I was born in a small community in central Wisconsin. I spent my first four years loving my family’s farm. When it was time for me to go to school, we sold the farm and moved about one hundred miles to the city where the residential school for the blind was located. There was not a mainstreaming program available back then. I loved the school and gained an excellent education there. I was an avid braille reader before finishing first grade. I was highly involved in the music program and had taken three college-level music courses during high school. I earned my undergraduate degree in music education with a major in piano. I then earned my master’s degree in teaching the visually impaired from Northern Illinois University.
I have been a full-time instructor at the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired for over sixteen years.
My interests include weaving, reading, listening to and playing music, outdoor activities such as canoeing, going birding, collecting seashells, and swimming with dolphins.
I began taking weaving classes about twenty-two years ago. I have had the joy of working with two excellent teachers at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, IL. It is a wonderful place to learn new art forms to love. One’s teachers, classmates, and others at the center are all very supportive of each other as we gain success with new goals and skills. It was challenging to figure out ways to create complex braille weaving patterns and work out techniques so that I could do the entire weaving process independently–designing my patterns, measuring my yarn, threading my loom, and finally having the joy of throwing shuttles and having my fingertips discover the complex patterns coming alive on the loom. At first I only worked with textures, keeping the color schemes simple. But my current teacher, Heather Winslow, has helped me to understand color theory and has encouraged me to work with a variety of colors. I tend to think of them as music–one color might be like a cheerful little melody in a major key, another might sound bold and strong. Add them together and you have a new piece of hand-woven artwork.
I recently have begun learning how to do Kumihimo braiding–a complex braiding art form using 8 bobbins in various colors and braiding patterns. My teacher described each movement needed to complete the braiding sequence. I then brailled out the patterns. Once I learned the basic movements of bobbins to create various braids, I then added beads to the mix to create bracelets and necklaces.
I have also helped to organize eight 4-day weaving classes specifically designed with persons who are visually impaired or totally blind in mind. I create the patterns, braille and large print the handouts, and assist the weaving instructor. We had eight students in our eighth summer class of 2016 at the weaving studio in St. Charles coming from WI, MN, and IL. The same group is expected to join together for summer class # 9 in July of 2017.