Tabletwoven belts and bands by Peter Collingwood
This tablet weaving by Peter Collingwood was made for me with a quote from Chaucer. I had seen this particular quote used in a Craftsman house built in New Jersy, USA, in 1906. It was inscribed on a copper shield above a fireplace in the living room. Peter looked in his huge quotation book and came up with the following information:

"I see that that particular saying started out as a Greek one by Hippocrates and referred to the craft/art of medicine. Then later it was often quoted in the Latin form of "Ars longa, vita brevis", (which I have once done on a TW belt), then Chaucer made a rough English translation of it.

That lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,
Th'assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge.

So it goes back over 2,000 years to Greece.

The first little rose motif is a traditional one from Tunisia I think; the other two are my attempts to make a similar small shape."

(My scanner wasn't big enough for the whole thing to fit in one scan, and when I took that space out from between the two photos it didn't match up properly.)

Below are comments by Peter and detail of the belt endings and past belts with the tools of the trade.

The belts are about 1 and 1/4 inches wide, as long as waist of customer! Twenty-two tablets are used for the double-faced central part plus 4 each side for the warp-twined borders. Threads are Swedish linen, size 2/16's.

I enjoy making these because of the difference in scale compared with weaving rugs or hangings. They are usually under 2 inches in width and take me just a full day to weave, from continuous warping to final braiding of the tail. I weave them in a normal loom as I prefer to have the work straight in front of me, not to one side.The belts always end with my initials and the year, on a much smaller scale, sometimes inside a shuttle. Both Do It Yourself Don't Rely On Others, above, and Alphabelt, below, are made of 2/16s linen and in the Double-Faced weave. The lion in "...Don't Rely On Others" is in the Double-Faced 3/1 Broken Twill weave. The motif is taken from a band found at Fort Miran, Chinese Turkestan, by Aurel Stein; it is dated about AD 800. I wove it using the one-pack method for that technique, having prepared a plan showing me how every tablets was to be turned for each pick.

Below are examples of the sort of inscriptions I have put on belts in the double-faced weave;

*may love surround you always* (the most popular message; minus the last word for a lady with very small waist!) This message followed by the same message in Latin, *SEmper amor te cingat* so that it included the initials of its owner, Sue Egen.
*aBcdEfghijkLmnopqrsTuvwxyz* (the original alphabelt, the capitals spelling BELT; soon followed by a version in which the B E L T were omitted and replaced with a rose motif taken from a Tunisian band)
*Phyllis Buoniello* with date etc, the *l*s being shaped like sledges as dog sledding was the family sport.
*ye cannot serve both Cod and Salmon* (only amusing if you know the bible quote. This had two fish motifs which took hours to work out, and which I now use often)
*AbcdefgHijklmnopqrStUvwxyz* for Usha Taylor, a neighbour. (When you turn the belt over the capitals, except for the backwards S, give her first name. Included scissors because of her surname)
*take 30 tablets says doctor pc*
*I made a tablet-weaver happy - I bought this*
*dogma is a bitch* with footprints down the band (for the Normans, great dog lovers, who illustrated my ply-split book)

Ann reports, "Peter made this 24 inch long TW wall piece (that now sits over my computer) for our wedding anniversary, at my request . Note the cartoon-like storyboard with the puppy pawprints trotting along and then moving sideways to reveal the very earthy dumping (that large puppies frequently just Do), with the aroma of same wafting very cleverly upwards right through the initials and on and on to the bitter end stripes... Peter told me that it made a nice change!"

*the lyf so short - the craft so long to lerne* (sometimes, swamped by email, I feel Chaucer's version of Hippocrates' original saying should be followed by:- *so to your tablets and from the keyboard turn* !

Copyright © 1996-2000 Peter Collingwood. · All rights reserved.
Updated September 15, 2000