Mary Irvine

1946-2011

The Northwest Basket Weavers, Vi Phillips Guild is strong today in large part thanks to Mary.  She was our mother hen; she took the Guild under wing and always strove to protect it and help it grow.

Mary joined the Guild in the early 1980’s, shortly after its inception. She was an active member for nearly 30 years bringing her business and organizational acumen in a variety of ways. She was on the Board of Directors for many years, twice as President, as well as a member of the Advisory, Retreat and Finance committees. She helped start the Heritage Basketry Project, which collects interviews and baskets from esteemed basket weavers in Washington State. A nearly constant presence at the Weave in Winter Retreat, Mary was a designated mentor (and auction bid starter), and frequently welcomed out-of-town weavers into her home. She organized numerous workshops and speaker engagements for the Guild, a juried show at Bumbershoot in 1991 and the Guild’s only regional conference in 2003.


An interest in weaving and fiber arts led Mary to basketry where she used traditional techniques to create works with a contemporary twist. She used these same basketry techniques to design and create jewelry. Natural materials, waxed linen, and wire were her preferred medium. Photos of her work appeared in Fiber Arts Design (book IV), Basketmakers Quarterly and Basketry Roundup. Mary was also very active in the Northwest Bead Society, loved to garden and to be with her cats.

Her good friend, Jill Green wrote of Mary:

   “She was first of all a good friend to many of us. She was a mentor, teacher, advisor and one of the most dependable and loyal people I have ever met. I would call upon Mary when I needed a consultation, not only about basketry, but cooking, how to run a meeting, write a proposal, look at a budget, what to wear, or solve a computer problem. The list is long. I think she knew how to do just about everything or could find out how. And she was ever willing to share her expertise and opinions. I counted on her superior memory when I got stuck…I keep saying to myself: “How would Mary have done this.”

Mary is and will always be sorely missed.

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