Sunday, July 24, 2016

Megan Karlen - our spring work study student - in her own words.


Guaranteed to make you smile.

100% guaranteed to make you smile: go to Marshfield
School of Weaving and take a seat at an 18th century barn loom.

Maybe it’s because I grew up wanting to cut the ropes that separated me from every early-American period room I toured with my very historically-based parents. Ok, maybe. But I had friends visit MSW while I was there and without exception, each person was fascinated with the weaving barn and totally excited when I suggested they sit at the loom and feel what it was like to weave.
 When I got to the school, Kate took me straight to a wall of dyed fibers and told me to pick colors for my warp. And then, she led me upstairs to a weaver’s paradise: a barn loft with magnificent looms and all the tools of the trade. I was now not only in the same room as the antique items I’ve always wanted to touch, I was now expected (happily) to learn how to use them!  
 Kate brought me to a gigantic warping board and taught me how to wind a warp with multiple colors threaded through a skarne. She taught me complicated “cross”: under/over/under/over, thumb in, palm up, put the cross on, loop around the beginning peg and repeat. Winding the warp is a dance with the threads.
 Back at the loom: I beam on. Let it be known that I came to MSW with some weaving experience but beaming on a barn loom is crazy-fun. You end up with curtains of warp threads hanging off weights and winding onto tree-trunk-sized back beams. You are climbing in and out of a 200-year-old hand-crafted loom the size of a four-poster bed. Seriously, fun.
 Master weavers Kate and Justin tutored me on how to speed-thread heddles (lol, ok, ok! I’m still working on it!) And, in the home stretch, I sley the reed, attach the harnesses, tie up the treadles, learn a bunch of new knots and finally, finally, I get to climb onto the built-in slanted wooden bench and begin to weave.
 Everything leading up to this moment is historical, manual, seemingly complicated but oddly simple, but nothing prepares you for the moment that you actually get to feel the loom in action.
 The slant of the bench leans you forward onto the breast beam, your feet feel like they are on a walk as you press each treadle in the order of the pattern, you create a rhythm with your feet and your hands as you let fly the shuttle through the sheds. The beater bar actually bounces as it packs your weft into place.


The whole action is fluid and fascinating. History literally comes alive as this dance transports you back in time.

The Marshfield School of Weaving in April.

A view of the studio.
Hand-dyed yarn for a warp faced stair runner.

Another view of the studio.

The counting chain on the carpet warp.

Beaming on.

The lashing knot.

Carpet on loom.




Saturday, June 11, 2016

Past, Present and Future Students -Lemuel & Jessie Hudson….in their own words.

Before handing you over to Lem & Jessie's account of how they came to MSW and how it changed their lives I just need to add that they have also significantly changed ours.  Due to their overwhelming generosity, we have been able to start the "Lemuel and Jessie Hudson Scholarship Fund" to help students in need find a place at the school.  We are honored to have them be a part of the MSW family!


"Marshfield, Vermont. That’s what it said. Marshfield, Vermont. Where on earth was Marshfield, Vermont? Having googled “beginner weaving class” the web had brought me to Eaton Cemetery Road. (I did wonder if that cemetery was where the less than successful students ended up.) I mustered all my courage and phoned to make arrangements for me to take my first class. I was so relieved to speak to a warm and very helpful person who was very glad to accept my registration. My husband had been very supportive of my plans but assured me that he would stay and at home and “tend things” so that I could go. The next day I was calling to change the reservation to include the two of us. “Yes, that will be my husband and myself”, I said. “Oh....not so many husband and wife weaving teams?” Hum, maybe not such a good idea. But we forged ahead. Having braved the New Jersey Turnpike and lived to tell the tale we were nearly giddy as we arrived at the school. Monday morning came and we met Kate, Norman, Lynnette and Justin in the barn and I suspect verified that we were indeed “Southern” in our mind set. We went to work and joyfully have never looked back. Lem was as Kate put it, “like a fish thrown into water”. He wove a wool throw and a baby blanket in his first class. I finished my wool throw and our lives were forever changed. Then Lem found Kate’s stash in the barn. It was filled with old looms that just needed some love and soon we were making plans to return to load our truck with the carcasses of looms that would become projects in his wood working shop. Now we have built a studio on our farm where all those old looms have come back to life. There are several new weavers joining us to learn and explore weaving in nearly every fiber and fashion we can find. Bi-yearly visits to Marshfield insure that Kate and the gang continue to hone our skills for us and everyone at MSW have become like family.
 Why learn to hand weave? Not exactly sure...but for us it was similar to the calling that those early 20th c. proponents of the “Craftsman” movement, or the Shakers - “Hands to work, Hearts to God”. Marshfield School of Weaving has changed our lives and enriched them immensely. It is our sincere hope to see to it that this school and those who have given their skills and hearts to it will remain for a very long time. Thank you dear friends....you have given us the skills to fill our retirement with productive joy!"
Lem & Jessie's first projects in 2013 - two wool throws
and a baby blanket.
Jessie weaving an overshot rug in 2014.
Lem weaving warp faced carpet in 2014.
Lem's rag rug warp and Jessie's linen overshot in 2015.
Wool Throw woven at the Delaware studio.
Restored barn loom from MSW.
Another wool throw woven in Delaware.
Jessie's overshot.
More carpet by Lemuel.
Another warp faced carpet in the Delaware studio.
Teaching the grandson to weave.
Another grandson and the future generation.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Former Student - Craig Evans ….in his own words.

"I first learned to weave in a small studio in New York City in 1975, on a contemporary Harrisville floor loom.  After two courses in that studio, and another course elsewhere, I began a small business out of my tiny Manhattan apartment of weaving scarves and shawls, selling the products through craft fairs and private commissions.  I also did some production weaving for a professional weaver in Manhattan doing her own line of textiles.  In 1979, I left New York and my professional practice to undertake the full time study of traditional weaving at the Marshfield School of Weaving.  After a six week intensive course with four other students, I was able to stay on living and working at the school with Norman and assisting in the teaching of new students for another year.  I remained affiliated the School for another three years, living in my own residence and helping out at the school and doing my own weaving.  I waited tables to support myself.

This was the most active period of my life as a professional weaver, and certainly the most productive.  I was involved in numerous juried exhibitions and was a juried member of the Society for Arts and Crafts in Boston, and the State Craft Center at Frog Hollow in Middlebury, VT.  I was selected competitively as an Artist-in-Residence for six years with the Vermont Council on the Arts, as well as producing my own woven goods for sale.  In 1981 I participated in a large juried state-wide exhibition and was awarded one of two “Awards for Technical Excellence” by juror, Jack Lenor Larsen. In 1985, Kate, Norman myself and Mary Worley mounted a year-long exhibition of our traditional weaving that circulated to several galleries throughout the state. 

In 1986, tired of being poor, I moved to Boston to return part-time to my other profession as a psychotherapist.  My equipment was stored and my weaving was limited to use of the looms at the school in Marshfield when I could visit for an extended period of time.  During that time, I completed seven yards of tweed, which was professionally tailored into a sports coat and vest; five yards of singles linen for shirting material and five yards of linen for vest and pants.

In 1992 I purchased my current home in Brookfield, NH and restored the 1785 center chimney Cape. By 1994 I was able to return to some limited spinning and weaving.  As a result of my pursuit of part-time evening studies at Tufts University, I was awarded a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies in 1999, with a specialty in small history museums.  In more recent years, the emphasis on my craft has shifted towards consulting with museums regarding their textiles and textile tools, gathering my own extensive collection of hand-woven antique textiles and tools, and demonstrations and presentations on the same subject to a variety of interested groups and cultural events.  Since being in Brookfield, I have had a small business selling textiles, looms and wheels and the assorted tools used with both and in flax preparation. I developed a bit of specialty in great wheels and have enjoyed learning more and more about the various makers and aspects of each wheel.  I continued to spin and dye, and to weave occasional projects on my own barn frame loom.


In 2008 and again in 2014 I was awarded an “Apprenticeship Grant” from the NH State Council on the Arts.  This allowed me to work intensively with an “apprentice”, teaching them what I’ve learned about the techniques and tools of the trade of the pre-industrial revolution period in northern New England with a focus on domestic weaving.  Similarly, studying the socio-cultural and economic contexts of the same period in which traditional or heritage weaving thrived has always been an interest of mine and the grant afforded me an opportunity to share that with the student in a museum setting at the NH Farm Museum in Milton, NH.

At least once or twice a year I get to visit the school and am always absolutely enthused by the creative energy and work being accomplished under Kate and the staff. I treasure my friendship with Norman and Kate and all that I continue to learn from them.  From time to time I wonder what life would have been like had I stayed more concentrated on weaving."

Craig and Kate at their first session at MSW - 9/1979.

Craig in 1979 - at the farm connected with MSW.

Linen Towels - Traditional checks and M's & O's
Hand dyed, Hand spun Weft  - Wool Twill Blanket.
Hand dyed, Hand spun Weft - Wool Twill Blanket
Linen Tablecloth in M's & O's.
Overshot Coverlet in Sea Stars Pattern
Dyed with Black Walnuts.
Wool Twill Shawl.
Overshot Pillows in Sun, Moon & Stars Pattern.
Hand spun, Hand dyed weft.
Loom Shaped Hooded Pullover Jacket-
Irish & Welsh Wool & Alpaca.
Working on the apprenticeship grant at  the Farm Museum.
Craig weaving on his barn loom at home.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Former Student - Phyllis Detwiler of Periwinkle Handwovens…in her own words.

"In 1986, living on my farm in Orford NH, an ad for MSW in Threads Magazine caught my eye. Learning to weave had been on my to do list and the time was right. Arriving on a Sunday, the school was quiet. I went into the barn to look around and was awed by the scene. The studio was so beautiful with the antique looms, the spinning wheels, the view of out of the wraparound windows....The scent of the wool, and, from an open window, the breeze announced that someone was cutting hay nearby. Monday morning found me starting the warp for a Scottish Wedding Blanket. It was hard to believe that the entire project would be finished by weeks end. Norman set the bar high enough for his students to work hard. Kate was an invaluable assistant to Norman. I don’t think either of them thought I’d last as a weaver. Not only did I last through that blanket (which is one of my most beloved- and after 30 years- bedraggled possessions), I continued to study with, and occasionally vex, Norman. The school became an important focus in my life, I joined the board of directors at the school and served until 1991when a career move required me to leave Northern New England and return to the Boston area. I stayed in touch with Kate and Norman and visited the school as often as possible. Over the course of the 30 years since that first week at MSW, my life has changed and evolved as our lives do. Career, marriage, child, moves. Through it all, my looms have accompanied me. I owned a busy yarn shop on Cape Cod for several years, Blue Heron Yard Studio, and always kept a loom in the shop-the exposure was excellent. I closed the yarn shop to concentrate on weaving for a client list developed during those years in Barnstable Village and have never looked back. I live in Newport RI now, and have studio space in the Shady Lea Mill in N. Kingstown RI. The Shady Lea Mill is an incredible community of artists and artisans that is a pleasure to be a part of. It’s a serious and supportive environment to work in.The big event each year is Open Studios weekend, the First Weekend of December. This past December over 6500 people came through the Mill on that one weekend. Standing the in the whirlwind of visitors and customers in my studio, I thought for a moment about far I’d come from that lovely summer day 30 years ago when I was totally captivated -and intimidated- but doggedly determined to master the art of designing and creating textiles."
Cotton Upholstery Fabric
Cotton Scarf
Cotton Upholstery Fabric
on Rattan Chair
Mohair Throw
8 Shaft Alpaca Throw
Cotton Towels
Huck Towels
Detail of Cotton Towels.
Warp Faced Wool Carpet
Rug - "Seascape Series"
in linen and wool.
Cotton Scarf.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Birthday's, Blues & Barn Looms.

After our influx of new men weavers in early March, we were then inundated with projects featuring the color blue. Another new student from Brooklyn - Renata (Ray) Mosci - came up for the last two weeks of March to work on Saki Ori, huck lace linen and an alpaca throw. Fortunately on her second day here, March obliged us with one of the beautiful 60deg. days so we were able to set up the indigo vat outside and get all the fabric dyed for her project. Dosia also experimented with dyeing her already woven rugs in the indigo vat with some amazing results!
Another highlight of March was that we celebrated 5 of our local students birthdays with two great potluck lunches. The first was for Jerusha Fox and Jen Eger (sorry no photos of that one) and the second was for Emily Falta, Ada Schenk and Linda Gabrielson. There was no shortage of desserts for either potluck which is always a good antidote to the crazy weather this time of year. And then to top off the month, another one of our "for sale" barn looms had headed off for a new home in Brooklyn. Ray was so enchanted with the one that she worked on during her two week stay that she decided to take one home with her. It's nice to know that yet another barn loom now resides in Brooklyn!
Dosia's latest creation -
A warp faced rug dyed with Indigo.
More of the same warp.
A beautiful day for dyeing Indigo!

Ray getting ready to weave her Saki Ori.


Ray planning the next color sequence.
Ray's finished rug and mat inspired by
Saki Ori.

A Birthday Lunch!

The three birthday girls - Emily, Ada and Linda.

Ray sorting through the parts of her newly
acquired barn loom.

Ray and Drew washing and oiling the loom before
disassembling.

Jerusha's 8 yards of beautiful blue
wool/silk fabric to be made into a suit.