Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Fiber Story

I'm still working on the Surface Design 101 presentation - coming down the home stretch though which is a good thing since it's 2 days from now. Above is a piece of handwoven fabric that I embellished by stamping Lumiere paints in the leaf design. The original fabric was a hand-dyed warp I had done in 5/2 perle cotton. This was a fabric woven a while back that originally was to be used for a vest or kimono top only I didn't like the colors for that so the yardage has been used for other projects such as Christmas cards this past year. This remaining piece that I've stamped is probably only 20" x 28" - I'm not sure what will become of it - maybe for embellishing or piecing, maybe a purse, it will come to me after it sits on the shelf a bit.

Ok, so finally the story of how I found the fiber arts, yes Susan, I'm finally getting to this challenge.

A little background - from a very young age, encouraged by my grandmother, I learned to sew, crochet and embroider. I was always drew, very little in the way of painting though. I was an art major in college concentrating mostly on fine line pencil drawings, silkscreening, etchings and lithographs...........and then on the other side of reason the business and accounting classes so I'd be able to support myself once out on my own.

So fast forward to 1986 a visit to Oregon (where we now live) from DC where we both grew up and lived. My aunt had taken up weaving and that summer she was participating in a loom exchange where guild members threaded up their looms to different weave structures and passed them around. On our way into town we needed to drop off a loom, her car was small so I had this table loom sitting on my lap. On the 45 minute drive to town I kept looking at this loom thinking this looked like it might be fun to learn. Upon returning home I looked for a weaving class, found one with a great teacher outside of DC, took the class and have never turned back. Mary Alice Hearn is an incredible weaving teacher - she was one of the first to receive her COE from Handweavers Guild of America, in 1976, I think. Not long after the class she steered me toward a used 10 harness 40" wide Macomber - it's my all time favorite loom. Other smaller second looms have come and gone but this Macomber will be here for the duration. Currently I also own a 24" 8 harness Macomber that was originally built for Mary Meigs Atwater - I even have newspaper clippings showing her teaching at a workshop sitting at this loom.

Also on that trip to Oregon we decided to buy property for retirement, of course we couldn't wait until retirement so we transferred to the SanFran Bay area for 2 1/2 years while we built up here, moved to Oregon winter 1992. Sadly we are no longer in that original house we built - I loved that house. But lives change and being 45 minutes from one town and 1 1/2 hours from a bigger town became too much driving so we moved in closer in 2003. We're still on acreage but only 10 minutes out of town - much less time spent on the road and many less miles put on the vehicles.

Ok, so back to fiber - I said I would never spin, well I should have never said that because I succumbed to spinning, then decided I need to start drop spindling.......mostly because of the beautiful drop spindles out there to covet. Now I teach drop spindling - my most fun class to teach. I also do quite a bit of dyeing and some felting but my first love remains weaving - I could spend all day planning and weaving off projects. I currently say I'll never own fiber animals - that is true - just won't happen - not enough hours in the day. And this is not one of those that later I'll change my mind - no fiber critters for me, a happy golden retriever is all I can handle.

So for the future - I'll continue learning as much as I can about the fiber arts. For the past year I've been looking at the AVL 24 harness compu-dobby workshop loom, even picked up a laptop last September at a back to school sale that will eventually run the loom. I've been so busy since the beginning of the year that I haven't even thought about ordering it plus in this economy it seems like it's something I should hold off on a bit.....and then I need to decide do a take a class at AVL before buying to make sure this is the model I want. There are also classes in the software, I know I would learn a tremendous amount but since I currently work with another weaving software for designing I think I could manage without that class for the time being. So much to think about, so little time.

And now back to the studio to organize myself for the surface design presentation.


  1. What an amazing journey you've had!
    Mary's loom? You have Mary's loom!
    Now I have to come down and see you :)

    Thank you for sharing your story.... how crafty of your aunt to get you to hold that loom!
    Talk about dangling bait under your nose.


  2. Thanks for your story, isn't it interesting that each of us come to weaving via a unique path! Your looms sound wonderful and have such a rich history of notable weavers attached to them.....
    I really like your surface designed piece, sooooo lovely!

  3. I enjoyed reading your story of how you came to weaving. We all have detailed stories of our lifes fibre journey and I love reading them.
    A wonderful post. btw love your work.

  4. Mary Alice Hearn now lives in Durango, Colorado. The Intermountain Weavers Conference will be in Durango this year, as it was in 2007. She would be so pleased to hear from you.
    Bonnie Inouye, near Crested Butte, CO


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