Barbara Herbster - Her Story / Our Interview

We (blog editors) are happy to begin a new monthly posting of Stories / Interviews. Our first author is Barbara Herbster. We begin with our own well-known weavers from the Weaver's Guild of Boston membership. We look around our membership and see women who have excelled at weaving and across various roles in the community and beyond: teachers, designers, authors, imagineers, owners of schools, production weavers, and importantly for the strength of our guild - women who hold (held) volunteer positions as officers of the board.

Barbara started from our offered questions, but writes with her own voice. Some of her beautiful work is seen here.

1. What motivated you to become a weaver?

In college, I was preparing to be an art teacher. Weaving was one of my classes. We married upon graduation. A wedding present I was given was a counterbalance loom that a classmate and her father made and to which my college mates had contributed.

Having done all manner of handwork growing up, I felt right at home with yarn. The emphasis in college was on the art aspects of weaving so it wasn’t till I left college and was teaching in Maryland that I learned to thread the loom properly. I do not know why I was not discouraged from weaving as I think back on the hours spent untangling. Ever since, I have spent time honing the process.

2. What is your favorite part of the weaving process?

Taking the cloth off the loom, finishing it into a project, and tagging it is my favorite part of the weaving process. Yes, tagging it means I am satisfied that I have learned something and am content with the result. 3. What people, elements, or challenges contributed to your personal growth as a weaver of the years?

I know you think I am going to say all the great teachers I have had in workshops through WGB. Yes, and I have studied with most of the names you know: Malin Selander, Theo Moreman, Anita Mayer, Madelyn van der Hoogt, and Peter Collingwood to name drop a few. But honestly, it is my thoughtful husband whom I call “my patron of the arts” who gave me the best gift, time to do what I loved, and the resources to be able to thrive. It was just a few weeks ago that I unearthed his birthday poem to me from December 1970 about a gift that would arrive soon. It was from my parents, his parents and my 2 year old son, no mention of his contribution. Could I guess that it was going to be- a Macomber 40”? He couldn’t keep a secret!

Who could NOT want to learn how to weave? As a new weaver I was blessed to car pool with 2 others who wanted to improve their weaving as much as I did. None of us knew but a smattering. By pooling our resources 4 of us helped each other thru learning inkle weaving, then selected a clearly written book. Each took a chapter or subject, summarized it for other members and wove a small sample for each member and a project from what was learned. This group has now been in existence for over 64 years. Even though the members changed over the years, I am the last of the original group. I am still learning. The group of 4 became and remains at 10 members. We meet at homes once a month with an assignment and project to share. Currently meeting on Zoom. What a great way to learn! The group is named Wednesday Weavers. When teaching in New Mexico a few years ago I learned we were not the only W. W. Their group was also a spin-off of their guild and was already in existence 3 years before our W.W. began! ***

I have been a member of WGB for 65 years! From keeping the Looms For Sale List through most of the guild positions, and teaching, I have served the guild to partially pay back what has been given to me so freely. I have learned something at each meeting, enjoy greeting friends and eating goodies. Through lectures and classes I like seeing my craft through another person’s eyes and interests. I always say “when I have learned all I can, I will be a quilter.” Not really, but I do say that.

Barbara Herbster

November, 2020

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