"A Single Place Across Time"
The Fort Vancouver Tapestry is more than a visual interpretation of a single place across time. It is a celebration that the history and growth of the American West is embodied in this unique place, our homeland on the banks of the mighty Columbia.
Southwest Washington is an area with a richness of mild climate, navigable waterways and abundant forestlands. The Columbia River flows through the intersecting fertile valleys and great Coast Ranges of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon creating North America’s greatest crossroads. When French voyageurs, English trappers and American settlers reached this land they marveled at the unrivaled beauty and bounty. But, its history stretches long before hours were counted or seasons were recorded in books. For many thousands of years Native Americans knew this place was the best place. It held the richest land, abundant water, the kindest weather and for many the most important gift of all – salmon. The newly arrived said it was like heaven. The Chinooks called it home.
The mission of the Fort Vancouver Tapestry Project is to promote historical, regional and artistic education through the creation and exhibition of legacy fiber arts in the Northwest. The objective of the Fort Vancouver Tapestry is to honor and celebrate the significance of this unique place. We focus our mission through community building in an environment dedicated to artistic growth and achievement.
The Fort Vancouver Tapestry is a surface design embroidered wool-on-linen textile narrative of the history of Clark County, Washington.
The base material of the tapestry is linen, due to its integrity as a foundational material and in recognition of its influence in the economic development of this area. This particular fabric is 100% Belgian linen.
The embroidery is done with pure woolen threads, honoring the great woolen industry beginning with the first flock of sheep brought to the Northwest by Joe Watt. Our wool was spun and dyed in Portugal. The tapestry also includes metallic threads from Joyo, Japan.
There are 111 colored yarns and an additional 8 custom dyed flesh tone yarns in the Tapestry. Many of the yarns have been blended to produce over 40 additional shades of color.
The tapestry consists of a series of 70 connected linen panels of varying widths from 4” to 36”. It measures 28 inches high X 108 running feet. It holds approximately 22 miles of woolen yarn.
Panel selection committee:
An eight-member selection committee suggested the subjects for each of the seventy panels. The committee was made up of long-term residents and local historians.
The tapestry was stitched by fifty-seven of the region’s finest stitchers who donated their best creative effort in the making of the tapestry. They were joined on two occasions by 12 visiting stitchers from our sister city of Joyo, Japan.
The tapestry was conceived, designed and drawn by two co-founding fabric artists: Eleanor Van de Water and Sherry Mowatt.
The Fort Vancouver Tapestry was completed over a six-year period (1999 – 2005). Our records document over 100,000 hours of volunteer effort.
The upper border of the tapestry includes words of greeting from some of the many different ethnic groups that settled in the region.
Click here to explore the tapestry panels
We offer our sincere gratitude to all who support community art and to the many who so willingly donated their resources and energy to help us honor this single place across time.
Thank you all.
Sherry Mowatt and Robert Bradley