CraftSanity Podcast Episode 134: A conversation with East Lansing Tapestry Weaver Nancy McRay

Tapestry by Nancy McRay

Tapestry by East Lansing artist Nancy McRay

A surprising gift led Nancy McRay in an unexpected direction shortly after she graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in advertising.

Nancy M“When I graduated from college… my parents gave me a floor loom as a present,” she said, recalling how the unusual gift left her feeling “dumbfounded and intrigued.”

Although she was puzzled by the gift at first, it actually made a lot of sense.

“What my parents did not know is that I used to stand in the doorway of the weaving program at MSU and just look,” she said, explaining that she tried but could never get into the popular fiber art class.

The loom from her parents came with some lessons, so McRay finally got her chance to learn to weave. When she asked her mom – who was a potter and painter – why they gave her a loom, her mother explained that she wanted to give her a gift that would be just for her.

“In all her wisdom, she knew that as an adult woman a lot of my life would be taken up by other people and other responsibilities and she wanted me to have something that was all mine,” said McRay, 58, of East Lansing. “I don’t think she had any idea how much she would change my life with that gift.”

From fiber artist to yarn shop owner and back again, read the rest of Nancy’s story in the Homes section of today’s print edition of The Grand Rapids Press or online at at Mlive.com.

Listen to my podcast interview with McRay below.

*** Weave With Nancy McRay ***

Nancy McRay will be teaching a three-day foundations of tapestry course for beginners and experienced weavers at the Michigan League of Handweavers Conference Aug. 8-10 at Hope College in Holland. The conference will include workshops taught by McRay and seven other artists ranging from dyeing and beading to felting and weaving. Visit mlhguild.org for registration information.

She will also be participating in the Interlochen Fibers Arts Weekend that will highlight Michigan’s growing “fleece to fabric” movement Sept. 26 – 28 at the Mallory-Towsley Center for Arts Leadership in Interlochen. McRay, who is an instructor of visual arts at Interlochen College of Creative Arts, will be teaching classes on how to read weaving drafts and design for weaving at the event that will also include classes on indigo dyeing, wet felting and drop spindle. Registration information is available at college.interlochen.org/fiber-arts-weekend.

Now I’m feeling pretty inspired to weave. How about you?

Nancy McRay's "Great Felt Lakes" 20-by-15-foot entry will be on display at Grapids Irrigation, 1170 Plainfield Ave. NE, in Grand Rapids during this year’s ArtPrize competition. The installation is the shape of the Great Lakes cut out of industrial felt. The piece will be displayed on the floor and visitors will be invited to mark locations of personal significance with push pins and and notes.

Nancy McRay’s “Great Felt Lakes” 20-by-15-foot entry will be on display at Grapids Irrigation, 1170 Plainfield Ave. NE, in Grand Rapids during this year’s ArtPrize competition. The installation is the shape of the Great Lakes cut out of industrial felt. The piece will be displayed on the floor and visitors will be invited to mark locations of personal significance with push pins and and notes.

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