Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Of Legacies


One of the things we - or at least I - tend to think about at some point is...what are we leaving behind?

For some people this legacy leaving centres around material goods.  How much money (stocks/bonds/whatever) will be passed on to the family.

For me the question is not so much about money, but knowledge.

As a new weaver, I looked at the available books and - because I'm a book lover - I would also check the copyright date.  Some of the books available in 1975 were actually written decades before, but were still widely used.  The (New) Key to Weaving by Mary Black was one of my textbooks along with the Davison green book.  Other authors that took up space in the library included Atwater, Tidball and others of that generation.  

As a new weaver I didn't really have much inclination to write a weaving book.  That came about much later growing out of the GCW monograph required for the fourth and final level.  By that time, I was aware of other master weavers who had published monographs/books.  Mary Black was the most famous, but others came along, too.  Some were only known regionally, but others gained wider readership, such as Linda Heinrich (one of my mentors) with her book The Magic of Linen.

Magic in the Water was built on the work I did for my GCW monograph, but this time it was presented in a format to address the lack of information currently available.  Wet finishing was - and still is, to a large extent - a not very well understood process.  Since joining the internet in 1994, one of my goals was to help people understand what wet finishing was, and why it was necessary.

The second book grew out of teaching people about things like ergonomics, working efficiently, taking care of one's body.  Then the misunderstood nuances of equipment - best practices to work efficiently and not injure oneself in the process.

As I wove more, taught more, I tried to work out why something was happening, to understand the dynamics involved in how the threads came together to make whole cloth, as it were.  It was in response to a direct request for a book recommendation from one of my students when I realized that much of what I understood about weaving was not documented in any one place.  It was time to write another book!

I didn't want to.  Having done Magic in the Water, I knew what I was setting myself up for in terms of effort and expense.  I started and stopped multiple times as life ebbed and flowed - renovations to the house, a mother dying, my own ill health.  

But things would resolve and there was the manuscript.  Patiently waiting.  It took the better part of 5 years to bring it to life and, while it isn't perfect, it was the best I could do in terms of quantifying in words something that is physical in nature.

Technology had also developed to the point where I could publish it on a website that offered either PDF download or an actual printed copy.  That meant I didn't have to pay a printer to do hard copies, then hope I could sell them all.  It offered a way for both books to live on.

Ultimately it will depend on their usefulness and future weavers to determine if they are, truly, 'classics'.  But regardless, I have come to consider these to be my legacy.

Both books are available through http://blurb.ca (or .com)  Or use the link at the bottom of the page.

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