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The Free Spirits Presentation Photos (June 2014)
Topic: Branching Out!

by Roving Reporter, Kate W

Taking us on journey along the three branches of the Chicago River, we saw how these multi-talented weavers were inspired by the river. Starting out on the North Branch of the Chicago River, Bev Atseff was inspired by Riverview Amusement Park. Using chain maille, she wove a beautiful pendant inspired by the Ferris wheel at the park. Going farther south down the forest preserves inspired two bead-woven butterfly wings for Bev, and the colors of spring daffodils and irises had Chris weaving cotton towels. Chris was motivated by the industrial buildings along the river to weave a runner depicting the windows of these buildings. Reaching the Main Branch of the river in the heart of downtown is where most of their inspirations came from. By taking a cue from the 1887 Illinois General Assembly to reverse the flow of the river from Lake Michigan, Bev took the yardage woven in tencel from their "lakeshore" program a few years ago and "reversed the water from the lake (yardage) to make a river project" by using the yardage to make two 80" shawls. The ripples in the river encouraged her to make a chain maille bracelet in blue/green.

Bev Savel wove three blue/green runners in shadow weave representing the river being dyed green on St. Patrick's Day every year. And of course, a river has to have fish--Bev Savel wove up a fish motif necklace with beads and Bev Atseff did a rag strip runner with fabric called "River Fish". Chris chose the bridges going over the river for her runners depicting them one as closed using a blended weave in crackle and an open bridge in crackle using cottolin that ended up on the floor tangled. Using the windows from the buildings along the river as inspiration she also wove a black and gold scarf representing the light from within. Taking a little side journey off the river Bev Savel was prompted to weave four theater signs in beads. Bev Atseff took a knitted hat that she felted but was too small to wear and decided it could be a representation of a bowl that perhaps the Pottawatomie Indians would have used living along the river.

Going down the South Branch and passing Union Station, Bev Atseff used the Santa Fe design for a 15" framed train motif. Chris paid tribute to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 by weaving crackle weave blocks to represent the fire then used the fabric to cover the pad on a shoeshine bench. It wasn't until Chinatown and Ping Tom Park before they really got their inspirations. The buildings got Nellie weaving a turned summer and winter pieces representing the colors of the skyline and the boathouse with their kayaks prompted her to weave a runner. Chris used her thrums to create felted bowls, taking her cue from the rice bowls in Chinatown, Bev Savel knitted panda hats, and Bev Atseff wove a 90" runner in summer and winter pick-up depicting Chinese lanterns in wool and hand dyed silk. All in all this presentation was a lovely way to see the Chicago River symbolized in weaving.

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Bev A

Bev S

Chris M

Nettie B