Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Others Less Known

This is the second part of my 'looking back' tribute. Then we'll resume more modern pursuits!

Mary Meigs Atwater taught Harriet Tidball weaving. I know that many of you will have books by Harriet on your shelves. But Harriet wasn't always a 'Tidball'... she was a Douglas first.

She eventually took over the publishing of The Shuttle Craft Guild and became well known in her own right. These were the heady days of the weaving revival. Ms. Atwater even traveled to Canada and taught at the Banff Fine Arts and met up with weavers like: Ethel Henderson and Mary Sandin. (Though I'm not sure if she met Mary E. Black of Key to Weaving Fame)
Mary Sandin, Ethel Henderson and Mary Black wrote the Loom Music series of weaving newsletters from 1944 to 1965 and were charter members of The Guild of Canadian Weavers . I'm the current past president of this Canadian national weaving organization. It was formed in 1947 and has just celebrated their 60th anniversary. But more on this group at another time.

So now that you have twigged to the fact I'm a history buff, you can well imagine my joy when I went through the collection of books I bought in Victoria. At some point in the previous owners weaving life, she had acquired old books from the then retiring weavers of the day and so they kept passing these treasures forward.

Among the books were some interesting booklets: 'Natural Dyes of the Navajo' dated 1946 and printed by the United States Government printer; lessons plans on dyeing, spinning and weaving by the BC Teachers Association (yes, these topics used to be taught in our local schools at one time!) Then I found these booklets:

It was a collection of coverlets, in overshot and this was endorsed by the current President's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt. This picture is in the inside cover. Even then, there were concerns about preserving this early weaving history.

Then I found this booklet:

This was a program for a textile fair that at the time of this printing was into it's 7th season in 1945- 1946. In addition to the booklet was a folded sheet which gave the drafts of all coverlets on display. They were encouraging weavers to reproduce them and share.

I have tried to show the size of the folder (above) and then a close up of the drafts.

There was an old brown book at the bottom of the box when I was unpacking them at home. The title is a bit hard to read due to the fancy text but it reads " Dainty Work for Pleasure and Profit"

The book covers literally *everything* do do with womanly handicrafts of the day in 1902, including spinning and weaving. This book is more of a curiosity now and I'm keeping it because of it's venerable old age of 106 years.

My towels have come off the big loom and a new warp is already on....we're back to the present in the next entry.


Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm happy to have found your blog, and am particularly enjoying these tribute posts. "Dainty Work" is worth keeping just for the cover!

One of the many treasures that came with my 1930's countermarche was a collection of The Weaver magazine from the same era. It was probably mentioned in Weaving a Life (on my reading list!) that Mary Atwater was the expert contributor to The Weaver. Her question and answer section is just delightful. It gives a real picture of what early stages the revival was still in at the time--very grass-roots. In what I believe may be one of the last issues of the magazine, Atwater delivers a rousing rebuttal to a rather arrogant article by pre-fame Anni Albers that is pure gold! The very last issue in my collection, from 1942, features an article by Marguerite Davison with some of the drafts and samples for her yet-to-be published Pattern Book. It was such a small weaving world back then.

I plan to blog about the magazines some time in the future, but it's a big topic and I want to do it justice, so I'm still giving it thought.

I look forward to seeing pictures of your towels!

Susan said...

It's so nice to read your comments! I would *love* to read that rebuttal from Mary to Anni. Now that would be something! Mary was a larger than life woman. I think you will thoroughly enjoy the book 'Weaving a Life' when it rises to the top of your reading list.

While there are many more weavers nowadays, it's still the same small world when it comes to the key figures. The 'big' names now will be the authors of the collectible treasures of tomorrow.

Your 1930's loom sounds unique and it would be nice to see a picture of it. I have a friend who owns a 1932 Scottish countermarche loom with a fly shuttle. The main beams of this loom are huge and the wood is quite dark in colour. She weaves the most beautiful textiles on it. She is a German Masterweaver and actually attended school for 4 years to receive her creditation. A lovely lady...

I have book marked your blog page and visit. Looking forward to hearing from you again.


bspinner said...

I love these last couple of installments on your blog. I also have some of the early newsletters dating back to before WWII with all sorts of samples in them. They are so fun to read. To bad someone doesn't do that again.