Tablet Weaving and Ply-Splitting Books, Tools & Kits
Happy 80th Birthday, Peter Collingwood!
(Madelyn van der Hoogt asked me to write something to honor Peter's 80th birthday. This appeared in Handwoven magazine in 2002.)
It has been 50-plus years since you decided to stop practicing medicine and to make your living as a weaver. To celebrate your 80th birthday, we want to tell you how glad we are that you traded your scalpel for a shuttle. Here are just a few things that we especially appreciate:
* Your interest in "every way threads can be interworked to produce a fabric", and what this passion led you to discover and share with us. In the late 1940s, you started weaving narrow scarves in the back of an ambulance on a loom you made from deck chairs. You went to Jordan with the Red Cross, and saw Bedouin women weaving, and a Sheikh gave you a hanging from his tent. Most recently, your curiosity led you to the girthmakers in India. Your boyhood dream of being an inventor has come true many times over, as you brought us anglefells, macrogauzes, the lever system for shaft-switching, and many new ways of working with threads.
* Your books. Those heavy door-stoppers, cures for insomnia, everything-you-could-possibly-want-to-know books on rugs, sprang, tablet weaving, and ply-split braiding. You thoroughly researched and documented what was known, and generously shared the results of your own experiments.
* Your workshops. You thought writing those books would mean you didn't have to teach! Yet you have been teaching and lecturing since 1954, and at your master workshop at First International Ply-Split Braiding Convention just a few months ago, you presented the class with completely new ideas to tackle, including many in three dimensions.
* Your creativity with words. Oh, the anagrams and acrostics, the jokes and puns! And your love of both reading and writing poetry. You read favorite poems aloud in class and now share them on your web site.
* Your playing the dulcimer and recorder. Who could forget how you entertained us, plucking out Medieval French melodies, English and Canadian folk songs, and your original compositions? Or the looks from the passersby when you doodled on the dulcimer in public?
* Your embrace of modern technology. E-mail, the Internet, the scanner, the digital camera -- you learned how to use them, and now surf the web, send jpegs, and e-mail correspondents around the globe. You even subscribe to weaving and braiding discussions lists, and we know we can count on you to provide quick, concise answers to any question about textile structure or history.
* The example you're setting for us as we grow older. In your 70s, you made long trips to India's Thar Desert to research ply-split braiding, and wrote the first comprehensive book on this subject. You created a monumental macrogauze hanging using a newly-invented stainless steel yarn for the cultural center in Kiryu, Japan. You are actively making and selling macrogauze hangings, tablet-woven alphabelts and inscription bands, and ply-split bracelets and baskets. And if history is any guide, you will spend March 2 at work in your studio.
Happy Birthday, Peter. Thank you for being part of our lives.
With love, admiration, and our best wishes,
Weavers around the World
Tablet Weaving Gallery
This page updated on June 28, 2013.