The course was held over three days last weekend at the Aboriginal Gathering Place at ECUAD on Granville Island. Cheryl Samuel is a master weaver in the traditional First Nations' techniques of Chilkat and Ravenstail twining. These techniques allow one to create stunning, complex patterns and motifs with nothing more complicated than one's fingers and a warp hanging off a beam.
Cheryl Samuel has been a hero of mine since I discovered her book, The Chilkat Dancing Blanket, in the stacks at NSCAD. At the time, I was achingly homesick for the west coast and fixated on simple, portable textile technologies and connections to the land. I found comfort and inspiration in The Chilkat Dancing Blanket, and taught myself to twine by pouring over the encyclopedic illustrations and descriptions contained in it. I admire the detail and intensity of that book so much; it seems to me that thanks to her, the knowledge of these techniques will be safe now forever, even if every weaver were to pass away, because of the care with which she recorded them.
As for the techniques themselves, I love the fact that I don't need a two thousand dollar piece of equipment or another room in a house in order to practice them; a bamboo pole hung from hooks in the ceiling used to be my loom. I also love the graphic nature of the designs and the fact that they come from the same place I do.
The workshop was amazing; the Aboriginal Gathering Place is a beautiful space that set the perfect tone; and Cheryl is an instructor of high calibre and high expectations. It was a pleasure to work in that atmosphere again.
I neglected to mention my previous twining experience at the introductions at the beginning of class, which I regretted when my speed and nice tension started to spread dismay among my classmates; but Brenda Crabtree, the Aboriginal Program Manager, and Cheryl made up for it by teasing me mercilessly, and we all had a good laugh.
I've just asked to join the Chilkat and Ravenstail Fb group; looks like there are some pretty precocious weavers in that group!
I'm not sure exactly how this fits in with my basketry, but it feels very 'right'. It'll be interesting to see where it goes.