Meet PCA Master Artist Charles Elliot

Friday Mar 15th, 2024

Charles Elliott is an expert weaver who connects people to their past through his craft. While he is adept at creating baskets, his forte lies in restoring woven furniture pieces. Wicker, cane, cord, and bull rushes have long been materials of choice worldwide for crafting lightweight, durable, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing seats for chairs, stools, and settees. What began as a hobby for Elliott has blossomed into a full-time profession spanning over four decades, during which he has both repaired family heirlooms and undertaken new commissions. His company, Taleweavers, is aptly named; Elliott believes every chair tells a story, weaving together American history and family narratives. Operating out of Millcreek, Taleweavers serves clients from Ohio to New York and Maryland.

Charles Elliot Blog Photo Brick v2

PCA Master Artist Charles Elliot

Recognized as a Master Artist by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Charles Elliott has been granted the opportunity to share his tradition with apprentices. Although he has employed assistants previously, this grant allows him to dedicate time to teaching advanced and specialized techniques, affording his apprentices the chance to tackle special projects under his guidance.

Breanna Allison, one of his apprentices, finds joy in the craft and working with natural materials. For her, it's a meaningful way to honor the memory of her father, Patrick Allison, a former friend and student of Elliott's. Patrick Short, Elliott's second apprentice, was hooked after attending one of Elliott's workshops eight years ago. "Charles introduced me to making a Nantucket basket, and I just couldn't stop. There really isn’t a book that teaches you how to do this," he reflects. Both apprentices cherish the learning experience under Elliott's instruction.

Patrick Allison with finished chairs v2

Patrick Allison

The trio collaborates closely, working together several days a week. A recent highlight for Taleweavers was securing a contract to refurbish the patio furniture at the Athenaeum Hotel on the Chautauqua Institution grounds. This project involves over 100 pieces of wicker furniture, including chairs, rockers, tables, fernery stands, and end tables, many dating back to the early 20th century. Over the coming months, they will meticulously clean, repair, and repaint each piece. Charles Elliott and his team are a perfect match for the Chautauqua Institution, sharing deep historical roots, a reverence for fine craftsmanship, and the belief that art is most impactful when it combines beauty with functionality.

Know of a traditional artist who wants to pass down their tradition to an apprentice? You can refer to the grant guidelines and application, or contact EAC’s Folklorist-in-Residence, Kelly Armor, at [email protected], for more information.

Erie Arts & Culture is a proud Folk and Traditional Arts Partner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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Erie Arts & Culture

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