June 18, 2018

Handcrafting Classes Return to Slater Mill This Spring


(Pawtucket, RI) The first of April may be a day to suffer fools, but it may also turn out to be the day that you begin to learn a new handcraft, art or skill at historic Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket. Trad Arts Studio @ Slater Mill welcomes spring with three classes in the fiber arts. A notable change for 2017 is a new Saturday session. Normally held mid-week, the ten-week course Handweaving, with instructor Suzi Ballenger, will be offered on Saturday mornings from April 1 through June 10.

Two Wednesday evening classes will also be offered. They are Hand-knitting, with Emily O’Neil, and the long-running Chair Caning, with Steve Emma.  A workshop in Natural Dyeing will be offered in May or June as a one-day Saturday class, the date to be announced later in the season.  “Trad Arts Studio classes emphasize intimate, hands-on instruction,” said Erika Davis, who programs the studio. “As always, this season’s classes will be limited in size, and tailored to individual skill levels.”

Trad Arts Studio is a fiber arts initiative that provides opportunities for the public to participate in classes focusing on traditionally-based crafts. These skills, passed down through generations of makers, tie into the rich history of 1793 Old Slater Mill as a textile mill-turned-museum with an immediate connection to the American Industrial Revolution.
“Slater Mill wants to preserve the cultural heritage of our site by empowering our community with contemporary skills in the traditionally-based arts,” adds Davis.

Chair caning and handweaving are the studio’s two longest-running classes, while hand-knitting recently re-emerged on the seasonal roster. Slater Mill hosts a concentrated weekend knitting conference with classes each January, but there is demand for more instruction at other times of year. Trad Arts Studio boasts expert teaching artists that have developed a following over the years due to their advanced skills, patient demeanors, and ability to teach in a way that applies across multiple skill levels.

Master traditional artist Steve Emma teaches Chair Caning. As a craftsman, Steve has become a local fixture as both teacher and maker. His six-week class will be held on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Students learn through the process of repairing one of their own chairs.

Career production weaver and exhibiting textile artist Suzi Ballenger teaches the 10-week Handweaving class on Saturdays at 10 a.m. Her 25-years of experience inform her expert instruction on all facets of the weaving process. Students are assigned a floor loom to use for the duration of the class.

RISD alum, textile designer and educator Emily O’Neil will teach a 6-week class on Hand-knitting on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. O’Neil will guide students through a knitting project from cast on to cast off, while addressing technique and problem solving as they go.

Slater Mill is located at 67 Roosevelt Ave., Pawtucket. Email info@slatermill.org, or call (401) 725-8638 ext.106.


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