”Woven together,” “social fabric,” “close-knit” — we use textile metaphors all of the time. But many of us have only a fleeting relationship with these metaphors’ literal meaning. What are you actually saying when you compare society, for example, to fabric?

Questions like these are what drove Abby Schnure to found the Woven Snail, a weaving collaborative dedicated to bringing weaving to the people. “How many people actually know why we use those metaphors?” she asked. Schnure explains that having a better understanding of weaving can help us better understand and conceptualize our community. “Weaving … teach[es] people that they’re an individual, but they also make up a larger fabric. They can understand what that means when they’ve had an interaction with warp and weft.”

Warp and weft are weaving’s basic components. The long-ways warp is held stationary, in tension on a loom. Once the warp is in place, the weaver draws the weft through the warp, over and under, creating fabric. “The top threads are kind of the pillars of society, and the weft is kind of the community interacting,” Schnure says. If we understand the literal meaning of our language, terms like social fabric, then we might be able to better understand our place in the world.

The Woven Snail promotes social understanding through weaving in other ways. “Trash weaving [allows you to] see what you can do as an individual, or see how you contribute to the larger problem,” says Schnure. Trash weaving uses unlikely products — grocery bags, plastic forks, candy bar wrappers, twisty ties — to make something useful, beautiful or both. Schnure has used trash weaving to map neighborhoods and to teach communities that art’s raw materials can be found anywhere.

The Woven Snail and Abby will be at Cincinnati Mini Maker on April 13, with a four-person giant frame loom and cardboard, one-person frame looms. Stop by, contribute to the work and weave your own story into the day.

Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire (CMMF) is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and sharing what they do. You can attend CMMF at Union Terminal on April 13 – it’s free with Cincinnati Museum Center admission. Interested in presenting? Apply here.

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