Finding inspiration in museum collections


Guild member Esther Peregrine created a silk scarf inspired by a betel nut bowl from the Spurlock Museum's collection. Photos courtesy of the Spurlock Museum.

Where do you find inspiration? Members of the Champaign-Urbana Spinners and Weavers Guild and the Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois worked together to create an exhibit of textiles inspired by artifacts from the museum's collection. Kim Sheahan, who coordinated and curated the Inspired by… exhibit explains, "Members of the museum staff (specifically chosen because they were not experts in fiberworking) picked about fifty artifacts from those in storage that represented the nine main world culture areas covered in the museum's galleries. Guild members were invited to come and look at the artifacts during one of their meetings so they could choose which ones to be 'inspired by.' Some members chose to make multiple artworks inspired by one artifact; others chose to make multiple artworks inspired by multiple artifacts. In the end, the exhibit contained thirty-eight fiber creations made by twenty-six artists inspired by twenty-seven artifacts." The exhibit took about three years to plan and complete, opened in August of 2013 and runs through March 9, 2014. There is still time to visit!


Guild member Debbie Mandel created a knit doily inspired by a Bavarian cup and saucer from the museum's collection.





The guild has continued to play an active role in the exhibit, talking with museum guests about the process of creating the textiles on display. Jane Barry, chair of the guild committee for the Spurlock project, said that the group has held a demonstration event and assisted with several tours of the exhibit. "I'm so proud of what they [the museum staff] have done with our works and especially proud of what our members have created."


This is the third collaborative project between the Spurlock Museum and the Champaign-Urbana Spinners and Weavers Guild. You can learn more about the 2007 project Why Knot? on the museum website.


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