The Whole Earth Catalog from 40 years ago certainly has its share of items that seem ridiculous today. Or maybe it just seems ridiculous that any subject under the sun can be turned into a hobby. I guess average people don’t have time for or interest in hobbies and crafts as much these days, or they will just go out and buy the thing they need, for example, textiles for the home. However, the section on weaving and other fiber arts is full of how-to guides, which I’m sure promoted the popularity of weaving everything that possibly could be woven. I love images like this drawing, where it shows that the resident is clearly an enthusiast of this craft.
I noticed a particular book featured in the Whole Earth Catalog- “The Techniques of Rug Weaving” by Peter Collingwood (1968). This is a book that my mentor today is telling me to check out. I guess it is kind of a bible on this subject, and a more complete version has yet to replace it. It is incredibly dense and full of illustrations of every possible weaving technique or knot that you could need.
Will I do anything with this information? Will I end up actually producing rugs for a living, or is this not a market that will favor me in a western country? After all, so many rugs come from factories in developing nations, which keeps them affordable for most people. And if I also work in other techniques, will I ever be expert enough at weaving to draw the consumer for my rugs over other rugs? Hopefully I will draw enough of a niche audience, as I take on the challenge of creating more of an art rug, rather than a traditional one, and not just leave myself as a hobbyist.
I really appreciate the efforts of the following artist.
Travis Meinolf, a recent graduate of California College of Arts, (actionweaver.com), has set up many projects where he brings the process of weaving to people who might otherwise know nothing about this essential process of creating the cloth that is a part of our everyday lives. He has built a portable loom which he rolls out into a park or other public place where he just weaves and interacts with people who are curious.
For a project called “The Weaving Place,” he placed simple laser-cut looms in the Vancouver Art Gallery for the public to use. The resulting small weavings were sewn together to create 15 blankets which were distributed to the homeless and to a women’s shelter.
Although cheap and convenient factory textiles abound, the homemade ones still outshine the rest. They are the ones you don’t replace; they are the ones that carry on through generations. They are made with love.