Movers and Makers: A common thread

Mother and son weave by hand

How often do you think about the fabric in your clothes and where it was made? Never? The truth is most of it is probably produced on huge machines in factories around the world. But in the Northwest, there are still people who make a living making cloth by hand.

Beth and Tom Poirier are two of the best. Beth started weaving 35 years ago, the same year Tom, her son, was born.

“I specialize in towels. I do them in three sizes,” Beth said.

Beth's creations are bold, colorful towels that seem to last forever. She holds up a barely faded dish towel. “This is a towel that Tom grew up with. I retired it from use after 25 years," she said.

Although Tom grew up surrounded by the hypnotic sounds of looms and weaving, he didn’t really embrace the craft until about seven years ago.

“Something about it just really felt right,” he said.

Tom mainly weaves scarves that are elegant, understated and unexpected. Look closely at one design and you’ll see cotton, silk and flecks of real copper thread woven throughout.

Movers and Makers: Read other articles in this series

As different as their aesthetic, there is a common thread that runs through the work of this mother and son.

“It definitely is a kind of bonding thing,” Beth said.

They share a belief that even though the process is very difficult, it’s worth doing right and that something made by hand is truly special.

“Well if you are going to spend so much time making a piece of cloth, go that extra step and make it really good cloth,” Beth said.

“The cloth that we make?” Tom said. “Every single thread, we put it there with our hands.”

Beth and Tom believe some things from the past are worth preserving.

“I’m doing something in this day and age that is completely unnecessary,” Tom said. “But it’s something humans have been doing for 10 to 15,000 years.”

Proving that some things never go out of style.

Beth Poirier Handwovens website

Tom Poirier's website

© 2017 KGW-TV


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