Darilyn Bennett – Star Trees

Click on the main image to view at full size

  • Heddlecraft Award for Excellence and Innovation on Eight or Fewer Shafts: $100

In 1942, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, students planted five Giant Sequoia trees in a circle on the University campus across from the Oregon state capitol. Today, if you stand in the middle of these trees and look up to the sky you see a five-pointed star. On the 80th anniversary of this event, and in honor of my own 50th wedding anniversary in 2022, (having met my husband at and having both graduated from Willamette), I have woven my interpretation of the Star Trees using a fan reed and wire. It seems appropriate to use a fan reed with its resulting contours combined with the durability of wire, to ideally represent this living monument, and everyone who has ever looked through the middle of these trees to the stars and dreamed of their future.

Star Trees showcases woven sculptural possibilities and the challenges when combining wire and the fan reed. Using a fan reed requires loom modification and close attention to detail as the fan structure alters the normal grid pattern interlace of traditional weaving through incremental reed movements up and down in predetermined intervals, thus spreading and condensing the warp to create Ondulé. Wire, especially 24 gauge wire, reveals the apparent opposites and contradictions of the medium: rigid, yet springy; strong, yet moldable; and unforgiving if you make a mistake. Given all the challenges, weaving with wire can be thrilling, providing endless exploration of color, texture, shape and movement; sculpting and iridescence.


Handwoven, weft-faced Twill using a fan reed on a 4 shaft loom. Off loom sculpting. Star Trees was a technical challenge for me as I created it in two sections, the outside perimeter of trees woven in one section, while the inner section of trees necessitated a smaller perimeter of Ondulé curves. The two pieces were joined together to form the sculpted look.


H 9 inches; W 9 inches; D 9 inches-including round wooden platform


24 gauge non-tarnish wire in both warp and weft; wooden platform.


Herald loom, 4 shaft

  • Brian McLernon