McGoskey weaves craft into fair history

RIPLEY – For the past 47 years, Martha McGoskey, of Ravenswood, has shown fair-goers at the Mountain State Art and Craft Fair the art of weaving.

McGoskey has been part of the fair for 47 straight years, missing only the first three of the 50 fairs. That makes her one of the oldest exhibitors at the fair.

“I’ve been weaving for 67 years,” she said. “I began to teach weaving here after the first weaving teacher, Hazel Wright, died. She was one of my teachers.”

McGoskey said most of her work is on tote bags or shawls on the four looms she owns. This year she sold out of her tote bags well before the end of the day on Friday. This year’s fair opened Thursday and concluded Saturday at Cedar Lakes Conference Center near Ripley.

In the past she made larger pieces such as a Martha Washington-style bedspread and pillow shams on her loom. In recent years, she has scaled back to smaller items.

McGoskey said her husband George also weaves items, mostly rugs. His mother taught her how to weave and to spin, but she said spinning was not a craft she liked as well as weaving.

McGoskey said weaving is one of the more popular crafts at the fair.

“I had weaving classes here and they also had classes for wood carving, crochet and other classes,” she said. “But the last class I taught in the 1990s I got my 10 students but the others could not, since they couldn’t get enough I couldn’t teach my class because they could not get 10 students.

“There was more interest in weaving than in the other crafts.”

McGoskey said her role at the fair is to be an educator on her art because there is an interest in the art.

“I think more youth are wanting to come more now than ever,” she said. “I’m here to be an educator rather than showing in a booth. I’m supposed to be in the expo building to show the children how to do this.”

McGoskey said there are two types of weaving.

“There is the traditional weave, that is a weave with a pattern and plain weave, like used in rugs,” she said. “I have done patterns with my name and George’s name and for my son and his wife.”

McGoskey said she has received offers to make weavings for other outlets like Tamarack but turned them down. In addition to Mountain State Art and Craft Fair, McGoskey also goes to the Appalachian Fair in Raleigh County since that is her husband’s home county.

“I’ve been asked to go to a fair at Mt. Hope and on Bridge Day in Fayette County, but I tell them I only go to this one in Jackson County and one in Raleigh County,” she said. “I’ve been happy with them.”