The Weaving Mill (TWM) is a Chicago-based, artist-run, industrial weaving studio that designs and produces woven cloth, as well as educates, collaborates with artists, and works to create community. The organization began in 2015 when Emily Winter and Matti Sloman revitalized a weaving facility previously run by the Chicago Weaving Corporation. The space, now run by Emily Winter, Kendall Schauder, and Alexa Kudrak aims to “fill the space between the hand and industrially made.” Their diverse and nuanced cloth is often woven on a 1983 Italian Somet loom which utilizes a punch-card system to create variation in the patterns and structures.
The communal aspect of the Weaving Mill is primarily present through their ‘W.A.R.P. and W.E.F.T.’ programs. W.A.R.P. invites other artists working in a variety of media to enter the studio space to design and develop products, mostly through partnering with W.E.F.T. The W.E.F.T. program is run in partnership with Envision Unlimited, a social services agency that provides educational and creative opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.
This Tatter-exclusive series of offerings is a response to a curation of books selected by Emily, from the Tatter Blue Library collection about natural dyes, exploring the relationship between plants, color, and cloth. These products are made of cotton fabric, woven at The Weaving Mill. They include woven cloth dyed with turmeric alongside undyed cotton, showing both gradients of color that can be achieved through the dye, as well as natural fading. The combination highlights some of the possibilities for overdyeing as an act of maintenance and care.
These unique Weaving Mill products are accompanied by a booklet exploring the various aspects of the cloth, as well as offering suggestions and inspirations for future overdyeing. Pieces in this collection deepen the narrative that cloth is a limitless portal for creative expression.
Texts borrowed from Tatter Library:
Easy Dyeing: Upwards of 50 Recipes from Making Colors from Plants By Frances E. Mustard
Home Dyeing with Natural Dyes By Margaret S. Furry and Bess M. Viemont
The Dye Pot By Mary Frances Davidson
The tote bags in the collection were woven on floor looms in the W.E.F.T. studio, using scrap yarns to create a hand-knotted space-dyed effect. Each bag is unique in its color sequence and rhythm. Each conveys the gesture of the human hand. No two bags are alike.
It is an honor for TATTER to offer these thoughtful works of art, and to share the wonderful efforts of The Weaving Mill. Carrying these bags or warming oneself in a blanket is a means to connect to the hands that shaped these objects, and the beautiful intentions behind them.