We are fortunate to have a complete collection of “Wild Fibers Magazine” in our library, starting with the first one in which Margaret Russell’s “Rare Thoughts” column appeared. I recently asked Margaret how this column came into being. Set out below is her reply:
“In 1835, William Truland, a weaver, left County Antrim, Ireland and journeyed the ocean to Schaghticoke, New York in search of work in the mills. I am the great, great, great granddaughter of William and weave under the studio name of Antrim Handweaving.
With an appreciation and influence of a familial connection to weaving, my determination is to work towards the preservation of the art of handweaving. With an obsession for fibers that are raw and spirited in origin, character, and presentation, my desire is to reintroduce the use of natural fibers and encourage the understanding of why this should occur. With a whole-hearted fondness for fibers animals and a fascination with their histories, my resolution is to promote the conservation of rare breed fiber animals. These elements are foremost in my mind when I consider anything that has to do with my weaving.
In addition to and because of the pursuit of my personal weaving objectives, I am fortunate to be the Rare Breeds Columnist for “Wild Fibers Magazine.” “Wild Fibers” is a quarterly journal, committed to the industry of natural fibers worldwide, and the animals, breeders, and artisans that are involved. A 7-year anniversary will be marked by the onset of 2011.
My column, “Rare Thoughts,” tells the tales of rare fiber animals. The ones whose breeders work against the staggering odds of raising breeds where limited or even no commercial markets exist, but do so out of sheer devotion to their breed of choice. Or the feral creatures that have survived in extremely isolated areas, untouched by the breeding standards sometimes guided, but other times inflicted by man. These animals allow us a glimpse into history, and on occasion, prehistory, providing us the genesis for many of the breeds that find themselves upon landscapes and in barns throughout the world. When these animals are gone, that is extinct, permanent holes are part of our past. There is no possible way to refill them. Awareness of all that has been lost and a focus on who remains is a first step in preventing this from happening to other breeds. We need to take time to listen to their stories.
“Rare Thoughts” has a very significant message to deliver but is only a small part of all that “Wild Fibers Magazine” encompasses. I encourage anyone who has not had the opportunity to read “Wild Fibers” to do so and of course those that have, continue to support its efforts. The writers and photographers work with the basic hope that each person will savor the magazine from cover to cover. However, the underlying purpose is to open as many eyes and hearts as possible, by presenting readers with an irresistible invitation to become part of the extraordinary world of natural fibers.”