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Weavers use mechanical or manual looms to weave cloth, rugs and carpets, weaving in colors, pictures, textures, and designs to create beautiful clothing, arresting artwork, and attractive accessories for home and fashion.

These artisans often create original artwork to display, sell, or sew into clothing or something else functional. They could spend months on one item, as weaving is a time-consuming art. Weavers may also create work on commission--someone can choose the colors, textures, and customized pictures to be woven into any item they want.

Weavers use computers and paper to plan out the design. Because in weaving accuracy is so crucial, they must be careful planners with a good idea of how the whole thing will look when it's done. They should know what colors and what quantities to purchase before starting.

They use a loom when it comes time to weave. A loom stretches out the threads and allows the weaver to pass the weft threads (the ones that go side-to-side) over the warp threads (the ones that run lengthwise). The weft threads are wound around a bobbin, which fits in a shuttle. The shuttle is what helps pull the weft threads through the warp threads.

The whole process of hand weaving is slow-going. The weaver must involve the whole body in the work. The process is meditative, calming, and many weavers find it relaxing. Most of us just buy textiles that have been machine made, but the textiles made by weavers are original, unique, and lovingly created by hands skilled in an ancient and beautiful tradition.
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  Interests and Skills  
Weavers should be creative, with an imaginative eye for color, design, and textures. They should be comfortable with computers as well as basic weaving equipment, and should have an interest in clothing, textiles, and be able to follow patterns. Weavers also need to keep up with trends in fashion and design, as well as trends in weaving, especially if they are weaving garments or household decor. They should be patient, observant, and detail oriented. Accuracy is crucial to this craft. They must be careful planners, who have good coordination and steady hands. Self-motivation and an understanding of business and economics are important to anyone who wants to go into business for themselves.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Consult with client, supervisor, or senior weaver regarding commissioned pieces
  • Select the colors and designs for weaving
  • Work out the weaving design on paper or the computer
  • Set up and thread looms
  • Adjust the loom to the correct weave setting
  • Weave threads into fabric
  • Clean and maintain looms
  • Spin and dye yarns
  • Sell the garments and fabrics
  • Teach weaving
  • The typical day for a weaver will be spent working on designs, either planning them according to a client's or senior weaver's specifications, or creating their own designs. Weavers also spend time choosing colors, planning out the patterns on paper, as well as on computer. Part of each day will be spent handling the business side of the job, consulting with gallery administrators, artisans' shops, and clients. Much of the day will, of course, be spent weaving. Weavers tend to stay in one place, unless they are traveling to festivals, fairs, and craft shows to see and display their work, or to workshops and classes, learning about different techniques from all around the world.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Weavers work in studios, shops, and workrooms. They work with large hand looms, computers, and can be exposed to dyes and chemicals. They are often alone, or work with one or two other artisans. They may work for a company, mass producing textile goods for sale, without the chance to complete their own designs. They may work long hours if working on a major project, but generally the hours will be regular. Those who weave part-time have more irregular hours, as they must work around other jobs that pay the bills.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Weavers can work as part-time weavers, or they can become full-time artisans, and open a shop to sell their wares. They can become instructors, and write books and articles on the history and technique of their art. They can branch out into other areas of art, and become potters, silversmiths, jewelry or clothing designers, or open a store or gallery for artisans to sell and display their creations.

  Educational Paths  
Individuals interested in working as weavers are advised to take a college course or university program in hand-weaving, textile and clothing design, or visual art. There are also a few classes or workshops offered by weaving guilds or recreation centers. Depending on the path they choose to take, they can expect to be in school from one week to a few years. It is important that the courses they select includes skills like design preparation, loom work, stitching, and dyeing. It is a good idea to take a few business courses if they want to start up their own business. If possible, it is a good idea to become an apprentice to a well-respected weaver.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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