Meet the Weavers
Minding Our Own Business: The Mountain Weavers Guild
Good things come to those who weave. Just ask the members of the Mountain Weavers’ Guild. For Muriel George, it’s "talking to people and being outside" at the farmers’ market. For Christa Wrest, "it’s good to create something that is your own style and then sign your name to it." For Joan Blackburn, it’s "selling baskets and making money so I can go on vacation."
The Mountain Weavers’ Guild was founded in May 2008 by six individuals participating in day services at Mountain Lake Services. What they wanted was a place to build their artistic talents as basket weavers while learning work skills related to the creative arts industry. From naming the enterprise to setting up their Elizabethtown studio to creating their own business cards and portfolios to interviewing their direct support staff, members of the Guild participate in all aspects of the business.
Of course, what the members of the Guild do best is basket weaving. In July 2008, Guild members began to sell their work at farmers’ markets in Elizabethtown and Keene. "I love it!" Marion Perkowski will tell you. "I can’t wait to go back." And market-goers love the Guild. Last summer, the members sold about 90% of their baskets, and the demand for their work is growing.
Even better than selling baskets, Maggie Garrow will tell you, is the identity the weavers are developing in their communities as talented crafters. After she and the Guild were featured in the Plattsburgh Press, Maggie remarked, "People recognize me. They come up to me and say, 'You’re that weaver. I saw you in the paper.' That is so neat."
To meet the growing demand for their baskets in the new year, the Guild expanded to include five more weavers from Westport and Port Henry. On December 15, 2009, those members opened the new Mountain Weavers’ Fiber Arts Studio on Main Street in Port Henry. Their goal is to sell both inside the shop and at additional farmers' markets, fairs and festivals throughout the Adirondacks. Riesa Warren, the newest member of the Guild, helped to renovate the new studio. "I love it!" she says. "I helped get this place started. It’s like we have our own business. I’m very pleased."