NOBO Handweavers

Category Archives: Library

This is for general discussions on the library.

From the Dust Jacket

March 16, 2010

Books written by or about Mary Meigs Atwater and Anni Albers were discussed in this column in January and February. Coincidentally, I recently ran across a book entitled String Felt Thread by Elissa Auther, which contained the following:

“In the history of American hand-weaving, no two practitioners were further apart in vision than Anni Albers and Mary Atwater. In 1940, Albers entered into a debate over the function and value of hand-weaving with Atwater in the pages of The Weaver. Their exchange provides an over-view of the competing visions and definitions of art and craft that formed the status of hand-weaving before the conclusion of WW II.

“Atwater undertook an extensive study of weaving of the American revolutionary period as well as folk weaving traditions of the 19th Century, the findings of which she published. Her research was instrumental in the survival of these historical and regional practices, but her practical how-to approach ran counter to Albers’ idea of weaving as an original art form.

“Albers regarded herself as an artist and was outspoken regarding the potential of hand-weaving to move beyond that of a leisure pursuit for utilitarian purposes. This approach is summed up by a statement she made in 1959: “Let threads be articulate, and find a form for themselves to no other end than their own orchestration, not to be sat on, walked on, only to be looked at……”

So, just what does this mean to us? I’d like to think it means the possibilities are endless; and we are free to choose our own path, whether traditional or contemporary, as we continue to learn about this time-honored craft.

From the Dust Jacket

February 15, 2010

“One of the most ancient crafts, hand weaving is a method of forming a pliable plane of threads by interlacing them rectangularly. Invented in a preceramic age, it has remained essentially unchanged to this day. Even the final mechanization of the craft through introduction of power machinery has not changed the basic principle of weaving.”

The above quote is from “Anni Albers: On Weaving.” This is a name known to those of you who are familiar with the Bauhaus movement, which was founded ninety years ago in Germany by Walter Gropius. Young and enthusiastic, Anni Albers had a background in art, and joined the Bauhaus with the intention of becoming a painter – a full-fledged artist. However, that was not possible; the only choice for women was to become involved in the Weaving Workshop. From that rather reluctant beginning, Anni Albers went on to become well-known in the field of textiles as a designer, author and lecturer. She has had an enormous effect worldwide on the design of yard materials, the creation of singular weavings and wall hangings.

This book is a classic, and we are fortunate to have it as part of our library. I will bring it to the next NOBO meeting, in case one of you would like to take it home.

For further study of the Bauhaus Movement, please consider visiting Historic New England’s Gropius House in Lincoln, MA, which Walter Gropius designed and built after moving to this country. In addition, if you are planning to attend Convergence this summer, you might want to sit in on James Koehler’s Friday morning seminar entitled “Bauhaus Design Principles.”