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Weaving the colors of nature

Using watercolors, Wendy Clark creates dye combinations for her textiles

November 30, 2013
By Beth Christian Broschart Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

BELINGTON - Growing up with a mother and grandmother always working on projects such as sewing, knitting and crocheting inspired artist Wendy Clark's love of textiles.

Clark, who currently resides on Buttermilk Ridge Road in Belington, borrows colors from nature - as she sits and looks at the windows, or at the sky during a storm, a tree dressed in autumn glory or a pond sparkling in the sunlight.

"Old things, traditions and working with one's hands were strong influences on my life," Clark said. "I bought my first loom in 1987 and played casually with weaving, before using money from the Linda Clark McGoldrick Fellowship to learn more about weaving and dyeing."

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photos by Beth Christian Broschart
Belington textile artist Wendy Clark shows one of her shawls. Clark was nominated as one of five finalist for a 2014 Niche Award from a pool of more than 1,000.

Today, Clark works with rayon, silk, cotton and bamboo fibers in her studio in her home in Belington.

"I dye the yarn and weave it into incredibly soft shawls, scarves and fabrics," Clark said. "I use natural colored yarns and dye them using fiber reactive dyes."

Clark said her main focus is on color.

"I love to play with color," Clark said. "My weaving is plain tabby. Structurally, it is incredibly strong and the fine yarns are what makes it incredibly soft."

Clark said she takes two walks a day to give her time to look for colors in nature and to give herself a breather from weaving.

"This helps me concentrate and give me a break," Clark said. "The body is a tool, and must be


When she returns from her walks, she removes her watercolor palate and mixes colors from her walks to develop hues for her textile


"The bucket I soak my yarns in was my grandmother's canning vat," Clark said. "After soaking, the yarns are colored with the dyes on my table."

She mixes the dyes from powder and the dyes permeate the fibers for four to six hours, depending on the depth of color desired. They can be hand-washed in cold water and then ironed. She said they only get softer with each use.

Once the fibers are dyed and dried, they go on the loom. Clark has two looms set up in her studio - a Jackloom and a Saori loom from Japan.

"To weave, you thread the fibers through the loom and go back and forth with a bobbin," Clark said. "I use a bobbin or a shuttle to weave the threads from side to side. The warp is what is threaded into the loom and the weft is the part you weave with, using a bobbin that goes back and forth."

Clark said each of her pieces are weaved in the moment, and no two pieces are exactly alike.

"Each piece is unique and individual, woven intuitively," Clark said. "My signature is the blending of colors in the yarns threaded into the loom, as well as the variation given in the weaving process - two colors are always used in the weaving of each piece, so colors blend from end to end and side to side."

Clark considers herself lucky, because she is able to sustain her family by creating art, which she loves to do.

"I have been weaving 27 years," Clark said. "I am grateful to the folks at Tamarack and the Tamarack Foundation. They help artists learn and were instrumental guides in helping me with marketing, production, display, selling techniques, photography and ideas for what buyers want to see and hear. They are great at helping people be successful with their wares."

Clark has received many accolades for her textile work. She was selected as one of five finalists for the 2014 Niche Awards from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants. She received third place at SummerFair in Cincinnati in textile excellence and was selected in WV Living Magazine as the 2013 Made in West Virginia Award for Best of West Virginia textiles and apparels.

Her work is featured in 42 museums and galleries across the United States, including fine art museums in San Francisco and


She attends many shows across the country and her work is available at Tamarack in Beckley and locally at Artists At Work on Davis Avenue in Elkins.

Additional information is available at



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