What a colorful web we weave

February 17, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

Like woven threads, the old and the new will intersect at an exhibit on view at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

"New Designs in Fiber Arts," on display through April 6, focuses on contemporary and traditional fiber arts and features work by members of the Central Pennsylvania Guild of Handweavers, the Weavers' Roundtable at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, and other local artists.

Weaving at home used to be a necessity, said Barbara Diefenderfer of Hagerstown.

"Hand weaving almost died until the '20s and '30s," she said. But demand for fine decorative fabrics revived it. Its popularity has waned since the '50s and '60s because it's time consuming, space consuming and costly. And more people have taken up knitting, Diefenderfer said.

Contemporary weavers enjoy a broad array of fiber options and patterns, thanks to new technology. "There are a lot more possibilities than even a decade ago," said Marit Davis of Shepherdstown, W.Va.


Davis, one of the weavers in the show, said she's used yarn made from bamboo. Thin wool is her medium of choice. "You can get more subtle shading," Davis said. "It takes color so well."

If you go ...

WHAT: "New Designs in Fiber Arts," an exhibit of textiles woven by members of the Central Pennsylvania Guild of Handweavers, the Weavers' Roundtable at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, and other local fiber artists.

WHEN: Now through Sunday, April 6

WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown

COST: Free

MORE: Call the museum at 301-739-5727 or go to


Photos submitted by Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Barbara Diefenderfer of Hagerstown used a tapestry-weaving technique to create this beaded necklace.

Barbara Diefenderfer used plain-weave and open-weave techniques to create this blanket, which she calls "Blocks of Fancy." Plain weave is a traditional "over-under" weaving method - the same method used when making craft-project potholders. Open weave, which is also referred to as lace weave, leaves open spaces in the pattern.

This jacket is reminiscent of a 1940s weaving trend in which clothing was made from blocks of textiles withminimal cutting, said creator Barbara Diefenderfer. The front corners of the jacket curl up in the front to form lapels.

Marit Davis of Shepherdstown, W.Va., used plain-weaving to create this wool pillow. The patterns were created using a tapestry technique, where designs are added after the textile has been woven. It's a quick technique. Davis said if she worked nonstop, the pillow would be done in two to three days.

This shawl, woven by Barbara Diefenderfer is made from tencel. Tencel is a cousin of rayon, but its feel is more characteristic of silk, Diefenderfer said. "I like it because the fiber gives the fringe a sense of life," she said. "It bounces when you wear it."

Marit Davis prefers thin-wool fibers but chose cotton to create this table runner. "You need to be able to wash it," Davis said.

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