Oscar Beriau Sampling Group

$15 US; $20 Canada; $25 Other international
Two newsletters, one mid-year and one with the exchange.
Sample Exchange:
Samples are due in August
To Join:
Contact the study group chair.
Group Began:
Closing Date:
November of any given year
Maximum of 25 per year; all members required to weave 2 sample sets. Any one offering to weave more than one set will be worshipped by the chair. One sample is a historically accurate reproduction of an assigned Beriau draft, using the same yarns and reed sizes given in the book. A second sample is an original draft inspired, even loosely, on the assigned Beriau draft and with no limitation of materials, reeds, shafts. Members must also agree to having their drafts published in a book (work in progress) about Beriau’s history.

Oscar Beriau, appointed by the Minister of Agriculture to be Director-General of Handicrafts of the Province of Québec in 1930, became a significant force in weaving in Canada in the 1930s and 1940s.  Beriau founded a school for the domestic arts, hired weavers from the US and Europe to instruct future Québec teachers in the most modern, attractive, and efficient methods of weaving, and created a system for delivering these skills throughout the province.  He published a book on natural dyeing, followed by two weaving books.  The detailed instructions in these books, on everything from preparing and spinning wool to making ‘original’ works from drafts, was unprecedented at that time in materials available to home weavers.  The drafts gave specific uses or functions for each woven piece.

The chair of this group began researching Oscar Beriau in 2001 with the intention of publishing a book to include both a history and sets of samples recreating the original drafts and drafts created by the sampler.  There are no known collections of the original samples used in the original Beriau books.  Beriau took care to suggest to weavers how they might take existing drafts and alter them to make something original.  And in the spirit of Beriau and weavers at that time, we create both reproduction and original drafts.

There are two very different skill sets for this group:  weaving something exactly as written, using materials appropriate for the time period; and creating a ‘new’ piece of cloth by altering fibers/drafts/etc.  Sample drafts will be assigned (owning a book is not necessary), but weavers can indicate preferences.  Participants receive a complete set of instructions upon joining.

It is the chair’s fondest dream that a trip be planned to Québec for all participants to experience the historic & beautiful areas of Québec where weaving thrived during Beriau’s time.