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Margaret B. Russell is a handweaver with close to 40 years of experience and a lifetime appreciation of making items by hand. She grew up in a home where, what could be handmade, was handmade. From clothing to furnishings, her parents were constant examples that spoke to the satisfaction of making something, anything, almost everything yourself.
Margaret was also greatly influenced by stories told of maternal ancestral weavers and wool workers. Francis Plumer, 9X great grandfather, arrived in New England with a company from Newbury, Berkshire, England and was a First Settler of Newbury, Massachusetts in 1635. He was a linen weaver by trade. William Truland (Trulan), 3X great grandfather, traveled from Ballymoney, County Antrim, Ireland and settled in Margaret’s native upstate New York early in the 19th century. Troy city directories of the time listed him as a carpet weaver, working out of his residence. Antrim Handweaving, Studio and Study, is named in tribute to William Truland. Several members of the Walker line of her family were textile workers in Bradford, England in the mid-19th century, when it emerged as the international center of the wool industry. Margaret takes great pride in these connections with her forebears, and her weaving reflects a desire to uphold tradition.
Vintage Macomber looms and aged Singer sewing machines fill a personal home studio and study in Byfield, part of the same small coastal town of Newbury, in northeastern Massachusetts, where Francis Plumer set foot almost 400 years ago. Margaret’s public studio and study is in the historic Shapley Townhouse, c.1814, a Federal double house built by Captain Reuben Shapley, whose ships often carried hemp and cotton. The property is owned by and borders Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
“My looms and I have an infatuation with the fibers we spend our days and nights with. I am a texture weaver, to my core. It is the robust fibers – the raw and untethered, the unsung and rebuffed – who make this heart beat even faster. We are simply a love story. Every piece we create is clearly a progeny of our committed union. When they emerge from this embrace, each piece is a life force, eager to tell its story. Visually and textually absorbing, they call on you to come closer.”
Co-founder and member of NOBO (North of Boston) Handweavers
Member of: Weavers' Guild of Boston, Handweavers Guild of America
Supporter and member of: The Livestock Conservancy USA, Rare Breeds Survival Trust UK
Recipient of: "Weaver of Organic Fiber" Earth Trustee Environmental Award, Earth Society Foundation,
Peace Bell Ceremony, United Nations Headquarters, New York City.