Hill wove this beautiful color gamp using 10/2 cotton. Photo by Elisabeth Hill

John Mullarkey, Handwoven contributor and tablet weaver par excellence, joins us today to to tell the story of his journey as a weaver. ––Anita

  Controlled Chaos Vest
  John's Controlled Chaos
Vest, shown here on a
model, started as a band 

I started my weaving career very cheaply. I was poor, and I was collecting hobbies at a frightening pace, so if I was going to start a new hobby in weaving, it had better come cheap.


That’s how I got started in tablet weaving. There are few weaving techniques that come with a lower initial investment. I can make cards from cereal boxes. The shuttle can be an old ruler. And the tensioning device can be nothing more than a couple of C-clamps.


Of course after learning the limitations of this technique—for instance, only making a thick fabric a couple of inches wide but very long—I knew fairly quickly that I would move on to a larger loom once I proved that this hobby would last longer than a couple of months. I was going to weave all of the linens for the house after all!


My perspective was that a weaver wove more than just bands. Bands were garnish on the weaving plate, not the entrée. I didn’t want to spend my weaving time on just the garnish. I wanted to be more than just a band weaver.


John's eReader holder
John's E-Reader case, also made from bands  

The wonderful thing about perspectives is that they can change, and quickly! After acquiring a floor loom, and spending a significant amount of time with it, I realized that band weaving is what I really liked to do. So I kept weaving bands. I wove so many that I put a hook on the wall of my studio and just started hanging them there. The joy was in the creation, not in the finished product. When people ask me what I’m going to do with the band I’m weaving, I tell them I haven’t a clue. I don’t need to know that to create them. That’s when I knew that my perspective had changed. And it wasn’t so much a change in my perspective of who I was as a weaver. It was a change in the perspective of why I weave. I weave to create beautiful things that challenge me as an artist. The bands on the wall will get used. Sometimes they inspire me to weave on the floor loom as the Controlled Chaos Vest did. Most projects start that way. I need a case for my E-Reader, what bands are on the wall?


So now when people ask what I do, I hold my head up high and I tell them “I’m a band weaver!” I create bands because I love the process. I’ll worry about the product later.


—John Mullarkey