Mary Burns

About the Artist

Mary Burns expresses her love of northern woodlands and waters in her weavings and writings. An award-winning weaver, her work resides in private homes across the United States. She weaves custom designed hand-woven rugs and wall pieces; she also creates tapestries and felted work. Her newest loom, a Jacquard TC-1 named Nora, allows her to craft her work in even greater detail, vibrancy, and character. Her looms range in width from 10” to 10’.

About the work

I am influenced greatly by the world around me, from the many shades of green in the northern forests to the blue moods of Lake Superior. My work is often rooted here in the Northwoods of Wisconsin where I live.

My weavings for Penokee, Explore the Iron Hills are based on historical mining photos taken in this region. Through understanding our history, we are better able to make decisions that will govern the future of coming generations. My weavings illustrate some of our mining history and its impact on people and places in the Northwoods.

I drew these designs based on historical photos, and then created separate weaving structures for each of the shades on my jacquard loom.


Jacquard weaving

Mary Burns

In the weaving “Timbering,” I worked with an image of two miners putting supporting wooden beams in a mineshaft. This is particularly important theme for me as my grandfather was a logger. Some of his contracts were with mining companies. He cut and transported tamarack logs to the mines to be used for timber framing.

Surface Mining

Jacquard weaving

Mary Burns

The weaving “Surface Mining” is based on the Plymouth Surface Mine in Bessemer, Michigan, depicting railroad cars being loaded inside the expansive open pit.


Jacquard weaving

Mary Burns

Copper  is a collage illustrating copper mining in the Keweenaw Peninsula in the U.P. of Michigan. Copper mining is another major mining industry in our area. This piece shows a group of miners from Tamarack Shaft #2 circa 1900; a close-up of a group of young miners – boys, really – taken in the 1890’s; and a $10.00 script from Quincy Mine in Michigan. Instead of being paid in cash, the miners were often paid with script usable only at the company store – another means of tying the miners to the companies.


One response

  1. joni

    Mary, these are amazing. If it wasn’t a six hour drive I be there this weekend to see them in person!

    11/06/2013 at 7:58 pm

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