Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fiber World has lost an artist in Judy Adams's death

My friend, Judy Adams, died on September 13, 2008, this past Saturday. Here is a picture of Judy weaving with me at a festival last April. She offered to bring a small loom and accompany me to a 'country days' type of fair at one of Virginia's last remaining intact plantations. Typically, Judy brought much more than her loom. She carted along fabrics which she had woven recently, bags of fleece from sheep and llamas, all displayed in antique baskets from her collection. She wore a period costume which she had researched to match the time of the plantation's heyday, and sewed from her own hand woven fabric.
See, Judy decided a few years ago to devote her time to learning about the old ways of keeping comfort, before the industrial revolution diverted the hand artist away from the old crafts of weaving, knitting, spinning, rug making, tatting ... you name it! She wanted to learn as many of these crafts as possible.
Judy and I shared the love of dyeing, and had many conversations about commercial dyes, natural dye stuffs, and her garden of dye source plants. Judy had a bountiful crop of woad every year which she was sure her neighbors thought was a weedy mess. Woad grows everywhere in Virginia, but Judy's thought was that it was much easier just to go out to her back yard and pluck it at just the right time, than to wade into fields and crawl up roadside inclines. So, she planted woad in her garden and proudly displayed her blue woad fibers and yarns spun from them. She was a fount of knowledge on natural dyestuffs, the colors yielded with all the mordants. And, she was the type of artist who encourages others to reach inside and pull out their own art. Never teachy, always encouraging and always entirely expecting us to do something of worth.
In our area, we have only one fiber guild, Blue Ridge Fiber Arts, and it covers quite a broad spanse of central and southwest Virginia. And, it meets once a quarter. Judy decided that she'd like to offer the opportunity for anyone to meet more often, so she found a local library who's librarian is also a fiber enthusiast and put out the word. Every month she arrived with huge baskets of supplies. The month she taught us how to make rag rugs, for instance, her baskets held rolls and rolls of perfectly cut and miter-joined wool. One month she asked me to do a Kool Aid dye demonstration, and for months afterwards when I was able to attend, she would point out yarn being knit from that demo, making both me and the dyer/knitter proud of our contribution.
Another time, she and her travelling buddy, Carolyn Moore -- another weaver of note -- decided to present a series of weaving programs. I thought this would stifle attendance if anything would, having never acquired the love of the loom, as those two had. They each have several looms, including travelling ones, so they brought them to the library meeting room for three or four successive Saturdays, and took us through the steps of weaving. AND they had everyone up there dressing looms, threading heddles, and throwing the shuttle! I even went home and dressed my loom after that series.
Judy was a devotee of the John C Campbell Folk School, down in North Carolina. In fact, it was because of her that I have been there a couple of times, myself. Judy, though, did not just go for the experience of going, but she attended the Scottish weeks, and special advanced weaving programs. Scottish plaids were her forte, as a weaver. Oh, can I really say that one thing was her strength, in the fiber arts, as she was such a talent, pure talent. I did love her.
Folks either appreciate the dry Scottish wit, or they do not, and if you do and knew Judy Adams, you will have many stories to tell for years of her comments and dry observations of life. She was a delight to be around.
Lest you think that she poured all her creative energy into the Fiber Guild, I'll tell you that she also worked on a Prayer Shawl ministry in her church. Her priest sent out a letter about her contributions to her church, and mentioned that she filled the fall craft festival every year with her work. She was also a creative cook. As a diabetic, she was on the search for tasty recipes at all times.
She had a beautiful daughter. I mean truly a beautiful young woman, inside and out, and Judy was so proud of her, and of her granddaughter, too! I invited Judy to a small gathering for Ann McCauley, knitting designer who lives in Colorado and is from Bedford Virginia nearby, and Judy came with her daughter and her granddaughter, too. All three women, looking so much alike with that calm air that the Adams women have, sitting and knitting without glancing at the needles. Judy was not one for constant smiling, but she did smile an awfully lot around her daughter and beloved granddaughter.
I will miss her.


Katie said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend.

Anonymous said...

It is a beautiful thing that your lives intersected and that her spirit lives on in you and the other lives she touched.