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ABOUT

 

For at least 27,000 years, peoples from across the globe have discovered ways of weaving. Within different regions unique traditions developed, created by the confluence of technology, material, and culture. At the Marshfield School of Weaving, we preserve and teach the British-American expression of traditional textile making. While this system has much in common with other European and Eastern traditions, we have inherited the form practiced in Scotland and learned by Norman Kennedy in the first half of the 20th century. This tradition reaches back 1,000 years to the introduction of the horizontal loom to Britain during the Middle Ages and is the same one that was brought to early America through European colonization. This time honored way of making cloth was widespread in our region before it all but disappeared under the power loom and was ignored by the craft revivals of the 20th century. Today, the Marshfield community is the heart of this vibrant tradition in the United States. 

HISTORY

NORMAN KENNEDY

In the 1930s, when handweaving all but ceased to exist, the clattering of a few old hand looms behind an Aberdeen, Scotland tenement caught Norman Kennedy’s attention. Drawn to the work, he traveled through the Outer Hebrides learning Gaelic, folksongs, and an unbroken textile tradition that stretched back centuries. In 1965, Norman was invited to perform at the Newport Folk Festival, returned the following year, and by 1967 was the Master Weaver at Colonial Williamsburg. With the support of Virginia Stranahan he founded the Marshfield School of Weaving in 1975 which he ran until it closed for a period beginning in 1992. The National Endowment for the Arts recognized Norman’s remarkable preservation of the folk tradition naming him a National Heritage Fellow in 2003. Norman continues to live in Vermont; spins, weaves, and sings; and is a regular presence at the school. 

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KATE SMITH

After completing a degree in Biology in 1976,  Kate Smith enrolled in a six-week scuba diving class. In a set of peculiar circumstances, while riding on a bus to study desert ecology in New Mexico, she met a woman whose daughter taught weaving in Putney, Vermont. Captivated by the thought of learning to weave, Kate changed her plans, turned around, and headed back north. Another twist of fate led her to Marshfield, where she discovered Norman Kennedy and his weaving school, changing her life forever. A passion for working with historic equipment and weaving traditional textiles was ignited in that first six-week session, after which Kate became Norman's apprentice. When the school closed in 1992, she founded Eaton Hill Textile Works—a textile studio dedicated to recreating historic textiles using traditional tools and techniques, and continued to teach students on a small scale. In a response to requests from former students, Kate re-opened the Marshfield School of Weaving in its original location in 2007. Kate retired from Marshfield in 2023, and still, after forty-five years, has never gone scuba diving. 

Class sizes are intimate and instruction can be tailored to a wide range of traditional and contemporary work. Our staff instructors are not just teachers, but are also professional handweavers and bring a unique perspective on what it means to practice a deep-rooted craft in the modern world.

STAFF

JUSTIN SQUIZZERO

DIRECTOR

Justin’s earliest memories of his grandmother are also his first memories of wool. An avid spinner, weaver, and dyer, Justin’s grandmother taught him how to spin wool on a great wheel that descended in his mother’s family while he was still a child. By his teenage years his interests grew to spinning flax and weaving, clearing most of the space in his bedroom to accommodate a historic four-post loom. In 2007, while working at Plimoth Patuxet Museums, Justin learned of Norman and Kate and spent several winter layoffs at Marshfield learning traditional weaving technique. In 2013 he left the museum field and returned to Marshfield to weave for Kate’s Eaton Hill Textiles and in 2017 started his own business, The Burroughs Garret. Justin weaves linen damask using a 19th-century Jacquard loom and has exhibited his work internationally. Through teaching he is dedicated to rebuilding a connection between today’s weavers and the handweaving tradition that existed before the 20th century. View Justin's CV here.

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VISITING INSTRUCTORS

MARINA CONTRO

Marina Contro is weaver, artist, and textile designer based in San Francisco, California. She came to Marshfield School of Weaving as a student in 2013 and has been returning ever since. Her work uses weaving as a means to explore functionality, domesticity, and the role of objects in our lives. Marina is an Adjunct Professor in the Textiles department at California College of the Arts and previously at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She received an MFA in Fiber from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BA from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has held residencies at Castello di Potentino, A-Z West, Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio, and (most importantly) Marshfield School of Weaving. 

JOANN DARLING

Joann Darling is a Vermonter whose connection to the region spans five generations. Her mom's love for gardening was passed onto Joann, who has always found great satisfaction in growing her own food, plant medicines, and natural dyes. A chemist at heart, Joann always has something brewing in the “dye pot,” and she loves to explore the local landscape searching for potential dye plants in the meadows and forest. Joann teaches children at summer fiber camps, teens in local schools, and adults in various venues. Joann also includes lessons about the human impact on wild landscapes, seeking dye plant material that is sustainably harvested.

 

Currently, Joann holds the position of program coordinator and food justice educator for Good Food Good Medicine, a non-profit food justice program at affordable housing sites in Barre, Vermont. She holds a position as adjunct faculty for the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, and as staff as the apothecary garden manager. Her interests include bast fiber processing, working with flax fiber, and is recognized by the Vermont FolkLife Center.

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ELENA KANAGY-LOUX

Elena Kanagy-Loux is a descendent of the Amish and grew up between the US and Japan, where she was immersed in both traditional Mennonite crafts and the DIY fashion scene in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood. After earning her BFA in Textile Design from FIT, she won a grant which funded a four-month trip to study lacemaking across Europe in 2015. Upon returning to NYC, she co-founded Brooklyn Lace Guild, an organization dedicated to the preservation of making lace by hand, and began teaching bobbin lace classes. She completed her MA in Costume Studies at NYU in 2018, basing her thesis on interviews with lacemakers that she conducted on her European travels, and started working as the Collections Specialist at the Antonio Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the fall of 2023, she left the museum to embark on a PhD at Bard Graduate Center, focusing on the history of global colonial lace production.

PERRY LEWIS

Perry Lewis is an artist, weaver and maker who first learned to weave while getting her bachelors degree at Savannah College of Art and Design. Although she’s been weaving for over a decade, she really honed her craft while doing a work study program at Marshfield School of Weaving in 2021 and doing independent studies every summer thereafter. Often approaching weaving from a less traditional viewpoint, much of her work plays with structure, color, fiber, and how they interact with each other. She is interested in making both highly functional and highly unfunctional cloth, and very little in between. After spending twelve years in Brooklyn, she now lives and works in upstate New York.

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ANNE LOW

Anne Low is an artist and weaver who is currently living on an island in the Salish Sea. She first came to study weaving at the Marshfield School of Weaving in 2013 and since then has spent many summers weaving and learning in Vermont. Hand woven textile history informs much of her work, alongside other arcane material histories, from that of utilitarian objects to furniture making. Despite being grounded in highly specific techniques, her work seeks to understand how these ways of making can provide a conduit to explore the less tangible aspects of subjectivity, desire and memory. She exhibits her work internationally and was shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize in 2017.

ANDREA MYKLEBUST

Andrea is a shepherd, fiber artist, educator, and bast fiber researcher based in southern Vermont. She is a handspinner and weaver with a longtime interest in antique textile tools. Her work in natural fiber research focuses on the revitalization of local and regional textile production systems as a means to confront climate change and revitalize rural economies. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Northern New England Fibershed, and was the recipient of a 2017/18 USDA SARE grant exploring the growing and processing of flax for community-scale linen production.

 

Her research at the Smokey House Center in Danby, Vermont includes fiber hemp production in partnership with the University of Vermont, and work towards the development of regionally-scaled bast fiber processing infrastructure for New England. She is a graduate of Macalester College, St. Paul, MN.

 

Find Andrea on Instagram at @mountainheartvt

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ANASTATIA SPICER

Anastatia Spicer, currently a Lois F. McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, discovered her passion for weaving under Bhakti Ziek's mentorship at Penland School of Craft in 2017. After moving to Vermont in 2020, she worked as an upholsterer’s apprentice and began spending time at the Marshfield School of Weaving cataloging the study collection. Anastatia explores the connection between traditional and contemporary weaving practices. Her written works in art criticism and translation have been published by The Academy of American Poets, The Poetry Foundation, and Barnard College Journal of Art Criticism.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Reconstituted in 2016, our 501(c)3 nonprofit organization assumed responsibility for managing the operations of the Marshfield School of Weaving at the end of 2022. Learn more about how you can support the school, and meet our Board of Directors below.

NEWS

The best way to stay up-to-date with the Marshfield School of Weaving is by subscribing to our mailing list. An archive of past newsletters may be accessed below.

2024​

January | Ringing in an exciting new year!

February | Winter passages.

March | Craft Encompassed.

April | Our shared home.

2023

December | Closing the year in gratitude.

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