Quilter to speak on 'Artisan Awakening: Creativity, Spirituality, and the Fiber' Sept. 8

  • Helen Butler, an art quilter, actress and writer, will speak to the Illinois Prairie Weavers Guild on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

    Helen Butler, an art quilter, actress and writer, will speak to the Illinois Prairie Weavers Guild on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Courtesy of Helen Butler

  • This summer, Helen Butler's quilts were featured in the "The Pupil of the Eye" virtual art exhibit, hosted by Green Acre, a Baha'i Center of Learning in Eliot, Maine.

    This summer, Helen Butler's quilts were featured in the "The Pupil of the Eye" virtual art exhibit, hosted by Green Acre, a Baha'i Center of Learning in Eliot, Maine. Courtesy of Helen Butler

Updated 8/12/2020 4:15 PM

The Illinois Prairie Weavers Guild will welcome Helen Butler for the online program "Artisan Awakening: Creativity, Spirituality, and the Fiber" on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Butler is a widely respected art quilter, actress and writer, community builder, and educational designer.


Ever had writer's block or creative burnout? Butler will explore this artist snag and lead participants in activities to reconnect with creativity and reopen that inspirational window.

The Zoom meeting will begin at 10 a.m. The guild welcomes visitors.

For registration information, visit the website, www.illinoisprairieweavers.org/programs.

Guild members will receive meeting access specifics privately. Note that meetings are subject to change.

With the uncertainty precipitated by COVID-19, some 2020-2021 meetings and workshops will be conducted using the Zoom service, rather than in-person at the regular meeting place, Congregation Etz Chaim, 1710 S. Highland Ave. in Lombard.

Dates may change, workshop prices and requirements may also change. Unless otherwise noted, meetings start at 10 a.m.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, "Weaving to Go" will be held on Zoom. The guild's own Jennifer Johnson is an accomplished weaver, perennial knowledge seeker, teacher, and sharer. She will discuss looms, from the humble machines of ethnic interlacement to the ones you may have only heard about. How do they work? How do you choose one? Johnson introduces the use of a rigid heddle, direct warping, the Beka, and other portable and low-tech weaving tools and techniques.

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On Tuesday, Nov. 10, "Antique and Vintage Textiles" will be held on Zoom. Joan Sheridan is a textile conservator for the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. She designs knitting and weaving patterns, teaches on-site widely, and is the founder of Heritage Spinning and Weaving (school and shop) in Lake Orion, Michigan. She will bring vintage textiles from her extensive personal collection, and show how and why they are her favorites. The program will offer a look into the past for inspiration and historical enrichment.

A "Thrum Ori" workshop is scheduled for all day Monday, Nov. 9 and the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 10. It will be led by Tammy Deck, fiber artist, teacher, owner of TLD Designs in Westmont and Berwyn, Illinois, and guild member. She will teach this creative weaving approach, using the Saori method, with yarn leftover from other projects. Use "thrums," thread crumbs, and snippets in improvisational weaving for pleasure, self-expression, and the ultimate creation of unique pieces. Equipment: Rigid heddle or table loom with shafts; rigid heddle looms available to rent from the instructor, for the length of the workshop. Skill level: beginner to advanced. Cost is $40 plus materials kit and/or loom rental.

A "Pot Luck Party" with a "Guild Challenge: Classic Blue" is slated for Tuesday, Dec. 8. It will feature festivity, food and fun with the annual guild weaving challenge presentation where members will display their creative approaches. Pattern, fiber, and project are the member's choice. The challenge is the fiber color: the project must have as one of its colors Pantone 2020 Color of the Year: Classic Blue, a shade reminiscent of the sky at dusk.

"Visioning for Doing: An Inspiration and Information Fair" is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12. This is a no-pressure event to explore local resources for learning and growth. It will begin with a brief panel presentation by the guild's study groups and local artisans who will introduce themselves and their special concentrations. Attendees will break out to stations for personal Q&A and supplemental information (e.g., upcoming activities, classes and workshops).


"Finishing Techniques for Weaving" is slated for Tuesday, Feb. 9. Betty Kirk, who is recognized for her expertise in felting and weaving, is a workshop facilitator who is sought locally and nationally. She offers best practices, for both on-loom and after the piece is removed from the loom. Her goal is to provide the tools that make a piece polished, durable, usable and finished. Her ideas and guidelines will build the weaver's repertoire for effective handling of handwoven fabrics. And because finishing may include embellishments, she will also share her techniques for fringe, decorative edges, joining methods, and use of beads.

A half-day workshop on "Basic Tapestry" is slated for the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 9. Designed for the beginner or as a refresher for the returning tapestry weaver. Betty Kirk will show how to set up a simple frame loom and change colors across the width of the loom for pictorial design. Techniques for both two- and three-dimensional effects will be taught. Cost is $20 plus fee for a small tapestry weaving kit, if used.

On Monday, March 15, "One Weaver's Journey" will be offered. Dianne Totten, award-winning, internationally known weaver, will talk about how she discovered and developed her process for creating the stunning, one-of-a-kind apparel pieces which are her signature work. These are a source of fascination and inspiration for all weavers -- be you of a technical bent, aesthetically driven, or somewhere in-between. Note: the monthly meeting date will be on a Monday.

The guild is scheduled to offer a 2½-day workshop on Monday, March 15 to Wednesday, March 17. "Crimp and Create with Dianne Totten" teaches a weaving variation of woven shibori, combining natural and synthetic yarns, to be heat set for permanent crinkle. Yardage made this way opens options for styling and fitting garments with rich color variations. Participants will draft, weave, and crimp their fabrics in class, and learn how to create one-size garments that flatter any figure, scarves and shawls that stay in place, and elegant ribbing for necklines and cuffs. Each participant will weave only on his/her loom (four or more shafts), to be prepared before class. Skill level: adventurous beginners and beyond. Cost is $165.

On Tuesday, April 13, Gail Stamps will lead a lecture and hands-on activity in "Felted Flower." She is an accomplished fiber artist who concentrates on knitted and felted art-to-wear, exhibiting her work in boutiques and art shows locally. She will show slides of her own very artful, inventive apparel designs, then lead the participants in creating an apparel accent: a felted bloom. Weavers may bring swatches of handwoven wool or roving; some project materials will be available for purchase. Materials fees are $10.

On Tuesday, May 11, Emily Winter, co-founder of Chicago's The Weaving Mill, will share her experiences. The Weaving Mill is a studio and school she operates in Chicago. Its mission is a combination of small industrial weaving mill business (with "small run" productions and artist residencies) combined with community service. Its work with Envisions (yes, the organization we often donate to) allows adults with learning disabilities to create weaving and sewing products. Winter will share about The Weaving Mill, its projects and the ethos of the business.

On Tuesday, June 8, it will be "Larger Visions, Smaller Works." The guild's Itty Bitty Weaving study group has explored ways to utilize small, simple looms from various cultural traditions. They will speak about their own recent learning experiences, with examples of techniques and projects they've pursued. This always provokes and produces new ideas.

Follow www.facebook.com/IllinoisPrairieWeaversGuild/ or www.instagram.com/illinoisprairieweavers/.


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