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Pa. weaver will show woven, wearable art

June 08, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Pat Beard is one of more than 200 crafters showing their work at the Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival on June 10-12.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. — She’s a weaver who turns fabric into wearable art — a refugee from the high-tech world and the age of quick purchases.

The rhythmic clacking of the loom tells you this is a craft that requires patience. But the end result is worth it.

From jackets and vests to hats and scarves, Beard creates one-of-a-kind pieces that show off her award-winning creativity.

She will display many designs this weekend during the 40th annual Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival at Sam Michael’s Park in Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., just outside of Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

The festival, sponsored by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, opens Friday and continues through Sunday.

About 200 juried artisans will sell and demonstrate their products during the nationally acclaimed craft fair.

Beard said Mountain Heritage is one of about 14 shows she attends each year throughout the mid-Atlantic area.

Beard said she has had an artistic streak for as long as she can remember. She has spent the past 28 years weaving, and the magic of making something out of yarn or thread never left her.

She learned to knit at the age of 10, she said, and studied costume design and acting in college. She even worked in a sewing factory as a young woman, calling it “a great experience.”

Beard said she has created and designed a variety of fashions for more than 40 years.

While she uses wooden weaving looms — several made by her husband — “It’s not really the style of loom but the artisan using the equipment who creates a unique product out of their artistic vision,” Beard said.

She creates all of her own patterns based on what she would like to wear — comfortable, easy to care for, yet stylish.

Beard said she uses a variety of fibers but cotton is so universally comfortable that she uses it in almost everything.

“The jackets and vests are all cotton and machine washable,” she said. “I also use rayon, silk, bamboo, wool, mohair, alpaca and even acrylic in my accessories depending on the effect I want in the finished product.”

She includes a shiny Lurex thread in many pieces “just to add a bit of glimmer without being gaudy.”

Beard said she is “genuine fiberholic.”

“When you feel the textural differences between alpaca and rayon chenille and silk, you just have to use them,” she said. “I love when patrons come into the booth and immediately start touching the work. I even have signs on the pieces that say ‘Touch me — I’m soft.’ Too often people see woven texture and assume it is scratchy. It doesn’t have to be. It all depends on the yarn.”

In addition to displaying her work at shows and festivals, Beard offers an afternoon workshop at her Greencastle studio for people interested in learning how to weave a scarf.

She is also a juried member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.

When she’s not in her studio, Beard said you’ll find her in the garden or kitchen.

And her artistic talents extend beyond the loom.  

“When I have the time, I also love music and play clarinet in the Mercersburg Community Band and the New Horizons Band in Hagerstown,” she said.


By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer
Weaver Pat Beard calls her-self a “genuine fiber-holic.”


If you go ...
WHAT: 40th annual Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, June 10, through Sunday, June 12
WHERE: Sam Michael’s Park, 1330 Job Corps Road, Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.
COST: $7; $4 for ages 6 to 17; free for ages 5 and younger
CONTACT: Call 304-725-2055 or go to www.jeffersoncountywvchamber.org/festival
MORE: No pets or alcohol permitted. For information about Pat Beard’s clothing items, go to www.patbeardhandwovens.com

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