Triaxial Weaving: An Explanation for the Uninformed

By Deborah Sexton

This shows how a triaxial weaving project is initially set up. Charlene St. John likes to use a polypropylene board covered in muslin as her base.

If the word “triaxial” sounds complicated to you, it is. And while you do not need to be a math major to do triaxial weaving, you do have to change your mindset, says Charlene St. John, who has been passionately doing triaxial weaving for the past four years from her home in Franklin, N.C.

“It’s hard for people to do triaxial, because we think in 90 degree angles,” she says. “Everything’s got to be square. So having to think in 30, 60, and 120 degrees is not normal for our brains. A lot of people have a hard time coping with that. But once I broke through that boundary I could do it.”

To set up a triaxial weaving project, you start with a board, which acts as the base. Charlene uses a piece of polypropylene and covers it with muslin. Then using a pencil and a ruler, lines are drawn on the board in three directions. First, envision a set of horizontal lines going across the board. Then two more sets of lines are drawn intersecting the horizontal plane in an X.

This is an original pattern created by Charlene St. John to show spots and stars. It was made from curling ribbon. One way St. John has used this piece is for greeting cards. Photo courtesy of Charlene St. John

Once the lines are drawn, the first step is to pin strips of the weaving material along the horizontal lines. This is done in whatever size you want your finished piece to be. Then the second ribbon is woven at a 30 degree angle (or one leg of the X) along that line. Then the third ribbon is woven at a 120 degree angle along the other leg of the X.

For a better understanding, you may want to view this video: http://hexdome.com/weaving/triaxial/introduction/.
This weaving technique gives stability in all three fabric directions: warp, filling, and bias. Charlene uses a variety of materials. Paper ribbon, silk ribbon, and quilting cotton fabric are a few examples. Your only limitation is your imagination.

We’re interested in hearing about what your passion is. If you’re willing to share, please contact Deborah Sexton at dsexton@sbcglobal.net.

If you’d like to contact Charlene about her work, her e-mail is charlenestjohn@hotmail.com or you can visit her Facebook page at: Heavenly Handwovens, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heavenly-Handwovens/190123657766120

Stay tuned for more blogs about Charlene and her weaving.

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