The birth of Two Grey Hills weaving,
as we know it today, occurred around 1911.
As demand for Navajo weaving was
increasing, prices were soaring. Traders were working diligently
with the weavers throughout the Navajo Nation to develop marketable
designs, which ultimately characterized the different regions of the
Thirteen regional designs within
seven weaving districts eventually emerged, each named for its local
trading post: Teec Nos Pos, Pictorial, Two Grey Hills, Crystal, Wide
Ruins, Ganado-Klagetoh and Storm Pattern.
Bloomfield and Davies era.
At Toadlena Trading Post, George Bloomfield had become friendly with
his neighbor Ed Davies, who owned the Two Grey Hills trading post
down the road. Together they worked with the local weavers to
develop an improved textile that would be marketable to collectors.
Use of natural color and hand spun fiber, fineness of weave and more
intricate design patterns were the chosen path.
Red was not
the color of choice.
Late 19th, early 20th century Navajo textiles were dominated by the
commercially dyed reds of the Ganado-Klagetoh rugs and the
psychedelic Germantown pieces. The weavers of Toadlena/Two Grey
Hills did not like to use of such flashy colors in their textiles.
They preferred the natural colors produced by the their sheep,
blending them together by a process called "carding,"
which produced a broad palate of natural hues.
Black, gray, beige, brown, cream and
white are the signature colors for a Toadlena/Two Grey Hills
textile, which makes them easily distinguishable from other Navajo
textiles became technically superior.
The weavers preferred to use natural wool from their sheep rather
than the commercially produced wool used by other Navajo weavers.
After the wool was carded together it was spun very fine, sometimes
even as fine as thread. These threads allowed the weavers to weave
more wefts to the linear inch, which created a textile of a much
higher quality than other Navajo weavings.
A typical Navajo rug has
approximately 30 wefts to the linear inch. A Two Grey Hills from
Toadlena average about 45. The finer pieces frequently have upwards
of 80. When a textile has 80 or more wefts per inch, it is
considered a tapestry, not a rug.The most famous weaver of these
textiles was Daisy Taugelchee (1909-1990), who wove upwards of 115
wefts per inch, which created the most finely woven Navajo
The finer weave allowed for the emergence of intricate geometric
forms that covered the entire weaving, while a border around the
perimeter of the textile became the norm. This use of borders in all
Navajo as well as Toadlena/Two Grey Hills design emerged because
collectors were now using the weavings as rugs rather than blankets.The patterns of the Toadlena/Two Grey
Hills textiles became more complex over time. Today, they are
dazzling juxtapositions of intense blacks with muted natural hues
that inspire awe from those who see them.
Many years of collaboration between Bloomfield, Davies and the
weavers created the spectacular Toadlena/Two Grey Hills textile that
is highly coveted by collectors around the world.Today, all the Toadlena weavers from
the Two Grey Hills are ancestors of those who worked with those two
very inspired traders. The tradition continues with current Toadlena
trader, Mark Winter.