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Member Spotlight Series: Anthony DiRenzo



Anthony DiRenzo (he/him) lives in Brooklyn. He has been fascinated by fiber arts since a classmate taught him how to knit in college. Anthony is a spinner, weaver, knitter, and dyer. He works as a Montessori middle school teacher and will one day have a fiber and dye farm. You can see his fiber art on his instagram @heddleandcanal and his website anthonydirenzo.com.

Here are some excerpts from our Members Spotlight Series interview with Anthony, now on the NY Guild of Handweavers YouTube channel:


What he loves about spinning: “How the chaos of the wool, when it goes into the drafting zone, just becomes something usable and that kind of feels like magic... I think it gets to that repetitive motion that can feel really mindful. And also thinking of our hands as like these evolutionary marvels like I can’t believe we have these as our tools. So it’s like pinch the fiber, draft the fiber, everything from even fixing the spinning wheel just feels like such a feat of human evolution because we are able to use these remarkable tools that we were given to create textiles.”


handspun Cotswold wool

What he loves about dyeing fiber: “Although you can control for things like water pH and weights of everything, it’s still a little bit of a gamble of what’s going to come out of that pot, so I kind of like that I’ve released that control of what exact color I’m going to get and it’s sort of like the beauty of just having to work with what you have by the end of the dye process.”


yarn dyed in Oaxaca

What he loves about weaving: “I love everything about weaving. I love the history of it, how humans were able to evolve because we were able to create textiles. I love the tools, old looms, new looms, those super-intense computerized looms that are so intimidating…. I love thinking about what can I get this loom to do.


“I think in terms of me thinking about my weaving as art is still very new, and so wondering if this is who I am as a weaver now, who am I going to be next year, or five years from now. And so I’ve also started to looking at some more historical weavers to think about how weaving has progressed and to think about where it’s going to in the future.”


“For me, and this gets back to turning off that (critical) voice in your head, one of the things I like to look for, especially as a weaver when I sort of know what we’re all striving for is to actually find those imperfections of the human hand in another weavers work. Not because I’m trying to judge them, but because it helps me understand I have these imperfections in my work too, and it’s still gorgeous. In fact, that imperfection almost makes it even more beautiful because it is something we made with our hands.”


“There’s a like a spirituality to it. I very much feel like… that we’re the universe experiencing itself and so when I sit in front of my loom, I feel like I am the universe putting itself into order. And so I really love sitting at the loom as like a spiritual practice.”


handspun Gulf Coast Native wool

On teaching weaving to his adolescent students: “So getting the kids really excited about the material is hard because some kids hear weaving and they think it’s an art and they already start from a place of no, so getting them into this growth mindset that yes, this is something I can do, this is something I can enjoy, this is something meaningful. And you might not do it for life, that’s fine, but you’re going to make one scarf with me.”


upcycled yarn bookmarks

On being part of a Guild:

“The Show & Tell is incredible. I love seeing other people talk about what they have made, the problems they faced, how they solved those problems, and then proudly sharing and showing off what they made. It’s really inspiring.” “When folks are passing things around is the best because I get to touch other people’s textiles and see what they did and think about what this might look like if I were to try something like that.”

“I think for me, because I have such a social job, I love weaving because there’s a solitary aspect about it. But that’s not the only aspect, right? So that community that comes at the Guild is something that I’m finding I’m really enjoying and something that was lacking before I joined. Everybody has been so incredibly kind, supportive and enthusiastic, and I’ve just absolutely loved the people that I’ve chatted with at the Guild and can’t wait to go back and chat with them…. So it’s been a really great addition to my own practice to go to these meetings.”


hand dyed indigo gradient

On dealing with weaving’s challenges:


“Do I get discouraged, yes, of course. I’ve set up projects I realize aren’t going to work. And part of doing all of this for me is the joy I feel, and so if I’m not feeling joy in doing it - I don’t want to do it. So I’m not afraid to just cut something off the loom and start again. I don’t like doing it, but I’m not afraid to do it. So I try not to dwell in discouragement. If I can fix it, I will, if I can’t, I might take a day or two but I’ll move on. …centering the joy I feel as a textile artist - if I don’t feel joy, I’m not going to do it.”

gradient linen scarf

Influential and Inspiring People, Places and Things mentioned:


In The Loop (Cheryl), Norfolk, MA

Slater Mill, Pawtucket, RI


Purl Soho

Textile Art Center (Kira Silver), Brooklyn, NY


Schacht ‘Tools for Schools’ grant

Ply Magazine

Julie Cameron / The Artist’s Way


FabScrap

Brooklyn Tweed

Taller Tenido a Mano


Oaxaca Cultural Navigator


Fe y Lola Rugs

Omar Chavez Santiago

Thomas Victor


Vogue Knitting Live


Cooper Hewitt Museum

Rachel Snack

Astrid Tauber


Annie Albers

William Morris


Greenwood Cemetery


NY State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck

Watch Katy's interview with Anthony:




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