The inspiration for this blog comes from Lann Smyth, who gave me an inspiring catalogue of an exhibit she had seen at the Art Institute of Chicago. Ethel Stein: Master Weaver, is being exhibited until November 9 2014. To learn more about her and the exhibition go to http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/ethel-stein-master-weaver. At the age of 96, Ethel Stein's weaving and artistic talent is only now being recognized by the broader public. She began her weaving forays with a 4 harness loom and gradually used a drawloom to create her contemporary art pieces whose visual simplicity give it the impact they have although obscure s their complexity. She was an artist and weaver who did not adhere to trends. The drawloom weaving show were produced over a 34 year period and blend historical weaving techniques with pared down aesthetic. Her creative and weaving process was preceeded by a vigourous art training as well as research of the historical textiles at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of ARt, all located in New York.
Rag rug for cabin by Helen Skelton
One of the points they made in the catalogue is that Ethel never promoted or sold her work. She wasn't concerned with that. She concerned herself instead with the process, with exploring the possibilities and potentialities of her weaving and of building on her knowledge and experience. This is definitely a very noble and ideal approach, more often subscribed to by women. It's true, that in some circles it is considered bad form to promote yourself and if one does not have to be concerned with earning an income from one's endeavours or does not regard it as a profession, then certainly its as good a strategy as any to embark upon. So many of women have been conditioned to believe though that it's 'unladylike' behavior to promote yourself, and to be ambitious but this perception is changing.
With the advent of the internet, social media and innumerable websites that will help you promote yourself as a weaver, craftsperson or artist, the opprobrium this stirred up is quickly dissipating. The truth is, if you don't have important social connections in places that you could do you such honour and favours, then you do have to get your work out there somehow. For some of us that will mean swallowing our pride and integrity. For others that will mean taking more pride in what you create. Destiny is kinetic. Destiny is an expanding field of possibilities alluding to our potential to influence outcomes.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both strategies. Each person decides for him or herself which to take. Throughout a lifetime of pursuing one's weaving, one can also change course and realize that what once was important, no longer is and you find yourself going off in another direction. Your weaving path is your own individual path, your own journey , one in which only you decide the itinerary, and create the map. Above all, make it a joyous and inspiring (a)vocation.
Spinning Workshops with Barbara Aikman
Riverdale Farm, Toronto
Sat. Nov. 1st, 2014
How to use a “Drop Spindle”
9:30am to 12:30pm
19yrs+ Barcode: 2697417
Adults 25-59yrs $ 77.00
Older Adults60+ yrs $ 39.00
Youth 19-24yrs $ 45.00
Each participant will receive their own drop spindle to take home,
and learn how to prepare a variety of spinning materials.
Sat. Nov. 1st, 2014
How to use a “Spinning Wheel”
1:30 pm to 4:30pm
19yrs+ Barcode: 2701230
Adults 25-59yrs $ 57.00
Older Adults60+ yrs $ 19.00
Youth 19-24yrs $ 25.00
Participants will learn the basics of operating a spinning wheel. Feel free to bring your own wheel, or you may borrow one from the Farm for use in class.
Registration hotline 416 333 4386
For more information contact: email@example.com or 416-392-6794
World of Threads Exhibit
November 1-30 2014
for more information go to
There will be weaving at this multi-venue exhibition. Of note, Louise Lemieux Berube, co-founder of the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, has jacquard woven pieces in the exhibit. She will be present at the opening reception November 1 2014, 2-4pm.
Pat Burns Wendland will also be part of the exhibit.