NAME: Lynn Smetko
BACKSTORY: I first got to meet Lynn at both of our first Complex Weavers Seminars in 2006. I was immediately drawn to this very beautiful lady who radiates a love of life and people and a passion for her weaving. Whatever Lynn weaves is always elegant, thoughtful, exquisitely executed, and covetable!! She is also an incredibly supportive and encouraging person, and has that enviable quality of always making the person she is talking with feel really important and interesting! She has also contributed greatly to Complex Weavers over the years. Here is her story of how weaving ensnared her.
HOW I GOT INTO WEAVING
Weaving is so much more than throwing a shuttle. For some time now I have been saying that, for me, weaving is at the intersection of art and technology. It is beautiful colors, designs and fabrics, but it is also machinery, software and electronics. I did not become a weaver until my 40’s, but looking back I see a number of early life activities that influenced my interest in weaving and the paths I have taken.
Creativity and making things were important in my family with both parents having attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As a young girl, my father, who was a high school art teacher, let me roam his classroom on weekends and experiment with whatever materials were at hand. He also bought me Erector sets that we worked on together. All those little nuts and bolts were frustrating, but the results exciting. My mother, on the other hand, taught me fiber arts skills – machine sewing, knitting, needlepoint.
When I started as an undergrad at the University of Illinois, computers had yet to become a household item, but I was intrigued with what they could accomplish. I considered going into computer science, but as there was no major I opted instead for health information management, a field which made heavy use of computers.
Upon graduation my parents gifted me with a Bernina sewing machine. On my own in Ann Arbor, MI with a new job, I spent my free time sewing and tailoring clothing with well-made commercial fabrics.
Fast forward through jobs and raising two wonderful children to 1996 and a 20th anniversary trip to Santa Fe. Stunning handwoven fabrics showcased in the stores and galleries piqued my interest – how were they made? Wandering into Weaving Southwest I saw a loom for the first time, an incredible machine that could produce beautiful fabrics! I immediately wanted to buy it, but my husband wisely suggested that I learn to weave first. Back in Chicago I found the Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, IL, signed up for weaving classes, purchased my first loom, and started both weaving and creating drafts with weaving software.
From that time on, much of my weaving journey has been spent trying to escape the grid and right angles inherent in woven pieces. In 2006 a course from Alice Schlein introduced me to The Woven Pixel, written by Alice and Bhakti Ziek. It totally changed how I approached weave design, which included designing in the liftplan and Photoshop. My 40-shaft AVL with Compudobby IV was purchased a couple of years later to serve as a “mini-Jacquard” and make better use of their techniques. (Those Erector set building sessions came in very handy, as did working with computers!)
After spending several years creating drafts with curvy designs and 40-pixel-wide snippets of photographs and weaving them into hand-dyed warps, I felt I needed a new direction, so in 2014 I started Dini Cameron’s ProWeave online course. The topics quickly moved into different ways to accomplish weave design with ProWeave. “What if?” became a big part of my weaving mind-set, and I challenged myself to make full use of the versatility of 40 shafts. In the process, I realized that I am more interested in designing than in actually throwing the shuttle, although it is always gratifying to see electrons successfully converted to actual cloth.
Along the way I also happened upon Complex Weavers. I attended every Seminars conference since 2006 and soaked up as much great weaving information and inspiration as I could. In 2010 Wanda Shelp asked if I would serve as Editor of the Complex Weavers Journal. I said yes and thus began my career on the CW Board which eventually led to serving as President from 2016-2018. During that time I came to really appreciate the weaving community, and I realized how important it is to encourage, enable and share with other weavers.
I want to thank Stacey for asking me to contribute to her blog. There are no “have-to’s” with weaving paths, and there is also no end point where there isn’t more to learn. While based in antiquity, the field of weaving is always evolving. We need to help each other grow into the next level of experience or expertise, however that is defined for each of us.
Images : Feature – Harbingers of Spring (60/2 Silk. Polychrome summer & winter. Designed in ProWeave. 9″ x 11″. 2021) Top down: Doggies (16/2 Cotton. Summer & winter. Designed in ProWeave. 17″ x 16″. 2020); Lady of the Lake (30/2 hand-dyed silk. Broken twill. Pattern designed in Photoshop. Scarf. 2010); Ties That Bind (60/2 Silk. Summer & winter. Designed in ProWeave, motif designed in Photoshop. Scarf. 2017); Winds of Change (30/2 hand-dyed silk. Broken twill. Pattern designed in Photoshop. Scarf. 2013)
NEXT TIME: Belinda Rose