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How To Avoid Smiling Weaving Navajo Frame Rugs

Navajo frame rugs should be hung out of direct sunlight, as it will fade the colors. If possible, use a window with UV-treated glass or film, and place the rug in an area that does not receive spots of light. Also, rotate the rug regularly to balance its colors. Hang it with Velcro, or if using a wooden lathe, make sure to keep it as short as possible. If it is hanging over the floor, secure the rugs with small nails.

Michael Begay

The most common mistake that new weavers make is not understanding the importance of preserving a Navajo rug. Luckily, there are ways to care for your frame rug without ruining its beauty. Here are some tips to help you keep your Navajo frame rug looking its best for years to come. A wooden lathe should be short enough not to overburden the weaving, and small nails will provide the proper security.

Mary Walker

Mary Walker, the owner of Weaving in Beauty in downtown Gallup, Arizona, has a long connection to the Navajo weaving tradition. She has worked as a retail employee for FedMart, which has many locations throughout the Navajo Nation and began watching friends weave. Afterward, she asked for instructions and was surprised to learn how to weave from many people. In 1998, she started teaching weaving workshops alongside Slick. She and Slick have been working together for nearly a decade and hope to bring more attention to Navajo weaving. Mary Walker has a collection of Navajo rugs and combines this with her textile conservation and appraisal business to teach weaving classes.

Velma Kee Craig

As a child, Velma Kee Craig was raised in a nomadic lifestyle. Consequently, she had no opportunity to learn her grandmother’s weaving style. She began to weave herself, incorporating personal narratives and dreams. She has now expanded her traditional Navajo frame rug weaving methods to include abstract contemporary styles. Today, she lives in Mesa, Arizona, with her husband, Larry, and four children.

Mary Walker’s Navajo rugs

Mary Walker, who owns Weaving in Beauty in downtown Gallup, has been close to Navajo weaving for decades. In fact, Navajos refer to her as their “in-laws.” Since 1998, Mary Walker and Slick have been teaching weaving together. Their goal is to bring awareness to Navajo culture and weaving. Mary Walker also runs a textile conservation and appraisal business. She has a large collection of Navajo frame rugs and has worked with several illustrious Navajo weavers.

Navajo weavers

The best way to avoid smiling when weaving a Navajo frame rug is to remain silent. Weavers in the Navajo tradition believe that nothing is perfect, so they leave a few imperfections in their pieces. These imperfections are actually a part of the weaving process. They believe that these imperfections are a way to keep their spirit alive, and are often intentionally incorporated into their work. These imperfections may include different colored beads or a loose piece of yarn.


A dark-haired Navajo man, Leroux has a thorough knowledge of Navajo weaving and can tell you exactly which trading post or region a woven rug came from. Leroux dyes his own yarn in the kitchen to match the textile, then stretches the piece taut and lays it over a wooden frame. When finished, the rug is a work of art and a beautiful example of Native American craftsmanship.

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