The Artisan Weaving Program
About the Artisan Program
Our artisan program currently provides social opportunity, a source of income, motor and cognitive skill enhancement, and a deep sense of accomplishment for 35 blind, visually impaired, and/or senior artisans.
Multiple, recent medical studies have shown that social isolation is a physical and mental health risk for aging populations and adults with disabilities. The Census Bureau estimates that 15% of Hartford County residents are over the age of 60. Of those, 30% live alone. As large generations continue to age, this trend is slated to increase. The rate of living alone increases with age, especially among women.
Some of our artisans have been excluded from the workforce, and isolated due to lifelong disability, changes in health, or age. This has limited their earning potential, and opportunities for creativity, socialization, and accomplishment. Surveys have shown that our artisans value the social and creative aspects of the program equally.
Our diverse community unites people from different backgrounds and experiences to learn from each other, and uncover their own unique skills. We challenge assumptions about disabilities and aging, and show that everyone deserves a chance for creative expression.
Weaving is a multi-step craft that requires focus and precise movements, and rewards weavers with an accomplishment they can feel, and share with others. There are endless weave structure, color, and fiber combinations, so artisans are gently challenged to learn something new every day.
Become an Artisan
If you are legally blind, or 55+ years old, you meet the requirements to be a weaving Artisan. No experience with weaving is necessary. For $5 dues per month, Artisans are provided a loom to use, all the materials needed for weaving, and ongoing one-on-one instruction from our skilled teacher, studio manager and experienced volunteer weavers. Artisans set their own hours and days, but are expected to spend 1 or 2 days at the Center every week.
Support the Artisan Program
After just a few months, most new artisans are able to weave beautiful handwoven items, including our signature scarves. They become part of a creative and accepting community. The Artisan program is largely driven by individual donations. There are many ways to donate. Click here to learn how.
Meet Some of Our Artisans
"I lost my vision due to glaucoma over 25 years ago. I enjoy the work here.
When I weave here at the Center, I don't feel like I'm blind. It makes me feel like nothing is impossible."
"I attended at Oak Hill as a teenager and learned how to weave. I come to the Weaving Center 4 times a week. I like to weave here much better because there is no pressure. Being the only blind person [at the assisted living facility] makes me isolated. I like it here because I feel like I am somebody and I can contribute."
"I attended high school at Oak Hill School for the Blind where I learned how to weave. After my husband passed away in 1996, I started weaving at the Artisans Center. It was important for me to get out, meet new people, and weave. It helped me overcome my great loss. I’ve learned a lot from the challenges of weaving, and that has helped with other problems in my life."
Marlis was one of the original artisans at the former program at Oak Hill. She enrolled in the program, in part, to recover from a stroke. Marlis shared this about our program: "If I could come more often, I would. There is something about this place that I don’t find anywhere else. There’s a measure of peace here. Plus the act of weaving gives a sense of rhythm and purpose. The creativity also feels really good."
Bob spent 25 years working as a graphic designer in television. During his working years, he spent many hours as a potter at Wesleyan Potters. In retirement, he learned to weave rugs. He loves the Center because "weavers are encouraged to add their own creativity to their projects."
"Totally blind since birth, my school years were spent at Oak Hill. I started at the Artisans center in January of 2009. I enjoy weaving, meeting new people who weave, and getting out. I live in Wethersfield and
transportation is provided. I make scarves and weave fabric for bags and fashion accessories."
Joanna: "I lost my sight due to retinitis pigmentosa at age 43. I was extremely busy with my kids, home daycare, Girl Scouts, school and Church activities. As I lost vision those things were no longer possible to do. I started at the Weaving Center in 2013 and find it a form of “active meditation”. They constantly challenge me with new patterns which make me focus on 'the piece' and nothing else. There are no grumpy people at the Center. Everyone there is ready with a laugh and kind word.
Virginia knew little about weaving at the Center when she joined us in 2010. Now she makes beautiful scarves that are quickly bought up during our sales. Known for being a patient and careful weaver, Virginia weaves until the very last inch of a warp. "It gives me something to look forward to each day. These 3 days are set aside as something special."
Support the Artisan Program
Your contribution will support our weavers and help us reach more people. Donations of any amount help us continue to use an ancient craft for modern good.