2009 Gathering of Weavers at the Heard Museum

The 2009 Gathering of Weavers attracted a large group of weaving enthusiasts. The 86 degree ideal weather didn't hurt either.

Phoenix, AZ The Heard Museum held their second annual Gathering of Weavers yesterday.  It’s a one day event dedicated to weaving and weavers held on the first Saturday in November.   The event is held outdoors in the museum’s courtyard and allows buyers to purchase rugs directly from the weaver.  The museum handles the sales through their shop, allowing the weavers to take credit cards, something that most of them do not do.   I can’t remember exactly what percentage the weaver receives, but I believe it is 80% or more and there was no charge for table space, a big help for the weavers.   Weavers at the event included well known names like Brenda Spencer, Lola Cody, D.Y. Begay and Barbara Jean Teller Ornelas, but newer and weavers who have not had as much public exposure like Monica Glasses, Nathan Harry and Loretta Tahe were also there.   I’ve culled a few pictures from my embarrassingly large assortment so that you can get an idea of the artists and their work.

Loretta Tahe shows her feather rug design.

Loretta Tahe of Hardrock, AZ weaves this distinctive pattern that she calls a Feather Rug.  Each feather has a different design.  Loretta usually sells her work at the Crownpoint Rug Auction and generally weaves one rug each month.   A detail of the expertly woven center feather area is below.

Here's a detail of ther center five feathers in Loretta's rug.

Gilbert Begay wears his handwoven vest.

Gilbert Begay of Crownpoint, NM is a familiar person to many of you who have visited the site before.  Gilbert is a prolific and creative weaver who often stops by when Jennie Slick and I are doing classes in Window Rock.  Although he works full time for Safeway in Farmington, NM, Gilbert spends a lot of his spare time weaving small format rugs and specialty bags like the one seen below.  The wool used in the bag is some that Gilbert and I dyed during our annual Cochineal Cookoff  in Window Rock this August.  Gilbert had used the yarn for the bag below and a small mat.  I purchased one of Gilbert’s bags at a recent auction and will be putting it in the Mercantile later today or in the morning.

One of Gilbert Begay's small bags. The wool in this weaving is dyed with cochineal.

Brenda Spencer shows her latest Wide Ruins design

Brenda Spencer of Dallas, TX and her sister Geneva Shabi of Sanders, AZ were just across the aisle from Gilbert.  Brenda has incorporated a unique wave pattern that is occasionally seen in very old textiles and that we’ve been working on duplicating for the last four years or so.   Brenda has incorporated this element masterfully into the Wide Ruins design that you see above and in a detail below.  The technique is an optical illusion of a curvilinear pattern created by careful manipulation of diagonal lines and weft counts.

Here's a detal of the wave design in Brenda Spencer's Wide Ruins rug.

Geneva Shabi with one of her prize-winning Wide Ruins rugs.

Geneva Shabi, Brenda’s sister also had rugs displaying her dazzling mastery of the Wide Ruins design idiom.  Geneva works for as a relief postmaster when she’s not weaving.  Although you can see that Brenda and Geneva share some influences in their work, Geneva’s take on the Wide Ruins design is very much her own.  You can see a detail from the striped section of her smaller weaving in the picture below.   Look at the immaculately clean lines, the virtuosity of the color choices and the arrangement of the lines to form an absolute symphony of elegance and beauty.  And these are the stripes.


A detail of a striped area in a Geneva Shabi Wide Ruins rug.

Let’s stop here for today, and wander further down the courtyard tomorrow.  I think I can see D.Y.  Begay, Barbara Jean Teller Ornelas and Lola Cody down there.

Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker


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1 Comment

  1. Joan Windmill on November 8, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Mary,
    Wow! Absolutely beautiful! Can’t wait to see what other treasures you find when you wander further down the courtyard!