Stepping Up: The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center

The Hartford Artisan Center's mission is to "Enrich lives through weaving" which they do by focusing on weavers with little to no sight as well as seniors.

Fran Curran Nov 3, 2021 - 4 min read

Stepping Up: The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center Primary Image

Handwoven items made and sold by the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center’s artisans. Photo by Meg Appicelli.

The staff who run the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center work hard every day to ensure that the center’s mission “to enrich lives through handweaving” is accomplished. For example, its core Artisan Program targets individuals with low or no vision as well as seniors. This program challenges assumptions about disabilities and aging, while showing that everyone deserves a chance for creative expression. As one of the artisans recently noted, “This is a place where not having vision is no longer an obstacle. Vision is optional here. They work with your ability.” Some of the artisans have dealt with losing their vision in midlife; others never had vision. Artisans also vary in age. Derek, in his thirties, is one of the youngest, while Joe is the oldest at 102. At the Weaving Center, members of this diverse community come together to learn from each other and to discover their own unique skills.

Teaching everyone how to weave and to get satisfaction from the weaving experience is the center’s primary objective. However, while the core subject may be weaving, the added benefit is fostering the artisans’ sense of belonging to a productive, creative community. Learning plays an important role at the center. Every year, the center challenges the artisans to participate in a center-wide project designed to introduce new ideas and structures and to keep their weaving fresh and updated.

The staff designs weaving projects for the program participants to meet their individual needs and capabilities. Some of the artisans get joy from simply throwing the shuttle and weaving simple four-shaft patterns. Others prefer the challenge of exploring more complex designs and treadling sequences on eight or more shafts. The success of the program is made possible by a large group of volunteers who wind warps, dress looms, and help with sewing and finishing. In turn, the artisans help support the center by weaving products to sell. Items for sale include rugs, clothing, shawls, scarves, a wide range of towels and table linens, and soft goods for the home, such as pillows and throws. The artisans have also been known to create custom pieces for discerning customers. To expand its reach beyond exhibits and sales, the Weaving Center recently established an online store at

The center offers classes to the general public, including weekly floor-loom classes. Special workshops are offered several times a year at the center and in a classroom at a historic mill in nearby Manchester, Connecticut. In the summer, the curriculum expands to include classes for children. The cycle of learning and teaching continues as many of the adult students stay on as volunteers, thereby becoming integral parts of the center. The Weaving Center’s vision for the future includes its continued role as a creative hub and source of inspiration for weavers in the area.

One of the artisans, Joanna, summed it up nicely: “The center is a diverse group of men and women who not only work together to produce beautiful pieces. They work together to weave a community of acceptance, nurturing, and support. This center truly enriches lives through handweaving.”

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Artistic Director and Cofounder of The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center