Margaret Woody came 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 wove seats for her brother’s chair shop and also taught the craft. Margaret was born in Rutherford County, and she moved to Marion in 1926 where she lived the remainder of her life.
Margaret was 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 was self-taught since then. “I almost learned on my own,” she said. 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 advised, “and a pretty chair deserves a pretty bottom.”
Margaret taught a number of people to weave seats, including Max’s wife Patricia, who did a lot of the weaving in the shop. She was a stickler for proper weaving with straight lines, and she often told her students, “We can’t ruin this chair; we’re going to do it right.” She enjoyed teaching, and she demonstrated for Warren Wilson College and for Foxfire.
Margaret Woody passed away on May 29, 2015 at the age of 92.