Fort Pitt

Fort Pitt
Center of the ohio country universe

Monday, November 14, 2011

Conde shot a man in Reno just to watch him die...

Tom and I at Niagara this summer...notice the lack of weaving worn by weavers...He made the pouch I'm wearing
Some crazy beaded sashes made by Tom
Sweet sweet sash

The past few days have been a little slow for me as I’ve
quit one of my horrible vices (no not swearing ,drinking, chewing, Sabbath
breaking or uncontrollable fits of sarcasm hells that’s what makes me so
loveable) I quit drinking Coke. As a result my malaise has kept me weaving like
a robot and fighting to stay awake.

This has led to major bouts of ADD and asking me more questions than I can count on
different preconceived notions about the 18th century. I spent a few
days in the woods but I’ll get to that at another time and to be honest my war
on the local squirrel population only has so much interest for people reading
this. I have been focusing on making cordage and starting fires as I know these
are two skills that I should be able to do in my sleep. I’ve found making
cordage is an easy thing to do while tucked inside a blind watching for game.

So rather than focus on my weirdness I’ve got a promised product review/interview of one
of the OG’s of the weaving world… Tom Conde.
I’ve known Tom for about 13 years now. I first met him thru my friend Pete Dobbs and I was pumped to talk to anyone about weaving. AT that point Tom
was was one of the top weavers I knew of (not much has changed) and oddly
enough now that I think about it…Tom looked exactly the same then as he does
now (Tom Conde weaving vampire? Think Twilight but meaner and with more rondyvous
Tom has been a constant source of help/ information/criticism/encouragement for me
through the years and has a wide knowledge of different weaving styles. So here
is a brief interview with Tom....I need to start interviewing quill workers…these
weaving bastards are cutting into my profits…:

Ok Tom we all know the cowboy stories….how the hell did you
start finger weaving?

Nathan I got started not long after I "discovered"
rondezvous/re-inacting. I lived in Colorado then but a few folks were starting
to look into eastern stuff and that was where my interests lay. Didn't take
long to figure out that French were cooler than Roger's Rangers. Some folks out
there knew a little about fingerweaving and told me it was the cool thing for
French so I went to the library and found the Alta Turner book
"Fingerweaving: Indian Braiding" and learned that style. Then Found
Tim Connin's article in "The Book Of Buckskinning" and learned to do
oblique weave. At the time I had never seen any examples of either weave in my
hands. Things grew a lot after that.

How do you decide on a project? What projects do you enjoy
working on?

Deciding on a project is a combination of many things. If it is
a custom order it might be a copy of an original piece or it could be a design
of my own based on originals. All depends on what the customer wants. If it is
a piece I just do for stock or for myself it will depend on what I have been
looking at and talking with others about lately. Something will tickle my
imagination and I will go for it. My Favorite things are bags. They are so cool
and have so many variations in how they are created that figuring them out is a
rush. Regardless of the project though. Bag or sash or strap or garters. When
you work it out and think you have the right size yarn and you know the bead
counts in all the elements of the design and all the dimensions of the piece
you are attempting to recreate and you get done and you have "nailed
it" so to speak, size comes out, color comes out, everything just feels
"right on". It is an amazing feeling no matter what the piece is.
Same with twined work. It just blows me away sometimes.

What types of weaving do you do?

I work mostly with oblique weave nowadays and I like to do the
twined bags of the Great Lakes also. I started with the warp-faced weaves and
need to get back to doing more of them again. It's all amazing.

Any advice to folks on how to start weaving?

I tell students that the first thing to do when you want to
become a weaver is get a bunch of marbles and fill your mouth with them. Then every
day before you start to practice take one marble and throw it out in the yard
as far as you can so you can never find it. When you have lost all your marbles
you will be on the road to being a fingerweaver. Seriously though the best
advice I can give is to spend 5 or 6 dollars on Alta Turner's book and to find
that old Book of Buckskinning Vol. VI somewhere and sit down with some decent
yarn no heavier than sport weight and teach yourself. If you get stuck ask a
weaver. All the ones I know are glad to help.

DO you consider your work “art” or as a functional item?

I consider it "functional art"

Any good Rendezvous stories for us?

Rendezvous stories don't tell well. Ya gotta be there ;-)

Any chance you’ll join my Wild west Show? And is it true you
shot a man in Reno “Just to watch him die?”

No more Wild West shows. Age slows me down. ;-) And I didn't really SHOOT that guy. I was cleaning a pistol and it went off accidentally...4 times. Kind of a touchy trigger. :)

Tom's website is and you can see more examples of his artwork there. So now I'm off I need to weave more myself and I'm stuck in a mental loop trying to work through just what tools your average ohio country native would have had. But thats weirdness for another day.....

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