My first weekend as a college student left me sucker punched. I discovered the local dance club was filled with beautiful women who would dance for a drink and I spent my entire month’s budget for one night of happy dancing. I must have danced with every woman in the freshman class.
The next rising sun brought me a terrific hangover and I stayed home. Later that day I explored the old house I had leased from an ad on Craigslist. It was a doubtful find at first. The picture presented a time-damaged two-story cabin on a hillside at the edge of an Aspen forest. The rental agreement included fifty percent discount to the person who could invest effort to restore the first floor to a livable condition. The house had been empty and boarded up for twenty years.
The owner lived in Boston and had never visited the house he said he inherited from his uncle who had just died. He told me he would email me the key code to the lock on the front door. I paid the deposit and the first month of rent with PayPal and received my copy of the lease by email the next hour. The entire deal was done over the Internet. I was on a tight budget and the lease was the cheapest one I could find in the town where I planned to attend school. The house was just outside town limits on a hillside facing the mountains. A narrow, mud-rut, lane connected the blacktop road to the house. I left my car at the side of the road and hiked up the hill where two owls greeted me from the rafters of the front porch.
There was not much furniture on the ground floor and the second floor rooms were empty. However, I found a gold mine in the attic. I didn’t think the owner knew the attic was stuffed with collectibles. It was a delight to examine old diaries and ship logs left by some of the Mormon families who founded the town. Old steamer trunks were filled with entire histories of families. I considered that the Uncle, or his family of teachers, had been the custodians of the town history documents. It was all museum quality material.
The loom stood against the far end of the gabled attic and held my greatest interest. All the crates and trunks in the attic were carefully packed and stacked. The loom was fully loaded with yarn and appeared to have been abandoned in the middle of a complex pattern of green, brown, yellow and cream. It looked as if the owner would return at any moment to complete the project.
I sat in the chair and examined the handmade loom and the detail of the beautiful weave. I knew I would complete this work started by someone long buried. Something in it called to me and drew me into the colorful pattern.
I didn’t bring any great knowledge, or skill, to that first attempt at art. I discovered inspiration in what I found and through my contribution…enough to propel my active involvement in loom art.
The inspiration in the unfinished work seized me and would not let me go. Since then, it has been a productive union of heart and purpose.
My first thoughts about becoming an artist came during the hours I sat in front of that loom visualizing the family life of those who had lived and died there. I feel they are with me yet.