To those of you who are weavers or have skills in other areas such as spinning, painting, crocheting, pottery, etc.; do you remember what it felt it like to be new in your field? This week four members of the Weavers Guild of Springfield had the chance to introduce some eager university students to the field of weaving.
When I was approached about doing this I was not sure that this would work and wondered why students requested this particular craft but quickly became convinced that it would be worth the effort. As background, the Weavers Guild of Springfield has been volunteering and doing weaving demonstrations from its inception in the Fall of 1951. At present, the Guild demonstrates weaving in Cummington, Northampton, Shelburne, Hatfield, and Conway to all age groups and our most cherished loom for this purpose is the 4-shaft metal Structo (images of some of this can be seen on www.weaversspring.com).
So began the prep for this adventure:
- Limit the size of the group to 20 participants
- Gather up at least 10 to 11 Structo looms (threaded and ready to weave)
- Ask for assistance from a few Guild members willing to donate a few hours and bring items for display
The planning of the two plus hours – something that would be entertaining and able to produce something that the participants could have as a finished product. It was quickly decided to let each weave a specified minimum amount of material and then use this as insert for cards. The next big decision was whether to have embellishments for the cards or not. We did decide in the end to have a small amount of embellishments available.
It was a success! We started the evening with a brief discussion of weaving – to find out that none of the participants had ever woven before. This is how a loom operates, this is how to throw a shuttle, how hard to beat, how to advance the warp, and how not to draw-in. Quickly they began and continued on until enough fabric was completed for at least two cards each; other material was available so that additional cards could be made. The intense concentration was a joy to watch. Several of the new weavers were excited to change colors or add metallic to give their weaving an extra punch.
Pride with their finished cards and many thanks to the helpers were the exiting messages. Speaking for the four mentors/instructors, we had a great time too.
Who knows maybe we were able to stir an interest enough to create a new weaver or two.