Built in 1797 in the Federal style, Frisbee House is home to the Delaware County HistoricalAssociation (DCHA) in Delhi, New York. Gideon Frisbee was a pioneer settler who moved to the area from Connecticut in 1788. Delaware County was founded by the New York State Legislature in 1797. Frisbee became a Judge, and the County Treasurer. Born in 1758, he died on August 11, 1828.
Delaware County’s topography and remote location is what makes the region unique. Native Americans used to hunt and fish in the woods and streams of what later became Delaware County. Permanent settlements were established after the Revolutionary War by Scottish and Irish immigrants.
DCHA was founded in 1945. Its mission is to collect, preserve and present the history of the county. In the early 1960s the Association purchased the Frisbee farmstead. Additional buildings were acquired through the 1970s, and moved to their current location. An old schoolhouse and a blacksmith shop are among such buildings. The Frisbee complex is open to the public from Memorial Day to mid-October. Events, workshops, presentations, book signings, and other educational programs are organized year round.
On March 6 DCHA will host “Hats Off: Notable Women of Delaware County” in honor of Women’s History Month. On March 21 Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes will be teaching her popular Introductory Weaving Workshop. On April 25 there will be a History Conference dedicated to the town’s historians and museums in Delaware County. On July 18 – 19 DCHA will host a Living History Exhibit and Civil War Re-Enactment that will include traditional cooking, period uniforms and dresses, cannons, and more.
DCHA runs two exhibit galleries, the archives, the research library, as well as a bookstore and a gift shop. The galleries, the bookstore and the gift shop are open year round.
46549 State Highway 10, Delhi, NY 13753
For more information and current hours of operation, visit
This weekend in the Catskills: several opening receptions, an Ice Harvest Festival, poetry, and more.
Hanford Mills Museum
Hanford Mills Museum is hosting its traditional Ice Harvest Festival this Saturday, February 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors ride in horse-drawn sleighs and help with the removal of big blocks of ice from a frozen mill pond. Ice cleats are being lent to those willing to walk on the frozen pond. Skilled ice carvers using antique tools remove the ice that is then being kept in an ice house similar to those used before refrigeration. The ice is used to make ice cream on the Independence Day in July.
Hanford Mills Museum is located in East Meredith, Delaware County, between Oneonta and Stamford along County Route 10. East Meredith grew as a rural, agricultural community, in and around the mill. Hanford Mills operated as a business from the 1840s to the 1960s. It became a museum in 1973 chartered by the New York State. There are sixteen buildings on the site, and around 50,000 objects and exhibits hosted in twelve buildings. In addition to themed workshops and lectures, the museum hosts several festivals a year, including the Ice Harvest Festival, which traditionally takes place the first Saturday in February. For more information, visit https://artinthecatskills.com/2015/02/03/featured-destination-hanford-mills-museum/.
Delaware County Historical Association
Delaware County Historical Association, located at Frisbee House in Delhi, is hosting a Quilting Workshop this Saturday, February 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Adults and children are welcome. Various machine and hand piecing techniques will be taught. Leslie Gray, the workshop leader, an experienced quilter and teacher, was inducted in the Catskill Mountain Quilters Hall of Fame in 2007.
Delaware County Historical Association (DCHA) was founded in 1945. It purchased the Frisbee House in the 1960s. DCHA runs two exhibit galleries, the archives, the research library, as well as a bookstore and a gift shop. The galleries, the bookstore and the gift shop are open year round. Other historic buildings in the Frisbee complex, such as an old schoolhouse and an old blacksmith shop, are open from Memorial Day to mid-October. For more information, visit http://www.watershedpost.com/sponsored/2015/delaware-county-historical-association-offer-quilting-worksh.
Woodstock Artists Association and Museum
Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM) is hosting an opening reception this Saturday, February 7 from 4 to 6 p.m. showing new works completed by members over the past six months. The show is curated by Nancy Donskoj, owner of the Store Front Gallery in Kingston. Close to fifty artists are featured in this show, including Joan Barker, Nancy Campbell, Mary Katz, Anthony Margiotta, Wilma Miller, and many others.
Founded in 1919, Woodstock Artists Association and Museum (WAAM) supports and showcases the works of local artists. Since 1973 the museum has maintained a permanent collection of the most important paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, and other decorative objects that were created in the area. Highlights from this collection can be seen online at the Hudson River Valley Heritage’s website http://www.hrvh.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/hvvacc. Selected works are shown to the public through periodic exhibitions. A catalogue of over five hundred pieces called Woodstock’s Art Heritage: The Permanent Collection of the Woodstock Artists Association was published in 1987.
The Center for Photography at Woodstock is also hosting an opening reception this Saturday, February 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. Birds of a Feather exhibit features works by artist Claire Rosen portraying exotic birds captured outside their natural habitat. Various bird poses are used to mimic human gestures in an anthropomorphic attempt.
The Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) was founded in 1977 to exhibit and support photographic art. CPW hosts exhibitions, and offers workshops and residencies to artists interested in photography. The center also publishes its own quarterly journal called Photography Quarterly (PQ), launched in 1979, and organizes a monthly salon for photographers. The salon is held on the second Tuesday of the month. Since 1980 CPW has maintained an extensive print collection, currently on loan to the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz.
Glaring Omissions Writers’ Group in Woodstock is hosting an Evening of Art and Poetry this Sunday, February 8 at 4 p.m. at the Golden Notebook Bookstore on Tinker Street. Poet Nicole Cooley will read from her works, and from a book by Salem Lessons illustrated by artist Maureen Cummins.
The Glaring Omissions Writers’ Group was founded in 1990 by professional writers living in the Hudson Valley area. The group meets regularly, and provides critique and support for its members. Once a month it organizes public readings and other events.
The Hanford family purchased the mill in East Meredith, Delaware County, in the 1860s, and developed the site into a vast rural complex. The mill, in existence since 1846, is one of the very few remaining 19th century original mills, and it’s listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
The museum, open from mid-May to mid-October and on special occasions, can be visited with tour guides, willing to demonstrate some of the machinery on display, such as waterwheels, sawmills, and woodworking tools. There are sixteen buildings on the site, and around 50,000 objects and exhibits hosted in twelve buildings. Exhibits include domestic tools and artifacts, historic photographs, and library and archival papers that document the history of the site.
In addition to themed workshops and lectures, the museum also hosts several festivals a year, including the Ice Harvest Festival, which takes place the first Saturday in February. During the Ice Harvest Festival visitors, who ride in horse-drawn sleighs, can help with the removal of big blocks of ice from a frozen mill pond. Ice cleats are being lent to those willing to walk on the frozen pond. Skilled ice carvers using antique tools remove the ice that is then being kept in an ice house similar to those used before refrigeration. The ice is used to make ice cream on the Independence Day in July. This year the Ice Harvest Festival takes place Saturday, February 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
I interviewed Liz Callahan, the museum’s executive director.
Simona David: Liz, talk a little bit about Hanford Mills Museum – its history, mission, and programs.
Liz Callahan: The museum is located in East Meredith, Delaware County, between Oneonta and Stamford along County Route 10. East Meredith grew as a rural, agricultural community, in and around the mill. The mill business was very important to the community in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Hanford Mills operated as a business from the 1840s to the 1960s. It became a museum in 1973 chartered by the New York State. The community has not changed a great deal since. We preserve and interpret this vast rural complex, which extends over seventy acres.
SD: What historic buildings and objects do you have on site?
LC: On ten acres we have about fifteen buildings that have always been part of this site. In addition to the mill buildings, we have several other buildings including the building where the tools were stored, the building where the lumber was stored, a horse barn, a hardware store, and one of the two original dairy barns. We also have the Hanford House, in its original condition. The Hanford House was built in 1910. Hanford Mills Museum is significant because it represents the mill complex in its interaction with commerce, the local economy, and the rural social life. This interaction existed in all rural communities around us.
SD: Let’s talk a little bit about the Hanford House. Is it open to the public?
LC: The Hanford House is open to the public. It was re-created as it would have appeared in the 1910s with many pieces that belonged to the Hanford family. The house has wallpaper that reflects the wallpaper of that period. The kitchen was restored, and brought back to its original condition. From the parlor to the dining-room to the kitchen and the bedrooms we have lots of authentic aspects of the Hanford family life, and also great diary entries and journal information about the activities of the residents. We use the Hanford House to talk about the social life and leisure time pursuits, as well as the food ways pertaining to that period of time. We actually use the kitchen to make treats following the Hanford family’s recipes that we have in our archives.
SD: The museum is ordinarily open from May to October. What activities do take place at the museum during the summer?
LC: The machines are powered by the water. We have a water wheel operating since 1926. We also have a water turbine, and a massive steamed power plant, re-created based on the original drawings. We talk about the power of water in all forms – liquid, through the water wheel and turbine, gas through the steamed power plant, and solid through the ice harvesting activities. We power the machines with water, and demonstrate all these activities. We generate power for over twenty machines at the mill.
SD: Every year the first Saturday in February you host an Ice Harvest Festival which is becoming increasingly popular – just recently the Wall Street Journal listed the festival among top five winter festivals to attend in 2015, along with major events like Carnaval de Québec in Canada, and the Rondy in Alaska. When did this tradition start, and what triggered it?
LC: We started the Ice Harvest Festival in 1989. We’re doing it in a traditional way – just as it was done in the late 1800s, early 1900s. We recreate this historic activity using historic tools and gear, and invite visitors to participate. We harvest 8 to 10 tons of ice from a frozen mill pond. Each block of ice weighs 50 to 60 pounds. We have many volunteers and staff on site to help. We’ve been doing this consistently for the past twenty-five years the first Saturday in February. There were a few years when we didn’t have enough ice – we called it “ice famine.” This year we anticipate the ice will be 18 inches thick. It’s an abundant year.
SD: Let’s talk about the tradition of ice harvesting, and the significance of the ice house in communities prior to the invention of refrigeration in the early 1900s.
LC: Ice harvesting was very important to farmers – the ice kept in the ice house could last up to six months, and help preserve farm and dairy products. Ice was harvested for personal consumption, but was also sold to the market.
SD: Let’s talk specifically about the Ice Harvest Festival this Saturday, February 7. What activities will occur that day?
LC: Today ice harvesting is a great learning experience. But we’re also trying to make it playful. Visitors are given a pair of ice cleats to walk on the frozen mill pond. They are shown how to use the historic ice harvesting tools, and cut blocks of ice. We have large horse-drawn sleighs to carry the ice to the ice house. The staff will load the ice into the ice house, and pile it to the top. The ice house is traditionally designed, and has proper ventilation, insulation and drainage to maintain the ice for at least six months. In addition to ice harvesting, we also added other activities that relate to ice and winter sports, such as ice fishing and ice sculpture.
SD: What other activities will take place at the museum this Saturday?
LC: Other activities include traditional parlor games, ice harvesting movies, blacksmith demonstrations, and a hot soup buffet.
SD: Do you plan anything new for this summer when the museum re-opens?
LC: This summer we’re planning an event that celebrates local community, ingenuity and innovation. The event will take place on May 30, when we re-open. More details will be revealed soon. Also, Independence Day is a big event. That’s when we make ice cream with ice harvested during the Ice Harvest Festival in February.
SD: Is there anything else you would like to share?
LC: Yes. The museum also has a YouTube Channel where visitors can go and see ice harvesting demonstrations and other activities that we have at the museum.
Hanford Mills Museum is located at 51 County Highway 12 in East Meredith, Delaware County, New York. For more information, visit http://www.hanfordmills.org or call (607) 278-5744.
Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes is a professional weaver residing in Delaware County, New York. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and the Center for Tapestry Arts in New York City. Tabitha designs both functional and aesthetic products using traditional American patterns. Her work can be seen in museums and gallery exhibits, and at various arts and crafts fairs throughout the region. She has exhibited and sold her handwoven products at the following venues: Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild (Margaretville and Pakatakan Farmers Market), Erpf House-Catskill Center for Conservation and Development (Arkville), Middleburgh Artisans Cooperative, Roxbury Arts Group, Shaker Heritage Museum (Albany), Lefferts Farmhouse Historical Museum (Brooklyn), and Brooklyn Museum.
I visited Tabitha’s studio in Roxbury on January 11, 2015.
Simona David: Tabitha, please talk a little bit about the history of weaving.
Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes: Weaving is one of the oldest forms of a blend of art and function. The techniques of twisting fibers to make them stronger and durable started out probably in the earliest times of mankind history. From those twisted fibers men and women wove reed baskets and textiles. For instance, in a lot of the Native American pottery from the South-Western U.S. and Central and South America you will see that twisted fibers have been pressed up against the clay to create a pattern on that clay. It’s been made as an impression on the clay to make it look as it was woven. In reality, it is a three-dimensional structure that was never plated or twisted in itself. During the Middle Ages guilds were set up in Europe that focused on the development and guidelines for designing and weaving tapestries as well as cloth for clothing and bedding. The recent tapestry exhibit of Pieter Coeke van Aelst at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City clarifies the time consuming detail process of weaving large tapestries, many of which depict stories of heroes from mythology and the Bible, and that only kings were wealthy enough to commission such works.
On the Eastern coast of the U.S. it’s the Scottish, German and French immigrants who brought with them the knowledge, equipment, and weave patterns that were used to create fabric for everyday clothes and fancy bedlinens. For instance, a lot of the patterns classified and most readily preserved and recognized as Colonial American patterns were brought up by the Germans settling around Pennsylvania, while the Delhi Jacquard Coverlets featured at the Patterns that you may see at the Delaware County Historical Association in Delhi were designed and woven by the Scottish immigrants who settled in Delaware County or in Canada during the 1700s and early 1800s.
With the Industrial Revolution, which included the development of water or steam powered looms in mills in England, Scotland, and Massachusetts, the time consuming and manual process of weaving one’s fabric for bedding and clothing died, and books of handwritten weave patterns gathered dust and were forgitten except in very rural parts of the Eastern US states, like Rhode Island, North Carolina, Tennessee. development of . Then in the 1930s and 1940s weaving was re-introduced to the farmers’ wives in South and North Carolina. It followed a period of renewed interest in weaving. A lot of the weaving in our area in the Catskills was done for family consumption, and was done predominantly by the women, perhaps both as a way to recapture before total loss our textile heritage and to provide income to families struggling economically during the Depression Era.
SD: When was your first encounter with weaving, and what triggered this lifelong interest?
TGB: I had a high school classmate who had left high school to go to another school – I believe in New Hampshire. And when she came back to visit, she talked about weaving. That really caught my imagination. Why? I don’t know. I come from a family that is in many ways artistically talented – painters, stained glass makers, writers, architects. I needed to craft out an artistic niche for myself, and that was weaving. Having a good color sense the textile arts have appealed to me.
SD: And then you studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
TGB: I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology from 1974 to 1976. I was an evening student. This was part of their Textile and Service Design Department. We were working on very small looms – 7 inch wide metal frame looms. These were difficult to work with. But weaving wasn’t a forgotten art. I liked the mathematical structure of setting up the loom. I fell in love with what it takes to create fabric. And when I mix the colors, when I mix the texture of the yarns together – to me that’s magical – how I get a piece of fabric: something out of nothing.
SD: You’re also a spinner, and sometimes you buy wool, cotton, or other materials, and spin. Do you remember the first piece you ever made?
TGB: A lot of the weaving we did at the Fashion Institute of Technology involved creating small samples in various patterns. The earliest samples I made I have probably either given them away or sold them. In the 1980s I went into business creating place mates, table runners, pillows, scarves, and I was selling them.
SD: Would you like to talk about your evolution as a weaver, and discuss various guilds you belong to?
TGB: I’ve always been involved in various groups, and here in the Catskills I’m involved with the Catskill Mountains Artisan Guild. I joined the Catskill Mountains Guild in 2007. I believe I’m the only weaver in the Margaretville store. In the past I had also taken classes at the Center for Tapestry Arts in New York City – I believe that’s no longer in existence. One of the workshop leaders was Michelle Lester. She was a professional weaver – at FIT my best teacher was Nell Znamierowski, another professional in the textile industry. She was in the industry, and created samples for Pan Am Airways, for example. I was learning from professionals in the field, but a lot of the work that I do is also self-taught.
SD: Let’s take a look at the loom you have here in the studio.
TGB: The loom here in the studio is an AVL loom. It is a professional loom. It’s a 16 harness floor loom, and it’s a DOBBY loom. DOBBY refers to a particular way the threads are manipulated. The number of harnesses represents the trays on which there are heddles, and heddles are what supports the threads through a peg board system that activates the raising and lowering of harnesses. The harnesses and the DOBBY system manipulate what’s called the warp. It’s a vertical thread that goes from from the back beam on the loom through the heddles on the harnesses, then through the reed to be tied onto the front beam, which is where I sit to weave. The weft is on a shuttle, it goes to right angles to the warp, and that’s what I do as part of the weaving process. It’s a little complicated, and that’s why I enjoy when people come to my studio to get to see it. I’ve had this loom since 1990, and that’s how I do all my weaving.
SD: How about your yarns?
TGB: Cotton, wool, silk, linen. I do occasionally have non-natural fibers like acrylics. I prefer keeping it natural, because it gives me a business edge. The Jacquard Acid Dyes that I use with the wool that I do buy here in the County are environmentally friendly. I use a lot of water for a pound of wool to be dyed, less than a half of teaspoon of the dye powder, and about a ½ cup of vinegar – the vinegar being the acid. I come up with really bright colors. This past summer I got to work with plants like black walnut shells, golden rod, black-eyed-susan, indigo leaves – these are some of the colors used on wool: bright yellow, brownish-red, and also some blended colors.
SD: Where do you buy your supplies from?
TGB: All of the cotton that I have here in the studio I got through Webs – it’s a place in Northampton, Massachusetts – a factory size operation. They have tons of yarns available: wool, mohair, cottons. They have weaving supplies, they have crocheting and knitting supplies, they have books. It’s a wealth of supplies. The website is http://www.yarn.com. Also, much of the wool that I have here in the studio comes from an initial batch that I got years ago from someone who was selling out her yarns in Brooklyn. I also buy wool here in Delaware County from sheep and alpaca breeders. The Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck is also a great source – it takes place the third weekend in October. I only go there every four or five years when I have a full shopping list.
SD: You’ve been featured in many magazines: Pure Catskills, Catskill Country, Greene Door magazine. Last summer you participated in the Open Studio Tour that has taken place last Sunday in July since 2012 in Andes, Margaretville and Roxbury area. Last year you were also the recipient of a NYSCA – DEC grant to work with students at the Roxbury Central School. Let’s talk about some of the coverage in the media, and also let’s talk about things that haven’t been covered.
TGB: Pure Catskills Guide is published annually by the Watershed Agricultural Council in Walton. I’ve been a member since 2007. My products are listed under Value Added Farm Products. The next issue comes up in July. Lillian Browne wrote an article about fiber-related professions for the Catskill Country magazine fall / winter 2014 issue – that is published by Decker Publishing in Delhi. I was also featured in Greene Door magazine. In 2014 I received a grant from NYSCA – DEC program. I worked with Madalyn Warren from the Straight Out of the Ground farm, who also operates the Roxbury Central School’s garden. We worked with third grade students this past September, and we taught them how to work with botanicals to dye wool. The aim was to enhance their understanding of what Colonial American life was like. The farm families during the Colonial period were very self-sufficient.
SD: Now let’s talk specifically about your work as a weaver. Let’s get closer to your loom. You’ve been working on this loom for the past twenty-five years. Please, demonstrate the weaving process.
TGB: What I have now on the loom is a piece I’m working on – it’s a summer shawl. It’s a green mohair fiber – moss color is my dominant color. My accent colors are done in stripes: bright, clear yellow, and buttercup yellow. On the weft I have a dark green, a dark blue, and a very dark purple, mixed with a very thin gold thread. In the weft process I separate my warp into two layers. At right angles to the warp my weft is laid in between those two layers. It creates a net. In this particular case I want my rows of weft to be really close together so it’s a dense piece of fabric. The yellow thread gives you some sparkle; the dark blue and green colors help to highlight the moss green and yellow.
SD: What is your primary drive in the process of weaving?
TGB: The mix of colors and the textures of the yarns that I’m using.
SD: Weavers have always woven both for functional and aesthetic purposes, going back to ancient times. You’re doing the same thing today. You are making fancy tapestry for purely aesthetic reasons, and you’re also making functional objects like scarves, blankets, and pillow covers. Let’s talk about the variety of products that you make.
TGB: I came to weaving primarily to do functional things: place mates, table runners, covers for pillows. In the early 1990s I’ve also started to explore creative projects, and begun doing tapestry. I work on what I feel like, and what my inventory at the Catskill Mountains Artisan Guild needs.
SD: To a certain extent you are a multi-media artist. You also do wood-block prints. You have a composition here done both as tapestry and wood-block print. I would assume it takes two completely different sets of skills.
TGB: It does. This project started with a series of photographs taken at a stream nearby. I took a print making class at SUNY New Paltz. I carved, and mixed the colors, and achieved a three-dimensional quality by overlapping layers of colors. Wood-block printing is a very technical process. I was very pleased with how the colors came out, how the subtlety of the snow came out blueish rather than looking purple or grey. And then I translated that wood-block print into a tapestry. Again, overlapping the colors, and achieving the shadow effect which had to look realistic. That was a real challenge. It’s easy to make changes on wood-block by coloring it with crayons or ink, but it’s not so easy to make changes on tapestry. On tapestry, once you start weaving, if you need to make changes, you have to take everything out and start all over.
SD: Do you have any upcoming events you’d like to talk about?
TGB: I’m in the process of setting up a shop on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TGBWEAVINGSTUDIO; I was encouraged to join Etsy by another textile artist with exceptional skills. It will be probably up by February. Soon I will be presenting again my Introduction to Weaving workshop at the Delaware County Historical Association in Delhi. I also have a weaving student who is creating a scarf. I am mentoring her. And we hope to have again the Andes-Margaretville-Roxbury Open Studio Tour this summer.
SD: Are people today still interested in weaving, and if so, what exactly attracts them to this craft?
TGB: I have the sense I may be one of the very few weavers here in Delaware County. There are some weavers in Narrowsburg and Port Jervis. There are some docents who teach students who visit the Ashokan Field Campus in Ulster County. Also, the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown has a weaver and docents who demonstrate and discuss the textile arts of the Colonial American period. I think what keeps one from being a weaver is the size of the equipment. It’s also time-consuming: it could take up to eight hours to set up everything for a new project.
SD: How does your schedule look like?
TGB: I usually work on weekends. And that includes anything from planning a new project, bookkeeping, and marketing. I also have a scrapbook and a weaving notebook that I update, and write down new ideas. When I retire from my day job, I do plan this to become a full-time operation.
SD: What do you like most about being a weaver, and what do you find most challenging?
TGB: It’s a very satisfying craft, because I am making something. It is challenging, but the rewards are strong.
SD: You are very active, and rather pragmatic for an artist. You also take care of the business side, you do social media, so forth and so on. How can people get in touch with you, and find more about what you do?
TGB: I am on Facebook at facebook.com/tgbweavingstudio, and I blog at tabithagilmore-barnesstudio.blogspot.com. I’m also on Pinterest at pinterest.com/tgbweaving. I update my blog weekly, and I showcase what inspires me. To make appointments and visit the studio, call (607) 326-7662.
Tabitha Gilmore-Barnes is a weaver, spinner and educator living and working in Delaware County.