Weaving is at the heart of Berea College Crafts. In the early 1890’s, Berea College President William G. Frost was astounded by ‘kivers’, woven coverlets produced in mountain homes. He established Berea’s “Fireside Industries” as a way to preserve traditional Appalachian crafts and to provide parents a currency with which they could pay for their children’s education. Berea College, through its support of traditional mountain arts, became a leader of the American Arts & Crafts movement and the Appalachian Craft Revival. In 1900, a Berea coverlet won a gold medal at the World’s Fair in Paris.
Starting in 1896, after each year’s commencement ceremony, woven goods were sold at Homespun Fairs on Berea’s campus. These woven items proved so popular that looms were moved onto campus so students could learn weaving. The Weaving Studio moved into the Log House in the early part of the twentieth century, and today in the Sunshine Ballard Cottage, Berea students still use the time-honored hand loom and fly-shuttle loom for weaving, producing a line of items ranging from placemats and table runners to, scarves, baby blankets, couch throws rugs, and other items for the home. Current design and production methods allow for individual custom work to be completed for any client. The recent addition of two computer-Dobby looms allows the students to create incredibly intricate and complicated patterns.