Mary Berent

Weaving Workshop Instructor

Mary Berent  -  BiographyMary Berent

I learned to weave in 1974. I was a Pi Beta Phi at Monmouth College, Illinois. As a graduation gift, my parents gave me two weeks at Arrowmont with my mother. In 1912 my sorority founded and supported Arrowmont School in Gatlinburg Tennessee to help preserve some of the crafts that were dying out, like weaving, spinning and dyeing. By 1974 and still today, Arrowmont is a fabulous facility for the arts of all types. My mom didn’t want to take anything that would get her hands too dirty, and we both knew how to knit, so decided on weaving. That simple decision really changed my life. The moment I walked into that fabulous weaving classroom I knew I belonged there. It was as if I had done it before! Of course at the time, I didn’t realize what a truly wonderful learning experience Arrowmont was for a new weaver.

I came home to Idaho and found a used 22" loom in the newspaper want ads. I proceeded to put on 10 yards of plaid, double weave afghans using very stretchy knitting acrylic from K-Mart. Amazingly, I had no trouble with that project and I was on my way. At that time there was no guild in Idaho Falls or Pocatello, Idaho, so I was on my own. I didn’t know there were ball winders, or swifts, or boat shuttles, but I became obsessed with weaving. Since I knew no other weavers, I had to depend on books for all my information. I love books.

My husband, Dave and I moved to Boise in 1979 and I immediately joined the Handweavers Guild of Boise Valley. That began the period of craft fairs, sales, production weaving—and teaching. In 1989, the Association of Northwest Weavers Guilds held their conference in Boise and that was the beginning of my teaching workshops outside of Boise.

In 1987 I began writing for Spin-Off, Handwoven and eventually had my own column, "Weaver’s Whimsy" in Weaver’s Magazine.

In 2006 I earned the Handweavers Guild of America Certificate of Excellence Level Two Master in Handweaving with a specialty in 16-Shaft Advancing Twill. This is a challenging and demanding two level program initiated in 1974. Level one requires the completion of written essay work relating to color, design and equipment used in handweaving and the demonstration of weaving ability with 40 assigned examples of various techniques. Level Two is an independent study which when successfully executed earns the applicant the ‘title’ of Master Weaver. In the 33 years since the program’s inception, I am only the 52nd person to earn the Level Two Certificate of Excellence.

Now, I do warp painted Tencel scarves and other special order weaving for sale and always the teaching. I really love the teaching of new weavers--they have such interesting questions and fresh ideas!

I live in Eagle, Idaho with my husband Dave and always an assortment of pets.