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Michigan and the Great Lakes

Fascination with Fiber

Michigan's Handweaving Heritage
Marie A. Gile and Marion T. Marzolf
The first comprehensive look at handweaving in Michigan from the pioneer log cabin to digital computer-aided looms


Fascination with Fiber is the first complete look at Michigan's rich tradition of handweaving, from pioneer log cabin days to the contemporary era of digital computer-aided looms.

Michigan has been at the center of handweaving and fiber arts and crafts since early settlers brought their skills with them from countries where handicrafts and weaving were traditionally strong. The textiles they produced in their new country, from linens to coverlets to rugs, took on a distinctly American expression. In the twentieth century, the formation of guilds, craft communities, and formal art programs created a revival of interest in handweaving as an opportunity for artistic expression so that by latter part of the century the state played a vital role in the national fiber movement.

Weavers and historians themselves, authors Marie A. Gile and Marion T. Marzolf focus on the people and forces that have kept the craft of handweaving alive in Michigan and indeed throughout the country for over two centuries: a passionate group of individuals and weaving communities enlivened through shared necessity, opportunity, and creativity.

Gile and Marzolf base their book on oral histories, interviews, and documentary and artifact research. With its tales of colorful characters such as Mary Atwater, the gun-toting weaver from Montana who helped organize the handweaving industry; to the formation of the Michigan League of Handweavers in 1959; and the "Fascination with Fiber" exhibit that opened in 2004; Fascination with Fiber brings the story of handweaving in Michigan to life like no other book.

Marie A. Gile is Textile Specialist and Research Associate at Michigan State University Museum in Lansing. She has been a weaver and fiber artist for twenty-five years.

Marion T. Marzolf is Professor Emerita in the Department of Journalism and Communication at the University of Michigan. Since retiring in 1995, she has taught basic weaving, has served as president of the Michigan League of Handweavers, and has exhibited in galleries statewide.

Praise / Awards

  • "A premiere work offering a rich chronicle of weaving in Michigan. Colorful stories tell of Michigan's textile people, places, and events, and show the important role that this state played in preserving and progressing the culture of cloth locally and nationally. I came away with a new sense of pride and joy at being a part of this rich human history and inspired to continue exploring within this great tradition!"
    —Chris Triola, Fiber Artist

  • "In the fine description of events marking the development of handweaving in Michigan, Marie A. Gile and Marion T. Marzolf explore the important work of individuals and institutions dedicated to the exploration of textiles as important products of human existence. Their study reveals that throughout the state, communities of dedicated individuals not only nurtured the endlessly inquisitive eye and mind of the handweaver, and the fascination with technology that brings meaning and purpose into one's life experiences, but also offered opportunity for participating in a social network offering shared interest in innovation and accomplishment. Their research reveals surprising continuity in relationships, with results that are far-reaching. Readers will be moved beyond border as they come to realize the extensive influences generated in Michigan. Fascination with Fiber is a well-documented history, with consequence!"
    —Gerhardt Knodel, Director, Cranbrook Academy of Art

  • ". . . an in-depth look at the art form."
    —Julie Brown, Observer & Eccentric

  • "Although Fascination with Fiber is devoted to Michigan's handweaving heritage, it is pertinent to any weaver who would like to learn more about our collective weaving heritage. It tells a very American story of how weaving has changed over the years from a function of necessity to a respected art form."

Look Inside

Copyright © 2006, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 7 x 10.
  • 200pp.
  • 40.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2006
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03113-9

Add to Cart
  • $24.95 U.S.