By Lloyd Pollack
I have been physically weaving on and off, in and out, for close to fifty years. In my head, I have always been a weaver. My interest started as many things do, by lucky accident, as my marriage was just starting the early 1970s. My wife decided to take a YMCA tapestry weaving class. On a lark, I decided to join her. Her personal interest in the activity ended with that class. I got hooked, and remain fascinated with tapestry to this day. Here is my first piece from that class:
What I brought to weaving was a background in the Chicago Public Schools, as an Art teacher, interested primarily in teaching painting, photography and Art History. These interests are integral to all I have done with weaving over the years.
In my early teaching years, at an elementary school, job demands on my time were more relaxed. As a result, I was able to get into weaving and even work some projects in the classroom, as motivation for my students. The area Art supervisor at that time hosted a summer fiber workshop, and was a great source of encouragement.
I wove this spider with my elementary school students
I did many pieces in my first six teaching years. For inspiration I drew on two books: Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric, and Hidden Art in Nature- a book of tree bark photographs.
My sister moved to Denver after college, and our first trip out west had an incredible effect on my weaving. We combined Denver, with a visit to New Mexico, where I became fascinated with Native American weaving and bought my first “serious” loom. The Hai-Penny is almost twice the size of my Zeus. It is beautiful, and I still treasure it today.
We also visited Arizona, and the breathtaking Grand Canyon. It inspired me to take hundreds of photos. One of these photos resulted in a tapestry woven with linen warp on a simple canvas stretcher frame.
Then, my career took a turn when I was transferred to a high school, where there were huge demands on my time. I was thrilled with the opportunity to teach photography in addition to basic art classes. I spent thirty years at that school. My Hai-Penny and trunkfuls of fibers were stored away for those thirty years. Weaving remained in my head and heart. I often referred to it as my ‘retirement plan”.
Halfway through my career at that school, I discovered that my photo students were highly creative and aesthetically gifted, but could not read instructions well enough to be able to develop film or print photos. So, I earned a masters degree in reading. While doing this, I became so fascinated with adult literacy, that I moved away from art towards becoming a reading specialist. Weaving moved farther into the background. Two factors brought weaving back into my life:
We have always had dogs, and never traveled because we refused to board them.
In 2002 we bought a motorhome, so our dogs could vacation with us.
This exposed us to many beautiful places which inspired me back to weaving. Nova Scotia, Upstate New York, Upper Michigan and especially Minnesota come to mind. We returned to Northeast Minnesota annually for ten years. Traveling to these places brought me back to weaving, and small looms allowed me to weave in the RV. Of course I took thousands of photos which inspired large and small pieces done at home.
I retired as a teacher after leaving the school where I had been for thirty years, but continued to work as a teacher aide in a different high school for several more years. This allowed me to individually tutor reading challenged students without the pressure of large classes. It was during this time that I dug in my closet to find my Hai-Penny intact and all of my fiber in great condition.
Gradually my home office was converted to my weaving studio.
Two years ago, I completely retired. We celebrated by taking our RV to THE WOOLERY in Frankfurt, Kentucky, where I bought my Zeus. My Hai-Penny was moved to an alternate workspace in my basement.
So now, on my Hai-Penny, I am working on a camouflaged owl, inspired by a 10-second frame from an episode of COSMOS.
On my Mirrix I am doing a landscape inspired by the fabulous early 20th-century GROUP OF SEVEN painters from Canada.
Both projects have been on my looms for a couple of years. I am in no hurry. I love the process of weaving far more than the number of projects I complete. Above all, I love intuitively blending colors and textures. When I get “lost” in this process, it is the natural high that has sustained me all of these years.
January 21, 2018
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