Creative spirits Diane Mostrom-Chase and Fred Chase have succeeded at something that’s quite precious in this day and age – earning a living doing something they love. Not just business partners, they’re also spouses and parents to two grown children, all the while building the hand-weaving business they started in 1976. Today they work from their home studio in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, where they lovingly craft every blanket, napkin, table runner, place-mat, scarf, shawl, and throw by hand, one row at a time, using tools from a simpler era.
“What’s most important to us is creating items of beauty that our customers can use often and for many years,” explains Diane Mostrom-Chase. “We use traditional designs that combine functionality with simple elegance.”
Hand-Crafted Products Made With Care
“Fred and I construct each item by hand from start to finish,” Diane enthusiastically shares. “Each piece is individually woven using old-fashioned looms, tools and methods. It’s so rewarding to see the work come off the loom. Blankets are made from two panels that are expertly hand-joined. We hand-knot the fringe on all pieces, then wash and press each item. The result is a soft and luxurious article that will keep its integrity through decades of use.”
Crucial to their mission is that all blankets & throws, table linens, and scarves and shawls are made from domestic materials only – mostly cotton and some cotton/wool blends and chenilles, primarily from mills in the southeast. Fred Chase at the loomAll items are machine washable and may be dry-cleaned if preferred.
Several classic designs are available. Most items come in the soft, understated, off-white of natural cotton, with some color options offered for blankets and throws. Not to be overlooked is this business’s low carbon footprint, resulting from the use of traditional non-electrical tools.
Mostrom & Chase products are sold in museums and specialty craft stores throughout the east coast. They’re especially popular with people visiting museums and Shaker communities who want to return home with something to cherish for its beauty and simplicity.
A Lifelong Commitment
Along with being history buffs, Diane and Fred have similar lifelong interests in understanding the how and why things are made, and creating objects of beauty. This led them to start making blankets for sale in 1976; it was the ideal way to use their creative skills to remedy the economic downturn affecting them personally and the oil embargo that spurred people to keep warm by bundling up. Since then, product lines have grown and evolved but their focus on making things of quality has not changed. To this day, they both still love the feeling that comes from making something special for somebody, whether it’s a graceful lace table linen or a beautiful warm blanket.
It’s hard work, but they enjoy it. After 34 years, including a 9-year stint in North Carolina, Diane and Fred are long settled into their roles, and their artistic community in the Berkshires. Fred handles the heavy work of prepping the looms and Diane does the finish work. They both relish the physically-demanding yet therapeutic work of weaving on the loom. Success is based on their belief that when people understand what goes into making something handcrafted, then they will appreciate and cherish it. “We’ve made a living doing the creative work we love, and a huge motivation for us is that we can provide timeless, quality items at an affordable price,” Fred Chase adds.
When not in the studio, Fred and Diane participate in major events such as the yearly New England Product Trade Show (Portland, Maine, March) and the Hancock Shaker Village Country Fair (Pittsfield, Massachusetts, September). They’ve enjoyed moments of fame, having been profiled on CBS’ Sunday Morning, a Burt Wolf travel show, and Yankee magazine, and participating as a select exhibitor at the 1996 Summer Olympics Smithsonian Institute exhibit on handcrafts of the south.
“The value of creativity and the work of making something of worth are critical to the human connection. The connection created when one person makes something that’s appreciated by another contributes to the common good. Art is needed in our world and we struggle to keep our craft alive, hopeful it will flourish in future generations,” concludes Diane Mostrom-Chase.
Please visit our on-line store to see our extensive selection of Mostrom & Chase handwoven products.
This profile written by Ilene Moyher, Marketing Specialist for Common Good Market.
Copyright Common Good Market 2010