|The field trial journey of the Voyageurs' is coming
to an end. It has
been one very exciting and memorable journey.
What started out as a challenge to build a very
unique Loom, to satisfy
the needs of a very select group of workshop travelers, soon morphed into
trials with broad national interest and a wide application spectrum with
weavers from every background of our society taking part in the trials and
input. We are delighted.
When Sally posted Her challenge we looked at the
project and concluded
that in todays fast track, mobile society there was a need now and would be a
greater need in the future for a workshop Loom to fit this category. With
almost 125 years of Loom design experience in our files and hardware from
countless past prototypes on our shelves we felt we could not only poduce a
trial Loom for the 2000 Convergence as the challenge put forth, but with
commitment and help from the weavers List we could produce this Loom for the
upcoming 98 Convergence in Atlanta.
Francois Brassard is a dedicated believer in
field experience trials
and agreed to the project provided a suitable field trial program could be
developed. The trial outline was developed and the challenge put forth to
Sally. I am sure most of you on the List recall Sally's challenge to the Loom
mfgrs. in December of 97 and Leclercs' takeing up the challenge a few weeks
later in Jan. of 98. The rest is history.
Our plan called for the trials to take
place on the West Coast,
pending Sally's acceptance of the challenge, with Sally overseeing the
program with complete autonomy. Her choice of trial weavers and conditions.
had full confidence that the weavers of this List that took part in the trials
would give us a very thorough unbiased appraisal of the Loom. Our hopes for an
in-depth, fair, comprehensive field trial and feedback was far exceeded and
the results speak for themselves.
What started out as a Loom to
satisfy a very unique sector of our
society was soon recognized to have very unique design features that could be
applied to a much wider field application. As the trials spred nationally, and
weavers of varied backgrounds and interest saw potential for their particular
use, the trial program grew. It was gratifying but a little<!!>scarey
The Magnetic Lever system and
folding concept Francois developed for
this Loom was unique in design and new to the industry. We were anxious to
find out how it would be accepted and perform. Our questions were soon
To date, the prototype trial
Looms have been tested under every
popular weaving application time would allow. We have tested them with Cotton,
Wool and Linen of different Yarn size and Thread count(epi/ppi), and under
varying tension requirements. The last under a very high tension Linen Lace
As the performance feedback
and comments and suggestions came in
from the field, Leclerc immediately started makeing design changes to comply
with the trial weavers findings. Within a few weeks after Sally launched the
program on the West Coast, and it became apparent there were weavers across
the country that wanted to take a hand in the testing, Leclerc produced two
more prototypes with the latest design changes and sent them out to trial on
the East Coast. The program had gone national.
communication between all key people involved, with all
recieving copies of all dialogue concerning the trial performance, and all
offering input, we were able to continually get feedback and offer input in
an ongoing state. We recorded and logged every comment that came in.
program is now finished. Ruth wrapped it up on the
18th. We have evaluated the information in an ongoing basis and will continue
to evaluate as we go along. We have a ton of info to look at.
As the trials
progressed we recognized that the unique design
features of the Voyageur had appeal to a much wider weaving application than a
workshop traveler. The temptation was strong to look at a wider application
than originally planned. We know however from experience we could not build a
Loom that would satisfy all weavers under all conditions. With that we decided
to target on building all the improvements possible into the original workshop
traveler Loom concept and focus on that for the first model of Voyageur and
make the available to our weavers in time for Convergence 98. And this we will
do. We will announce shortly the ship dates for the first production
Voyageurs. They will be in your hands in time to take to Convergence.
Other models of Voyageur incorporating other
features(12, 16 etc.
Shafts, Swinging Beater, etc.) for different application(formal classroom,
Computer driven, etc) will be introduced following Convergence 98.
The weavers that made all this possible are from
across the nation, but
the real key to the success of this program are the Field Generals on the West
and East Coasts that stayed right on top of these little jewels and chaperoned
them thru the trial process.
Sally, of course, that generated this whole
undertakeing with Karen
and Sharron on the West Coast and here in the East, Ruth, Mary, Ute and Laurie
that went at the V's with a mission. They were terrific. The trial evaluation
was fair, thorough and in depth and nobody pulled any punches. It was great.
With that we will announce
that the Voyageur workshop flyer(or
Vanner or Backpacker etc<g>) will be built in two sizes. The 9 1/2" and the 15
The 9 1/2" will
weigh in at 16lbs., have 8 Shafts with front
Levers, will fold to slide under an airline Seat(most larger commercial), come
with 250 Inserted Eye Heddles, a Galvanized(Rust proof) Reed and a Custom made
Bag with pouch for Tools and misc. items
The 15 3/4" will
weigh in at 20 1/2lbs., have 8 Shafts with front
Levers, will fold for checking in at the Counter(no hassle), come with 400
Inserted Eye Heddles, a Galvanized(Rust proof) Reed and a Custom made
Bag(designer Jean<G>Yes)with pouch.
Both Looms will come
with a special Cherry Shuttle designed by
Francois for the V's(1" high profile), Reed and Heddle Hook, 2 Lease Sticks,
the newly designed Warp and Cloth Roll lashing system(one of Ruth's many
improvements) 1 Screwdriver, transfer Heddle Bars
and the Book "Warp and Weave" by Robert Leclerc.
In addition for those that prefer, Texsolve
Heddles are avaiable at no
With the design of the
Loom more clearly set and production costs
more realistic , plus the upgrading of components in many areas we realize our
costs are higher than originally percieved. Francois announced at the outset
that these Looms would fall in price between $450 and 499 U.S. He will stay
with that commitment and introduce both sizes at $475. This price will hold
until after Convergence when the price is anticipated to go to $525 U.S.
For those interested in
purchasing the Signature series model of
the new Voyageur model workshop Loom for delivery in time for Convergence E-mail me privately at TBeau1930@aol.com. Dealers in
your area will have Looms
in time for local purchase and takeing with you to Convergence.
This has been one Whale
of a voyage with the Voyageurs'.
Thanks a whole
lot to everyone involved.