I just returned from a short jaunt up to Vancouver, B.C. with my husband, Ted. We explored wood carving and indigenous art for his interests, and weaving, dying, and silk production for my interests. One of our stops was the Maiwa storefront on Granville Island.
I had heard the founder of Maiwa speak at the ANWG conference held in Victoria many years ago, and was very impressed with their efforts to keep creativity and industry going in foreign cultures through crop science, dye science, fair trade pay, enhanced marketing, and in general valuing slow cloth in all of its forms and applications. I know it sounds silly, but I enjoyed just being near all of those cool jars of dried dyestuffs, mordants, and color theory books. I am not much of a home dyer, but my friends are, and I liked the variety and quality of the dye products in their store. I also picked up the latest version of their marketing booklet – each years’ edition is a little bit like a tour book or National Geographic, and I try to collect them. During Covid, many of their classes have moved to on-line, and I know local people who have taken some of their classes and liked them.
Another program I viewed this week was from the Washington Humanities Office, and was about how indigenous people continue their story telling and recording – from a look at the old way (painted on animal hide, for example) to modern ways through wall art and recorded story telling. One of the artists featured was Lily Hope, an Alaskan Tlingit weaver who did several modern projects that tell a story in our time. One was called Protector Masks, where she used the Chilkat style of weaving to create face masks like we all wore during the pandemic. The other was a class where she taught weavers to create small versions of Chilkat dancing blankets, and then recently had them “danced” by children to bring them alive. She is keeping this artform going through education and modern technology.
Travel gives us opportunities to see things from a different perspective – from the artist, the materials available, and the value placed on them. I hope each of you can experience new places and new sources of inspiration for your weaving.