There are certain moments in your life you can never forget. One of mine is the first time I encountered a weaving loom. I was about nine years old and we were in, of all places, Macy’s. I can’t for the life of me remember exactly what department we were in. I am trying to call up an exact image of the shelf where I found the loom. I suppose it was a craft department of sorts, but no such thing currently exists at Macy’s. I can’t imagine what was on those shelves besides the one thing that caught my attention and dug its claws into me. It was a rigid heddle loom in a rectangular box. I was hooked. I wanted it. Christmas was just around the corner and I found my present.
That loom did find its way underneath the Christmas tree. I remember how I felt when I opened that box. After the initial thrill I realized that I didn’t have a clue how to set it up. At that point in my life I had not yet developed my love of setting up new things. But my brother could put together anything (and he would prove it constantly by taking things apart and then, eventually, putting them back together.) So with his help – I have a feeling I watched more than I helped – we warped that loom with the red, white and blue wool yarn I had requested also be under the tree. We set it up for a checkerboard. It became a scarf. Not half bad actually. I loved weaving it.
I don’t think I actually ever wove much on that loom mostly because of lack of materials. I don’t think my parents got it that I required the tools to ignite my imagination focused on fiber. I do remember making a needlepoint piece (I had been designing and making needlepoint pieces since I was seven when my parents brought back needlepoint from France for all three kids. I turned mine upside down and used the yarn to make my own design. An Aunt of mine then gave a bunch of needlepoint supplies to my sister, who although a great artist, had no interest in needlepoint, so I inherited it) and then using the yarn from the needlepoint to weave a backing for a pillow on that loom. Like everything I made, I gave that piece away, but I can still recall the deep reds and greens and blues and yellows that made up that pillow.
I did much more needlepoint than weaving. But in my senior year in college my brother discovered a four harness table loom in San Francsico and mailed to me in Ottawa Canada. I used whatever spare pennies I had to buy yarn and wove something, I believe a tote, although I do not have it. Most likely, I gave it away! At the time my boyfriend and I owned one piece of electronic equipment: a transistor radio. While I wove I listened to the BBC. My favorite show was “As It Happens.” Our apartment was dark and cold and one of the windows was badly cracked. It was miserable. I am sure the weaving was suitably dark and moody.
I moved to San Francisco that summer and had the loom mailed to me later. I remember setting it up in my apartment. I think I did that once. I believe I had realized that although I loved weaving, I wanted to make pictures and I didn’t actually like weaving cloth. But I didn’t know that I could weave tapestry. I had seen tapestries, but I didn’t quite understand how they happened.
Years later, pregnant with my first child, I took a tapestry class.
Stay tuned for next blog where I will share the journey that eventually became Mirrix.