We become artists because we think we have something to say. Something to share with another—an opinion, an idea, a dream. We believe we exist in a global society, where one action catalysts a second. I exited college during a miasmic confluence of distrust and disturbance. We hoped to realize by example. Some of us succeeded, some of us merely moved on.
Back in the early 70’s—idealistic—I went to study under a master weaver. She introduced me to the origins and simplicity of woven structure and design. A few years later, I followed an exodus out of the city to the mountains of North Carolina and began weaving wearables. But white was not satisfying, and Penland School of Crafts was a neighbor. I signed up for a course where I “met” dyeing. That acquaintance became a friend.
I refined and developed a new technique of warp painting. Historically, dye was applied to threads stretched between two points. My studio was small, weather too unpredictable, so I used my loom as the points and dyed the warp threads directly on it. This “dye painting, drying, and weaving” in place was a challenge but yielded intricate designs that melded fine art and fiber.
Then…I moved away, but I never stopped working with my hands.
In 2005, I moved “home.” One day, I stood on my porch, looked through my screened door and wondered, “why can’t I do that?” And so began my work in copper wire. I wove copper mesh tubes, large flats, molded my metal weavings into Thai “spirit houses,” wound it around found roots and branches, combined it with my hand spun wools. I used patinas and paints and had great times doing what no one else had done…by hand.
I weave on two looms. They are “twins.” One was purchased back in 1970—the loom on which I studied. The second was purchased second-hand a few decades later. Over the years, I have owned four other looms from tabletop to taking up the entire studio, but have let those go. For my two remaining, I have remade and replaced parts here and there on both, but they are family and deserving of attention.
And now, after almost a half century in front of a loom, I work primarily in silk, experimenting occasionally with other fibers, and I weave wearables…where I began so many years ago.
And it seems we have come full circle with the distrust and disturbance. Perhaps working more with our hands will calm and collect community. Only when I am not at the loom, do I have my fingers crossed.