At the age of 13 Warren Welden's father died and he grew up on the streets
of Montgomery, Ala. He worked the fishing boats in the gulf and when he was
18 joined the Air Force where he stayed for 22 years until an accident
ended his military career.
He went back to the fishing boats and made a trip to Alaska, where he
stayed. Welden is a weaver and the influence of the Alaska Native culture
can be seen in his weavings.
Welden is self-taught and took up the craft 13 years ago when he discovered
looms in his wife's family's storage barn in Taos, N.M. The looms had been
stored since World War II.
"My wife asked me to put the old loom together. After I did I thought it
was a lot of fun."
Ten days after they returned to Alaska he saw an ad for loom in the local
paper, he bought it and began to weave. He has gone through that loom and
made two others.
"What made me fall in love with it was that it came easy to me. People love
the weavings. All I wanted to do is what people enjoyed and if they want to
buy it all the better.
"People ask where I get my designs - they just come out of me. God put this
loom in my lap."
He prides himself in meticulous work and creates very straight selvages, he
Normally Welden creates the Rio Grande or heavy blanket and at first he
started using Southwest designs. Since he lives in Alaska he now uses the
designs from the region, but is researching his heritage, Creek, and will
soon use those designs in his work.
"I hooked with an old gentleman, he carved totems. He taught me the totem
designs. I thought they didn't look all that difficult, but found out they
were filled with detail.
"I have a good feel for their work, but since I'm not of their tribe I
shouldn't be using their symbols," he said.
"I'm a lucky man to be alive. I spent a few years on the streets; not
everybody treated me badly. A person should strive to remember the
positives and not dwell on the past.
"What's gone through you comes out in your art work. I wouldn't be where I
am right now without that life," Welden said.