The Trumansburg Elementary Afterschool Program visits the studio

Knowledge of textile creation is often overlooked as part of a self-sufficient, resilient community. Sarah Gotowka, weaver and owner of the Earth Grown Shades natural dye business, has taught weaving and dyeing workshops at widespread venues, but recently sought to create a permanent learning space. After founding Luna Fiber Studio in Trumansburg, she needed to supply it with looms which could not have been used in traveling workshops. In September 2016, Sarah received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase essential equipment for use with four donated looms.

Since opening in October 2016, Luna Fiber Studio has hosted classes on weaving scarves, shawls, tapestries, and rag rugs, introductory weaving, and the creation and use of dyes from cochineal and locally-grown plants. Master dyer, weaver and spinner José Buenaventura González Gutiérrez, from Oaxaca, Mexico, taught the tapestry and cochineal workshops. Other events included periodic drop-in weekends open to all, private lessons, group visits, and a Painting Adoption Weekend forging a community of youth adoptees art making and dance. Students attest to the value of the experience:

“The scarf-making workshop at Luna Fiber Studio was phenomenal – I went in knowing absolutely nothing about weaving, and left with a completed scarf for my mom’s birthday!”

“Weaving is a calming, contemplative practice, and Sarah’s expertise and enthusiasm create a wonderful learning environment.”

“Sarah is a generous and patient teacher with a wonderful sense of humor, and working in the studio is so calming and inspiring. If I could, I would show up to weave every single day.”

Valerie Sykes at a scarf-making workshop

The studio provides internships and apprenticeships for women of color, and works with many organizations to offer scholarships, internships, and educational opportunities for young people – such as a childrens’ weaving workshop at GIAC, participation in a girls’ entrepreneurial camp with Alternatives Federal Credit Union, and partnering with the Youth Farm Project to teach the growth and use of indigo and the history and economics of textile industries.

Future initiatives include many workshops at the studio, a program on and for artists of color with the Multicultural Resource Center’s Artist and Film series, a collaborative workshop with For Brown Bleeders (a collective focused on healing for people of color through plant medicine), and more. Sarah also continues to teach traveling workshops at schools and events, with future offerings throughout the region and beyond.

The Neighborhood Mini-Grant Program provides seed money to diverse initiatives to build environmental, economic, and social resilience and well-being in Tompkins County. In turn, we need your support! Please donate today and help us support more wonderful citizen-driven projects to improve life in our community.