Back in the day my sister and I purveyed our handwoven clothing and rugs to the world, to earn our daily bread and pay the mortgage. I was a weaver, but one who saw numbers and listened to recorded books on the road. My sister was the right brain. Also the nice brain, who set out to befriend another weaver and her husband, Linda and Dick.
Like most artists we knew, their trade secrets were close to the vest. Jan and I were rubes, we had no idea you weren't supposed to tell. We shared everything. “Oh, yeah, we buy this thread from (name of supplier); you can get that cheaper from (name of supplier); who do you buy that from?
Dick and Linda weren't sure about us. That offended Jan, so she sent me to shows with homemade raisin bread to ply them. I heard Dick consumed every crumb behind the curtains. We talked. We had much in common. Each also left professional careers behind, for one reason or another, to see how it was to live hand to mouth.
Dick died suddenly in 1996, just months before our own mother left just as quickly. We figured there was an urgent call for skilled weavers beyond the bar, and carried on.
Artists are not like the rest of us, including me. I see numbers, Linda sees in color. Or in music. Whichever strikes her first that day. She’s also hooked on how well the prosecutors make their case on the live court television channel.
She tends to weave a rug to the end of her book on tape, and then name the fifteen foot monster KiteRunner. Not to worry; it’s the rug two customers were considering at St. James Court. I sold it to mine while Linda’s customer dithered on the phone consulting her husband.
“I think I want that,” wailed the lady outside. “I already decided,” announced the lady in the booth, as I tied up her purchase and took her money. Linda went to smoke a cigarette. “Come back and talk to Linda tomorrow, “I advised the lady without the rug. “She will make you a rug you will love.”
And that’s how it is. People who see numbers take pictures, mental or actual, while chaos swirls around the artist and the customers get A Linda they will love. It starts here, at the selvage supplier, Great Northern in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Linda drives an hour to my house, then four hours to Kalamazoo and then back. Artists work hard, and we solve all world problems while driving.
She has to go herself to select her colors. They ship and Linda has tried that, but there could be too much beige. Linda doesn't see beige, or a few other colors I won’t mention here, so any customer who has ordered those colors and received a perfect rug won’t be offended, in the event they stumble on this account.
The goal. Upholstery selvage.
These bales are huge and moved by tow motor, on pallets.
This one is waiting to be sorted.
"Stick your camera right in there. I want Betty to see this."
(Linda and Betty go to the opera.)
This is Carol. She sorts colors.
Carol sees in color, too.
A language all their own.
Looking for turquoise.
It doesn't leave on it's own.
I helped load up three of those bins,
put them in the van.
Something over four hundred pounds
This is Pat.
Her little feet went here and there,
Sweeping the floor,
Breaking down boxes,
Putting our mess away.
I could be Pat when I grow old.