Metal Heddles

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn

Hi Madelyn,

After reading about heddles (again) on the Handwoven email, I have a sticky question (pun intended!).  A few years ago I was gifted with the most beautiful old Herald floor loom.  It was in such poor shape my friends dismantled it and completely refinished the beautiful old wood.  Not being weavers, they carefully wrapped it and stored it in a box for some future lucky recipient.  They took the oxidized metal heddles and very carefully used wide packing tape to keep them together.  When I tried weaving after reassembling, my yarn became frayed and split because of the residue glue I was unable to completely remove from the heddles.

There are hundreds of these heddles, and I sure can't afford to replace them all.  Is there a good way to clean old oxidized and sticky heddles?  Otherwise the loom is in wonderful shape.

Sheryl Webb

Hi, Sheryl, you punny lady.

So are they the skinny wire kind with the round holes or the flat steel kind? If it's the first, I'd replace them, even if you can only do a few at a time. Those wire ones are hard on threads anyway. If they are flat steel, I'd go to a hardware store, the kind that has helpful people who know something working in it, and ask them what solvent to use to dissolve the glue. One thing I've done to clean rust from a reed is to put WD-40 on my warp and then weave with some weft that you don't mind throwing away. The warp cleans the reed and only the first part of it is needed to do the job, so you can just put on some extra warp and plan to throw away the first bit that you weave. That might work to clean heddles, too. But otherwise I'm not sure of the right solvent for this job.

And that's about all I know about that!


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