Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, May 26, 2022
Mary Eaton, the dream weaver
Mary Eaton of Deer Isle is known as the Dream Weaver. To the owner of a butter-yellow, 1934 Studebaker “President” in Connecticut, she truly is a weaver of dreams.
Studebaker owner Bob Belling found Eaton six years ago through a loom company in California. He was searching for someone who could reproduce the upholstery fabric in his antique car. Having fully restored the engine and exterior, he wanted it to be perfect, but the interior upholstery was in ruins.
Belling contacted Eaton. After they conversed, he sent her a small patch of the original wool fabric he had found behind the vehicle’s ashtray. To reproduce it, Eaton first had to locate the right color wool thread and determine how to recreate the pattern—an especially tough challenge, as the fabric was double sided. And, Belling needed 22 yards of it.
After a few months of pondering, Eaton puzzled out how she could make it. Several months later, she had the 22 yards ready, and Belling drove to Maine to pick it up. A professional upholsterer installed the new material, and it was perfect.
After the restoration was complete, Belling often displayed the car in automobile shows. When other antique car owners saw Eaton’s work, they contacted her, as well. She made two more orders of reproduction fabrics and then needed a change. The last order Eaton crafted for an antique vehicle was for custom-made trunk mats woven of raffia, a bear to work with as it easily splits and breaks.
A passion for the arts
Eaton has loved all things artistic since she was a child growing up in Sedgwick. At the age of 5, her grandmother taught her how to knit. She knits with a passion.
Eaton wanted to try painting, so her husband, Chandler, recognizing her creative drive, gave her all the materials needed for oil painting. For several years, they lived as the caretakers on Great Spruce Head Island where the Porters, a family of well-known artists, summered. Anina Porter, who runs painting workshops on the island, encouraged Eaton to pursue her passion.
In 1985, Eaton joined the newly formed Deer Isle Artists Association, where she remains a member. When she sold her first oil painting, she was over the moon. Since then, she has continued to design and fabricate beautiful knitwear, sea glass jewelry, Christmas ornaments, weavings, hand-stitched embroidery and specialty items, like the car fabric, as well as paintings. Eaton’s work is known for its often vibrant colors and meticulous craftsmanship.
Eaton’s work can be found at the weekly Deer Isle Artisans Market and the Deer Isle Artists Association gallery.