Precious Gifts

The first thing on my mind for the past week is the lovely tapestry exhibit at LaGrua Gallery in Stonington, CT.  Dash over there if you can!  How many opportunities are there to see tapestry as the focus of a gallery exhibit?  And Mary Merrill’s tapestries are beautifully displayed in this space with it’s wonderful light.  Mary’s works have a lot to do with light since her works are all landscapes.

I was surprised and disappointed to find that no one from my Connecticut guild of weavers was present at the opening.  Mary Merrill’s daugher and son were there to speak about their mother and comment on the works chosen for this exhibit.  It was delightful to meet them and to learn some personal facts about the woman who wove these tapestries.

Mary Merrill  lived her life within the confines of most women of her generation, supporting her husband’s career and raising five children.  At the same time she pursued various weaving techniques and volunteered in several areas related to weaving.  She held numerous positions in the Weavers’ Guild of Boston, including president, and she volunteered and did research for Plimouth Plantation.  Later in life her tapestry work depicted her experiences traveling the world.  Her daugher Amy described their summer vacations at a cottage in New England.  Her mother would be make the meals and participate in some of the family outings, but a significant part of each day was spent at her large tapestry loom.

Here is Mary in front of her tapestry, “Kilauea.”

Mary Merrill seems just the kind of woman I would have enjoyed knowing–someone I probably would have emulated.  I only became introduced to her work this summer when I saw a display of her tapestries at NEWS (New England Weavers’ Seminar) in Northampton, Massachusetts. The works chosen for that exhibit were mostly tropical landscapes with the vibrant colors of a hot, sunny location.  There was one tapestry in the show that stood out for me with its intense colors of a sunet in a high latitude location.  It is a scene of from a Norwegian village.  Here are Amy and Paul posing for me in front of  “Primary North,” 1998 (copletted just a hear before her death).


In the 15 years since her death, her family has taken care to have her work stored in places for safe keeping: first at the Fiber Arts Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, and now at Harrisville Designs in New Hampshire.  If you ask me, this has got to be the most endearing display of love I have encountered.  Hearing about her life through the eyes of two of her children added such depth to the woman I only know as a power house of hard work in the preservation of textile history.  Since not a single person from my guild came to the opening, I can truly say they all missed a wonderful evening.  However, you can still see the exhibit!–through early December.

And you’ll be able to see more of Mary Merrill’s work in March and April when she will have a retrospective at the Fuller Craft Museum.

The following day I attended one of my lace group’s monthly meetings, a somewhat rare treat for me since I am out of the area for a good part of the year.  This year while I’ve been home I’ve had some unfortunate conflicts with the dates for our lace meetings.  When I get to one of these meetings I am always stunned by the complex work the members do, and by how tolerant they are of my slow progress as a beginner.  Last month I admired a minature bolster pillow at Mary’s house.  It was a traditional pillow, only tiny!–in the style of the pillows from Slovenia, sitting in its tiny woven basket with an intricate piece of real Idrija lace displayed in miniature, including some miniature bobbins hanging from the lace!  It was a gem!  It was a gift to Mary from another member named Linda.

This month’s meeting happened to be at Linda’s house.  Linda and her husband made us a feast that was like Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled into one huge festive meal.  Shortly after I arrived and was returning to my lace after getting some morning coffee, I found this little gem sitting next to my lace pillow.  What a gift!


Now if only my own attempts at Idrija lace looked as beautiful as this does.  Sigh….

For the final event of this special weekend I met my oldest friend at an opening in Windsor, Connecticut.  I was not particularly moved by the works in that exhibit, but we had a nice evening together.  She has been telling me about the wonderful scent from a Brugmansia Angel Trumpet that she is ‘plant sitting’ in her studio.  The fragrance was heavenly, and the plant is truly impressive.


IMG_1643I’m about a week late posting this.  Life does get in the way sometimes….but sometimes it’s all really good stuff.  I’ve made some progress on the book about Archie Brennan.  (I hope whoever reads this jumps out of their seat and gives a cheer!)  And my sister and I have had some precious time together, although not under the best of circumstances.  She agreed to let me care for her after some rather scary surgery.  All went well, but her recuperation will be slower than we imagined.  I have enjoyed having here with me.  We’ve been two women alone together, watching movies, eating good food (I have to take good care of her, don’t I?–alone I would have been eating junk food!), and talking about everything under the sun.  Bob has been away sailing for almost 3 weeks so it’s been special to have this time with my sister.

And fall is quickly turning to winter.   Here is a beautiful photo taken near the Connecticut River by my friend Jody.

IMG_1613And the view out my kitchen window, just a day or two before the beeches turned brown and began dropping leaves.








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