On April 1, 1968, Nantucket Looms was officially opened at 16 Main Street as a “Gift and Christmas Shop” by Bill Euler and Andy Oates, in restructuring of the existing Nantucket Cloth Company. A corresponding advertisement in the Inquirer and Mirror read:
“We are now seeking Islanders who can make ornaments, gifts, toys and games in fabric, wood, clay or any other materials. These would all be to our design and should be made in small or large quantities.”Our offerings have certainly expanded since those early years, but we continue to honor the core values upon which Nantucket Looms was founded - the representation of local craftspeople, employment of a year-round workforce, and production of high quality, hand woven products.
The first day of April marks our 55th anniversary and reminders of our history surround us every day; the looms that we are still weaving on, the artists we continue to represent decades later, and the simple-yet-elegant design aesthetic found within both the products we create and the interiors we decorate.
We recently discovered several boxes of archival materials in the basement of our Main Street shop and it was as if we opened a time capsule from the 60’s and 70’s. Much to my amusement, many of articles read as if they could have been written last year, with references to topics of frequent island conversation sprinkled throughout; traffic in the summer, the inconsistency of boats and planes due to the weather, and the high prices of real estate. There is a sense of comfort found in these familiar grievances; the proof that as much as things change, there is so much that remains the same.
“In a world turned paranoiac about its technology, it’s often thought that the true craftsman, the true crafts are a thing of the past or, at best, lost to Europe. Yet in America’s Nantucket, craftsmanship not only exists, it flourishes. In a small but vibrant way, it instructs us that handwork that is done perfectly, imaginatively and with honesty instead of ostentation, transcends style and time.”
Reading this article only days away from our 55th anniversary, I couldn’t be prouder that these words still stand true.
We would like to thank those who have played important roles within the timeline of our history; Walter and Marianne Beinecke, who had the vision of establishing a weaving studio at 16 Main Street under the Nantucket Historical Trust; Bill and Andy, for their entrepreneurship and craftsmanship; Liz Winship, who dedicated her forty-year career to both the island artisans and the customers of the Looms; the countless weavers and employees of the business who literally are part of “the fabric of the Looms”; and my business partners, Stephanie and Becky, who work every day to preserve, maintain, and expand upon what was created five decades ago.
We are grateful for the roles that everyone, especially our customers, have played in the 55 years of Nantucket Looms. We look forward to continuing to share the legacy of traditional crafts and the beauty of Nantucket with you.