Kimmy Compton, a teacher and weaving artist in Logan Square, feels that it’s important for art to be socially engaged. Teaching allows for her weaving to be social, but weaving has also become an outlet for her teaching.
Previously, Compton has dabbled in photography, graphic design and interior decorating. When asked if she currently has other artistic outlets, she says, “The thing is, weaving became my outlet. … With teaching, you absorb so much from students, from stress, from environments that you’re in. Sometimes, I return home heavy and I need to do something about it.”
This outlet has allowed her to make weavings with her own natural aesthetic, which involves multiple textures and materials such as twigs and bark. Compton sells her work both online and wholesale. Interested buyers can find her work at Fleur, an Austin, Texas boutique called Byron and Blue or on her Etsy site, Gather Handwoven.
Weaving Projects Fascinate, Silence Elementary Students
The rhythm of the process and the ability to add her own natural aesthetic has kept her weaving for years. Back in 2011, Compton visited her sister in Chile. She became intrigued by the region’s culture of handicraft and use of alpaca wool. Upon returning home, she began researching the process and eventually utilized the art form in elementary classes. Because drawing and painting aren’t always a strong suit for students, weaving became a good alternative.
Her first classroom weaving project was with a group of third and fourth-grade students, and “they totally got hooked,” she says. Teaching this age group can involve some high energy. “When I bring out the yarn and we start weaving, I have these, like, fourth grade boys who are silent.”
One student in particular had a negative approach and was later very engaged in the process. He was even helping other students, which Compton loves to see. She says that when the students get really into the project, there will be a moment of silence in the classroom. “And then, some kid always yells out, ‘It’s too quiet in here!’” Some of her favorite memories while teaching, she explains, come from that brief moment of silence.
Adults In Weaving Classes Learn ‘Organic’ Process
But weaving isn’t only for elementary-age children. Compton also teaches adults at Fleur, which will host her upcoming Beginning Weaving Workshop on Feb. 21.
For a previous workshop, which was also at Fleur, 12 people came to learn the basics of weaving for three hours. The group was able to make about a third to a half of their piece, and they learned about basic techniques, how to connect shapes and how to make fringe.
“One thing that I love about teaching weaving is that it’s so versatile to different groups,” she says. “I’m teaching the same thing to third graders and adults. … It’s the same medium. And I love how it takes these different forms within the context of different groups of people.”
Compton explains that children will often combine unexpected colors, while adults can often be timid at first. But during these workshops, she has observed people surprise themselves at how well their projects come along.
“The reason I really like weaving, as a process, is because there are rules, but there aren’t rules,” Compton says. “You can really interpret things in a ton of different ways. Compared with drawing or painting, where there’s kind of a set canon … in fiber art and in weaving, it’s a lot more interpretive, and it can be a lot more organic of a process.”
Those interested in joining Compton and other students at Fleur in a three-hour introduction course about weaving can register for Beginning Weaving Workshop here.