“Harvey Mudd Welcomes Christy Matson and a New Jacquard Loom to the Makerspace,” by Kim Neal

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Artist and sometimes Mudd professor Christy Matson joined the makerspace stewards in April 2022 to help build Mudd’s new digital Jacquard loom in the makerspace.

Matson is a Los Angeles-based textile artist, whose art is exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Her art has been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and LACMA.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Class of 1996, the makerspace was able to purchase a Jacquard loom manufactured by Tronrud Engineering (Norway) in fall 2021. After traveling on a ship for about three months, the loom arrived at the Port of Long Beach. Although the port has been severely backlogged due to delays caused by the pandemic, the loom arrived on campus just before spring break.

Mudd is very lucky to have Matson’s help setting up the loom because she has about 10 years’ experience working with this same model of loom. Matson will provide a workshop to the makerspace stewards over the summer to show them best practices using the loom so they can help other students operate it. The loom will be available to all interested 5C students after a little training.

In addition to being a really fun and useful tool to weave with, Jacquard looms are important to computer science history. They were the first machines to use punch cards to relay instructions to a machine on how to perform an automated task. The Jacquard loom was an inspiration to Charles Babbage for his analytical engine and to Herman Hollerith, who used the idea of punch cards to store information and input information into a computing device which helped create IBM.

The fall 2022 HSA special topics class Fibers and Materials (Art 179), taught by Lindsey Preston Zappas, will use the Jacquard loom as part of its curriculum.