Sheila O’Hara – March 2020

Lecture: Jacquard Handweaving – One Thread at a Time

March 4 at 11 am (during guild meeting)
Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center, 2050 Yulupa Ave, Santa Rosa (map)
Non-guild members are welcome.

Sheila O’Hara of Lake County, CA, has pursued a career in textiles since her graduation from the California College of the Arts in Oakland, California, in 1976 with a BFA. Her innovative and often humorous tapestries have gained international attention. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and is in many public, private and museum collections including the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Denver Art Museum. Currently she travels to give lectures and workshops and also offers ongoing weaving classes in her home studio. More info about Sheila O’Hara can be found at

Lecture Description: Handweaving has become the beneficiary of the computer age as the dream of individual thread control becomes more accessible. Handweavers, thrilled with computer assisted dobby looms, are now also searching out jacquard hand looms for their explorations. Enjoy an informative and entertaining lecture about Sheila O’Hara’s textile art and its development on a variety of looms. The slide presentation will cover design, commissions and inspiration.

Sheila O’Hara’s unique 4 warp twill structure enabled her to create lush surface textures on a countermarche loom starting in 1976 and then on an AVL compudobby loom from 1984-2003. Complex color combining enhanced the imaginary landscapes in her twill tapestries.
From 2000 to 2006, Sheila rented time on 2 jacquard hand looms in Berkeley. This enabled her to create limited editions of jacquard tapestries in complex weaves inspired by her new Lake County country side setting. O’Hara will show how the development of her imaginative textiles opened doors for her to work as a short term consultant for a Ribbon Company in Cairo in 2006.

She was also invited to attend a symposium at the Lisio Foundation in Florence, Italy, in 2007. At Lisio they teach classes and also weave amazing brocade and velvet fabrics on old jacquard hand looms. In 2008 Sheila was given an AVL jacquard hand loom with 672 hooks thanks to the generosity of Mim Wynne. O’Hara’s work on the jacquard hand loom included her classic Flockettes, lush landscapes, a series of jacquard tapestries inspired by Edward Curtis photographs of Native American Indians and the last series that included some of her imaginary landscapes again. She was thrilled to weave at home and explore the myriad possibilities this new technology offered her until 2017. She has now returned to the creative challenges of designing weavings using her 1984 AVL 16 shaft compudobby loom.