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Stop Laughter

September 3, 2007

I don’t know if the fiber arts are disproportionately represented in this valley or not. It seems to me they are — quilters, weavers, seamstresses — but maybe it’s this way everywhere.

Every ranching and farming town probably has a deep tradition of reusing fabric for quilts and of making one’s own clothes. (My sister made me curtains for my new apartment, and my granddaughter complimented them by saying they looked just as if someone from Wal-Mart made them.)

Even if you’ve never even darned a sock, be sure to see the work of the Chaffee County Weavers now on display at the library. On the one hand, there’s nothing special about weaving — people have been doing it for thousands of years. But, we could say the same thing about making babies.

These works of art are handwoven and full of beautiful colors and marvelous fibers, such as wool, silk, mohair, tencel, and rayon.

Take note: This Sunday at 3:00 p.m., Jane Templeton, a member of the Weavers, will give a brief demonstration of how looms work and then discuss the fibers and techniques used to make the pieces in the show.

Jane has a jacket in the show, handwoven and handsewn. The description is appealing: “random warp of cottons, rayons / seams finished with Hong Kong finish.”

The show begins, as usual, in the water fountain nook, where a “100% perl cotton Japanese Shibori” shawl by June Gober hangs as if in a closet. I thought of a certain Yeats poem. From the top of the stairs on, the poem was confirmed by the show.

“Fifteen apparitions have I seen; The worst a coat upon a coat hanger.”

On a stylized human form hangs a lovely wool, mohair, and silk blanket (or shawl, or wrap) by Ginger Lee Ferris. All the weavings are beautifully and appropriately displayed.

I don’t really mind the coat hangers — most of these works are made to be worn. But I think of that line often when I peek in clothing stores.

There is one elegant, handwoven cotton towel by Karen E. Robinson, but I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to use it. Maybe for drying my finest teacup.

And one of Sally’s Wild Things is essentially a painting, also with a great description: “Color Gamp using double split complementary, hues in 5 colors instead of 3.”

The show includes some artist statements but with a particularly interesting slant — how each first got into weaving. This is brilliant; it answers the first question that probably pops into our heads.

Burma De Farges was fascinated at a demonstration watching a pattern appear as the weaving progressed. Else Ellett was first intrigued by spinning and weaving demonstrations at a historic plantation in Virginia where she was a Docent.

Karen Robinson lived overseas for many years, admiring and collecting local weavings. June Gober got stuck with a relative’s extra loom in her exercise room. She resisted learning it … but only for so long.

Weavings are mysterious. Colors come and go, hiding for a while … wait, this reminds me of one last Santa Fe anecdote …

I was stuck in traffic. On the corner stood some war protesters. I glanced at the signs. One man held two big cards. One said, “Stop.” The other said, “laughter.” I blinked. “Stop laughter?” Then, he looked down at the words and separated the cards. “Stop Slaughter.”

Remember: Sunday, September 9, 3:00 p.m. at the library.

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