25 years down the line, remembering the TC1…

25 years down the line, remembering the TC1...

The year 2020 has meant different things to different people, but amidst the dark clouds that were hanging above all of us, for us there was also a silver lining (literally) as we celebrated the silver jubilee of the launch of the first-generation loom: the incredibly pathbreaking and advanced (for its times); reliable and good-old TC1 loom. As many of you already know, it’s 25 years since that milestone and as we leave 2020 behind, here’s a throwback at how it all began 🙂

Once upon a time…

The foundation of DWN was laid in 1990, when Vibeke Vestby, then a weaving professor from Oslo, Norway, began toying with the idea of developing a weaving loom based on computer technology. Vibeke said that while teaching, several times she observed that talented students left weaving for printing or painting as they claimed that the meticulous preparation stages choked their creativity. She wanted creativity and craftsmanship alike to influence the interlacing of threads so that texture, structure and colors become embedded in the design. A loom, she believed, should ideally be like a sketchbook where you create woven hardcopies and with the Thread Controller, it was possible to do just that.

Way back then, the Norwegian economy was booming and the government was encouraging research projects, particularly concerning traditional crafts with new technology. Vibeke sent in a proposal to develop a digital weaving loom, and after getting a go ahead, she partnered with Tronrud Engineering to develop the loom. It took four prototypes and five years of intensive research before the Thread Controller 1 was born. This was also when Digital Weaving Norway, a subsidiary of Tronrud Engineering, was set up and we began selling the TC1 worldwide. And we wouldn’t have come so far, has it not been for the early adopters who believed that the TC1 could be tool for them to unleash their creativity, to translate their ideas into woven fabrics on our loom. And which is why we went back to a bunch of our favorite TC1 customers and asked them about their TC1 journey and guess what, they are still creating wonders on their looms. Read on…

What has the TC1 meant to me?

BKAKTI ZIEK: Reading about historical weave structures like samit or taqueté is interesting, but being able to use them in my own weavings was made possible by my TC1 loom. Recently I moved, and once again we had to take the TC1 loom completely apart and then reassemble it in my new studio. Each time we do this I am awe-struck by the complexity and brilliance of this loom and the ease of use once it is together. Inevitably that thought is followed by gratitude to Vibeke Vestby and Ola Tronrud who deserve a medal for creating the most important invention of the 20th century. Basically the TC1 loom has allowed me to manifest my textile dreams. 

Website: https://www.bhaktiziek.com/

LISE FRØLUND:  To me the TC1 has meant everything.  It clicked my technical mind; I mean who would become at weaver without an interest in construction. The TC1 is a huge support in my urge not primarily to weave stripes and checks. As it is still a hand loom, I can put in more weft, where the thread construction is dense, and stretch parts or individual threads of the warp if needed. To retain these ”handmade” qualities, in the choice of the thread materials and in the handling of them  in a tool as technically advanced as the TC-1,  has created unique work conditions. The TC1 has made the latest 22 years of my work life an ongoing challenge.

Website: http://lisefrolund.dk/

AGNES HAUPTLI: 25 years since the launch of the TC1, amazing how time flyes! My TC1 arrived early February 2010 and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I had been playing with designing since I had a chance to test drive one the year before. Here is an image of  my loom the first time in action, my brother happened to be here, he was fascinated by it and super keen to check for any threads that might be misbehaving! 

Website: https://agnes-h-hand-weaving.com/

GRETHE SØRENSEN: Around 2000, I got the chance to work with a TC1. It was inspiring and opened new ways and possibilities both in terms of motif, technique and production. It gave me the chance of a new beginning, with 25 years of weaving experience behind me. I feel fortunate to live in a period where a break-through is occurring within weaving. I feel I’ve got the best of both worlds where I can combine my knowledge from the analogue process with the new digital possibilities, experiencing that our millennial weaving tradition is entering a new era. Digitization has also made it possible to use industrial jacquard looms for production of one-off textiles. An opportunity I have used for the production of large site-specific textile projects. 

Website: http://www.grethesorensen.dk/

OUTI MARTIKAINEN: Since 2014, I have been experimenting with digital jacquard weaving with the TC1. Working simultaneously with analog and digital materials and the traditional craft of weaving, makes working on digital weaving so interesting and challenging.  I photograph a lot, scenes from the everyday life: colors, light situations, seasons, life around me. The process of image processing in Photoshop to the yarns moving across the surface amazes me continuously. While weaving itself is like dance in the front of a grand piano, with the heddles moving rhythmically up and down like the piano keys, following the partiture of black and white dots on the file. Additionally, by creating my own materials for weaving, I have found my own way to create digital jacquard weaving on the TC1. for example, I have created weaving material from waste fibres from a weaving mills for heavy duty technical belts and bands. Fibers are braided into ropes which gives my textile works a certain uniqueness and manifests itself into the beautiful structures of woven surfaces.

Website: https://outi.in/

And while the manufacturing of the TC1 loom was discontinued after the Tc2 was launched in 2012, it still continues to go strong!

Infact, Stacey Harvey-Brown who is an accomplished weaver, recently got a Tc1 for her studio in Southwest France. And what’s both interesting and coincidental is that as we linger along the road to nostalgia as we bid goodbye to 2020, Stacey too featured Vibeke Vestby in the last blogpost on her website The Loom Room, where she asks Vibeke on how her journey as a weaver began: read more about that by clicking HERE.