By Pamela A. Morton
The Chattahoochee Handweavers Guild, a group of artisans dedicated to a time-honored craft, meets monthly at their home in the North DeKalb Cultural Center in Dunwoody.
The guild, a non-profit group of weavers and textile artists, was formed in 1955 by five women looking to further their proficiency in the craft of weaving.
Workshops and classes soon followed and, in 1978, the guild officially achieved non-profit status. Today, membership has grown to more than 150, many of whom are textile artists, professional weavers, hobbyists, teachers, and students.
“Weaving is so varied — it can appeal to engineers and computer programmers as well as to artists who work in a tapestry technique that can only be done by hand,” said Elaine Bradley, a guild member and instructor since 1992. “There is an infinite variety of possibilities — color, texture, pattern — that can be obtained with fibers.
Members make a variety of objects, some to be worn, some that are functional and others that are purely decorative. They say many of the actions required by the craft — the measuring, winding, weaving, spinning, preparing the basket materials — allow a weaver to slow down from the fast pace of today’s world.
Guild members benefit from monthly meetings featuring educational programs and informal discussions; a newsletter touting guild activities; workshops focusing on specialized techniques; discounts on general classes; exhibit opportunities; and access to an extensive library of books and periodicals about fiber techniques.
The guild’s workshops and classes are open to the public. Day and evening classes are held quarterly in eight-week increments and span a variety of fiber/textile arts, including floor loom weaving, card weaving, felt making, basket weaving, hand spinning and weaving, knitting, crochet, tatting, (making lace with knots), and mixed media classes.
Classes are taught by guild faculty members and recognized artists from throughout the community. Short weekend courses are also available and are especially popular with students from neighboring communities.
During odd numbered years, the guild hosts a southeastern juried textile exhibition that is open to all community artists. This year’s exhibit opens April 15. Called Extraordinary things: 2011 Chattahoochee Biennial of Textiles,” it features work that references or utilizes fiber or fiber techniques in innovative ways. During even numbered years, the guild sponsors a members-only show.
“The exhibitions and open house demonstrations are free and available to anyone who is interested,” said Bradley.