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

In Memory of Marion Norberg

Marion Norberg

Marion Norberg

Gathered at a memorial lunch for Marion Norberg were people from all facets of her life.  Their combined memories created a mosaic of a woman who had many interests, many talents and, as one person stated, “was a good friend.”

Marion graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in anthropology.  Her first job was as a secretary in the lab at SF county hospital.  She was so  interested in the work the med techs were doing that one of them told her she should be working with them.  She went back to school to get the necessary training, eventually working in the parasitology lab at UCSF.  She combined her interest in her work with her love and talent for art – drawing cartoons of her coworkers in test tubes and creating a tapeworm out of gut.  She even made an Advent calendar for the lab with a different parasite for each day before Christmas.  Her love of sciences extended to geology, flora and fauna, all of which fit in to another passion, back packing in the Sierra.

Like all weavers, Marion was a wonderful cook.  Her Meyer lemon cookies were known to all from family and close friends to auto mechanics and repairmen.  Anyone who crossed her path was likely to get cookies.

Marion’s artistic talents encompassed many media.  As a member of the San Francisco Women Artists she exhibited drawings, but her main artistic outlet was in fiber arts, weaving, spinning, braiding, basketry and gut.  Weaving projects ranged from a large tapestry of Beijing for her husband’s office wall, a pile carpet based on Mark Rothko’s work, coats, scarves, table linens and even a pot holder or two.  A workshop with Lillian Elliot and Pat Hickman introduced Marion to the joys of working with gut, in the form of sausage casings.  As a medium it captured her imagination.  Beginning with simple shapes, she quickly branched out into hats, shoes, curtains, flags, and her most ambitious form, a life sized woman based on one of the figures in A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.

Marion,s 84th birthday

Marion’s 84th birthday. Standing from left to right: Jan Langdon, Barbara Nitzberg, Rhonda Smith (wearing a gut hat), andSusie Hodges. Sitting from left to right: Martine Yingling, Jane Ogrodnik, Kay Sekimachi, Marion Norberg,Kayo Nakamura and Kathy Murphy (wearing a gut hat)

Marion was a member of Spindles and Flyers and a long time, active member of Loom and Shuttle.  She was part of the committee for Helen Pope’s Special Sample Service.  Members of CNCH likely remember her as the crowd control officer at the opening of each Sample Service sale.

What Marion loved the most were her husband, Bill, her family, her friends,  cats, bright colors (except yellow) and laughter.  She will always be remembered by those who knew her as “a good friend”.

  Kathy Murphy

Most people like to think they are special in some way. But, for most of us, it is probably pure hubris.  Marion was one of those rare people who really was special.

It was always so much fun to be with Marion. Every experience was better when she was there.  Road trips, conferences, meetings, parties, museum shows, workshops, mealtimes: they were all just more interesting, thoughtful and humorous when she was there.

She had such an open, unselfish attitude toward other people. Even strangers knew this and sensed that she cared and was interested in them.

To be with Marion was to have
Doors opened for you,
Extra coffee, rolls and desert served to you, and
Small Gifts dropped into your hand.

That’s why it is hard to say that our cherished memories of her will suffice. They won’t because it is her physical presence that is irreplaceable and that we will miss the most.

Susie Hodges

Marion Norberg

Marion Norberg

Marion and I shared a wonderful experience every year, our textile retreat.  A small group of artists, scholars and teachers, textile enthusiasts all, get together once a year to spend five days full of presentations, discussions, sharing and of course laughter and food.  That is where Marion and I started – cooking and preparing the food.  Our “pay” was the chance to spend time with a group of knowledgeable and talented people.  For 10 years we planned, shopped, cooked and transported food for breakfast, lunch and dinners for the full five days.  Those of you who knew Marion know food was one of her great passions – talking about, making and especially the enjoyment of.  Our meal planning sessions always involved tastings and gales of laughter, always gales of laughter with Marion!

Then, to our honor, we were both asked to be participating members!  In celebration we took ourselves out to lunch, with much laughter and joy at our table.  There was only a little pause when we realized each of us would now need to prepare a presentation for the group!  That turned out to be a switch in roles easily made.  Marion was interested in so many things she could share – fiber, textiles, process, travel…  January 2017 will be the 30th year of our retreat and I am sure we will raise a glass in her honor, remembering one wonderful, loving, generous lady.

For Marion interest in and study of something often meant making it.  She was definitely a hands-on person.  The photo was taken at a retreat a few years ago.  Marion always brought something to work on, some kind of handwork.  Here she was making a piece of Boro, stitching leftover fabric scraps together to make a new whole recycled cloth.  Notice the classic Marion touches – dressed in bright color with a smile on her face.

Marion at the retreat

Marion at the retreat

Another continuing project appeared over a span of years.  A favorite old navy blue cashmere sweater started to show its wear, with small holes at an underarm stress point.  A little embroidery, colorful of course, took care of that.  Then more holes, underarm and at neck.  More embroidery, more color.  Over the years as the color grew, the original cashmere disappeared.  Finally even Marion could do no more!  I wish I had a photo document of that sweater’s progress toward enlightenment.  What a very special person Marion was, just remembering brings a smile to my face, which would please her no end!

 Barbara Nitzberg

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