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Composition on the Loom : Weaving for Beginners
Posted on: 29 Sep, 2019


As a beginner weaver or artist, weaving designs and building compositions are fun but sometimes challenging. There are many design aspects to keep in mind, that it might be hard to decide what can of design to create. 

In this post, I will explain seven aspects of building composition on the loom that are helpful for beginners to create and design weaving projects themselves.

  1. Positive and Negative Space
  2. Scale
  3. Balance
  4. Weight
  5. Visual interests
  6. “Working the warp”
  7. On the loom

Composition on the Loom for Beginners

1.Positive and Negative Space

No matter how big the space is, the goal is to fill it appropriately and create balance. 

There are two types of space: positive and negative space. Positive space is the space that is filled in. Negative space is the space that is not filled in. It is your goal to create a harmonious balance between the two types of space. 

weaving design composition on the loom

Left: The black diamond is the positive space and the white triangles are the negative space. 

Right: The white diamond is the positive space and the black triangles are the negative space. 



Scale plays an essential role in composition. Think of the space- is it small or large? 

weaving design composition on the loom

To create harmony, within a space there must be a balance within the positive and negative space. Therefore the size or amount of space that an object takes up impacts the positive and negative space. 



Scale and weight go hand in hand. When an object is added to the composition, it automatically shifts weight to one side. So its important to create balance on the opposite side of the object. 

This can be done by setting the object next to, across or above it. 


There is a large triangle that takes up most of the space on the top. However below it, is a much smaller triangle that is surrounded with much more negative space. Therefore, an imbalance is created.  


There is a large triangle that takes up most of the space on the top. In order to counterbalance this, three small triangles are stacked in a larger triangle formation. Doing this, takes up more negative space, and balances the weight of all the objects on the page. 


Two triangles are side by side. In order to balance them two more triangles must be placed below them. But those triangles don’t have to be filled in, yet just the outlines can provide enough weight or illusion of weight to create balance between all four triangles. 


weaving design composition on the loom

Balance can be achieved in various ways. 

Mirroring (left)

Placing objects side by side, or mirroring, distributes the weight evenly. The objects have a similar weight and take up the same amount of negative and positive space. 

Patterns (middle)

Here the pattern repeats itself throughout the page. Patterns create an uniformed appearance of the objects throughout the composition. 

Angles (right)

Angles are used to create balance in weight by shifting the weight of the viewer. 

Balance Mistakes to avoid

1.Adding too much weight to one side. (left)

Avoid placing too many objects on one side of the space. In this example, the lower part of the space is filled with too many object, leaving the upper area open with too much negative space.

2.Not enough visual angles. (middle)

Avoid hiding too much of the angles and leaving too much negative space uncovered. The role of angles is to move the eye of the viewer, therefore by exposing more of its shape in the composition and using various other angles, the design will become more dynamic. 

3.Only filling in the middle of the space- don’t forget the edges! (right)

Don’t be afraid to send shapes out of the space- this too has to do with angles and creating visual interests. Of course the entire image can be focused in a space, but it can also continue to another space or just end at the edge. 

5.Visual interests

There are so many ways to develop visual interests, and there is not one right way, but I do encourage you to experiment. Here are a few ideas:


Patterns are an easy way to develop visual interests by repeating similar colors, sizes and shapes throughout a design. 


Patterns , shape and colors help move the eye of the viewer. Angles and lines can be used to shift your eyes from one side of the space to another. Color gradation not only moves your eyes in the space, but also can change the mood and experience that the viewers have with the piece. 


Keep it simple when you are first starting. Choose a color palette that consists of 2 to 3 colors. Try using a pair of analogous colors, complimentary colors or colors in the same family. Try using these colors in a pattern or design. 

Pattern Design Tips:

Remain consistent

Do not change the size or colors throughout the pattern (unless that is the desired effect).

Stay consistent on the spacing and thickness of the shapes or lines created

Pattern Placement

Decide where the pattern or visual interest begins and direct the design to move in a certain way. Center the design to the piece and fit the space you are filling. 

Color Depth and Building

Use variations of a color in order to create a rich appearance by using a range of dark to light. That being said, limit your color palette to 2 to 3 color and slowly add more colors as you continue to develop your skill. 

6.”Working the warp”

In drawing, we are told to “work the paper”, but when weaving we want to “work the warp”. Which means, fill the space and do not only focus on one aspect or section of the space. You want to think about where and/or what the focus of your weaving will be. 

weaving design composition on the loom

Find a focus 

What is your piece going to say to the viewer? Is there a certain material you want to make a statement about? Do you want to show off the beauty of a color or material? Perhaps you want to display the boldness of a texture?

Before weaving, it can be helpful to sketch out some ideas or brainstorm the materials or effect you want to have in the weaving.

Find direction

Center middle or running off the stage? Where is your design taking the viewer?

There is always a direction or angel in a design- whether you are weaving with shapes, lines, patterns or colors, the design created is forming a direction for the eye to follow and experience.

7.On the loom

Weaving and designing on the loom is different from designing on a 2D form. On the loom, yarn is used to create the composition that is not limited to a page. Yarn can extend the vision of the design, so I encourage you to experiment with various colors, line and texture. 

weaving design composition on the loom

Take the time to experiment and practice weaving with angles, texture, lines and colors. 


These were seven aspects of weaving composition on the loom, but there several other concepts for developing composition out there that I hope to talk about more. 

I hope that this helped answer the questions you have to weaving composition on the loom.

Thank you for visiting Fibers and Design!


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