Source: The Taos News
Date: March 26, 1992
Story intricately woven around three lives
By Deborah Ensor
Joan Potter Loveless weaves a beautiful tapestry in her new book, “Three Weavers,” published by the University of New Mexico Press.
In the book, Loveless reminisces about the lives and work of three craftsman: herself, Rachel Brown and Kristina Wilson. And though the book is an inspiring guide to their work and their imagination, it also is a romantic, insightful look into the real lives of three creative women.
A book signing is planned Sunday (March 29) from 2-5 p.m. at Weaving Southwest in Yucca Plaza.
Beginning with her arrival in Taos some 40 years ago, Loveless chronicles her love for the land and its seasons. She arrived here fresh out of Black Mountain College, where she studied weaving with Anni Albers.
“As we watched the changes over its breadth we became acquainted with illusion,” she said of the scenery she witnessed in her first few weeks in Taos, “with transformation, with vacancy, with large serenity, with some faint comprehension of reality as an unending interplay of forces and elements that allowed us to experience the beauty and wonder and to feel ourselves part of the mystery that we witnessed.”
Against this backdrop, Loveless began to experiment with weaving and color theory, obviously inspired by the land and its enchantment. It’s no wonder weaving is such an impressive craft in the Taos valley -according to Loveless and many others, the dramas of light and weather are played on the sky, like wool across a loom.
As Loveless goes through her life, in a simplistic, yet heartwarming, diary-like form, she also describes some of the intricacies of weaving.
“On this simple principle of ‘over and under,’” she says in the beginning of the book, “is based the whole history of textile making, varying in both time and place as to its appearance, its cultural significance and its level of development.”
In addition to the story of their friendship, “Three Weavers” is the story of the evolution of their work, a relationship with wool that is unique to each weaver but for each, intimately related to northern New Mexico.
Through a discussion of her friends’ projects, she gives a clear picture of the talent, creativity, dedication and pure love for the craft that these women share.
In one chapter, Loveless talks about how Wilson had gotten together some funds to work with eight disabled people.
“She usually sets up the looms for people,” Loveless writes, “and most of them also had to be sat with as they worked; they were either retarded or physically handicapped or both. Some of them were eventually able to work on their own. One of the most successful was a man, paralyzed on one side of his body, who had learned to weave many years ago in a WPA program but hadn’t done anything since because he had no money for a loom or materials.”
Loveless talks about the beginning of Wilson’s Twining Weavers: “There being such a rich tradition of Spanish weaving in the Arroyo Seco area, their plan was to try to involve local people as weavers and this worked out beautifully.”
One of the biggest accomplishments of this trio of weavers was Brown’s work with Tierra Wools…“the village of Los Ojos, which in the fall of 1982 became part of Rachel’s orbit.”
This orbit involved setting up a successful weaving cooperative.
“Maria (Varela) and Rachel hit it off immediately, and in their first meeting in Taos dreamed up many possible plans, deciding that the best beginning would be some kind of spinning cottage industry, using locally gown wool.
“The wool of these Churro sheep was a very high quality for spinning…They made plans to begin with a spinning workshop as soon as possible…the response to the workshop was surprising. There were about 15 participants.”
The cooperative has grown and grown, and Loveless chronicles the ups and downs of making a dream a reality.
“The creation of Tierra Wools has also, I think, been a tremendous accomplishment for Rachel,” she writes. “Her experience with shoestring beginnings for craft enterprises, her utter devotion to the weaving craft and her ability to share her love of work toward a goal have all been crucial in making Tierra Wools first a believable dream and then a reality.”
“Three Weavers” also contains numerous color plates showing the work of all three crafts people. In addition, it has scores of black and white plates chronicling the women’s lives.
This book is a delight, because not only is it a private insight into the minds of three talented weavers, but into their hearts as well. The three share a love for the New Mexico landscape, their work as weavers and spinners and the joys and sorrows of children and grandchildren. As Loveless shares all of this, the reader may feel intricately woven into their lives, into the enthusiasm of their creativity and into the space that is New Mexico.