Dec. 7

December 7

Anni Albers was one of many artist spouses at Black Mountain College whose impact is often diminished next to that of their male partner. Josef Albers is the one most pointed to as a leading BMC influencer. But it was the Anni Albers’ Weaving Workshop where many students speak of experiencing the most creative freedom.

The Albers had come from the Bauhaus, where women were not allowed to pursue the “heavy arts” of painting or architecture; so the weaving studio was their only space of creative expression. These restrictions didn’t exist at BMC. Inevitably, all students at BMC, regardless of gender, found themselves in Anni’s weaving workshop. How could they stay away?

Her emphasis was the exploration of materials: you can weave with anything. Anything. You can make objects that are beautiful and useful or you can make abstract creations. Albers used the weaving space as a way to challenge her students to break away from whatever might be blocking their creativity. Very few students had any previous experience working with fiber, so they didn’t have pre-recorded messages in their brains about things needing to be done a certain way. Albers believed they would therefore be more free to “trust their own experience,” and become better artists in the process. And they did.

A young woman (Anni Albers) wearing a light colored top with sleeves pushed up and a spotted dark kerchief tied and covering her head bends over a loom with an open window in the background
Anni Albers at BMC, 1937; photo by Helen M. Post

Links for Further Exploration

Another BMC Weaver/Weaving Workshop Teacher to Learn about: TRUDE GUERMONPREZ

Invitation to Creativity

In weaving, warp and weft are the two basic components. The warp creates the frame; or lengthwise strands or pieces that stay in place while the weft strands or pieces weave in and out of the warp.

  • pictures from magazines, recycled paper, ribbon, yarn, receipts, advertisements, junk mail
  • weave solid paper with patterned
  • Go tiny: make warp out of somethign the size of a business card or a playing card. Tiny art! Or slightly larger and square and can become a coaster
  • Go giant: make warp out of something large enough to be a placemat or even a larger table covering
  • You could also of course play with yarn and sticks or create a circular cardboard “loom” like in this kid’s project

Simple Paper Weaving Activities from Grinnel Arts Council

If you are having fun playing with weaving, here are some more paper activities.