Columbus bassoonist finds music in weaving
If Scott Hanratty could do it all over again, he might choose a different career.
“Probably in another life I should have been some kind of product designer,” Hanratty said.
When he’s not performing as a professional bassoonist, Hanratty works at a Columbus furniture store to find specialized materials for residential interior designers. And he handweaves cozy textiles on his loom.
“I’m very passionate about home,” Hanratty said. “So home textiles is what I really specialize in, and useful items for the home.”
Hanratty also has a passion for weaving historic weaving patterns, called drafts. He finds historic weaving drafts from fellow weavers in a study group devoted to early weaving books and through other online sources. Often the historic drafts are surprise finds in libraries and archives.
“The drafts are just a bunch of dots on a page, like sheet music almost. A lot of times museum curators will confuse early music for weaving drafts,” Hanratty said. “So a lot of times you’ll find them in the music portion of an archive.”
Hanratty started weaving about 10 years ago when he signed up for a weaving class at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center to learn a new hobby.
“I just fell in love with it,” Hanratty said. “Textiles, the tactile-ness of it all, texture – all the T-words.”
And just as a musician might fall in love with a musical instrument, Hanratty says he also fell in love with the hardware of weaving. He has collected dozens of weaving shuttles, oblong wooden pieces that carry the weft threads across the warp on the loom. He also owns two looms, including a large 40-year-old cherry-wood loom.
Hanratty says there are many other similarities between his work as a classical musician and his work as a weaver.
“I could talk for days about how weaving relates to music, as well, which it really does,” Hanratty said. “The drafts are written on staffs, they almost look like staffs. And every time I thread, in my head I go ‘1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4,’ and I actually ascend in pitch as one would when reading music as the notes get higher. It’s a lot of counting, it’s a lot of making sure everything is coming together nicely and there’s no little bumps or blips. So it does relate to music a lot.”
Now, Hanratty’s weaving has come full circle. Since 2018, he’s been the weaving instructor at Cultural Arts Center.
“I have a bunch of students now, and it’s fun to kind of see myself in them each class,” Hanratty said. “And I have some extremely motivated and talented students. These people are very determined, very driven to get their projects done. So I’m very, very fortunate. I have great students.”
Transcript of video:
Scott Hanratty: Weaving is definitely a meditative experience. You’re always watching and always counting, and so you get into this meditative rhythm. Sometimes I’m up here weaving for hours and hours and not even notice it.
I learned about weaving a long time ago, and it’s always interested me. It’s always been in the back of my head as something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been weaving for about 10 or 11 years now. When I turned 40, I decided I needed a hobby. I was already doing lots of music and teaching, and I also have a day job. But I just needed something with a little creative spark in my life. And so I researched online and saw that there were classes at the Cultural Arts Center in Downtown Columbus, Ohio. And I enrolled for a class and dove in head-first.
Probably in another life I should have been some kind of product designer. My day job is also working in a furniture store and working with clients in their homes, so I’m very passionate about home. So home textiles is what I really specialize in, and useful items for the home.
This is a handmade loom. We think it was made in 1985. It was made in Oregon City, Orgon. It is a J-Made loom. It is 12 shafts, 14 treadles. And it is 64 inches wide, so it’s huge. It’s a blanket-maker, for sure.
They say that looms are some of the first computers, because you’re literally programming a tool to do something. There’s a lot of planning and a lot of math. And so I will sit down, you know, with paper and pencil and plan out the project. That takes several hours. You then have to make the warp. The warp threads are the threads that go long-way on the loom. The weft goes left to right. Each thread of the warp has to go through a heddle, which each of the heddles are attached to a frame, which is called a shaft. And you place the warp threads in a pattern. And you can place them 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, 3-2-1, 3-2-1 to make a pattern. Once each thread passes through the heddle, it then goes through the reed. And this one is – I’ve done two threads in each space of the reed, which is called a dent.
When you step on the pedal, it opens the threads in a pattern, and it’s called a shed. The shuttle then is passed between the threads in the shed, and you use the beater bar to pack that thread in. And then you just move on to the next pedal, which will bring up a different set of shafts and create a new shed for the shuttle to pass through.
I could talk for days about how weaving relates to music, as well, which it really does. You know, the drafts are written on staffs, they almost look like staffs. And every time I thread, in my head I go ‘1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4,’ and I actually ascend in pitch as one would when reading music as the notes get higher. So it relates that way. It’s a lot of counting, it’s a lot of making sure everything is coming together nicely and there’s no little bumps or blips. So it does relate to music a lot.
Recently I have become the teacher of weaving at the Cultural Arts Center, which I really love doing. So I have a bunch of students now, and it’s fun to kind of see myself in them each class.
There are definitely some goals I want to hit and some things I would love to weave. I already have a coverlet. I’m weaving a blanket. I would love to weave my own sheets next for the bed, so I have a fully woven bedclothing, which they’re called in historic times. And I do love more historic types of weaving, recreating weavings of the past.