Handwoven March/April 2018 Lookbook
I subscribe to Cooper Hewitt Museum’s Object of the Day emails. Cooper Hewitt is the New York City design wing of the Smithsonian Museum. Every day I get an email with a picture of something interesting and/or beautiful from the museum’s huge collection. Accompanying the photo is a short description of the object and what makes it important in the world of design. It’s a little burst of wonderfulness that I look forward to each day. September 2017 was textile month in New York, meaning many of the objects that month were especially interesting to me. I am happy to report a healthy number of handwoven items made the list.
The object of the day on September 18 was a beautiful wall hanging designed and woven by weaver Cynthia Schira in the 1980s. The title of the post was “Weaving Is My Language.”
The phrase stuck with me for the next month or so. I found myself wondering if perhaps the reason many weavers feel a strong sense of community is that we speak weaving, both literally and in expressing ourselves creatively. Weaving words and phrases are part of the English language, but when weavers hear and use words such as fabric, woven, and loom, I believe they interpret them differently than nonweavers do. I remember distinctly the day I realized that we use the word shuttle because it is something that goes back and forth, whether that motion is between the airport and a bus stop or from one side of a warp to the other. Creatively, many of us use weaving to express our feelings and make a statement about the world around us.
The March/April 2018 issue of Handwoven is about community and cultural traditions and how weaving interprets them. As I was looking at the projects, I thought about what each weaver was saying. Sarah H. Jackson’s Prayer Shawl says “Wrap yourself in this hug” while Sandee Jaastad’s placemats welcome you to Chanuka. Angela K. Schneider’s scarf reminisces about Mardi Gras from her time in New Orleans. Other weavers spoke about their families, such as Lucienne Coifman with her wavelet rep runner that honors her husband’s work and Nancy Dunlap with an interpretation of her family’s tartan. Connie Westbrook and Allen Walck used weaving to express the every day: swimming in a lap pool and the feeling of being torn between eras. Deborah Jarchow, Deborah Bagley, and Kathleen Farling all spoke about being part of various weaving communities. In her Traditions article, Anita Osterhaug recalls her first brush with bogolanfini and pays homage to it with a scarf stamped with a design in the mud cloth tradition.
Weaving is my language. It ties me to the weaving community and gives me a means to express myself creatively.