In the Beginning

A June 4, 1980 article by Ellen Schlesinger in The Mountain Messenger describes the beginning of the Foothill Fibers Guild. After describing how many artists rush to “strut their stuff” in front of the public and those shows were “about exciting as summer re-runs on TV,” Schlesinger goes on to state:

“An exception to this unfortunate state of the arts comes from a most unlikely group: Foothill Fibers Guild. That’s right, weavers. Maybe it’s because weaving is traditionally a home craft that this group is taking its time getting its act together and taking it on the road – bringing it before the general public. In any case, the 20 dues-paying members are concentrating on groundwork, organization and goals, setting up a viable in-house framework before asking for the public’s attention. Very smart, very professional.

“Back in January, Mary Tendall, Ann Austin and five other fiber artists got on their telephones and called other artists. The result was the beautifully executed fiber show at the Lola Montez House Gallery (The Mountain Messenger, March 5). Encouraged by the response from both fiber artists and the public, Tendall and the others decided to form a guild.

The organizing committee, left to right: Ann Austin (now Schwartz), Katherine Colwell, Susan Solinsky, Dee Jones, Mary Tendall

“Last month the organization elected officers; in July they will hold their first official meting to plan policy. Tendall, the group’s president has clear ideas. ‘First and foremost, we will be for fiber artists,’ she says. ‘Our meetings will all include something of interest to our members, a slide show or a demonstration of a technique.'”

Schlessinger’s article goes on to describe a very well received event the guild presented at the John Woolman school. The event was a presentation of backstrap weaving by two Mayan Indians. According to the article, forty people paid the $2 entrance fee and were “captivated.” Apparently, the guild was surprised at the number of people attending since they had not encouraged the general public to attend!

And … the Foothill Fibers Guild was off to a great beginning!

Opening Reception for the 1980 Show
Weaving, Knitting, Crochet, and Basketry from the 1980 Show

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