A Gathering of Weavers: The Heard Museum Weaver’s Marketplace

Gilbert Begay


For about the last six weeks, all of the conversations that I’ve been involved in with Navajo weavers have included this question:  “Are you going to the Gathering of Weavers”?   Over the last five years, this unique event at the Heard Museum has become an important venue for master weavers who sell their work directly to the public and those who aspire to that.  It brings in weavers from the Navajo Nation and also attracts those from the Phoenix area and nearby Tucson.  I really look forward to it every autumn as a time to see old friends and meet weavers whose work I haven’t had a chance to see before.  The day is devoted entirely to weaving.  There are talks by weavers, traders, gallery owners and educators and many of the weavers demonstrate their art as they visit and market their work.  It’s free to attend and the table space for the weavers is free.  The weaver pays a 25% commission to the museum and that allows access to credit card payments and other cashier services that free the weaver to do what they do best.  

Meeting with Friends New and Old at the Gathering of Weavers

Master spinner and weaver Gilbert Begay, who is pictured above almost always attends the Gathering, driving from his home in Crownpoint, NM.  In addition to doing traditional rugs, Gilbert does saddle cinches, purses and scarves.  He is a fabulous and prolific spinner and an engaging conversationalist. Sitting near Gilbert was master weaver and dye chart artist Isabel Deschinny of Oak Springs, Arizona.  Isabel is an expert in Navajo natural dyes and had a knockout rug with her that chronicles the latest activities of her family and community.  Next to Isabel’s display, I met Velma Kee Craig.  Velma draws her inspiration from modern technology and was showing a rug with an EKG motif in addition to an interesting composition based on the a QR code that actually scanned.  It’s in the gallery below, so give it try!  I’ll be adding Velma’s web site information to the weaver’s contact list.  

I’ve already published a couple of pictures of my adopted nephew Gerard Begay’s work over on Facebook.  Gerard started weaving six months ago and brought five completed weavings to the Gathering and got orders for five more.  Did I mention that the little stinker is working on a rug dress too?  Other than that he’s a really nice guy.  Marcella Katoney, who was next to Gerard, is a very versatile weaver who shows her work at the Faust Gallery and Azadi’s in Scottsdale, Arizona.  She lives in the Phoenix area and does beautiful rug dresses.  Marcella uses finer weight yarn for her dresses so they drape well and are easily wearable.  You can see her with one of the dresses in the picture gallery below.   I’ll also be adding her to the links here on the site.  

Check out the Photo Gallery

I had nice visits with Elvira Nelson, the Laughing family of weavers, Lena Tahe, Florence Riggs, Alice Vanwinkle Thompson, Neva Begay, Marlowe Katoney and Morris Muskett.  You can see the pictures below and be sure to let me know by email or in the comments what questions you have about any of the work that you see.  As I noted last week, I had to take off after about an hour because of another weaving event across town, but the folks at the Heard are going to try their best to make sure that doesn’t happen again for which I would be so grateful that I would even help with the coordination and organization.  You read it here.  I’m volunteering.  

Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker


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1 Comment

  1. Gilbert Nez Begay on November 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    ahhhhh! Spinning in Navajo Beauty! 🙂