Generating my video tape curtains called for a labor saving device which I have called my Video Tape Loom.
You can view a video of the loom in action here.

While not a true loom, it is a simple machine and does save a lot of time when making my curtains of video tape. My first small curtain took me about 10 hours to make. Subsequent curtains made with the loom take under an hour and are much larger.

First, the supports.
I use my rolling scaffold at one side support and a 2x2 wooden post opposite. The scaffold is very stable, the wooden post has a cross brace (bottom) to keep it upright but still needs to be anchored to something. I often use a saw horse and clamp to keep it from falling over. Below, it is clamped to the white table.

On these, using some 10 cm or longer bolts, bolt two 2 x 4 x 250 cm wooden boards. They are able to rotate on the bolts using as many metal washers as needed to keep them from binding too badly to their supports. Nothing here is precise and it is a very flimsy affair, which is good if you wish to take it down quickly, but requires a bit of care when operating.

I run two or more cross pieces between the boards, the width and length of the curtain is determined here.
If I want a curtain one meter by five meters, I would make the width of the cross piece 1 meter and the length 2.5 meters as you wrap around once, in this case. Or, if you wish a thicker curtain, you would use the doubled length, or as in the previous example, 2.5 meters.
I estimate that there are 40 meters of tape on an 8-hour VHS cassette.

The result for a 2 meter by 2.5 meter curtain is show here:

Picture of the cross pieces in place


Charging the video tape spools.

I have a lot of old video cassettes. I rewind them and take them apart. Once the tape is in hand, I use a drill to pierce the center of the spool so I can string them up for unwinding. I find using a large metal washer or a used CD disc between the spools, on the white side helps smooth them when they unwind as the torque generated is substantial. The tape break if they bind too tightly. Clothes pins are good spacers and you do want to space the tapes somewhat evenly.


Cassets on a string

The tapes are then fixed to the "top" cross piece using plain scotch tape. Video tape is very fond of scotch tape and will cling to it very stongly so you have to be a bit careful.

Fixing the tapes

You can start winding at this point simply by turning the cross pieces. Also, if you experience a lot of wobble when rotating the device, another cross piece can help as will making sure that you are as square as you can be. Easy does it and soon you will have unwound a large amount of tape.


Unwinding

Fixing the tape to the curtain rod or board is easy, just slip another piece in between the loops and then use either an automatic stapler to fix the tape or double sided tape. Using tape is fast but remember, sticky tape and video tape bond quickly and tightly.

Once you cut the other side of the loops, the whole thing comes free. My Arc Noir project used a lot of video tape, you can see it
here
or you can also view a video of the loom in action here here .


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