Raised on a small horse farm in northern Indiana, my brother and I always played as if we were the Leatherstocking trackers (while Mom tried to keep track of us!) in the woods and creek around us. You know &endash; real raccoon tail hats, BB guns, the whole bit. Dad was a Podiatrist and we had horses for my first 12 years. Tommy was my Shetland pony (see rug woven of him on my website). I'm sure I was riding him before I could walk. Anyhow, I got into handcraft work early by building models, making Indian headdresses out of local turkey feathers, beading belts, leather-tooling wallets and so on.
In college at Indiana University after I got my chemistry degree, I started repairing old Oriental rugs while in grad school earning my Masters in Tibetan Language for 4 years. During that time I also studied Turkish, Mongolian and Sanskrit. I become fascinated with the Asian material culture. Weaving was my special bag and it stuck with me as a past-time or hobby, reweaving Oriental rugs for friends, myself and a few for profit, for the next 20 years while I was a professional chemist.
In June, 1995, my Navajo weaving class at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado opened the right door. I plunged into Navajo-loomed weaving, restoration and all the associated arts (spinning, dyeing, design). It is written that I was to be most able to manifest my Enjoyable Self restoring Navajo rugs apparently, while still hopefully earning a living. I quit my "super" job as Hazmat Coordinator and Radiation Safety Officer at Cal State San Marcos Dec. 1995 to restore Navajo weavings full time and to deal the antique ones.
This December 2001, we moved from Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA to Cortez, Colorado. This is the town (pop. ~8000; elev. 6200') we picked after years of vacationing and working in the area to more enjoy the milieu of Navajo weaving, restoration, and the Navajo weavers we know. One of my Crow Canyon Navajo weaving teachers introduced me to her weaving grandson Roy Kady on New Year's Eve, 1995 and to this day, Roy and I still collaborate a lot. He brought his family of 6 to visit us on the coast just 2 months before we abandoned forever that congestion for the spaciousness of The Four Corners.
Please visit my website sometime: "Indiana Watson's Indian Weaving" &endash; for the restoration of Navajo Rugs.
UPDATE - JUNE, 2003
Indiana Watson's Indian Weaving is a one person operation located near Cortez, Colorado in the Four Corners. The correct business ethic is to put all this in a "we" plural case, but in truth, only Craig is here for your Navajo rug or blanket that wants to recover its original beauty! I joined Ashtlo years ago. Early in my weaving career starting with my Navajo weaving class of June 1995 at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center here in Cortez, my wife and I were invited to Noel Bennett's ranch near Jemez Springs, NM in the Jemez Mountains to discuss restoration over a 3-day weekend. I was pleased to see a short article about Noel's and her mother's involvement with starting Asthlo in the most recent newsletter. Most non-Navajo, Navajo-loom weavers know of Noel Bennett through her books beginning with "Working With The Wool" and the truly touching "Halo of the Sun". I provide professional, wash and reweave services for Navajo rugs and their caretakers nationwide. I restore the smallest corner break to massive reconstructions of cut in half Late Classic blankets. This work requires knowledge and facility with dyeing wool with aniline dyes, indigo and cochineal, besides spinning to match spin.
I taught myself to wash and reknot Oriental rugs beginning in 1969 when I was enrolled in Indiana University earning my M.A. in Tibetan Language with minors in Turkish, Mongolian and Sanskrit languages. I could only afford to buy damaged old rugs which gave me an incentive to learn restoration. Having rewoven Oriental rugs for fun and a little money over several decades while employed as a professional chemist, I finally went full-time restorer in 1995 while still living in Cardiff, California, location of my last chemist job. My wife and I bought our Lodge In Space near Mesa Verde Nat. Park and Cortez in December, 2001, in order to get to open space, clean air and tasty natural water, and yet, be in the middle of things associated with things Navajo. Teec Nos Pos, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation is only 55 miles southwest of Cortez across the Four Corners Monument, for example. Please visit my web site sometime at: www.indianweaving.com. And all Ashtlo members should consider visiting my restoration studio if ever here in the land of clear and quiet. The phone number is on the website."