Founded in 1955, the Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild allows fiber enthusiasts to gather, exchange ideas, learn new techniques through workshops and classes, and get inspired. Located in the North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center – the same building as Spruill Center for the Arts – the guild welcomes novices, experienced artists and anyone with a curiosity about the craft to explore its many expressions.
Ray Callaway started weaving with a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School, and during the last few years of his career in the computer industry, he found that weaving could provide an antidote to the stress of his job. He joined the Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild, served as workshop chair and later joined the board. Today, he is president of the guild and still appreciates the soothing effects of weaving.
What is the difference between weaving and fiber arts?
Fiber arts is a very broad area. Basketry, spinning, fiber sculpture, tapestry, knitting, crochet, embroidery and others are all fiber arts. Weaving is just one aspect.
What is the contemporary importance of weaving and fiber arts?
Where do I start? Unless it’s a knit, every garment you wear is woven. Fabric designers have to understand how yarns interact with each other with color and texture. Whether it is natural fibers like, wool, silk, or cotton or the synthetics like rayon, nylon and tencel, each acts differently, accepts dyes differently and will have different characteristics with the structure used when woven. Fine handwoven fabrics still influence fashion designers.
What benefit do weavers and fiber artists receive from practicing their craft?
Any craft or skill benefits from practice. Weaving engages the senses in many ways, and it is not until we gain confidence in our basic skills that we perhaps are able to engage in more open forms of creativity. For me, weaving can be very meditative. There are many repetitive moments in weaving. Starting a project requires winding the warp threads. I approach it like a Tai Chi exercise – one hand takes the yarn smoothly to the left and around a peg then passes back to the middle where my other hand takes the thread and passes it around the right side. And then there is the satisfaction when a person appreciates the beauty of a piece that you have created.
What upcoming CHG events are you excited about?
In February, we will have a special program where Marion Scoular will present a talk about her training at the Royal School of Needlework and how she participated in the preparation of the coronation gown for Queen Elizabeth II. We will be demonstrating weaving at the Dunwoody Lemonade Days in April, and visitors can try their hand at a floor loom or other weaving projects. Our biennial juried exhibit of weaving, Color: Classic to Contemporary, will be on display from May 4 through July 27 in the Gallery of the Hudgens Center for Art & Learning.
What are some of the different ways a person can become involved with the guild?
We hold classes every quarter of the year, and we have specialized workshops three times a year. Many members come into the guild because they are interested in weaving and are taking a class. While experienced weavers or fiber artists may be busy with their craft, we hope that they will join the guild and share their experiences with others. Monthly meetings are held every month except August and December, and are open to the public. Through our website, CHGWeavers.org, anyone can submit questions about weaving with the “ask our experts” section.