Types of Artistry
Margaret A. Woody
Chair seat weaving
Marion, NC (McDowell County)
Margaret Woody comes from a chair-making family. When she retired from a furniture plant in 1980, she drew inspiration from her family background to become an expert craftsperson. She weaves seats for her brother's chair shop and also teaches the craft. Margaret was born in Rutherford County, but she moved to Marion in 1926 where she has lived since then.
Margaret has been around chair making her entire life. When she retired, her brother, Max Woody, convinced her to take a chair weaving class at his shop so she would have a hobby that could earn her some extra money in retirement. She had a hard time learning in the first class because there were too many people to get much individual attention. The instructor in that first class also taught a counter-clockwise, right-to-left, technique. Margaret took another class with fewer students and a local instructor named Lilly, who taught a clockwise, left-to-right, technique, a style that felt more natural to Margaret.
With two classes under her belt, Margaret began weaving seat bottoms and has been self-taught since then. "I almost learned on my own," she says. She had to figure out the right amount of tension to use in order to keep the lines straight, and she had to learn how to pace herself. "You can't put in a decent seat if you rush too much," she advises, "and a pretty chair deserves a pretty bottom."
Margaret has taught a number of people to weave seats, including Max's wife Patricia, who does a lot of the weaving in the shop these days. She is a stickler for proper weaving with straight lines, and she often tells her students, "We can't ruin this chair; we're going to do it right." She enjoys teaching, and she has demonstrated for Warren Wilson College and for Foxfire.
"You get better all the time," says Margaret. "I've seen improvements in my work." Margaret hopes that more people in the area will become interested in chair seat weaving, so that she can eventually retire from her retirement. But, Max's Chair Shop continues to need help, so she continues to weave and seek out new students. "The best weavers you can get are maybe older people who don't want a job out in the public," she says.
Margaret is available for demonstrations or workshops on chair seat weaving. She also welcomes visitors to her home and to Max's Chair Shop in McDowell County for demonstrations or classes on the craft.
Marion, NC 28752