Updated: Jan 22, 2021
Our next interview is with Margie Thompson (left). Past President of the New Hampshire Weavers Guild, and former Dean of the Weavers' Guild of Boston.
1. What motivated you to become a weaver?
I wanted to weave as soon as I saw my first loom in the home of a friend of my mother when I was maybe five. I dabbled at a piece of four shaft float work instead of eating lunch during a teacher’s training at The Center for Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio and actually did something presentable (in blue and white, of course) on a barn frame loom with no training. When my daughter started kindergarten in 1977, we moved from Columbus to “the boonies” and there was a weaving shop near the (then) very rural school. I signed up for lessons and ordered my first loom, a 32” 8 shaft Tools of the Trade, on my second day of class. By the time my son started kindergarten four years later, I was working at the shop on the days he was in school and becoming involved with the Central Ohio Weavers Guild.
2. What is your favorite part of the weaving process?
Instead of identifying my favorite part of weaving, how about my least favorite - tagging items for the WGB sale. I prefer the work of weaving that precedes all the finishing.
3. What people, elements, or challenges contributed to your personal growth as a weaver over the years?
I was fortunate when learning to weave to be surrounded with a number of great weavers who forced me into the “Multi-Harness” study group of the guild. We had samples due every two weeks when we took turns meeting and weaving on the hostess’s loom. I learned very early on how to handle an AVL. Once I moved to Maine, I was able to indulge my love for history and historical weaving and really began by teaching two years of six session WGB morning workshops on early weaving. Since notice that the class would be taught came a month before the guild year began, it was a rush to stay ahead of the class!
Twenty-six years ago, I was asked to present at the second Historic Manuscripts Conference in Clayton, New York and that 45-minute talk changed everything as I met the collectors of manuscripts and really began to explore what has been forgotten. I love my interaction with museums, curators, collectors, and everyone who likes to figure out how the earlier weavers did what they did.
Also, I really enjoyed it when my daughter Jenny, a curator/department head at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, was most annoyed to have a museum curator say, upon meeting her, “Oh, you’re Marjie Thompson’s daughter.” Jenny thinks it should be the other way around, her fame and my following along.)
4. On the whole, if you could categorize your current approach to weaving, what is your focus and why?
…and 5. Lately, where do your weaving design inspirations come from?
My weaving has always been historically focused and my designs are most often adaptations of 16th-19th century weaving. I love blue and white and that, combined with the historical, makes my work easy to identify. I love to analyze antique textiles and to interpret old weaving drafts and the use them as inspiration.
6. What is one of your favorite woven pieces? What makes it special to you?
I would say that “the angels” are my favorite piece/pieces. What began as an attempt to see if I could adapt a drawing in the Thomas Lins manuscript of 1658 has become a yearly challenge for cards and towels. The design was probably for pick-up but I discovered that the angels could “go on a diet” and be woven on a 24-shaft point threading. The first ones woven were adapted from his design with the candles and then I decided to make them weavers. A very snowy WGB sale and a lesson from Elizabeth Lang on drop spindle spinning (no customers!!) led to “the spinning angel” and it has gone on from there. I think I have as many as twenty variations, the latest being “The Angel of Hope.”
Image (left) is one of Marjie Thompson's variations on Angels, known as the 'Camera Guy'.
The image on the All Posts page is also one of Ms. Thompson's Angels.
7. What other weavers inspire you? Can you describe what they bring to weaving that is attractive to you?
My inspiration is all the many thousands of weavers who have gone before.
New Hampshire Weavers Guild, President, 2017-19
New England Weavers Seminar (NEWS), President, 2009
Weavers’ Guild of Boston, Dean, 1996-98; WGB member since 1985
Cross Country Weavers, Member since 1991
Central Ohio Weavers’ Guild, President, 1982-83
Complex Weavers, President and Seminar Chair
Complex Weavers Early Weaving Books and Manuscripts Study Group, Chair
Weaver of Distinction from NEWS, both galley and fashion
Winner, Handwoven’s “Towels for the 21st Century”
HGA award, Handwoven’s “Weaving for the Home”, Complex Weavers award
Journeyman rating, Weavers’ Guild of Boston