Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Susan Martin Maffei and Archie Brennan: Tapestry Partners and Innovators

I have been haunting the postal carrier watching for the Spring 2015 issue of Fiber Art Now for weeks now. It hasn't appeared in my mailbox, but I spotted one at Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins in Boulder last week and of course I couldn't wait for the copy I knew was on the way. I bought it.

The title of my article is Susan Martin Maffei & Archie Brennan: Tapestry Partners and Innovators. I have to admit that the title isn't mine, but I was happy to accept the assignment of writing it. I spent a couple weeks reading everything I could find about the two of them and then had a marvelous conversation over the telephone. Though they are partners in life and are both accomplished tapestry artists, at first I felt odd trying to write about them in the same feature. Their work certainly has similarities which I talk about in the article, but they also have very separate careers.

Susan and Archie are big players in the world of tapestry. Archie grew up in Scotland, trained at the Dovecot and Edinburgh College of Art and eventually was the director of the Dovecot from 1962 to 1975. Susan studied at Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins in Paris and worked for the Scheuer Tapestry Studio in New York. And did you know her first teacher was Mary Lane?!

Their ideas about tapestry converge and diverge, but they both revel in the work. Archie recently completed his 503rd tapestry. I suspect by now he is hard at work on another. Susan's most recent solo show just closed, but she and Archie will be exhibiting and teaching in Oklahoma soon.

One thing I really enjoyed hearing from them was their conception of tapestry weaving as "a journey up the warp." Partly that comes from the fact that neither of them use cartoons very often. But it also refers to the process of weaving tapestry. We have to start at the beginning and move forward until we come to the end. You can't go back and change something that is already woven unless you unweave everything on top of it. In their work and in their words, they they model a method of tapestry weaving which is full of creativity and exploration.
This issue also has a review of a show that tapestry artist Tommye Scanlin is in and photos of work by Pam Silva and Tea Okropiridze.


  1. I'm looking forward to reading your article on these amazing tapestry artists. I just recently subscribed to FiberArts and asked that they start my subscription out with the Spring issue because of your article. I hope they do.

  2. I also have recently subscribed to FiberArts, and just got the digital version of the Spring issue, so I can read your article. I am looking forward to your online class on color gradation in August. I will be traveling and hope to have a small mirrix loom with me. (and Weaving Southwest yarn). Happy hiking!


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