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Stephanie T. Hoppe ~ Handweaver
I have lived for two decades with several Navajo rugs, themselves now nearly a century old. Age has worn them but slightly; it has given them a luminous beauty which inspired me to learn to weave, and to weave primarily rugs, for I wanted what I made to be of practical use in daily life as well as beautiful. I weave on a simple vertical frame loom like those used to weave the rugs I consider my teachers, the loom developed by the Native peoples of the Americas in ancient times. The technology of this loom is rudimentary, and my own hands and body become critical components. The method is slow and requires close and constant attention. It also yields the physical and spiritual rewards of all contemplative practices, as well as a sense of participation in ancient rhythms of work, a connection back through all of human time, as I reembody the tasks and movements that every weaver must repeat again and again.

 I am also a martial artist, having studied Tai Chi Chuan since 1988 (I now also teach it), and I hold nidan (second-degree black belt) rank in the Japanese martial art Naginata. I find the practice of weaving requires a similar presence in the moment, attentiveness, and focus. Do not sit down at the loom, Navajo weavers warn, when you are out of sorts, for if you fail to bring to the task all your being in harmony with your world, the weaving will suffer. A feel for the correct tension of the weft yarn as I lace it between the warps is not so different from the hold I must have on the thread of time while moving through space in a choreographed form or in counterpoint to a sparring partner. In place, however, of the fleeting moments of kata practice or a tournament match, recorded only indirectly in the honing of one's skill for subsequent practice and one's character--weaving yields in the finished work a more permanent record of the interaction between warp and weft, weaver and material. That work, I believe, will contain, and forever radiate, something of the quality of the time and the effort that went into its making, and so I remind myself to take care for each moment.

 All of my rugs are woven with a tightly spun, sturdy, four-ply wool warp, wound continuously, which gives the weaving finished edges on all four sides and permits a tight packing of weft yarns to withstand the hard wear rugs receive. The warp is then completely covered by the softer, but more closely packed single-ply wool weft yarns that give the rug its thickness - about one-quarter inch - and supple resilience. For the technically minded: I generally weave with 5 warps to the inch and 30 to 32 wefts to the inch. The surface of each piece has a sheen to it from the staple of the wool.

Weaving is magical. One starts with an empty space, then fills in a web of thin vertical lines, then builds up the substance weft by weft until the nothingness is filled in with something that never before existed on this earth. Weaving is also a straightforward physical process anyone can understand. Weft is laid upon weft crosswise between the vertical lines of the warp. Horizontal lines and stripes are thus the easiest and most obvious means of introducing variety in texture or color. Truncate stripes and they become wider or narrower blocks and rectangles. Collections of these blocks, particularly when the edges are angled, give rise to all manner of motifs. The rugs shown here, part of a series I call 5 Seasons, 7 Blossomings, record my explorations of these variations, from the simple rhythm of lines and rectangles in Winter to the complex flower forms of Peonies.

 All the designs shown here can be woven to order in other colors and sizes. Anyone interested in visiting my work space in Ukiah and seeing more of my weaving can reach me by phone at 707-468-0718 or by email at I have a number of rugs as well as pillows and wall hangings available. I also welcome commissions and the interaction of working with you to create something that enhances your living space.

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Stephanie T. Hoppe

612 West Standley St.

Ukiah CA 95482




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