In 1973 I purchased a used loom from a weaver in Los Angeles who was having another loom made to her specs and didn't have room for a second loom. She told me that my loom was made by a Mr. Binder of Altadena, CA. The story is that people would come to him for weaving instruction and when they were ready to buy a loom he would make them one based on what they liked to weave. Since I purchased the loom (for $125!) I have only seen one other, at the Mammoth Lakes HIstorical Museum being used for demonstration. It was a counterbalance and mine is a jack loom 45" with 8 shafts. They are both made of Maple. The man who was the director of the museum at the time said it was his Mother's loom and she had always called it the "Oregon Loom" but he didn't know why. Mr Binder's looms are recognizable by their braking system, a heavy sisal rope wrapped around the back beam. It is infallible. They also have a hand crafted quality to them that is hard to define. Mine was probably made in the late 30's or 40's. I think I am the third owner, the weaver I purchased it from said she had used the loom for about 8 years and the woman she purchased it from had woven on it for many years and it is assumed she was the original owner. I would love to find out more information about the loom and its history and if there are any other Binder owners out there.
I think the loom I just purchased is a Binder loom. It has the heavy rope, and is also a jack loom, 45", with 8 shafts and 10 treadles, with 4 more that are not on the loom. It has two back beams, but only one is currently on the loom. It appears to be pretty heavy-duty, and I hope I can figure it all out! Would also love to find more information about the loom.
You should both contact Janet Meany at www.weaversfriend.com. She has a collection of old loom manuals and information. Hope you find out more!
Thank you very much, Madelyn. I will contact Janet.
Off topic - I recently ordered your DVD, "Warping Your Loom," and LOVE it.
It's been a couple of years since you wrote this, but I wonder if you were able to gather any information about the history of your Binder loom? We have a Binder loom in the loom collection at the museum in Vista, CA, and I've been searching for information not only about Mr. Binder's looms but about his connection to some of the other people who were making looms in California around the mid-20th century. I would have guessed the Binder looms were being made in the 1960's. And I had the impression he was contemporary with the Burnhams who built looms in Baldwin Park around that time and Mr Walling who was making looms in N Hollywood. I have read that Mr Walling sold his loom business to Russell Goff who continued to manufacture the looms under the name Oregon Trail Looms. And our Binder loom has some design features very similar to our old Macomber looms so I wonder if there is any connection there as well? If you were able to piece together any of the history I would love to hear from you.
I have not been able to gather any more information about the Binder looms since I wrote before. However, I do have a bit more information that I left out for brevity. I am pretty sure that the loom I have was made way before the 60's as my friend had been using it for at least 5 years and I was told it had been used before that for quite a while by the woman who had originally purchased it from Mr. Binder. She had kept the loom until she stopped weaving in her older years. It looked well loved when I got it, (1973) like it was at least 25 years old. I think it may be from the late forties or early 50s. Another clue is the hardware, much beefier than anything made in the second half of the century. Mine also has scraps of carpet on the bottoms of the uprights, maybe because it was used on a hardwood floor, and the carpet is just like one we had in our house in the late 50s. This was something added by a previous owner.
My weaving teacher at CSUN (now retired) told me she had several Binders that she had used when she was teaching privately. They were all counterbalance looms. Sometime during the 90s I walked into the Mammoth Lakes Historical Museum and there was a woman weaving on a counterbalance Binder! I spoke with the man who was curator at the time and who had donated the loom to the museum because according to him he didn't know what else to do with it. He said it had been his Mother's and that she had called it the "Oregon Loom" but it is not a Walling loom, it is definitely a Binder. She had been told by someone that they thought it might be an "Oregon Loom." Not all information is reliable. This curator subsequently left and the loom was put into storage as the next curators thought it was not historically significant to the museum. It sat in a storage unit for over 5 years. I returned to the museum in October of 2010 and spoke to the man who was curator then and was told that money was no longer available for a storage unit and that the loom was put into the barn (read old historical barn not restored). He was considering taking it out the next summer but had no real plan for it. He told me to contact him after May the next year and he would find out if the society would be interested in selling it as money was a major issue. When I called him the next year he barely remembered our conversation and was VERY rude to me, telling me the museum was not a garage sale, etc., etc. Since that time Mammoth Lakes (city of) has gone bankrupt and I have no idea what has happened to the loom. I was told the fire department will probably burn down the historical log cabin due to lack of $ for insurance. A double tragedy as the cabin is in great shape and probably the most beautiful building in Mammoth.
I have thought that a good source for info might be the Southern California Weaver's Guild but do not have a contact for them. My weaving teacher was active in the Guild at the time. I am sure there were others in the Guild that had Binders. There was also a weaving store in Pasadena that had Binder looms in their basement. The owner, a Middle Eastern man who wove traditional pile rugs, was a huge fan of Binders saying he had never used a loom with a better braking system. I agree.
Sorry this is so long, I would love to contact you directly about this and would love to continue sharing info as I would like to know more about my loom's history. I don't plan on letting it go out of my hands until I stop weaving. There's nothing out there as good. Would still love to find a counterbalance Binder as my jack loom Binder is not really good for rugs.
Is there an email address I can contact you at through the museum? Thank you for answering my post.
Hello Patti: Sorry I haven't answered you before this, I don't think your loom is a Binder because of the double back beam and extra treadles. Binders seem to be very basic (but sturdy) looms, at least the ones I have seen. Yours sounds much more sophisticated. I had already looked on the weaversfriend.com website but looked again. I found nothing probably because I think most Binders have stayed on the West coast. Hope you are enjoying your loom, it sounds wonderful. A double back beam seems like such a lovely addition. Post again if you find out more.
Thanks Madelyn for the referral. Now with the new information from Vista, I will look back and see if she has information on the Oregon Trail Loom to see how it is like the Binder.
Thanks for this detail about the Binder loom. I
am continuing my search for anything I can learn about three mid-20th
century California loom makers: Binder, Burnham, and Walling. You have
given me a couple of leads that I am following up. Don't know how to
contact you other than this forum but will try to let you know if I
learn something. Do you have a photo of your loom?
Our Binder loom is a 4-shaft, rising shed loom, although the box could hold 8 shafts. Don't know if 4 were taken out and lost or if it only ever had 4. It has 10 treadles and has the characteristic heavy rope friction brake. The design of the jack mechanism, the wires connecting the jacks to the lams, and the treadle hook wires are very similar in design to old Macomber looms.
I remembered later one other minor piece of information that I was told by the woman from whom I purchased my loom. She said that Mr. Binder taught weaving and when a student was ready to buy a loom he made one for them based on what they liked to weave. The fact that he was a teacher as well as a loom builder might lead to other information opportunities.
I don't have a picture of my loom and it is not in a good place to shoot one now being in very tight quarters, but I will try to get one in the near future. Will post it when I get it. I do have a picture of the loom in Mammoth in the log cabin. I will try to find it and post it soon. It has the same wonderful braking system and over all look. Is immediately recognizable as a Binder.
I remember shopping at the Walling shop in Pasadena for linen yarn when I was a beginning weaver. I still have the thrums from the project I wove with it. It may have been the first project I wove on my Binder in fact, a set of placemats in two shades of blue for my Grandmother.
I am so glad you are doing this. Being a representative of a historical museum is a big help in acquiring information. Good luck with it and please post what ever you find out. Thanks.
Just one more thought: If I make it down to Vista would it be possible for me to see the museum's loom? I still have roots in SoCal and sometimes get down that way. We used to take our son to Vista to see the old tractor show and slow tractor race when he was around 4-6. His love of tractors is still very much a part of his life now at almost 26.
Thanks again, Karen
Thanks again for all your clues. You are the only one I have found so far with any information at all about Binder looms but I am still searching. Please do come to the Weaving Barn if you are ever in Vista. It is on the grounds of the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum (http://www.agsem.com/) where the tractor show is held twice a year. We also hold our Fiber Arts Fiesta event in October. Weavers are at the barn every Thursday and Saturday and we can probably arrange to meet you any other day if you let us know you are coming.
In the middle to late 1970's when I was living in the Southern California area I bought my first loom which was called a Binder loom. It had a 36" weaving width, four harnesses, rope friction brake and was made out of maple. A very sturdy loom - I had a flat metal bar added to the underside of the beater and it was a great rug loom. I sold it, for what I had paid for it ($350) about 5 years ago. I don't have a photo of it. I subsequently bought a Macomber, 8 harness, 48" weaving width. And I agree with an earlier poster that it resembled the Macomber. I now live in WA state but if I ever get back down to So. Calif. I'll have to visit Vista.
Today i sold my Binder loom, a Jack loom 42 inch weaving width. It came to Australia in 1949 with the Worth Family Circus. It was still in a crate when I bought it in 1970. Parts of it were wrapped in a California newspaper dated 1949. I sent pictures of it to Mr James Gilmore who used to advertise in Handwoven. He identified it as a Binder and told me he did not make looms after that date. I sold it because we moved to an apartment and it does not fit in. I wove on it for 41 years and loved it.
Thanks for sharing your Binder loom story. It's interesting to know a Binder loom made its way to Australia with a circus--I wonder what inspired them to take that loom? Makes me think about a friend who crated up an enormous old Virginia barn loom and shipped it to Denmark many years ago. I wonder where that loom is now?
At the Weaving Barn at the museum in Vista we are still researching and collecting stories about our California made looms and trying to piece together more of the history. Would love to hear stories from anyone about their Binder loom--or Walling, or Burnham.
It must have been a sad day! Thank you so much for sharing the story. I am in the process of buying another Binder that has been in the Hayden Cabin in Mammoth for about 20 years. It has no historical connection to the museum or the area and like most museums of this day and age, there is a constant struggle for funds and in their case space. I have offered to make a donation to the museum and give the loom a good home. Some of it's life there has been spent in a barn due to lack of space. This loom is a counterbalance but is a definite sister to my jack loom. They are both 45". I am very excited that this is happening as I first approached them in October of 2010 when I found out they were not sure what to do with it and they had lost a significant source of funding. I have yet to check the loom out, I haven't seen it in 20 years. I really hope it is still all there and in good shape. It has been in storage for quite a while, not all of that time in a barn thank goodness. I am going to use it for weaving rugs. Right now I have no place to set it up as I am in a rented house that is too small for a weaver with two 45" looms!!! I will be buying my own place soon and a room large enough for my Binders is on top of the want list.
Your story about the loom is wonderful and like kdg310 in Vista, I wondered about why it was chosen to make the long trip to Australia. Obviously it was so it could be your loom for 41 wonderful years. I hope it will be as loved in its new home. Thank you again for taking the time to share your story. It is a very interesting piece of information and fits with my estimation that mine was made in the 40s or 30s.