By Deborah Sexton
If you had asked Charlene St. John before 1990 if she had a passion in life, she would have shook her head and said, “No.”
“I’ve always been a middle of the road type of person,” she says. “I thought, ‘It’s nice that there are a lot of people who have passions, but I’m not one of them.”
Then Charlene decided to try her hand at weaving. “I don’t even remember why,” she says. “I know my great grandmother was a weaver and I had a neighbor who weaved, but otherwise I really never had much exposure to it. But I just decided to start weaving, and it became as natural as breathing.”
This gorgeous woven blanket was made by Charlene St. John for her water-loving son. It is woven in undulating twill, which is regular biaxial weaving. The wool is from Bovidae Farm, Mars Hill, N.C., which is nearby. It was woven on a 36-inch, eight-harness Schacht Mighty Wolf loom, http://schachtspindle.com/our_products/mighty_wolf.php.
Since that time, Charlene estimates she has created dozens of woven items, which include scarves, shawls, blankets, and even rugs. “Once I got started, I just kept going,” she says.
Her work has been shown in numerous galleries over the years, and she gets requests from individuals to create exclusive merchandise to sell. She also does commissioned work for individuals. And she is thinking about offering merchandise on Etsy.
It’s not so much that this is going to make her rich, but it does help fund her addiction. “I only know two people who are actually earning a living at weaving,” she says. “It’s a hobby for me. I don’t do it to make money at it.”
This piece, entitled "Field of Bearded Iris" was created by Charlene St. John. Some of her pieces are used as wall hangings.
Charlene’s latest passion is triaxial weaving. She learned about this from her weaver’s guild which is the Western North Carolina Fiber/Handweavers Guild, http://www.wncfhg.org/. It is located in Hendersonville, N.C., which is close to where Charlene lives in Franklin. N.C.
Her first attempt ended in frustration. “I couldn’t figure it out by myself, and I was too shy to ask the other guild ladies who were doing it.”
But then one day about four years ago, she attended a one-day retreat with her guild. “One of the four hour-long mini classes was on triaxial weaving, and you could not have kept me out of there with a bomb,” she declares. “I jumped in with both feet.”
With the triaxial weaving, St. John now makes placemats, table runners, purses, and eyeglass cases. She estimates that about 50% of her time is devoted to her loom weaving and 50% to the triaxial weaving.
Stay tuned for more blogs about Charlene and her weaving.
If you’d like to contact Charlene about her work, her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit her Facebook page at: Heavenly Handwovens, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heavenly-Handwovens/190123657766120
We’re interested in hearing about what your passion is. If you’re willing to share, please contact Deborah Sexton at email@example.com.
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