where old fashioned skill meets modern technology
[Silverton, Colorado. 2010] A GAELIC NOVEL inspired them, a knowledge of industrial technology gave them a unique perspective, and a desire to earn a living through creative endeavor sustains them.
Gary and Linda Davis are weavers. Using a blend of skills from former occupations, and incorporating
discoveries made while investigating various handicraft art forms, these two very creative people have developed their own weaving style—right down to designing and building their own looms.
“We started weaving at home, back in Texas,” Linda explained. “We made cloth, then we made things out of it. Then we moved to Trinidad (Colorado) and Gary started making looms.”
Why Trinidad? It was a central point. “We were doing shows all over the country,” Gary said. “We needed to be somewhere with easy access to wherever we needed to be.”
And why make their own looms? Mainly for portability. “We needed something we could fit in our travel trailer,” Gary said, “something that would come apart easily and be simple to transport and set up. Most of the looms we saw were based on old peasant technology, and we do use that, but those things take five men and a big truck to move. We needed something lightweight, and modular, that incorporated modern technology.” Added Linda,” and with Gary’s looms, we can take the warp off, have two or three warps going. That made for good shows and demonstrations.”
So they traveled, taking their looms, weaving and sewing wherever they went, often in a tent or a rented space, participating in craft shows and renaissance fairs, as they honed their skills and perfected their techniques.
“We learned a lot,” Gary says, “and because we taught ourselves, we didn’t learn others’ mistakes. We made a few of our own, and in correcting them, got better and better at what we do.”
“Better” is an understatement. What they do is perfection. A perfection they are glad to share with others. Gary, especially, is a natural-born teacher. Although show demonstrations got Gary started, today his greatest pleasure comes from showing others how to weave. Some want to learn, so they can weave, too. Others, like school children, “Well,” said Gary, “When they get back from vacation, they can say, ‘Look, this is what I learned on my trip.”
How did these two Texas transplants wind up in Silverton? “My parents brought me here the first time when I was eleven years old,” Linda said. They came back every year, and in the early 1990s, she introduced Gary, who also fell in love with this little mountain town. “We always came here on our vacations,” she said, and when the time came to decide where to settle down and open a shop…” “And travel less,” added Gary, “we came to Silverton.”
“Here, people walk by, look in the window, come in to see what we’re doing,” he said. “They don’t have to drive, park, hunt us down.” “We get a lot of people coming back again and again,” said Linda.
One reason might be the variety. Always learning, always trying new things, they’ve come up with some great color combinations. “I’m kind of the engine for that,” Linda said. Her latest is an incredible weave of purple yarns. They’ve also got some lovely earth colors, jewel tones, nature-inspired greens and blues. The variety also extends to clothing products.
Weathertop weaves capes or ruanas, stoles (shawls), jackets, hooded and boat-necked pullover tops—the latter like an historic Viking ‘Bog Shirt—throws, and table scarves. Most are woven of (pre-shrunk) cotton. “All American textiles,” Linda said, “from Tennessee, the Carolinas, Kentucky.” And occasionally, a fine rich wool.
Gary summed up their Silverton success. “Our business model is ‘We are here. We are great. I dare you to come in the door and ask questions.’”
And people do. Stop by Weathertop Wovens any time—they are open all year long—and you’ll see people gathered at the loom, watching Gary or Linda working the shuttle, catching the yarn, the shuttle flying as the lovely, colorful threads weave into exquisite cloth that they sew into their own creations right there while you watch. And learn.
Who knows, a visit may inspire you to take up weaving too.
Linda and Gary in their studio. All © Kathryn R. Burke