I don’t know if you have ever had something that just won’t leave your thoughts, but for me this week it has been all about Storm Patterns.

Last week I wrote about a beautiful Storm that had won the Blue Ribbon at Gallup and we got a lot of emails about it and about the evolution of the pattern.

One asked, “How did the traders respond to the weavers changing the basic pattern?” Really, I think it points out a huge misconception about the role of the trader in creating the different trading post designs.

Basically, everyone has their own personal preferences and tastes. It just happened that Don Lorenzo Hubbell liked red, grey, black, and white colors, and he encouraged the women to weaver those colors. He had certain designs that he liked, but no one wants to have a rug room full of weavings that are all the same.

The same is true with Ed Davies and George Bloomfield who owned the Two Grey Hills and Toadlena stores. They wanted geometric patterns in natural wool colors, but if you look at early photos of fairs where rugs from their posts were displayed, you won’t see two alike!


It was the unique artistry that the traders valued. Even with simple tourist rugs like the Gallup Throws, the weavers who were innovative and pushed the limits were usually paid more.

More importantly than that, they gained a sense of pride from having their work appreciated. I don’t know a single weaver, or artist of any kind for that matter, who doesn’t appreciate it when someone likes their work.

Of course, there are some weavers who basically do the same design over and over, but there are Anglo watercolor artists that paint the same barn over and over.

The real artist, whether a painter, a jeweler or a weaver, is always trying to outdo themselves.


So, the answer to the question is that trading post owners valued the weavers who worked to be unique. The reason that Navajo weaving survived and thrived as an art form had a lot less to do with the trader than it did with the artistic abilities of the weavers.

In this email, you will see two early Storm Patterns, one basic and one that deviates from the basic design in a wonderful way.

I love seeing what an artist can do with a simple pattern! Hope you do too!