CALLAWAY — In the heart of rural Callaway, adjacent to A & A Market, in the building that once housed this small Franklin County community’s post office, Patricia Rushmore weaves and teaches others the art that has become her calling.
Elizabeth “Ibby” Greer, an artist, writer and resident of Rocky Mount, said she believes Rushmore’s weavings “are world-class.”
Thomas Angell, owner of A & A Market and Rushmore’s landlord, said her 600-square-foot studio is quaint and “looks like something you’d find in England.”
He added, “It is really neat to have that in Callaway.”
What Angell did not know was that Rushmore, a Pennsylvania native who is now 66 years old, and her husband, Frits den Hertog, a native of Holland, once lived in England. And Rushmore has named her studio Toft Cottage Weavery after the name of the home she and den Hertog shared in the United Kingdom.
Rushmore opened the studio in February but just recently began offering lessons there. The studio houses five looms, including one, a barn loom, that Rushmore said is 200 to 250 years old and put together with wooden pegs. She will continue to teach weaving as well at the Rocky Mount Center for the Arts, also known as The Grainery.
Rushmore and den Hertog met when she was a nurse for Holland America Line cruise ships and he was an engineer on the ship.
She has lived in Franklin County across two separate periods, from 1985 to 2002 and again since 2005. Her sister, Barrie Magliocca, has lived in Franklin County since 1974, and Rushmore and den Hertog ended up building a house on her land near Callaway.
During Rushmore’s professional career, she worked as a ship nurse and critical care and dialysis nurse before becoming a hospital administrator. She retired in 2010 from Carilion Clinic, where she had been director of care management.
She first learned to weave in 2003 and credits a man in Pennsylvania, Jim Baker, who is still weaving at age 94, with getting her started.
“I loved it from Day One,” Rushmore said. “I knew that was my calling from the first class.”
And refreshingly different from hospital management.
“I felt I kind of put my creative needs on hold until I could start doing something with my hands,” she said.Rushmore has continued learning the art at the Marshfield School of Weaving in Vermont. She has attended the school every year for nine years.
When Joan Rogers of The Grainery called nearly two years ago to ask Rushmore to teach weaving in Rocky Mount, Rushmore was initially ambivalent.
“I said, ‘Oh, no way, Joan. I’m not a teacher. I still feel like I’m a beginner myself.’ ”But Rushmore decided to muster her courage and give teaching a go.“It’s really become a big part of my new calling,” she said.
Rushmore said she has taught 10 students at The Grainery and said many went on to buy their own looms.
Sally Craver of Roanoke County is one of those students. She has taken two series of classes with Rushmore. One yielded a scarf and the other a dish towel.
Craver said Rushmore continued to be a resource after the classes ended.
“She was great. The class was great,” she said. “But what was really wonderful was that when I was trying to do this on my own, I called her a lot. She was always available to talk to me.”
Like Rushmore, Craver had knitted and crocheted and worked with other crafts before taking on weaving.
“It’s really interesting to watch what happens to colors, because you never really know how it’s going to look when you start [with varied colors of yarn],” Craver said.
She said Rushmore’s enthusiasm for weaving is contagious.
“Patricia really loves it and really, really gets excited about other people loving it too,” Craver said.Last week, Rushmore taught her first two students at the Callaway studio — her great-nieces, 11-year-old twins Alexandra and Mackenzie Hall, who were visiting family. During a total of about 12 hours spread over three days, the girls each wove a chenille throw with finished dimensions of about 32 inches by 72 inches.
Rushmore’s own work of late has focused on woven woolen rugs that sell for about $400 to $500 each.
She said the barn loom is her loom of preference.
“It just has so much flexibility. And when you sit in there you feel like you are enveloped in your own world of weaving,” Rushmore said.
She anticipates offering weaving classes in Callaway this fall. She said several people have already expressed an interest in participating but that anyone considering the classes should contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rushmore said her goal is to follow Jim Baker’s lead.“I hope I can weave until I’m 94, at least.”