| Oct 22, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - October 22, 2009 MERA schoolhouse weavers exhibition in Deep River.by Ankaret Dean

The MERA Schoolhouse Weavers are delighted to be taking their exhibition “A Common Thread: Five Variations” to the Deep River Public Library to share the fruits of their labours with another rural community in Ontario. The exhibition will run from Novenber 9 -21.

The weaving group has its origins in a program sponsored by the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2002 to operate a three-year weaving program for those interested in professional heritage weaving. Ellen Good accepted the position to run and organize the program. Research was conducted on local textiles in the 1800s and their weaving equipment.

In 2007 an exhibition was mounted at the Rideau Canal Museum in Smiths Falls to demonstrate all the heritage equipment which had been donated to the schoolhouse and also to show the “pioneer inspired” textiles. The heritage weaving was also highlighted at an exhibition at the Museum of Civilization during 2006.

Now, three years later, the group has continued to weave, and the members have adapted their own special techniques to the heritage format.

Ellen Good has pursued the specialization of dyeing fibres, with both natural and chemical dyes. She has developed advanced techniques to create a series of patterns using shibori and ikat. She weaves such things as very fine scarves, wall hangings, and rugs.

Florence McGuire uses the tapestry technique, employing the weft to create colour and pattern changes. This technique was originally used for the horse blankets as well as rugs. Florence weaves carpets and also a traditional design placemat using log cabin pattern.

Ankaret Dean has adapted the original rug weaving technique to weave colourful woolen rugs and pillows. She uses old unwanted woolen blankets, which she cuts into strips and weaves them into a wool warp. Often she dyes the strips to create interesting colour patterns. She will also be exhibiting some of her baskets.

Lise Loader is a recent member to the group. She has developed a very practical shopping bag using old plastic bags, cut into strips. They are indestructable and waterproof, following the example of the pioneer tradition of “making something from nothing.” Her baby blankets are like clouds, woven in synthetic fibres for easy washing and drying.

Mary Donnelly still enjoys the pioneer tradition of weaving rag rugs and placemats. Her work demonstrates the design potential of this technique. She also weaves triangular shawls which were very popular in pioneer days.

The show will include large pieces to be hung on the walls as well as smaller exhibits of each artist's work. 

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