A visit to Kelly Marshall’s weaving studio

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Inspired by my recent trip to the Textile Center, I decided to pay a visit to a local star in the weaving world. Kelly Marshall actually got her start in weaving at the Textile Center Weaver’s Guild of Minnesota when she was 19, then went on to study in Sweden, and now runs a nationally recognized business from a studio in the Northrup King building in Minneapolis.

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Marshall’s studio has four large looms in it, and a staff of three full-time weavers to work them. While weaving is often considered a solitary art, Marshall says she’s always wanted company:

When I started weaving for a profession, I took a business class at Women Venture to help me get my mind around running a business as a weaver. One of the first things we did was project what the business would look like in 5 years. My vision was a large, sunlight room with several looms and myself and several weavers working on the looms. I have always wanted to share the craft of weaving, making the textiles, with others.

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Photo by Abernathy Photography

Marshall is very aware of the pleasure that comes from making something with your own hands, but she also recognizes that if she wants to be a professional weaver for many years to come, she has to take care of herself.

I enjoy doing many different kinds of handwork and always have a project going whether it is stitching, knitting, beading, or bobbin lace making to name a few of the crafts I enjoy. Weaving is very taxing on the body and although I never had an injury from weaving I could feel the stress on my body after 15 years of weaving full time.

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Photo by Andrea Rugg

Now Marshall spends the majority of her time working with clients, attending craft shows, and working on her favorite aspect of weaving – the design process. The infinite possibilities of form and color are what really excite Marshall.

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Photo by Abernathy Photography

Marshall says even though she’s not on the loom weaving every day, she still feels very connected to the work:

I consult with the clients and do all the designing. I calculate all the yarn needed for each piece and lay out the patterns and consult with the weavers when they start a piece to get the proportions correct. I am in the studio sewing the totes and am always working on developing new product.

Sometimes I do miss working on the loom where the task ahead of me is very determined, repetitive and meditative at times. It is a process of doing something that has hand memory, my body knows how to weave, set up a loom, the actions are learned in my cells, it is wonderful to be so connected to something. On the other hand I enjoy challenging other parts of myself: how to run a successful business, employees, human resources, benefits, marketing, product development, and financial planning. How do I fit into a community of fiber artists, and craftspeople in general?

If you’d like to check out Kelly Marshall’s studio, you can! She’ll be participating in the Northrup King Building’s “Art Attack” gallery open house November 6-8.

  • http://http:/www.textilecentermn.org Margaret Miller

    Kelly Marshall is one of our shinning stars in the textile community. I am so pleased that you found this gem to feature on the MPR site. Besides being an outstanding artist she is a wonderful community member, volunteering at the Textile Center all the time to mentor emerging artists and advance the field of fiber art.

    Thank you for featuring Kelly.

    Margaret Miller

    Executive Director

    Textile Center

  • Heather

    I love, love, love Kelly’s weaving. Thanks for featuring this super talented local artist.

  • Kathleen Jordan, President , Weavers Guild of Minnesota

    We are very proud of our member, Kelly Marshall, at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota (WGM). Her success as a weaving artist is an inspiration; her amazing design and use of color spectacular! When she teaches a class at the WGM, there is always a wait-list!

  • Nina

    I used to work for Kelly, and in addition to being a remarkable artist and businesswoman, she is also the best employer I ever had- and a great friend. I can’t relate the number of times I would look at her color selections for a custom rug not yet on the loom, and wonder, how on earth are all of these colors going to come together? And invariably they did, beautifully. Her “waterfall” rug for the McKnight offices is a masterpiece. If “design is art that people use,” Kelly’s work epitomizes that coming together of life and beauty.

    Nina Clark

    The American Swedish Institute

  • Debra Petersen

    Each time that we bring our rugs to the American Rug Laundry on Lake Street they immediately recognize them as her work because there are so many of them gracing South Minneapolis bungalows.

    I am fortunate that I can enjoy her work at home and at work because two of her beautiful textiles grace the walls and floor of the Luann Dummer Center for Women at the University of St. Thomas. We’re honored to show her work and proud that she is a friend of the Center.

    Debra Petersen