I first encountered a handloom in action when I was a teenager and was immediately fascinated by the process of weaving and the many steps involved in turning fiber into fabric. I first got my hands on a loom in the mid-80s as a student at HSU, where textile studies were offered by the Department of Home Economics (now long gone). From the first throw of the shuttle I was hooked. Since that time I have acquired increasingly sophisticated looms and had opportunities to study with master weavers across the country. Weaving starts with yarn. I use natural fibers including cotton, silk, linen, rayon, bamboo & wool, typically working with warps (the term for the yarn that is put on the loom) of 15 yards length. The yarns are measured, then threaded on to the loom in a sequence that determines the density of the cloth and the pattern that can be woven. Once the loom is set up, the fabric is woven using many combinations of weft (the yarns that interlace the fabric that is on the loom) and weave structure. I often dye my yarns at the warp stage, to create color changes through the length of a piece of fabric. It takes methodical planning and precise technique to make functional cloth, yet there are so many ways to combine the elements that the result is seldom predictable and there are many opportunities for on-the-fly design and serendipitous results. I never weave the same combination twice. I never know exactly how a fabric will turn out until it is off the loom and washed. I am attracted to the utility of fabric, and most of my work is meant to be functional. I see myself as a part of an age-old tradition of (mostly) women’s work. And while I use modern weaving equipment, including a computerized 24-shaft loom, nothing that I weave is any more sophisticated than what the ancient Peruvians or Egyptians (among others) were managing millennia ago. Most of it, however, is not readily reproducible with modern industrial weaving techniques… I make not just fabric, but distinctly handwoven fabric… fabric that has to be handwoven in order to exist. And I love the fact that those ancient Egyptians and Peruvians created fabric that no industrial machine can reproduce today. I am often asked about how long it takes to make a piece of cloth, and this is a very hard question to answer because there are so many stages of work. Probably half of the total time is spent on setting up the loom: selecting and measuring the yarns, threading the pattern and getting all of the yarn on to the loom. Actually throwing the shuttle to weave the fabric comes next. Simple patterns woven with only one shuttle go pretty fast, between one and two hours per yard; very fine threads or more complex patterns with two or more shuttles take much more than twice as long. And a lot of time is spent on finishing. Fabric is not complete until the raw ends are treated (by sewing, knotting or twisting) and the fabric is washed. Unwashed fabric is like an unframed painting… it’s just not ready yet. Cloth is something that we encounter all day, every day. It is generally utilitarian, seldom treated as an end in itself, the way we treat a painting or a sculpture. Weaving great one-of-a-kind cloth is my way of bringing a little art into everyday life.