by Eva Potter
Art is more than putting brush to canvas. It can take many forms including weaving, which provides relaxation, joy and a true sense of accomplishment for all ages.
If you’re already a weaver or would like to learn how to weave, consider connecting with the Enchanted Mountain Weavers’ Guild, a group dedicated to the promotion of weaving and other fiber arts. Men, woman and entire families have gotten into the weave of things, including members who range from 11 to over 90 years of age.
Regina VanScoy founded the group in 1991 to help her mother-in-law, an avid weaver, meet new people after she moved in with VanScoy and her husband. At the time, VanScoy wasn’t a weaver but she certainly is now.
Beginning with only four members, the group has expanded to over 30 memberships, some of which include families. She said members are beginners to professionals, some of whom are also involved in basketry, braiding, spinning, knitting, crocheting, quilting and even pottery.
“We have quite a few men in our guild, which is unusual,” said VanScoy. “Our programs are varied – sometimes hands-on, sometimes lectures, sometimes videos.” The guild also offers a newsletter, lending library and video library for members.
Ellicottville’s Annie Widger has been an EMWG member for about a year. She connected with the guild last year at the Cattaraugus County Fair when the EMWG was set up in the Discovery tent. Widger said she used a drop spindle to experiment all day at last year’s Fiber Day and enrolled in VanScoy’s spinning class shortly thereafter.
Benefits of membership, according to Widger, include education, classes and instruction, field trips, social gatherings and a huge support network of other spinners, weavers, needle workers and otherwise creative men and women.
“I recently participated in an indigo dying class taught by Ellen McCarthy and just a week ago, a spinning workshop dealing with spinning worsted fibers,” said Widger. “I cannot even begin to explain the Zen feeling I get from spinning. It is an active meditation with a tangible end product.”
Widger, along with several other artists, will be spinning at Ellicottville’s Americana Folk Art Festival on the Gazebo lawn, Aug. 25-26.
Jennie Acklin, who uses an unusual Swedish Glimakra loom, will also participate as a weaver in the festival. She said she took a workshop on learning to spin from VanScoy last summer and found that “Regina knows a lot about everything – weaving, spinning, sewing, etc. She is very inspirational and loves what she does.”
VanScoy said, “We cover weaving of all kinds, spinning, felting, baskets. This year we had a fantastic program by an expert on antique woven coverlets. In the summer, we do all-day workshops at Crook Farm historical site. We also do study groups. We’ve done ones on tartan weaving twice where people wove their tartan of choice (usually a family name) and made samples for everyone.”
Several members, including VanScoy, also teach weaving and spinning out of their homes. VanScoy said all are welcome to join the guild whether they are a beginner, advanced or just want to learn.
Membership dues are $15 for individuals, $20 for families and $1 for full-time students. Please call (716) 925-7109 for membership or general information about the guild.
Monthly meetings take place March through December at 7 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church in Bradford, Pa., and new members are always welcome. July and August meetings include picnics and workshops. Upcoming meeting dates are Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9 and Dec. 14, 2012.
If you’d like to see some members of the EMWG in action, head over to the 33rd annual Crook Farm Country Fair and Old Time Music Festival this weekend, Aug. 25-26, at 476 Seward Ave. in Bradford, Pa., from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. More information at www.bradfordlandmark.org.