The MERA Heritage Weavers
The MERA Schoolhouse Weavers are a cooperative group of professional weavers who meet regularly at the schoolhouse to upgrade their skills and to coordinate their presence at various sales events in Eastern Ontario. As caretakers of the weaving studio, the members are on hand to help plan group projects and mentor individuals during the Thursday Fibre Arts sessions. The group can frequently be found demonstrating at local events. In June 2011, they gave a demonstration of linen production, as it was done by local Scottish pioneers, at Upper Canada Village. Here are some of the events we will be attending in the fall of 2012:
- Fibrefest, Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, Almonte, ON, Sept. 8 and 9
- Ottawa Valley Spinning and Weaving Guild Exhibition and Sale, The Glebe, Ottawa ON, Nov. 3 and 4
- Kingston Handloom Weavers and Spinners Annual Sale, Portsmouth Community Centre, Kingston ON, Nov.17 and 18
- MERA Christmas Sale, McDonalds Corners ON, Nov.24
We welcome weavers to join the group. Our goal is to produce and market quality hand woven items and to promote awareness of the local weaving heritage. We can provide mentoring to interested and committed individuals if it is desired. For more information contact Ellen Good.
When there is sufficient demand classes are given in beginning or intermediate weaving. Classes are held on six Saturday mornings with three hours of instruction per class. Equipment and materials are provided for class sessions. Students then have the option to work in the studio throughout the week. Email MERA for more information, or phone 613-278-0388 and leave a message.
History of Weaving at MERA
Weaving has been a tradition at MERA since its inception in1998. Looms were donated and volunteers taught weaving.
In 2001 the Ontario Trillium Foundation approved a grant for a heritage weaving and pottery program. The mandate of the weaving program was to:
- develop a heritage weaving studio
- teach weaving to the general public
- promote knowledge of the local weaving heritage
- train weavers in this area as part of an economic development plan
Under the direction of coordinator Ellen Good, the rather shabby porch area of the schoolhouse was renovated to create a brightly-lit weaving studio. Equipment and supplies were acquired, often via generous donations, and classes were started. Demonstrations were given showcasing the local pioneer textile production, most particularly the growing of flax for fibre and all the steps involved in the production of linen. These demonstrations were facilitated by a very generous donation of heritage artifacts from Saskia Mueffels of Ottawa.
At this point, the MERA Heritage Weaving Training Program in production weaving was launched. Local women were recruited who committed to an intensive program to learn all aspects of production weaving: from the weaving of quality items for sale, to the establishment of a business structure for marketing the items, to displaying and selling work through craft shows and local retail venues. When the training program came to an end in 2005 the trainees elected to form a cooperative group. Some highlights of the group's activities have included:
- 2005 Weaving towels and place mats for the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau designed to accompany a display of speckled ware for the Acres of Dreams:settling of the Canadian Prairies exhibition
- 2006 Pioneer Textile Production Exhibition at the Rideau Canal Museum in Smiths Falls
- 2007 Exhibition at the Almonte Public Library
- 2007 Fabrics of Pioneer Life by Ellen Good A grant from the Ontario Crafts Council funded the publication of this catalog detailing the production of the textile arts in this area and the pioneer equipment. used
- 2007 Cloyne Museum Exhibition and Sale
- 2006,2007,2008 The Ottawa Bytown Museum Demonstration of flax preparation
- 2008 Grant from the Perth and District Community Fund to teach heritage textile arts to 100 Grade 3 children at the Perth Museum
- 2009 Gallery Exhibit at the Deep River Library
- 2005—onwards Demonstrations and attendance at the Craft Inroads Studio Tour in McDonalds Corners and the Dandelion Tour in Westport; attendance at local agriculture fairs; events such as The Art of Being Green in Lanark, Middleville and Heritage Day in Westport ; annual attendance at the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild Exhibition and Sale in Ottawa; wholesale sales made to The Museum for Textiles in Toronto, Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto, The Nature Lovers Bookstore in Lanark, Foodgifts in Westport, The Clydesville General Store in Lanark.