Monday, April 6, 2020
Where are the Looms? Help HeritageNL track down the province's looms and weavers.
A new group is turning to social media to track down some old technology - the wooden weaving looms that might be hiding in attics or basements somewhere in the province.
“A loom is the apparatus used for the purpose of weaving cloth,” says textile artist and researcher Jessica McDonald. “Its rudimentary principle is to hold threads under tension. Whether it be a floor loom, table top loom, or tapestry loom, its main purpose is to facilitate the weaver in creating a cloth”
McDonald is a recent graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, who creates her own textile art, teaches, and researches weaving and craft in Atlantic Canada. She has recently created a woven piece for the “Newfoundland through a Window” Exhibition located at the Arts and Culture Center in Corner Brook.
McDonald’s work is the most recent chapter in a long history of weaving in Newfoundland and Labrador. From the days of the Grenfell Missions and the Jubilee Guilds, to the craft revival of the 1970s and the current makers movement, looms have been constantly busy in the background of the local craft scene.
“We want to find those old looms, some of which were hand-made, and figure out who the old weavers were,” says McDonald.
In addition to looking for old looms, the group is hoping to compile a list of living people in the province with weaving skills, as well as collecting old photos, stories, or memories of family members who used to weave.
“People who hold the knowledge of our various heritage crafts seem fewer in number, year by year,” says Heritage NL folklorist Dale Jarvis. “We want to document what has been lost, but also to record who still knows today how to make the tools and objects of yesterday.”
In response to what they see as a craft tradition at risk, Heritage NL has started up a Facebook group called “Weavers and Spinners of Newfoundland and Labrador” and will be hosting a “Where are the Looms?” online forum Thursday, April 9th at 11am, open to all interested in the textile heritage of the province, weavers and non-weavers alike. The event is free, but pre-registration is required at www.heritagecraft.ca