Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
Unusual Textile Weavings Demonstrated by Neil Colmer at Kentucky Artisan Center
On Friday, March 21, fiber artist Neil Colmer of Berea will demonstrate 4 unusual textile weaving techniques from a variety of cultures – Inkle weaving, card weaving, Kumi Himo from Japan, and a knotting technique originating from nautical use – from 10:30 – 3:30 at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
Originally from Pomeroy, Ohio, Neil Colmer grew up in an artistic family of musicians. He came to Kentucky in 1967 to attend Berea College where he discovered his love of weaving. While majoring in Spanish, Neil’s student labor assignment was in the weaving department of the Student Craft Labor Program. After four years in the college’s weaving program, Neil went to work for Berea College Fireside Industries as an employed weaver. He then worked at Fort Boonesboro and helped set up the Fort’s Craft Program. Neil was given the Kentucky Award in 1977 for promoting Kentucky to the world public. Continuing to weave full time – Neil will celebrate his 40th year as a weaver this September, 2008. His studio is located on the corner of North Broadway in Old Town, Berea.
Reflecting on his experience learning to weave at Berea College from weaving instructor Lena Elkin, he states, “I only did plain and twill weave for the first two years in the weaving program. I think Lena wanted to be sure I was serious, and after two years she began to teach me how to warp the loom and do more difficult patterns.” Neil graduated in 1972, winning the Sara Fuller Prize Loom , an award presented to a worthy Berea College weaving student.
Neil specializes in traditional styles of weaving from a variety of cultures – creating coverlets in complicated patterns. He uses a variety of looms and has woven cloth from many fibers including cotton, wool, linen and even Mylar threads, but prefers cotton for its wash ability. His favorite styles of weaving are the colonial overshot patterns, Atwater Bronson Lace and double woven cloth. Neil enjoys doing custom orders and recently began weaving the leather chair bottoms for Doug Haley’s fine woodwork in Old Town, Berea.
On Friday, March 21, Neil will be demonstrating a Japanese braiding technique called Kumi Himo, will be creating belts using Inkle looms to weave, and demonstrate how to make a net bag using a nautical knotting technique called the “sheet bend” or “weavers knot.” This technique joins a small line to a larger line and is based on tension from the knot.
The Kentucky Artisan Center is located just off Interstate 75 at exit 77 (Berea). The Center’s
Exhibits, shopping, and travel information areas are all open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the café from 8 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Admission is free. The Center currently features works by more than 650 artisans from 90 counties across the Commonwealth. For more information call 859-985-5448 or visit the Center’s web site at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Commerce Cabinet.