Lenore Tawney: her work “led to a whole revolution in weaving”

From Lenore Tawney: A Personal World, published by Brookfield Craft Center to accompany two showing of works by Lenore Tawney. 1978.text by Jean d’Autilia.

Photos from Lenore Tawney A Retrospective published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name at the American Craft Museum 1990.

I seem to be getting too many ideas while looking for inspirations for my posts. I can’t settle on what I want to weave first. And I can’t possibly weave them all. One way to get around my dilemma is to post them, and hope others will be inspired to incorporate some of the ideas into their own work. Although this series is to be about art, I think the ideas could be made into a whole lot of kinds of projects.

Mask ca. 1967 Linen, pre-Columbian beads and shell, horsehair 19” x 6 ½”

All the pieces in this post were woven by Lenore Tawney in 1966 and 67 with some finished not until 1985. These are all warp face plain weave with very dense, heavy linen warps. I just finished reading the little booklet mentioned in the title and was surprised she gave some weaving hints as well as her inspiration.

Shield. Begun ca. 1967, completed 1985 Linen, silk, feathers 20 x 16

What I love most about all of these pieces is the wonderful, surprising fringes. I assumed they were rep weave using alternating thick and thin warps and the fine fringes are the thins. From the photo in the catalog I have, I can’t see any evidence of the white silk in the weaving. Go figure. Isn’t the horsehair in the previous photo just fantastic?
Weaving tip: She always used a double weft, “I come in from both sides, so that the edges are beautifully even and thick.” Lenore Tawney, A Personal World.

Sheild. Begun ca. 1967. Completed 1985 Linen, silk, feathers, whelk egg cases 15 ½ x 14

Another luxurious silk fringe. I visited her loft once and she had drawers and drawers of tiny shells, bones, seeds and things. That explains the whelk egg cases.

Sheild IV. 1966 Linen, pre-Columbian beads and shells 13 1/2 x 10 1/2

I see how different the fine fringe looks being linen and not silk. Isn’t it interesting that she left some wefts to hang outside the selvedges? And maybe she got the idea for the center treatment from when she started a new weft?

Shield. Begun ca. 1967, completed 1989 Linen, feathers 15 1/2 x 6 ½

Her use of feathers, her “fringes”, her shapes: all inspiring to me. 

5 thoughts on “Lenore Tawney: her work “led to a whole revolution in weaving””

  1. Peggy, I love to get your email blog message – But not every week. My email box is almost full so I will need to unsubscribe. I am sorry to see you go.

    • I’m starting to wonder if now that life is opening up, maybe I should relax and just do once a week or so myself. I know that sometimes it’s a pain to open so many emails all the time. What do you think? Mostly stricktly weaving or a variety of things like I’ve been doing?

  2. Hi there, Would you mind sharing where you were able to find this publication? I would like to read it but am not able to locate it. Thank you!


Leave a Comment