Robbie LaFleur

The Non-Golf Part of Vacation

I couldn’t be weaving in my non-air-conditioned studio in sweltering Minneapolis heat and humidity anyway, so my golf time in Maine was great. (Below: the view to the ocean-side driving range, a juvenile eagle (!), and me, after learning in golf clinic about using a hybrid for a long putt.)

archieBut every trip is a textile trip, and on this one I drove an hour to visit the gracious and talented tapestry weaver, Barbara Burns, in Harpswell, Maine.  People in a particular crowd (including ME) would be bowled over by stepping into her home and seeing two magnificent tapestries by Archie Brennan.  This is one.

We looked at a number of Barbara’s tapestries she had at home, but many of them are currently in a gallery in Bath, Maine, Stable on Front, where I stopped on my way back. I was happy that the gallery show included a tapestry I had especially wanted to see, the “Little Spinner Girl.”


Another lovely tapestry was at the gallery show, “Standing Figure.”  I love the contrast in texture of the yarns, and the bold outlining.  My affinity for bold outlining comes from my attachment to Norwegian tapestry tradition and love of Archie Brennan’s work.  Barbara studied with Archie and was a member of the “Wednesday Group” of weavers who study with him.


In Barbara’s studio, her wall of yarns under glass reminded me of a Wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities.  The dramatic color range draws you in, and then you begin to notice the varying sheen and sizes of the threads. Barbara uses a range of fibers to find the perfect  surface for each image. This was the first time I’ve seen a tapestry loom of Archie Brennan’s pipe loom design, in action.  Examining the loom and Barbara’s nearly-completed piece on the loom was so engrossing, I forgot to take photos. (Note to husband: You do know that a weaver can never have too many looms, right?) But I did get a photo of her amazing Maine coon cat!


Here’s another surprising cat in her house, a stuffed bobcat draping a banister. She purchased it in Canada, and slogged through lots of paperwork to get it home.  Totally worth it.


I loved examining her faces in tapestry, as one of my weaving goals is to create a set of family portraits, contemporary and of ancestors. Here are wonderful faces, “Bea and Marcelle.”  See many more of Barbara’s tapestries on her website.


It was a short visit, but I drove away feeling I learned a lot.  It was so enjoyable to meet Barbara–and to meet her tapestries, many of which I had seen in catalogs or online.  It was interesting to see the varying bundles of yarn she was using in her current piece, to discuss how she has developed a signature framing method, to see her loom in action. It was enlightening to see, in person, the scale of her pieces, and the effect of various materials in the weft.  Thank you, Barbara!

After my visit, I really wanted to get home and weave right away, but instead it was back to a few more days of Maine: granddaughters and golf. And lobster.  Here’s the best video, in which Charlotte is a bit concerned about what is happening with “hot-tubbing in Maine.”







4 comments on “The Non-Golf Part of Vacation

  1. Kelly Marshall
    August 9, 2016

    Looks like a great trip!!! How fun and your granddaughter is sooo adorable. Hot one today, stay away from the studio. Draw your next tapestries at home in the air-conditioning!

    Cheers! Kelly Kelly Marshall Custom Woven Interiors


  2. Traudi Bestler
    August 9, 2016

    We were all very busy in Rebecca Mezoff’s class so you probably didn’t notice, but Kristin and I both were using Archie’s copper pipe looms. The design is really effective, isn’t it? Traudi

    • Robbie LaFleur
      August 9, 2016

      Oh yes! The copper pipe looms, like one I have, are great. I had not seen the really large heavy iron pipe ones for large tapestries, like Barbara has–like a copper pipe loom on steroids.

  3. Connie LaTendresse
    August 9, 2016

    So glad that I’m not the only one who takes vacations that focus on weaving! Thank you for sharing your experiences and the adorable video of Charlotte. I feel her concern!

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This entry was posted on August 9, 2016 by in Tapestry and tagged .
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