W. John Jameson, III, lives in my building and weaves textiles in his apartment. During the winter he opens his home studio to friends and other tenants for a holiday sale. A few years ago my mother began a yearly tradition of letting me pick out a scarf for Hanukah. When John is working, the loom takes up a good portion of his living room. As during his holiday sale, you might know he’s entertaining guests if you come across the loom tucked away in the basement on your way to do laundry.
I asked him some questions.
1. How long have you lived in your apartment on The Upper East Side?
WJJ: I moved in February 1993.
2. Why did you choose weaving over other arts or even other textile arts? In other words, what specifically about weaving drew you to that art?
WJJ: I took a weaving class in boarding school and the artform appealed to my sense of color, order, and texture. I did try painting, drawing, and ceramics, but did not enjoy them.
3. Are there any institutions, galleries, schools, supply stores related to weaving on the Upper East Side or do you have to leave the neighborhood for any kind of event, errand, etc. related to your art?
WJJ: I buy some of my yarn from a store called STRING (www.stringyarns.com) on Madison Aveneue between 78/79. The rest of my yarn comes from Italy primarily.
4. Can you talk about that playhouse you are involved with?
WJJ: I do some volunteer work for the HOURGLASS group (www.hourglass.org) usually box office stuff. They produce little known works, past and present. They don’t have a playhouse. Unfortunately, there is no textile connection here. I donate scarves for their fund raisers.
5. Many people would wonder, are you able to support yourself through weaving alone? Especially on The Upper East Side? If not, do you have a second job or other means of affording The U.E.S. life?
WJJ: It is not easy, but I do make a small living from this venture.
6. What does being a weaver entail besides the actual weaving process? i.e. – showing in crafts fairs etc.
WJJ: I do trade shows such as the New York Gift, the Holiday Show at the Church of the Heavenly Rest on Fifth Avenue, as well as retail shows across the nation.
Here is a closeup of a giant scarf or wrap from my own W. John Jameson, III, collection. John also weaves wall pieces. Similar to abstract painting, you can just stare and get lost in the intricacy of colors and textures. I buy scarves because I like to wear them around town. At his sale, I always find many pieces that appeal to, even delight my aesthetic sense, but sometimes I also see, for example, a blanket that is too outrageous for me; with a very curly thread or an animal print border or a strange shade of green. I think, how could the same person design the scarves I find so wearable, and with color combinations so subtly fantastic, and then this other piece that seems a bit tacky to me. But on closer inspection I appreciate these too, because they also express the apparent joy John finds in exploring all of the possible combinations of color, texture, and patterns.