Ruby Coggeshell

Navajo Rug Weaver Ruby Coggeshell

Ruby Coggeshell - Rug Weaver: When Ruby Coggeshell was a small child she would sit and watch with fascination as her mother wove intricate and colorful Red Mesa Style rugs. She also watched her two aunts and their daughters. As she watched their strong hands working the wool she would ask questions. "I've always liked to listen to the stories," she says, "About when they were young, what it was like. I always asked questions. They usually would tell me."

Soon Ruby was demanding of her mother, "Let me help - I want to help!" When she was about 12 years old, her uncle made her a small loom. "I made little rugs," she fondly remembers. "I just played around with the little rugs, on a little loom."

Ruby no longer plays at weaving, and yet she still very much enjoys her craft. It is a full time occupation for her, and she has distinguished herself with her excellent weaving and beautiful designs, patterned after her mother¹s Red Mesa style.

Born the week of her mother's twenty-third birthday, Ruby Coggeshell and her mother, Bessie, have always been close. They still live together with Ruby's school age son, Kevin, in a small Navajo reservation community, in the northeastern corner of Arizona.

Ruby graduated from Red Mesa High School, and has been a full time rug weaver ever since. Sometimes she has two rugs going at once, so that she can switch off if she gets tired of one design. This is a distinct possibility with the "eye-dazzler" type rugs she weaves, fashioned with multiple colors and zigzag designs. Sometimes, when working on an especially large rug, Ruby and her mother sit side by side, both weaving together. Most often they each sit at their own loom, set up in different rooms of their house.

Just as she learned from her elders, Ruby is passing on the traditional art by teaching the next generation to weave. Her eighth grade niece won a first place award with her very first rug, the one she wove with Ruby at her side. Ruby is also teaching her son. "He did a small one," she says. "He did really good. There are very few males who do weave, so they kind of hesitate to let others know they do it. Kevin enjoys it."

Ruby savors the weaving and the teaching, and especially the financial rewards, she says, for it enables her to travel. She loves "getting to meet other people, learning about other cultures." Ruby, with her mother and son, recently returned from a trip to New York, and they are planning one to Alaska. They also often attend Native American Pow Wows and dances.

All of this comes back to help her as she weaves, for her rugs reflect her happiness and satisfaction with life. Ruby views it all matter-of-factly: "It's always good to know something you can do with your own two hands," she says, "You never know what's going to happen. Even when you have a job, it's good to have something to fall back on."

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This site was last updated on November 19, 2017.

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