August 11, 2021
Walking into Deb Turner’s workshop is instantly comfortable. Spools of various fibres in an array of colours, threads hanging vibrantly on the walls, everything looks soft and satisfyingly organized in its own way. Turner is a weaver.
Sitting behind a loom the size of a kitchen table, her hands and feet work confidently in tandem, doing a dance I simply can’t even begin to wrap my head around.
The cacophony of sounds is mesmerizing, soft clunks as huge wooden pieces all strung pulse up and down, echoed by the soft rattling of the spool in the shuttle as it glides back and forth through the weave. Slowly, the pattern builds upon itself and the whole complicated process reveals its intentions.
“My Grandmother was a weaver, and I'm descended from Flemish weavers, so maybe it's in my DNA? I don't know,” remarked Turner. Particularly poignant because watching her work was nearly primal, there is a sense of history and craft emanating from the looms.
Weaving is, in many ways, such a human experience. It is one that has made us what we are today as walkers of this planet. Amongst other needs, we need fibres transformed into clothes to keep us protected from the elements.
“As a New Zealander, I never weave with wool, plain pure wool,” commented Turner.
“I weave with wool silk...it’s 50/50 tussah silk and merino wool.
“That’s the closest I get to wool.”
Tussah silk comes from the caterpillar of a moth that feeds most typically on Oak leaves, and the tannins from which it dines create the neutral beige of the fibre perfect for absorbing colour.
Merino wool comes from the merino sheep that graze in the highlands of New Zealand and Australia. This unique wool absorbs odor caused by bacteria, making it the perfect fibre for things like tea towels and garments. This combination of fibres makes Turner’s work not only gorgeous but also supremely practical.
On that note, one might argue that a true weaver delivers potential on all fronts. We surround ourselves in woven material constantly without even realizing it. Weaving embodies the perfect combination of art, culture, and practicality. Turner not only recognizes this, but seems to truly relish in it as well.
“I love it when people are wearing my stuff, '' remarked Turner.
“I make a lot of scarves and shawls, but I also get a big thrill when I go to someone's house and I see one of my tea towels all crumpled up on the counter.
“Cause I know they are using it, and I love making things that people will use everyday. The everyday stuff. That's why I make tea towels.
“And I always give tea towels as part of a wedding gift. Then it is used everyday.”
Who wouldn't want to incorporate Turner's work into the every day? Beautiful and useful, each of her pieces offers the care and softness we all need in our lives.
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Bluerock Gallery Inc. acknowledges the land in which it is is situated on as the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, the Métis Nation (Region 3), and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.