- Weaver: Gloria Claw Begay
- Weaver home: Navajo, New Mexico
- Price: $360
- Size: 7″x10″
- Date Woven: January 2023
- Date Consigned with Weaving in Beauty: January 26, 2023
- Yarn: Commercially spun Navajo-Churro wool
- Dyes: Indigo, cochineal, black walnut, ground lichen
I titled Gloria Begay’s latest weaving “The Whole is Greater”. Why? It’s a lot of different parts. It’s a Navajo-Churro wedge weave that has fine detail and natural dyes. Great parts, all of them, but I realized the whole is greater than the sum. Gloria’s telling a great weaving story in 70 square inches. Let me show you how.
Part 1: Wedge Weave
Wedge Weave emerged as a technique around the Long Walk period (1864-1868), when the Navajo people were force-marched to the Bosque Redondo. Under horrific conditions, the weavers wove with the materials they had.
Hundreds of miles from home, they incorporated new designs that they saw. They created angled patterns on the bias, weaving sideways stripes. This method displaces the warp threads, creating scallops on the sides of the weaving. They manipulated the stripes as they wove, creating wearing blankets with highly complex patterns.
Wedge weave largely disappeared with the advent of rug weaving in the 1890s, but contemporary indigenous and non-indigenous weavers revived the technique. Gloria used wedge weave in four sections of this piece, and you can see the characteristic displacement of the warps in the picture at left.
Part 2: Navajo-Churro Wool
Gloria selected fine-weight Navajo-Churro wool for this weaving. OK, she possibly used up small pieces of Navajo-Churro from other projects, but that’s the point. Navajo weavers don’t waste wool, and they especially don’t waste Navajo-Churro wool. Like the Navajos, these sheep have been the target of ill-conceived campaigns that decimated their numbers, nearly wiping them out.
Drought-tolerant, lean, and possessing nearly greaseless wool, these dual-coated sheep fed and clothed the Navajo people for hundreds of years. Gloria’s use of this wool for this weaving adds another piece to the whole.
Part 3: Fine Detail and Natural Dyes
Navajo-Churro went into the classic Chief Blankets. Fine spinning and fine detail enhanced the beauty of the wool. You can see both in the beautifully executed center of Gloria’s weaving. It features the Spiderwoman cross found in so many blankets. Weaving at 12 warps and 50 wefts per inch, the weaving is canvas-tight.
Shades of cochineal, indigo, black walnut, and ground lichen make up the color palette. These historic dyes tell more of the story. The Ancestral Puebloans traded many dyes, and the knowledge of these colorants was passed down and shared. The Navajo acquired cochineal-dyed fabrics to use as bayeta; they dyed with indigo and used many plant materials in their work.
The Whole is Greater Than The Sum
This 7″x10″ weaving tour de force will fit anywhere. It will enhance any decor. It will tell this story every time you look at it, or at least it will try to.
I know this description is way over the top. I’m not sorry. Let me know if you enjoyed reading it. I had a blast writing it. This weaving is a consignment piece, and Gloria will receive 85% of the purchase price.
Weaving in Beauty specializes in contemporary rugs that we purchase directly from the weaver. We generally pay the price asked by the weaver or we come as close to that price as possible.
Recently, we have started accepting consignments of fine quality rugs directly from the weavers because there are few auctions taking place at this time.
We try to support living weavers and do not buy or sell vintage rugs. All of our rugs are from weavers that we know personally.