Just like our signature pieces, these looms are hand made one-offs, created many years ago by a master craftsman. They were made by a man called George Wood, a ships engineer turned loom maker who was based in Shepshed, Leicestershire. Not much is known about him, but his creations are considered the ‘Rolls Royces’ of the loom world, treasured by the weavers and art colleges lucky enough to possess one.
It is estimated he made around 300 looms in his career, every loom was numbered and logged although sadly the full records were lost in a fire many years ago. Here at Araminta Campbell we are privileged to own numbers 151 and 297 – so examples from the middle and end of his career.
In 2012 Araminta bought her first George Wood loom, number 151 – which is a 24 shaft peg dobby floor loom. At the time Araminta had been invited to represent Great Britain at the International Triennial of Tapestry in Lodz, Poland, and was visiting Scottish weaver Kirsty Aitkin to ask for some advice. Kirsty mentioned at the end of their conversation that she had a George Wood loom for sale and asked if Araminta knew anyone who might be interested – and Araminta replied; “Yes – Me!”
Stored in a bothy (shed) beside Kirsty’s cottage in Loch Fyne, number 151 had been disused for years as she hadn’t found anyone she was ready to sell it to. Weavers are often very attached to their looms – they are much more than just a piece of machinery, and it feels important to pass them on to people who will appreciate and look after them. Thankfully although she was sad to say goodbye, Kirsty was happy to know that Araminta would be giving 151 a new lease of life and using it to continue the tradition of handweaving here in Scotland.
Our second loom – number 297- is an 16 shaft peg dobby floor loom, and came to us from English weaver Sarah Tysson. She met Araminta at Handmade in Kew in 2015, and again buying a loom just happened organically! We recently got back in touch with Sarah and she remembers the occasion well:
“I was very reluctant to sell it, but the onset of rheumatoid arthritis forced me to look at other options. I kept putting off advertising it for sale…then during a conversation with Araminta at the Kew Garden show, she mentioned that she wanted to buy a 16 shaft George Wood, and had just missed out on a sale. I felt like it was meant to be…and I am absolutely thrilled that it is being loved and used again.”
We asked Sarah about how she came to own number 297 and found out that it had been made specially for her by George Wood himself!
“I bought the loom in about 1985, and went to his house & workshop in Shepshed to pick it up. He was a charming man, with a real twinkle in his eye.
It must have been one of the last looms he ever made, as he was then in his 80’s and starting to turn his hand to making clocks with wooden cog mechanisms…they were beautifully made. He joked that he was a bit too old to start another career!
His wife said if I asked him nicely, he would sign the loom for me!, which he did on the front of the beater; ‘Best wishes Sarah, George Wood’, but sadly it was only written in biro and has long since faded…”