Audrey Moore was my friend and mentor. Many of you could say that. She passed away on November 17, 2020, after a brief struggle with a devastating stroke.
Audrey learned to spin, then weave, at the Damascus Pioneer Craft School in about 1967, or so. She tried the floor loom but said it was “too mechanical” for her. She read the book Working with the Wool, by Noel Bennett and Tiana Bighorse and decided to learn to weave Navajo style. She contacted Noel Bennett and soon she was part of a group of women sitting in the forest east of Eugene, Oregon, learning to make a Navajo style warp and weave on it. She and Noel remained lifelong friends.
Audrey wove for several years learning Navajo techniques. She had many reference books on Navajo culture. As her skills grew, she, like many of her students, moved on from the Navajo designs to designs of her own. She loved to weave textiles within a textile. This developed into her final series, “The Ladies.” Audrey said that you could tell a lot about a person by her clothes, demonstrated in this series of colorful and lively dresses.
Cheryl Silverblatt curated an online exhibit for the American Tapestry Alliance Tex@ATA in which she shows many examples of Audrey’s tapestry journey in four galleries. Please see that here: Dancing Color-Audrey Moore’s Tapestries.
In addition to creating beautiful tapestries for over fifty years, Audrey raised a family, kept a house, and found time to teach tapestry and Navajo style weaving to others. Audrey taught weaving for over 50 years, 35 years at the Damascus Pioneer Craft School and another 15 at her own business, Damascus Fiber Arts School. Audrey retired this spring and turned the business over to a Board of Directors, who are changing it to a non-profit organization.
Audrey’s great friend, Pat Turley, used to gather a few of us together and take a road trip to the regional weaving conferences. We went to Tacoma, Spokane, Pendleton, Red Deer Alberta, Victoria BC, and Bellingham. She went to many conferences before Pat and I joined her, but those are the ones I remember. Great fun, great company, and we even learned a few things at the conferences.
Audrey’s greatest weaving accomplishment was her school. Over the years many hundreds of women and men learned to weave tapestry and Navajo style weaving from Audrey. She was a great teacher, able to see a problem, diagnose it, gently explain how it could be fixed, and help avoid doing it again. She had an uncanny ability to correctly tie and tighten the dreaded bowline knot so important to make a Navajo style warp.
When I first learned to weave tapestry, I would take my loom home and weave madly. The next week she would stand by me and say, in a kind voice, “Well, another way to do that might have been…”
Audrey inspired me to learn more tapestry techniques, to take workshops from Archie Brennan and Susan Maffei, to enter exhibits, to join the American Tapestry Alliance, and to teach others. She cheered me up when I got rejected from shows. She agreed with me when we made plans to hire outside instructors like Sarah Swett and Joan Baxter. She helped organize shows at the Sandy Library.
For Audrey’s 90th birthday, all the members of our weaving school community threw her a surprise birthday party. We all dressed up in pearls and hats, like the Queen of England. The men wore hats and adorable suits, carrying canes. We ate old-fashioned food. We all wove self-portraits from which a book was made. We surprised her with the book at the party. She was totally surprised! It was a great day.
Like many of you, I could go on and on telling stories about Audrey Moore. We are working on a way to honor her, something like a party and something more permanent. Her 95th birthday would have been at the end of next April, so maybe it will be safe to have a celebration then. We just do not know at this time.
Meanwhile, a toast, “To Audrey Moore, friend, mentor, smiling lady whom we all loved.”
Damascus Fiber Arts School