Follow this link to Share Your Story!
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
My grandparents were weavers and I grew up standing at my grandfather’s elbow peering up at his 60″ Macomber loom. I wanted to try it, but touching was off-limits. So when I got my own paycheck, I bought a loom and wove lots of fabric in all kinds of weaves. I loved doubleweave and started weaving words and pictures. From there I realized I should try tapestry. I moved to a tiny tiny tiny village in Northern New Mexico and enrolled in a Fiber Arts degree at a community college where I learned traditional Hispanic weaving. During that course I met James Koehler and later became his apprentice. Now I weave tapestry in Santa Fe.
My dad was an art teacher in the 1960’s when he decided to study weaving at Haystack with Mary Walker Phillips. While there, I fell in love with the craft and taught myself everything I could from Mary Black’s Key to Weaving. Drawn to Navajo weaving and culture, I made a rug in that style with Jan Wagstaff at Mendocino Art Center the summer after high school. In college I continued to pursue my passion weaving tapestry. During the years I lived in San Francisco I kept in touch with the San Francisco tapestry weavers and others. Although I’ve had various day jobs, I’ve always kept my studio going and although I did more production weaving for a living, I always kept a tapestry on the loom and came back to it when I was between other projects. After a recent hiatus from my studio I am on the verge of warping a tapestry frame (Archie Brennan style) and launching a series based on photographs I’ve taken on several trips to Scotland. It’s calling me back….
East Greenwich, RI, USA
I struggled to earn a living with loom weaving for 8 years, then felt the urge to create images. So I went to grad school and got an MFA in painting, thinking I was done with weaving. Later, while teaching a weaving class on rigid heddle looms, I attached a little gouache still life to the warp, and wove it. I didn’t think much of it, but when photographing a large wall hanging for a prestigious show (juried by the late great Dianne Itter) I had to use up the roll of film, so I took photos of the still life. As I filled out my entry, I realized I was allowed 2 pieces, so, because I had slides, I entered the still life as the second piece.
1. Still Life was accepted, not the large wall hanging. 2. It won a prize (2 year subscription to FIBERARTS.) 3. It sold for $100.
After that I discovered that tapestry could be woven silently, unlike my big wall hangings, so it was the perfect art form for the mother of a young baby. I could weave in the next room while she slept.
I have always wanted to weave, but my life has also been spent outdoors and on the backs of horses. When it came time to decide what kind of animals I wanted on my farm, I chose Icelandic sheep. I chose them not just because of their great beauty but also because I could use their fleece for art. I learned to felt and dye and then spin and weave. I took several weaving courses with different artists but discovered that my love was Navajo weaving. I experimented and last Christmas gave myself a Navajo loom and began to create tapestry on it. I love pictures and have always drawn and worked with pastels, so tapestry gave me the opportunity to work with my own animals product and make pictures too. I love it and spend most of my time weaving when I am not caring for my sheep.
St. Louis, Missouri
During the early years of the AIDS epidemic, I was chaplain for an AIDS Hospice in New Orleans. For almost twelve years I watched the disease take the lives of hundreds of young people. In 1998, burnout necessitated a change of pace and I was encouraged to take a one year sabbatical. I moved to the Nacimiento (which means “place of rebirth”) Mountains of New Mexico to bring closure to unresolved grief and loss. While there I discovered the Northern New Mexico Community College, a school originally founded for the preservation of Spanish-Colonial arts. I enrolled in a Tapestry class where I learned from Hispanic, Navajo, and Swedish masters. Following that five-week course, I was awarded a scholarship for a two year program which trained me in the full spectrum of weaving: shearing, spinning, dying, weaving, and marketing. The one year sabbatical turned into a four year stay. In the place of rebirth, tapestry became, and remains, the instrument of healing for a broken spirit.
Mill Valley, CA USA
The first tapestry I remember was at an elderly relative’s apartment. It was a dark and dreary verdure that hung in a hallway. I remember thinking what an ugly thing to hang on your wall. Some years later I saw a Lurçat tapestry in someone’s home. It took me a while to realize that both were tapestries. Enlightenment happened when I understood that tapestries could be boldly colored and express modern sensibilities.
As a child I had done a lot of sewing and some needlepoint but the tapestry medium was foreign to me. In the 1970s I plunged into macramé, basket-making, and eventually weaving. And then there was an opportunity to make tapestry. It has been a joyride ever since. I have gone on to appreciate many different kinds of tapestry across the ages as well as the globe. (That verdure now lives with me and it isn’t so bad after all!)
Dahlonega, GA, USA
I discovered tapestry in an undergraduate textiles class when students were required to do a variety of weaving techniques. I’ve always drawn and painted but I found working with fibers to be a satisfying process. Still, I wanted to “make pictures” and I spent many years attempting to satisfy that desire through other weaving methods. At one time, in fact, I had a year-long immersion into possibilities of a 24-shaft computer aided loom. The potential was there for more complex images but the fabric wasn’t yet what I wanted.
What pushed me over the edge into tapestry was seeing the World Tapestry Today exhibit in Chicago during 1988 Convergence. The tapestries in that exhibit were revelatory for me! The image-making possibilities and the beautiful surface quality of flat woven tapestry just astounded me and I knew that was what I wanted to. Now, over twenty-five years later, I continue to weave tapestry and I haven’t looked back!
Lismore, NSW, Australia
I was having a lull in my creative output after earlier forays into ceramics, pastel drawing and some applique. I had felt for years that there was some form of ‘fabric’ art that I would find when I had more time, one that might suit my nomadic lifestyle more than ceramics did. I was so out of touch I wasn’t even familiar with the words ‘textiles or ‘fibre’. But as my work commitments began to reduce I found myself curling up in bed every night with copies of a fibre magazine that I noticed in the library. Suddenly I realised there was an army of people making amazing things in ways I had never encountered before – like an underground revolution noone told me about. Surely there was some place for me in there. Then I saw it – a tapestry weaving! And I instantly knew “that’s it.” Every step in the learning process has deepened that love. My earlier dabblings in drawing and design were never very disciplined, as if there was not a lot of point to developing them for their own sake. But once I started tapestry I was so hungry for all the art training I could get as tapestry gave the process purpose. I hoped that one day I would be motivated to draw for its own sake, not just as a design tool. I feel I have attained that now, and I am now able to let that love spread out to a few other mediums. You need to love tapestry to give it what it needs and I treasure being part of such a unique international community.
Second Valley Forest, South Australia
I was working as a educational TV director when I first saw Archie Brennan’s amazing tapestries. As a newbie rug weaver I was lucky enough to be accepted, in 1976, for a month course (2 weeks in Armidale, 2 weeks in Steiglitz Australia). I was turned on to tapestry in a big way – and two years later my large tapestry, “Tip of Your Tongue,” was accepted for the Lausanne Tapestry Biennale, one of 90 selected from 2000 entries and the first Australian to ever be chosen.
I’m still very much involved, 37 years later, with tapestry – using my media production skills to produce the 16 hour, 8 DVD series Woven Tapestry Techniques on Archie Brennan and Susan Martin Maffei. It was filmed in my weaving studio in Second Valley, South Australia. So far we have sold over 300 copies to novice & advanced tapestry weavers all over the world. I’m so proud that the legacy, skills & philosophy of two wonderful tapestry weavers has been recorded for posterity and as a great training aid for newbie weavers.
Olney, Maryland, USA and Munich, Germany
In 1959, when I was a theater set designer’s assistant I was sent to Cologne to see a ‘work’ by a certain Jean Lurcat, whose name I never heard before. His tapestry was hanging in the City Hall, “Wine, Music, Song.” It was about 70 square meters large (about 80 square yards) with a zipper in the center to allow walking through to another room. I fell in love. From that day on I left everything else and became a tapestry designer, studying in Aubusson and finally becoming the last assistant of Lurcat in 1964-65. Within 3 days I learned all about the spirit and essence of tapestry! (Or, was it three hours?)
My mother thought I should learn weaving. When I was a little girl, almost nine years of age, she took me to an old, very fat, lady’s house. The lady was an artist named Mrs. Heyman. She wore a tent-like dress and always had a cigar end in the corner of her mouth. My mother had read an article about her in the local newspaper. Mrs. Heyman taught children tapestry weaving in her own house. The children were provided with small wooden frames and rags. With these rags they learned simple tapestry techniques. I went to see Mrs. Heyman every Tuesday after school for five years and I simply loved her and I loved the weaving. It was a sort of magical world that could be found in her little house. Many of the children she taught weaving have chosen to go into art as grown-ups. They have become painters, weavers, textile printers etc. It is more than thirty years ago that my mother first took me to see Mrs. Heyman and the love of tapestry weaving has stayed in my heart ever since.
I saw a fabulous exhibition two years ago at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh in 2011. It had such an impact that I started tapestry weaving and have kept weaving ever since.
I have been working with tapestries for several years. I have attended the textile design classes at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. I really love the wool as a material combined with other natural fibers. I have published my work on:
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
I was a child of the 1960s, enamored of all things fiber, particularly attracted to the imagery of summer and winter weaves on the floor loom. I eagerly signed up for a night course in floor loom weaving in 1974 in Rochester, NY. The instructor was Emily DuBois. I remember a dozen eager faces waiting outside the room with a haggard Emily to greet us, informing us a bureaucratic error had removed all the looms to a place unknown. Emily created a new off loom curriculum that night, with a different focus each week, one of which was tapestry. After I got a taste, I never looked back.
Years ago, when I was between 5 and 7 years old, during one of my vacation visits to the village where my grandparents lived, I was impressed with a big tapestry loom with a beautiful, red kilim – traditional Bulgarian technique weaving – red with roses – one of the symbols of my country. It was in my grandmother’s neighbor’s house. I still remember this big loom and this amazing kilim. When I first tried to weave it was easy and very exiting work. Everything smelled great – the wool, nature, the village – this is part of the magic weaving here in my country. I was totally in love. My grandmother had a special room with a big old loom for weaving rugs. I still remember. Years after this time, when my daughter was 17, and after years traveling, I began to study. Working day by day I tried to learn more and more of the traditions of my country, different weaving traditions, different techniques. My love came back ….
I don’t remember the day I discovered that I loved tapestry because it seemed to be in my heart, soul and bones from the beginning, but not in the way you might think. I’m not a tapestry maker. I’m interested in the stories within tapestries. I’m a writer. I’m convinced that my Flemish background is the reason I love textiles. My Flemish families (both sides) come from Tielt and Ruiselede, near the place with the first linen market in Europe. They lived near the River Leie, where early linen was retted. And, of course, they lived near the center of tapestry in Europe.
Looking at a tapestry, I get the same feeling I get when viewing a rich Dutch still life. There’s an intake of breath and then I begin to take in the overall colors and finally the details. I marvel at the artistry and dedication. I believe that tapestries belong in our finest museums, along side magnificent oil paintings and statues. I believe they belong in homes, in smaller museums, in essence, everywhere.
I was planning on being an archaeologist. I even had a place at university. Then one evening I saw a television programme about a craft school in Thomastown, Kilkenny, Ireland. The school was small – only 20 students – and housed in a converted water mill on the river Nore. The teachers were practising craftspeople who each taught two days per week. There was a potter, a silversmith, a batik artist, a silkscreen printer and a tapestry weaver. I had a little experience already having done a short spinning, dyeing and weaving course with the Dublin weaver Mary O’Rourke. At Grennan Mill however I discovered tapestry and I knew it was what I was going to do. Three years of art school in Edinbugh followed and I never took up my place at University.
My discovery of tapestry has been a series of brief encounters throughout my life. At age ten, I began with a small upright loom that I asked my grandfather to make for me. I later worked as an art teacher and encouraged the creativity of my students. During this time my looms collected dust as other directions entered my creative life. Instead of weaving, I would cherish the wonderful feeling, when I passed the tapestries hanging in the office tower lobbies while riding the King street car in Toronto. On a visit to the Cluny Museum in Paris, I experienced a shift in my perspective. I sat for several hours in front of the “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries. At that moment I decided that I would learn how to create tapestries. My passage into the full time practice of tapestry weaving completed my life and continues to challenge my creative energies.
Adelaide, South Australia
I had been playing with needlepoint design since 2000, and had always been interested in tapestry – mainly because a lot of people called my work ‘tapestry’ and I had to keep correcting them! My partner found an advertisement for a correspondence course in tapestry weaving through South West TAFE in Warrnambool, gave me the magazine and said ‘you should do this!’. I thought about it for about 5 minutes, applied for the course and got in to start the next year.
My aim is to produce series of works using both woven tapestry and needlepoint.
My love of tapestry appeared to me from my childhood in a small village in the countryside of Moldova where I lived. I remember seeing a carpet at my grandmother’s. As a child I spent hours watching artists draw floral motifs and characters from popular stories for carpet designs. At age 13, I had the chance to learn the basics of drawing, sculpture and graphic expression. After school, I moved to Chisinau where I was hired in a carpet factory. I started as an apprentice designer in the creative workshop of the company. Then I became a pattern maker, taking my designs on paper and scaling them so that they could serve as a cartoon for weaving. In our workshop we were often exposed to tapestries of smaller size made by artisans.
After obtaining my degree, I continued to work in this creative business, but as an artist and designer.
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA
I fell in love with the wonderful surface of tapestry in the 1990s as a student in the fiber arts program at the University of Louisville. While my work then focused on handmade paper, I kept thinking, someday I’m going to learn to weave tapestry. About five years ago, my fiber professor let me know she was selling some of the looms. She assured me I could weave tapestry on a four-harness floor loom, and I jumped at the chance. First, of course, I had to learn how to warp the loom and weave. That set me off on yet another detour, weaving and selling hand-dyed scarves and shawls. But thanks to the efforts of friends in the Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild, I was able to build a small copper pipe loom to learn on. Thanks to Tapestry Weavers South, I’ve taken advantage of workshops with Tommye Scanlin and Pat Williams, Kathe Todd-Hooker and Mary Zicafoose. Now most of my tapestry work is done on a Mirrix loom. But soon. . . I’m going to weave a big tapestry on my floor loom!
Issaquah, WA, USA
I have always had a strong interest in the old ways that have been largely forgotten in our modern culture. The notion of creating something from the most basic of raw materials eventually drew me to spinning and tapestry. The direction of my discovery was guided by my location at the time I began my journey. I was living in a town bordering the Navajo reservation and traveling the vast region for my work in the field of education. It was during this time that I fell in love with Navajo weaving.
Beginning with a Navajo spindle and a homemade frame loom, I set about spinning raw wool into yarn, dyeing with local plants, and weaving. The results of those first years of exploration were unsightly, but the path is all about the journey. I weave using Navajo techniques with great respect and admiration for the culture and the beauty it brings to my existence. I integrate my love for the natural world by symbolically depicting moments in time experienced in the great Pacific Northwest.
Portland, OR, USA
While studying for my undergraduate degree at Oregon College of Art and Craft I fell in love with floor loom weaving. I loved the rhythm of throwing the shuttle and my stocking feet dancing on the treadles. One day a friend of mine who worked at the school asked me if I would like to have her old tapestry loom. I gladly accepted, having quickly learned that a fiber artist should rarely, if ever, say no to free equipment! I continued to weave all sorts of patterns on my floor loom while the tapestry loom sat unused. But I couldn’t bring myself to part with it, even when a brief stint of unemployment meant selling my floor loom. After a couple years, an image popped into my head that I wanted to weave, and ever since then I have been passionately pursuing the craft. And I’m so grateful I held onto the little loom all those years. I love the challenge of creating a piece that combines my love of painting and weaving with the old metaphor of weaving as a form of storytelling.
I first discovered tapestry weaving in 1981 – liked it but went on to pursue 8 harness weaving. I became a Leclerc loom dealer and taught classes for a long time! I attended several Convergence conferences and took “mini” workshops on tapestry. Much to my regret now, I never delved deeply into the beautiful art of tapestry. (Oh the creative time I wasted.)
Due to neck issues, harness weaving became more difficult for me – to hold my head in a downward position to throw the shuttle and warp my loom. So with much heartfelt thought, I sold my loom.
I was able to purchase a beautifully restored Dryad 2 harness, 36″ tapestry floor loom and a 24″ Mirrix Loom. I have been working on Rebecca Mezoff’s online course and recently took a class with Joan Griffin in her home studio. I am soaking up all the weaving knowledge I can find.
I am in love with the tapestry weaving process. I feel I have definitely come full circle in my weaving life and it feels so good to be home again!
The passion for working with textile came to me during the period of working as an interior designer. However, the inspiration for making tapestry appeared to me in sleep. Waking up from the dream, I had the only one word in my mind that I have never heard before – “Gobelin”.
Thereby, the acquaintanceship with this ancient craft was stricken up. I began to tutor in weaving, taking lessons from one of Ukrainian masters of rural traditional woven ornament in Poltava region. The infinitely aggregate of trials and experiments at the workshop underlined my technique in weaving, which is to create a subtle gradation in colors, the painting effect.