CAVENDISH, Vt. – After two years and with the contributions of over 60 community members, artisan weaver Wendy Regier was proud and excited to unveil the finished Cavendish community tapestry during the Cavendish Town Meeting on Monday, March 5. Her plan had always been to dedicate the tapestry to former Town Manager Rich Svec since he was so instrumental in encouraging her to start the project in the first place. Sadly, just hours before town meeting, news spread that Svec had died suddenly that afternoon. Stunned though she was by the news, that dedication became even more important now.
The idea for the project began years before when Regier had brought her own large and cumbersome loom to an Old Home Days community event where community members were invited to try their hand at weaving. Svec loved the idea and told Regier that they should continue to do a community tapestry project. From that point on, Svec would ask her every so often how the tapestry was coming along. When Regier became a member of the Select Board, Svec turned up the pressure a bit more until finally at the end of 2015, plans began to take shape.
Thanks to a grant from the Cavendish Community Fund, Regier was able to buy a smaller portable loom for the project and began offered free classes at Six Loose Ladies for adults to learn weaving. She then went into the schools to teach weaving to the children. She received additional funding from Fletcher Farm Foundation, Imerys, and from Six Loose Ladies, who provided space and all the yarn.
Cavendish artist Wendy Lichtensteiger helped with the design of the tapestry, which depicts families frolicking on the Proctorsville green with the surrounding hillside dotted with buildings, farmland and sheep, and the Black River meandering through. Regier admits though that the design evolved throughout the course of the project.
The weaving itself began in early March of 2016. Regier scheduled regular weaving sessions throughout the community at different locations including the Cavendish Fletcher Community Library, Cavendish Baptist Church, and Six Loose Ladies as well as her own Quarry Road Studio. She also brought the tapestry to several festivals and events throughout the year including each Wednesday from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Summer Music Series on the Proctorsville Green.
Although Regier did some key parts of the tapestry herself (the part she liked weaving the most was the river), several community members were key contributors to the project including Clair Walker, Kathy Caron, Charlotte Snyder, Donna Bonang, and Sue Ellen Slater, but she credits Chris Quinn and Anne Partlow for helping to push her along to complete the project. Regier also spoke glowingly of the contributions of Amanda Gross and her children, “Throughout the whole time, those kids would run up to me and say ‘can I work on it.’”
According to Regier, they’d offer to watch her dog and switch off who would work on the loom so she “looked forward to when they would come around to work on it.”
At the end of town portion of Cavendish Town Meeting, Regier walked in front of the auditorium and presented the finished tapestry to the town, dedicating the piece, now in memory, to Rich Svec. She then thanked all those who donated, volunteered, worked on, and contributed to the project. The audience applauded as she presented the Cavendish tapestry to two members of the Cavendish Fletcher Community Library, where it will now be on permanent display.