An important aspect of my textile design education at RISD (which I am only now starting to appreciate) is the weaving had to have a purpose beyond being fun & satisfying. Before the industrial revolution, Handweaving was vital to civilization. Weavers & dyers were revered for their mastery. Now people are more likely to say “Do folks still do that?”
I know I come back to this question time and again. At RISD, we wove to design for the textile industry—not as an end in itself, wove to develop a design sense as a means to earn a living as a part of the huge textile industry. Now fabric production is removed from our sight and pretty much invisible and mysterious to the average person—like milk coming from cartons.
I’ll never forget the day back in the mid 60’s when my cousin Judy came by while I was weaving. She looked at the weaving, looked up at me, then back to the weaving and back at me—and in an incredulous voice, stammered, “This is…CLOTH!” I don’t think she ever realized until that very moment how cloth was created. And I don’t think she was unusual in this.
Even though I strayed from the beaten path—away from New York and industry—to become a studio weaver, my training at RISD haunted me for years. The weaving had to stand for something—had to mean something—exist beyond the finished product—had to support me—bring me fame and fortune (and I don’t know where this came from)—had to be useful, to boot. This is a mighty tall order for a scarf.
Over the years, I have come to realize weaving also has the power to heal a broken spirit and a broken heart. And in healing my spirit, I know the power of weaving to heal– on many levels.
What you get out of weaving equals what you put into it.
So—What thoughts are you weaving into your cloth?
Do you weave with intention?
Why is it some days nothing seems to go right?
And other days it’s like someone else’s hands are throwing the shuttle.
When you cut a weaving off the loom, do you sometimes look at your weaving in amazement and think, “Who wove this?”