Clara Sherman

Clara Sherman, 1914-2010


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Toadlena Trading Post
 

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 reservation.

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.

The 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 weavings.

These 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 tapestries anywhere.

Intricate patterns emerged.
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.

The collaboration continues.
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.