Randall Darwall, A Prince Among Men

My heart is breaking. My mentor and friend, Randall Darwall passed away this Friday, January 13th. Randy, hand-weaver extraordinaire, teacher and craft world advocate. He was, to the core, a genuinely kind and good man.
For over 30 years he has graciously and generously guided me through my career in the craft show world.
Randall Darwall 1
In the mid-80’s, in a workshop he was teaching, he encouraged me to enter and exhibit at a thing I didn’t know about, craft shows. I am ever grateful for his advice. There after, he’d always stop by my booth to say hi, drop words of wisdom, encourage, advise and joke around. One time, he came by to borrow a needle and thread to make a little repair. I grabbed a friend and insisted they take pictures. Randy dutifully trying to finish his project, me laughing.
I was over the moon when he suggested we collaborate. He handed me an armload of his hand-woven scarves and wished me well. Step one, I had to get over my reticence of cutting into them! After that hurdle, I was off. It was an amazing opportunity to use his beautiful fabrics in my jackets, coats and tops.
He and his life long partner, Brian Murphy, were the perfect pair. Brian funny, joking and teasing, Randy playing the straight man.
Below, with Heidi Austreng, administrator of the Smithsonian and Craft2Wear shows.
They worked hard and relentlessly, but always with humor and delight.
He was a prince among men.
Randy, I can’t even begin to say how much I will miss you.

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  1. Susan Neal
    Posted January 15, 2017 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Yes, a big lose to the community.

  2. Jamar Pearson
    Posted January 15, 2017 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I can tell by your words there is a hole in your heart and life. So sorry for your loss.

  3. Ellen Miller
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this post- I didn’t know Randy had died. As you may remember he introduced us at a Craft Boston, for which I will always be grateful.
    Randy was a lovely man and a great inspiration for me. He will be missed.

  4. Susan Glass
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    Several years ago I signed up for a weaving class with Randy at Penland. Unfortunately, a conflict arose and I could not attend, I was disappointed ever after. He was so creative with color and pattern.

  5. Diedre Cain
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Ann, It’s so clear that Randy was a very important and special person in your life. I am so sorry to hear that he passed away but so happy to know that you were in each other’s lives.

  6. Deborah Krall
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    I’m so sorry, Ann. Another blow so soon. Great photos. I can feel the warmth and wit shining through.

  7. Gwyn Peterson
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I knew Randy first as a teacher on Cape Ann Island, as a fellow weaver. I am so glad we had a visit a couple of years ago in Washington at the show. His work was wonder.

  8. Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Randall was an incredibly generous person , kind to all of us who were his colleagues and friends.
    His woven cloths always reminded me of sunsets in their color ways , while the structure seemed like a daring woven Italian cloth. We all admired and loved him and with his inseparable ever joking Brian, they were the consummate pair. The craft world has lost an icon.

  9. Adriane Nicolaisen
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Randall was a beacon for me. He encouraged exploration, truth and the highest standards of craftspersonship. He chose an humble medium and made it a path to beauty for me and for all who knew him.
    My thoughts go out to Brian for his loss.

  10. Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I am filled w/ sorrow at this news… SHIT! What a lovely man he was… Randy & I started teaching in the Gloucester Public Schools at the same time: 1969, or thereabouts…. I actually remember teaching him weaving!!! He stayed with it, I didn’t… & the rest is history. Now I will treasure all my Randy scarves even more…
    My heart goes out to Brian & all of us who loved this wonderful man…

  11. Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I first met Randy in the very early 70’s when I took a course from him at the University of Washington. I had been weaving since the early 60’s but wanted to learn more and was lucky to take a course from a Master. I will sorely miss Randy. He truly was an icon and a humble man. Over the years of exhibiting with Randy and Brian they never ceased to amaze me with their innovation and creativity in our field. Always inspiring and approachable. My heart too goes out to Brian through out this journey.

  12. Rhona Carlton-Foss
    Posted February 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I knew Randy as a teacher at The Cambridge School of Weston. He was a wonderful, open, creative and inspiring teacher, much loved by his colleagues and students. He is much missed.

  13. Dovshe Spunt
    Posted March 6, 2017 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    I was a student of Randy’s at Cambridge School of Weston and I was shocked to find that he has passed on. I remember him as kind, approachable and warm with a broad vision of art. I remember especially a epic crochet environment he created for a mystic dance piece. I was always so encouraged and inspired by him.

  14. J. Michael Foster
    Posted March 12, 2017 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    All of you spoke as colleagues. I want to speak as a collector.
    I don’t know how it is possible to be friends with people you see for about an hour each year, but I count them among my friends. They also convinced that I could wear clothes that I would never could be a part of me.

    Michael Foster

  15. Laurel Loomis
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    I met Randy at the Cambridge School of Weston. He was one of my art teachers there. He is the reason for my career decisions. I remember that he had a loom set up at school and would weave between classes. It fascinated me. I took a “major module” with him and learned some basics of weaving. My loom my mother and I built from a Harrisville kit. That was the start. I remember going to his apt. in Cambridge where he hand many hanging pendulous breast-like knitted pieces; we students were gape mouthed but interested. From there I lived in there Netherlands for a few years and worked for tapestry weavers. When I came back I went to the Rhode Island School of Design. During my summers in that time, I worked for Randy as his “Brocade Queen”. After that, I would visit with him at crafts shows. I am an art teacher now but it was his inspiration, not only his wonderful way of playing with colors but his kind and gentle spirit, that has been a guide to me always. I am deeply grateful to have known him! One other thing that connected us was that we were both minister’s children.

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