CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Window on Weaving

Whether you are a guild, individual artist, or group, creating a window installation in your community can be an excellent way to receive exposure and  reach out to the public. Fortunately for me, Copperfields Books, our local, independent bookseller, makes available several community windows each month for folks like us. It had been many years since I first noticed the monthly changing windows at Copperfields showcasing such groups and individuals as the “Petaluma Mothers Club”, “Sonoma County Birders”, photographers, painters, etc. I’ve even contributed handwoven items before as part of the county wide Sonoma County “ARTrails” group window. Given all those years of observation it took a very long time before I realized I could have a window of my own and finally signed up, waiting more than a year for my month!

Msta's Window

Marta’s Window                                 photo by Maryle Brauer

Even though there are moments of inspiration, improvisation and spontaneous creativity involved in a window installation, for the most part, to install a window takes some serious planning!  The size of the space is very important and I would recommend that you get the dimensions and do a mock up in advance. This will not only assure you that what you want to put into the window will fit, but it gives you a chance to work out your basic layout and needed props.  Also, be sure to check the access to the window as the spaces can be very tight and challenging.

The first thing we addressed in my window was  the basic background walls which were well used and full of distracting holes. To partially cover them I bought 6 yards of a neutral ivory colored burlap with a slubby texture which we draped to create an interesting canvas. I used a wonderful 2/3 body mannequin to display a handwoven poncho giving some nice height and dimension in the space.  To enhance this height I purchased 2 new shipping boxes that we assembled and used as a pedestal for the mannequin ( tall and narrow) and for my warped table loom (short and square). For weavers, a loom can be key as it draws people like a magnet and conveys immediately how your product is made.  I also used a spring loaded curtain rod to hang a shawl and a variety of scarves which saved an incredible amount of time that would have been spent fussing with fishing line and dowels. For a finishing touch, a beautiful basket was added filled with of yarn on cones and in balls that complimented the color scheme!

Signage and its readability is also very important.  Besides a horizontal banner across the top of the rear of the display with my name, we mounted my important information ( name, e-mail address, telephone #, website) on foam core and put it front and center.  As I teach classes, I also included a similarly mounted current class schedule. In another corner we tucked a sampling of the kinds of things the kids do in our “kids workshops” along with a schedule for those workshops.  Think about what you’re trying to tell people about what you do and make sure it is clearly stated.

Most important in installing a window is to have some help. I was fortunate to have my good friend and fellow teacher, Stefany Perlman, who also used to work in retail and “do” windows, be my guide.  Along with Stefany, Sharon Palmer, my amazing studio assistant, helped with the hands on hammer, pushpins, levels, positioning, etc. You need the extra hands and eyes for all the little details you might not think of nor can see if you are inside the window trying to do it all by yourself!

Most importantly,  remember people will be passing by your window all day long…grab their attention and keep everything in their field of vision. Good Luck!!

Marta Shannon lives in Petaluma and is a member of the Redwood Guild of Fiber Arts. She first started weaving in the late 70’s and has been teaching since 1981. She offers classes at her studio on the west side of Petaluma and at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. She sells her handwoven scarves, shawls, ponchos, throws etc. through her studio, the Sonoma County ARTrails and by commission.   Her window graced Copperfield’s in Petaluma for the month of January.   She can be reached at 707 6581707 or  martashannon(at)


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