We love sharing the stories behind the unique products we've sourced from skilled artisans and innovative makers; today, Claudia Chase from Mirrix Looms shares the story of how Mirrix Looms came to be. As a family-owned company ourselves, we take pride in supporting other family-owned small businesses such as Mirrix Looms. We hope you enjoy getting to know them just a little bit better!
Mirrix Looms are bead and tapestry looms for everyone from the novice crafter to the professional artist. These looms are wonderful tools that can help create everything from woven wall-hangings to beaded bracelets to purses and any combination of fiber and beads you can think of. Mirrix Looms are primarily meant for tapestry weaving, bead weaving and bead and fiber combination. The concept behind weaving beads or tapestry is fairly simple, though techniques and possibilities abound - below are just a few of our free project patterns available on our website:
In 1995, I was a stay-at-home mom in Wisconsin who spent all of her free time weaving tapestries sold through galleries and commissions. I wasn’t exactly getting rich, but that wasn’t the point. I just loved weaving and it fit into my lifestyle.
By then, I owned two large vertical tapestry looms and a metal Hagen loom (which is no longer imported to the U.S.) None of these loom was small enough to be considered portable, and I found myself wishing some something small and light which I could carry in a bag on my shoulder and that would not scream: “This lady is hauling around some big piece of strange equipment and now we can all stare while she whips it out and weaves a few lines.” So I talked to a friend’s husband who was quite handy and we came up with the first prototype for the Mirrix Loom (which looks nothing like the current Mirrix, incidentall): it was made of metal tubes and had no shedding device, but it was little and portable, although not particularly attractive. I think I still have it somewhere. It was fine, but it wasn’t what I wanted.
Soon after, another friend’s husband came along and, after much discussion, he put together the loom which truly was the Mirrix prototype. Made from items he had in his garage, scraps of metal from the fire truck company where he was employed, the Mirrix prototype was made from copper (plumbing pipes), aluminum (fire truck trim), steel threaded rods (from the local hardware store). The black tray that holds the spring was also some kind of fire truck trim; a few bolts here and there, and we had THE FIRST MIRRIX LOOM!
But there was one problem: it had neither shedding device or legs. We spent hours discussing those two pieces. While the first legs look just like the legs we use today, the first shedding device did not have those fancy hand-milled brass pins our current models have to hold the bars - instead, it had funky little wire things.
We also hadn’t yet designed the clips that hold on the shedding device; instead, we had a complicated and not very functional system made from off-the-shelf hardware store parts. However, within six months, we had a loom that, to the untrained eye, looks just like the Mirrix of today.
Six months after Mirrix was just a gleam in my eye, we were in business! I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to be in business, as I am a naturally shy person who hates making cold calls, but somehow it has all worked out. We got an 800 number, credit card capability and even a web site - one of the first loom web sites in existence, in fact!
A lot of people ask me where the name Mirrix came from. The short answer? I made it up! It was a combination of a couple Latin/Greek words meaning “to wonder at, to mirror” - I stuck the “ix” on the end, and that was that!
I had known that when we started Mirrix, we would be leaving Wisconsin , but that the looms would still be manufactured there. Sure enough, in June of 1996, my family and I moved back to New Hampshire. Before leaving, I convinced three key people to do three different things:
- A very well-established yarn/equipment catalogue/retailer to began to our looms;
- Another well-established retailer of fiber stuff took our looms to Convergence;
- And a well-known and wonderful tapestry teacher endorsed our loom.
The movers came and we packed the kids and all the various other family members into two cars and drove to New Hampshire in two days. When we arrived and plugged in our phone, I got our first 800 number call from a customer asking to order a 16″ loom (which, along with the 32 inch loom made up the entire Mirrix fleet). I asked how they had heard of us, and they said that they saw the loom at Convergence! My next question was why they did not buy the loom at the show, and the answer took me by surprise: because all 16 looms that were there had sold out in three days!
We were obviously in business, and I was elated!
This is just the beginning of the Mirrix Loom story; we'll share more with you at a later date. Thanks for joining us!
All the best,
Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team