Uniontown weaver takes prize at Va. craft show


February 24, 2000|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

FOR THE SECOND year in a row, Uniontown resident Georgia Groomes has won the prestigious Frances Kahn Award for Wearable Art at the Richmond Craft & Design Show in Richmond, Va.

The show was judged by Kenneth R. Trapp, curator-in-charge at Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art in Washington.

"It was a pretty nice honor," said Groomes, as she worked at her home studio overlooking farms near Uniontown. "The Richmond show has been going on for 35 years and people [who compete] come from all over the country. There are about 150 people who compete, but only 25 of those are in the wearable art category."

Groomes' interest in weaving began in 1986.

"I always liked textiles, even as a child," she said. "I had done some quilting before. Then a friend wanted to get rid of a loom. I bought it for $500 and got a book on how to weave."

Her first creations were rag rugs, the kind you throw on your floor by the back door.

"I had saved old jeans," Groomes explained. "I cut all the seams out and then cut up the jeans into little strips about three-fourths of an inch wide. Then I used the strips to weave with."

These days, her creations, or wearable art, are scarves and shawls and jackets with complex designs. She has two looms in her studio.

Gone is the original loom she bought from her friend. Her new loom cost $8,000.

"It weighs about a ton and came in seven boxes," Groomes said. "They sent me a manual that is 2 inches thick."

Besides the cost of the loom, Groomes must pay for thread.

"I get my thread by mail order from a place in Maine," she said. "Regular thread is $17 a pound and silk thread is $90 a pound. Some people dye their own thread, but I don't. It gets too messy."

Groomes' large loom has 16 harnesses. The smaller one has eight. A harness is a device within the loom that helps control the pattern.

"And the treadles are what raise and lower the harnesses," she added. "That also helps with the pattern." The number of treadles can vary depending on the design.

"If you have a computer interface, the number of treadles can be infinite," she said. "I don't have that now, but that is in the works."

The vernacular of weaving can get complicated, with words such as warp, weft, harnesses, treadles, treadling and draft. It also requires mathematical skills.

Groomes pulled out an article she wrote for the spring 1999 issue of Weaver's Magazine. She turned to a page that had eight lines running horizontally with numbers written between the lines.

"This is called the draft," she explained. "This shows where the thread needs to go." Weaving can get complicated and takes concentration, Groomes noted.

"It's very mathematical," she said. "I've always liked math, so this really suits me. I like the math and technical part of weaving."

Interruptions can be annoying. "They can throw off your design," she said with a sigh. "But I love the rhythm of throwing the shuttle."

Information: 410-848-3189.

School fun fair

Taneytown Elementary School PTO will hold its annual Family Fun Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 4 at the school. The event will feature a large variety of crafts and games.

"This is something the kids really look forward to," said Maggie Weicht, who is helping organize the event.

Among the highlights will be a dunking booth, where teachers of Taneytown Elementary will take turns being dunked.

"The Maryland State Police will also be attending with McGruff, crash dummies and fingerprinting," she said.

Children will have an opportunity to build ladybug houses, picture frames and dream catchers. Taneytown branch library will hold story times throughout the day and Penn Mar Karate will offer demonstrations.

Those helping to sponsor the event are: Taney Corp., Crouse Ford Inc., Lehigh Cement Inc., Union National Bank, Sullivan Custom Homes, Schaefer Mechanical Services, Wise Choice Construction Co., Wantz Chevrolet and Farmers & Mechanics National Bank.

Basket bingo

St. James Lutheran Church will hold basket bingo at 7 p.m. March 4 at Francis Scott Key High School's cafeteria. Doors open at 5: 30 p.m. and games start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Information: Pam Fink, 410-875-5484.

Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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