Saturday, March 11, 2017

"L'Amour de Maman" - by Thomas Whitmore, workshop participant

"Melissa Weaver Dunning's January 2017 workshop at Marshfield titled "L'Amour de Maman: 2-Harness Weavings of the Acadians and French Canadians" was enjoyable and a great learning experience for my wife Melanie and me.  More than we anticipated, studying at Marshfield School of Weaving was rewarding and transformative.  Marshfield is a unique facility with an amazing diversity of historic looms, spinning wheels, and related equipment, and the instructors share the knowledge and skills that allow workshop participants to continue the legacy of traditional weaving heritages.  We were hesitant about travelling from Florida to Vermont in January, but Marshfield offered a warm and welcoming environment that made our trip worthwhile.  Walking in the door was like stepping into the past, and we were inspired by all facets of weaving work around us.  There was an impressive reference collection of dyed yarns at the entrance, and a large collection of historic spinning wheels was undergoing restoration in a workshop. 

Comaraderie among instructors and participants was wonderful.  The current owner of Marshfield, Kate Smith, was accommodating and had all activities well organized.  We were very fortunate on this occasion because our instructor Melissa was joined by Norman Kennedy, the school's original founder and a Master Weaver who has studied weaving traditions around the world.
Melissa began with a lecture about the history of weaving in French Canada, and how it travelled to the Acadian culture of Louisiana.  She demonstrated distinctive aspects of weaving traditions of both cultures. 

Gladys Clark, who Norman new personally, was one of the great
Acadian spinners and weavers in Louisiana.
Norman returned from lunch one afternoon with a collection of his fine work from years past, which he shared with participants.  It was truly inspiring.  
Traditional weavings of French Canada are a particular interest of mine, and learning techniques on a historic, 2-shaft loom, such as my Canadian ancestors would have used, was a special experience.
L'Amour 2017 instructors and participants.

We learned a great deal, and our time at Marshfield was richly rewarding and inspiring.  I waited 8 years to take a workshop at Marshfield because I thought my weaving skills needed to be more advanced, but I was mistaken.  Beginners were made welcome and comfortable, and were quickly brought up to speed.  I missed opportunities by hesitating in taking Marshfield workshops in the past, but I will not do that again.  We sincerely encourage others to seek their own great experiences at Marshfield.

-Tom Whitmore
St. Petersburg, Florida

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