Candace Crockett: A Textile Legacy

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Members of Twist are all familiar with Candace Crockett’s groundbreaking book, Card Weaving.

Kimono Series: Plum Kimono, 9.5” x 6.5”, silk

Many of us learned to do this wonderful technique by following her clear and concise instructions. And we have admired the work she has shared with us over the years both in publications and exhibits. I have had the privilege of watching Candace teach for much of 25 years, and as she approaches retirement from San Francisco State University, I want to share with you some of my thoughts about this extraordinary teacher.

For Candace, there is no doubt that textiles are an art form. She has instilled this concept in her students during the 30 years she has spent at SFSU. She has generously shared her enthusiasm and her superb technical abilities with absolute honesty and clarity.

First as a student in the early 1980’s and then as her teaching assistant for about the last 15 years, I have watched Candace’s approach to teaching and to textiles evolve and mature. Her classes
have always seemed fresh to me. Remaining true to her mission, she has guided hundreds of students through the mysteries of warp and weft, designing and dyeing, fulling and finishing. She also introduced students to a wide variety of off-loom and surface design techniques from spinning and felting, shibori dyeing and screen printing, to knitting and quilting, and so much more. Always open and encouraging, she promoted the study of every imaginable approach to fiber, but never allowed students to bog down in the merely technical. Every method, including card weaving, was taught as a tool for personal artistic exploration. Students left her class armed with a huge vocabulary of techniques and the confidence to use them well. Her particular enthusiasm for card weaving always made that one of the most exciting techniques that she taught.

Although some semesters were so full of information they went by with little reference to her own work, the card weaving classes Candace taught were among the most influential. It was always amazing to see her eloquent hands on a stretched warp, manipulating simple cards and thread to create a complex pattern. She encouraged personal exploration and creativity within the bounds of this very precise technique. Although I was introduced to card weaving before I met her, every time she approached the subject in class, I felt that I learned something new and exciting.

Table Pieces 7” x1 0” x 1”, detail

Never afraid of sharing the pulpit, Candace hired the best available local artists and teachers for a semester of two in the Art Department. And there were countless guest speakers, accomplished textile artists who willingly shared their passion with the students. Candace was also generous in allowing me to speak in my own areas of expertise throughout the years. Her legacy at SFSU and in the greater Bay Area art world has been assured with the endowment of a new tenure track position in Textiles and New Media. While other departments close, Candace can be proud to say that textiles will continue to be taught at SFSU.

Kimono Series,10” x 10’, silk

In spite of the heavy load of teaching, and in recent years the responsibility of being Chair of the SFSU Art Department, Candace has continued to produce important work of her own in both card weaving and surface design. Her earlier card woven work was rich and jewel-like, with many tiny silk bands combined to create a whole. Her latest work is monumental in scale and just
as vibrant. And now finally, with time on her hands, she is sure to explode with a rich body of work that has been fermenting for years.

Candace’s gifts to card weaving and to the many students she has influenced will continue to resonate long after she has left SFSU. It has been an honor to have witnessed this amazing
teacher and artist for so many years.

[Barbara Shapiro is a textile artist and was a student of Candace Crocket’s in the early 1980’s. She has served as a volunteer teaching assistant in textile classes at SFSU for the past 15 years.]

Photos © Candace Crockett

Copyright © 2006 Barbara Shapiro

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