Concerned the summer would escape with many tomatoes eaten, many weeds pulled and lawns mowed but few inspiring new destinations experienced, we followed our passions around Lake Ontario. Frank Lloyd Wright, the Welland Canal, Thousand Islands, even Frederick Remington were on the list, but old boats and weaving were the most inspiring of all.
Clayton, New York, is not exactly on the basic road to somewhere. It is at the beginning of the St. Lawrence River at Lake Ontario and a great summer vacation area, if you want to go there. But what a special jewel Clayton holds in the Thousand Islands Arts Center, home of The Handweaving Museum.
Formerly called The American Handweaving Museum, this wonderful old house with charmingly friendly people holds an archive of American handweavings the likes of which would be challenging to match. This museum is not one where we could go to view galleries of weavings. As a matter of fact, the summer show in the galleries was wild fowl photography. But in the true meaning of a museum, it has collections of over 20,000 items with more collections waiting to be cataloged and stored.
This museum is a resource for any textile student, academic, weaver, crafter, or master. The library is organized, cataloged, and computerized. The vast collection of fiber items are stored in acid-free museum boxes with photos of every item on the outside of the box. The photographs are not only all on the computer system but available online.
The Thousand Islands Art Center has a weaving room, replete with weavers on Wednesdays willing to share their stories and projects with me. They have classes most of the year. As opposed to our active calendar from September to June, their year is from March to December. The harsh winter is weave at home time, I am told. There are some publications from the Handweaving Museum that are beautifully done and available through their web site.
This was a stop that opened my eyes to a facility of remarkable depth in Clayton, New York, of all places!
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