Notes from a field

This weekend I got a loom from an estate sale. A lovely 36", 8-harness Schacht floor loom complete with shuttles, bench, warping board and extra heddles.

At Penland I met some lovely ladies who were studying weaving. I have not done any weaving in 5 years when I sold my first loom so that I could move to NYC for a textiles job. Suddenly finding myself surrounded by weavers again in a gorgeous room full of sun light with looms everywhere and yarn brought those old loving feelings back. I went to Penland School of Crafts to study letterpress books and I came back home a weaver again.

The loom is up in my studio, a scorching hot attic, and I am itching to get started and for the heat to break...

I'd also like to mention the other glorious moment that happened to me while at Penland. One afternoon before my work shift in the kitchen I had awoken from a fitful nap. Hot and sweaty and in a sour mood I stalked down the beautiful mountain path to The Pines dining hall to begin chopping vegetables to feed 200 + people. I stopped into the Penland coffee shop to get some iced coffee to help me wake up and shake off my salty attitude. As I was paying I noticed a woman standing next to me stirring cream into her coffee. She had medium length grey hair and a beautifully hand stitched black dress on with Chuck Taylor's on her feet. I recognized her immediately and went numb. Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin. For many years I have loved her work and philosophy, always inspired by the incredible leap she made from the fashion industry to craft. After many years as a costume maker/Fashion designer and stylist in New York and Europe, Natalie moved back home to rural Florence Alabama where she started Alabama Chanin. An exquisite line of clothing for men, women and children. She employs local quilters and seamstresses to make her intricate, hand stitched clothing and treats them all as family. Her work and business model encompass sustainability, community, simplicity and works by hand. Her pieces are elegant and chic with a grass roots sensability that break all lines of pretension and bring fashion back to beauty that is functional and comfortable without compromising style. All this flooded my mind as I stood there a little paralyzed holding my coffee cup and trying to figure out if I should say something or just let the moment pass unspoken. We were the only two in the cafe so I decided to introduce myself. And I think I opened up with; "Hi, I think I know you". We exchanged an introduction and some pleasantries in which I tamely complimented her work, even though my mind was exploding and gushing and sparkling on the inside.

Natalie stayed at Penland for 4 days with her daughters checking out the school and studios with the possibility that she may come and teach a class at some point. You can bet that I will be the first one to apply if she in fact does.

Clothing like this, with the focus on hand work and sustainable materials makes me love sewing again. I cannot explain what happened to me the two weeks at Penland but miraculously I fell in love again with weaving and sewing. New projects are in my future and I couldn't be more filled with anticipation and excitement.

In other news I have three big projects in the works; one is a show in Lucerne Switzerland entitled Drawn In opening in November. The second, costumes for a small indie film I have been working on all summer-- I am super excited about this project and hope to post some pictures soon. Thridly and most importantly, my best girl friend is getting married in December and I am making her wedding dress! (Much inspiration from Natalie Chanin on this one. )
Herron ClothierComment