By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - The beautiful and colorful art of weaving is now on display at the Cokato Museum with rugs made by the very hands of Cokato native Charles Benson.
“Weavings by Charles Benson” features almost two dozen rugs with an array of colors and patterns, many of which are made from recycled fabrics.
“I’m a recycler,” said Benson, who graduated from Cokato High School in 1951, and currently lives in Edina.
Some of the items he recycled and has used to weave rugs are bath towels, corduroy pants, bed sheets, even a chenille bedspread.
Over the years, Benson has chosen to recycle fewer items of clothing and instead looks for fabric made from cotton because it’s easier to work with, he said.
Benson has been weaving with his mother’s loom since he was a child.
“My grandmother and mother were weavers, and I followed suit,” Benson said.
Weaving has now become Benson’s full-time hobby after retiring from 32 years teaching art at Valley View Junior High School in Edina.
This is the third time in the last 17 years that the Cokato Museum has had Benson’s work on display.
“We like these because they’re so bright and colorful . . . along with the different designs and patterns to show how you can make them so uniquely,” said Cokato Museum Director Mike Worcester.
Included in the display are rugs representing a variety of ethnic backgrounds and cultures, such as the Navajo Indians and the Scandinavians.
Also on display is a fragment of a handwoven bed cover that was found in the Weyland farm building north of town.
Benson’s grandmother, Minnie Thorson Benson was raised by the Weyland family after her parents died when she was just 2 years old.
After doing some research, Benson found this coverlet was similar to other handwoven coverlets from Scandinavia and may have been woven by ancestors of his grandmother.
Benson decided to recreate the tattered coverlet with similar yarn ordered from Norway.Both the original coverlet and Benson’s recreation are on display at the museum.
The exhibit runs through January 2010 and will include ethnically-decorated Christmas trees inside the gallery for the holiday season.