Many hobbies have found their place as a business, so what about weaving?
Thirty years ago, Suzi Ballenger could have never imagined she would be teaching the art of weaving. The inspiration to learn came by accident, but it happened quickly, reports The Westerly Sun.
She walked into a shop with a weaving loom and woven textiles on the wall and said, “this is what I’m going to do with my life.”
Within a year she had her own loom and a book to teach her how to weave. She took off from there. Her passion for weaving, carried her on a ride of professional and personal self-discovery.
Over the years she has taught in a variety of settings including five years at Flying Shuttles Studio in Providence, now located in Pawtucket, where she was program director for a vocational training program for individuals with developmental disabilities.
They learned weaving and operated a storefront where they sold what they made. She grew the program from five students to 21. She teaches at Slater Mill in Pawtucket and at Saunderstown Weaving School in North Kingstown where she has been studio assistant to weaver Norma Smayda for 10 years.
“Art should inspire. Art should get you excited. Art should make you ask, â€˜how did she do that?’ It should start a conversation,” says Ballenger, who loves working with unusual fiber.
She holds up one scarf made from wool, nylon ribbon and saran wrap. Another is made with silk, bamboo and cassette tape, making it shimmer just a bit while being ecologically friendly. Another scarf is made of silk, monofilament (fishing line) and Saran wrap. That one has a matching purse with a bike chain for a handle.
Photo by Christian Guthier