Fall is my favorite season. In Michigan, we're having amazing weather - crisp air, warm sun. The gorgeous paintbrush of Fall is being used all around us. I'm enjoying golfing and leaf peeping and cider - ever aware that the first few flakes of snow aren't too far away.
Fall usually means the busy production of items for holiday sales. But the pandemic has thrown a kink into holiday sales. Many artists are going virtual - either alone or in groups. As you may have notice I've removed my sales presence from this site (it's much cheaper this way).
But have no fear! I'll be offering some of my hand-woven creations via this site or through my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/25thousandbears/
I'm learning as I go...so, as always, please have patience. I may also have a small amount of glasswork available. I'm trying to enjoy my fall, rather than work through it...but it's possible....here are a few happy holiday suncatchers I worked up for a friend's store in Manistique.
However, to be honest much of my Fall has been spent reading and thinking. I love my local libraries - through them I was able to loan Mary Meigs Atwater's, Weaving a Life, from an Art School library miles away. Mary is credited with reviving American handweaving with her analysis of colonial weaving, her teaching and her writing. Her memoir, however, is only 1/2 weaving-related. The first half is a fascinating look into her life pre-weaving when she was the wife of a mining engineer living in Montana, Mexico and Bolivia in the early 1900's. Living in mining camps and raising her children, primarily alone, in rural and rugged conditions is a fascinating glimpse into life before our luxuries. Her entries about the typhoid and flu pandemics are oddly reassuring because they remind me that as horrid as our times may be now we have had other wretched periods in our history that we have survived.
Mary leveraged weaving in her role as a volunteer Occupational Therapist (in the early days of that field) assisting injured soldiers returning from WWI.
"People suffering from anxieties about which they can do nothing, people trying to live again
after some shattering loss...whose lives are unsatisfactory or incomplete, all find in weaving a great resource. It is so impersonal, so very old, with such boundless variety, such opportunities for beauty! And there is for most people a curiously instinctive pleasure in the handling of threads...." Mary Meigs Atwater, from The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving.
I often call on my own "internal therapist" to beat back the constant irritating little voice in my head that delights in berating me for the time I take learning to weave. (Usually it chatters, "This is useless and unproductive!" and I retort "oh gasp! oh horrors!" sarcastically).
Mary, my heroine, opines:
"We are two-handed creatures, and the close connections between hands, heart, and mind are a part of our being. The age of machinery greatly impoverished our lives through depriving our hands of so much of the work that for time immemorial had been their function. The great modern revival of handicraft is a wholesome thing, making for peace, comfort, and pleasant living...even if nobody ever made a yard of handwoven fabric for sale."
This gives me a thrill. I cheer out loud, "yes!" I can enjoy my peace at the loom. I can nod sagely as she writes, "...Most people, I believe, need a good deal of red for its warmth and comfort..." I can weave without the specter of production looming over my shoulder.
Instead, I can feel unapologetic for the quiet thrill of Tyche lying next to my feet. I relish the beauty of the colors in the cloth that I'm weaving and that is, literally, falling into my lap. I can find comfort in the woven cloth - thrilled with my new experience weaving yarn into wearable fabric.
Reading Mary's work even gave me the courage to send my tunic pictures to our state guild's virtual exhibit (see Michigan League of Handweavers Virtual Fiber Exhibit : both my tunic and a treasured needle felted piece are posted).
In closing, I'll leave you with my favorite quote from the book. Honest and grimly hopeful (as much of her writing is), it seemed apropos for Fall 2020:
"Weaving is so old. It has come through a million wars. It will come through this one, if a single pair of human hands is left alive." Mary Meigs Atwater