From Wood to Cloth
I’ve always believed woodworkers and weavers have a special relationship. Individually they are passionate about their chosen medium, but together they can create a piece of fine furniture that is ideally suited for the production of fine woven cloth.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Nevan Carling for an upcoming article in Handwoven Magazine. Carling describes himself as a timber framer, carpenter and student of archaeology and heritage management.
Timber framing usually is more associated with historic houses and buildings than looms, but Carling has been drawn into the handweaving world by similarities he sees in house and loom construction during the 17th and 18th centuries in New England. I’ll save the details of his story for Handwoven, but I will tease it by saying Carling is an insightful, dedicated, adventurous young man with an exciting future. Spoiler alert, he’s 20.
My father was also a passionate woodworker. It gave him such pleasure to turn a table leg on his lathe or carve kokopelli sculptures for me with his scroll saw. To this day, if I walk into a wood shop and inhale deeply, I am transported back to his basement sanctuary just by the smell of freshly cut wood.
My regret is that I did not figure out I was a weaver until after he died. He would have loved nothing more than building the perfect loom for me. I have a lot of his work in my house besides the kokopelli, including a drop leaf work/sewing table that he had to ship to me on a truck. The table top is loose and the laminate edge strips are held on with blue painter’s tape in places, but it has traveled with me through a half dozen moves and remains among the most useful objects in my studio.
I suspect I am not the only weaver who lovingly strokes a smooth back beam when walking by an empty loom or finds comfort in throwing a perfectly hand-shaped boat shuttle or grasping a well worn beater. For me it brings as much joy as touching yarn.
So here’s to our looms and the fine woodworkers who make handweaving not only possible, but more enjoyable. Carling said he’s only one tooth in the ratchet when it comes to the tradition that is weaving, but we could not do it without you.