FAIRMONT — Shasta Gibson may have discovered a new hobby Sunday at Prickett’s Fort State Park.
Inside the fort, the Buckhannon resident took part in a weaving lesson on a tape loom.
“This is really calming,” Gibson said as she worked the threads in a rhythmic fashion. “I can see this as a hobby.”
A support manager at Walmart, she was spending her vacation learning the 18th-century skill.
“I really like doing historical things for my vacation,” she said. “I like being able to learn things.”
Interpreter Sarah Blosser taught the lessons on the tape loom. Afterwards, people could take home the woven tape that they made. In the tape loom, two sets of threads, called warp threads, are worked through the loom.
They are then intertwined through the use of a shuttle and a weft thread. People in the 1700's would have used the woven tapes to hold up their aprons or stockings while today they're often used as bracelets, according to Blosser.
“You can make so many things on a tape loom,” she said.
She shared some information about the tape loom.
“It's sort of the predecessor to that big loom back there,” she said, pointing to a large loom on the other side of the room.
Blosser didn't know if a tape loom would have been used by pioneers at Prickett’s Fort, however.
“That's the hard part about history is that they didn't really write down the every day stuff,” she said. “They sort of wrote down the extraordinary things that happened.”
In the 1700s, she said, girls as young as four years old would start working on a tape loom.
“It would get them ready for using that big loom back there,” she said, again referring to the large loom across from her. “It would just teach them how to weave. It shows how the threads connect with one another, how they intertwine. So, it's really good for just showing you how the process works, and what it looks like on a much smaller scale.”
In addition to girls, young, unmarried women in that time period would also have used the tape loom, Blosser said. They didn't have any children yet, so they had to use the device themselves to make the things they needed, she said.
“She still needs to use it, but she doesn't have any children to do it for her, so she has to do it for herself,” she explained.
Like Gibson, Blosser liked the easy-going pace of working on a tape loom.
“It's easy, so it's not a very stressful job,” Blosser said. “It's relaxing. And it's really rewarding because you get to make your own thing and you get to see what you made immediately, unlike spinning, where you spin your thread and you have to actually either knit it into something or crochet it.”
Blosser said tape looms were pretty common in the 1700’s, though not as much on the frontier.
“Every community would probably have somebody who had a loom and somebody who had a tape loom,” she said.
In today’s world, Blosser said, tape looms are used as a hobby or for historical demonstrations.
“It's more of a hobby or people using them at historic sites,” she said.
Jay Sprague of Parkersburg brought Trinity Sprague, 14, and Kailie Sprague, 12, to Prickett’s Fort for the lessons.
He said there is frontier history in the Parkersburg area, so Prickett’s Fort also appealed to them. He also said his family has “a connection to this time period in history.”
Trinity was looking forward to working on the tape loom.
“It looks nice,” she said.
Blosser said lessons are also scheduled Aug. 1-4. According to the park's Facebook page, people can call (304) 363-3030 to schedule a date and time.
The cost for adults 16 years and older is $20 per one-hour session.