What is your favorite part of weaving?
Working out the design and color on graph paper is fun. The weaving can seem tedious, but I guess I have the patience required for it. It consists of building up the pattern one row at a time. In a linear inch of weaving there are about 24-28 individual rows. It is gratifying to see the design take shape as I go along. Rarely do I change a design once it is down on graph paper. I enjoy the fact that I can physically operate my heavy-duty machine.
It's easier to say what the least favorite part of making a rug is. That is the hand work once it is cut off the loom. There are hundreds of tag ends from where I changed colors or had to refill an empty shuttle. I sew them all back in to hide them rather than simply cutting them off. Then I hand-hem the rugs. I would only leave fringe if someone absolutely insisted. I am not a fan of fringe on rugs! So far, no one has insisted on it.
What do you wish people knew about weaving?
I wish people appreciated the value of hand-crafted art, be it textiles, paintings, photographs, furniture, ceramics, or glass. Yes, they can go to a chain store and buy an inexpensive mass-produced rug that will probably be serviceable enough. I am always so appreciative when people “get it” and don’t wonder why the prices are high. It takes a long time for me to design, weave, and finish a rug. I love what I do, but still have to be compensated. It is not a hobby!
There are a few of us rug weavers around the country and I consider some of them to be friends and compatriots rather than competition. We have been known to steer potential customers to each other when a customer is looking for a style other than our own. I consider the big box stores and furniture stores that sell mass-produced work to be the real competition.
What does it mean to be a maker based in the U.S. today?
I hope it means that we are educating the public to appreciate hand-crafted work. When someone purchases one of my rugs, they are investing in something unique. They are buying a piece of me and a story behind any given rug.
What's next for you?
I want to make rugs wider than the weaving width of my loom by weaving two or more pieces and joining them together after they are cut off the loom.