Gail Giles


I began to explore my artistic side in my early 20s in San Antonio, Texas when I began working for a gemstone bead importer and learning to string, knot, and design gemstone beaded necklaces for jewelry store clients, and in the process, teaching myself how to refine techniques to suit the high calaber of work that I was being exposed to. This evolved into providing restringing, redesign and repair services to most of the fine jewelry stores in San Antonio, Texas for over 20 years, from 1979 until 2001. During that time I experimented with my own creations out of gemstone and vintage pre-WWII glass beads, selling my work occasionally at local art & craft shows, for a time through Saks Fifth Avenue in San Antonio, a few pieces here and there at a couple of local galleries, and the Blue Fox Gallery in Rumson, New Jersey.

Through the late 80s and early 90s I started offering beginner, intermediate and advanced level classes for adults as an adjunct faculty artist at Southwest School for Art & Craft in San Antonio in bead stringing, knotting, design, on loom and off loom peyote bead weaving techniques, bead clothing embellishment, etc. Enjoying my experience working with adults, I created a group of beaded and woven bead projects for after school children’s discovery classes at local elementary schools, and as well, a summer textile workshop at a Montessori school that was integrated with other teachers incorporating math, science and language skills for 1st through 3rd graders. I realized that with the technological age of everything becoming "instant," offering courses that demonstrated a "process" where one thing led to another, was enjoyable for me in being able to share and encourage others to find their own creative outlet in one form or another.

Around 1990, I started taking on loom weaving classes for the first time at Southwest School for Art & Craft where I was already teaching, and had previously taken some metal smithing classes, after having a longing to try my hand at weaving for some time. I found that I really loved weaving, had a knack for it from all my beading experience, and so much enjoyed trying out many of the various weaving techniques in my first sampler using lace, intricate embellishment and joining techniques, and of course, adding beads to accent my pieces, and thereby finding my love for the intricacies that weaving entails, and the interesting challenges it brings. As well, learning over again from my bead work, that "patience is a virtue," and as I have been told, "it is its own reward."

In beginning to work on a BA program in fibers at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and being the only weaver in the program, I entered my very first tapestry, "Vessels," into a nationally juried show, "Materials, Hard & Soft" held every year by the Meadow's Gallery in Denton, Texas, and juried by Kenneth Trapp, curator of the Smithsonian Institute's Renwick Gallery. I was chosen as one of 100 artists out of 500 who entered to show my tapestry in this prominent gallery show. Shortly after, I entered this same piece in the nationally juried Rosen Group NICHE Award show in Baltimore, Maryland, and won second place in textiles. I realized that perhaps I had a talent for tapestry weaving that should be pursued, in between everything else that was happening during this time in my life and leading me in different directions.

After having to give up my bead restringing business and teaching in 2001 to move to Oklahoma City to caregive for several family members for two years, and as well putting aside creative endeavors for awhile, and trying to figure out how to use my skills of attention to detail, I pursued an ABA associate degree program as a legal assistant. After graduating in 2005, achieving national certification as a paralegal, and completing my family caregiving duties in Oklahoma, I moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where I worked in a small law office for several years, and joined a local weaving guild to keep me connected with other weavers at least peripherally, if not actively. Finding the legal field allowed time for almost nothing else in my life, especially after working for months on a rather involved and intense federal intellectual property case, I decided to figure out how to work for myself again in a more creative manner, leaving the law office, and after a short stint as a mobile notary and legal process server throughout the Fort Worth/Dallas area, I embarked on a leap of faith and decided to move to New Mexico in August 2009 to pursue creative endeavors first, and take on work part-time if I needed to.

I ended up in Chimayo, sharing rent of a studio/gallery space in the old Plaza del Cerro's former mercantile store and postal office with Taos architect, Chris Ferguson, presently of Tres Estrellas Gallery, Taos, New Mexico, for whom I began to weave museum and private collection reproductions of predominantly pre-1860s Northern New Mexico Rio Grande blankets with New Mexico Churro wools, after an almost ten year hiatus from weaving, and living in the former Ortega family adobe next door. After working on the studio/gallery space for almost nine months, with reproductions of Rio Grande blankets finally hanging on the walls, and embellished with handmade Spanish colonial furniture by a Taos woodworker who made the large reproduction of the traditional loom we were weaving on, and micaceous clay pots from Albuquerque ceramist, Brian Grossnickle, all part of Chris's Tres Estrellas Collection, the landlady decided she did not want the county inspector to come out so we could get our permit and proceed to open our studio gallery officially, we decided to close the space until we could find someplace else appropriate for our joint endeavor, hoping to offer classes and demonstrations to share these wonderful artistic traditions with the public.

I moved into Santa Fe in July 2010, got my 60" loom back up to weave a few Rio Grande blankets here and there for Chris's ongoing Tres Estrellas Collection, while he headed to Austin, Texas to begin his own several year stint in family caregiving. Although I worked part-time for a few months for a local attorney as a paralegal, I began offering my professional bead restringing once again, adding wire and leather to my repertoire of textile mediums, and presently contract out my skills to several local Santa Fe jewelry designers. In my collaboration in weaving the Rio Grande blankets with Chris from 2010-2015, he found an 1800-square foot studio/gallery space in a historical building in Taos, on Ranchito Road right near the Plaza, and I was excited to see the blankets I had woven up on the walls from time to time in visiting Taos.

Although my weaving has had to take a back seat for a number of years in between many other things in my life, it slowly become an integral part of who I am, and how I am able to express myself in transposing what I see in the world around me, and that which inspires me. Even when I am not at the loom, I find myself mind weaving, especially since my moving to Galisteo, NM in the spring 2014, and participating as a studio artist for the 2014 and 2015 Galisteo Studio Tour. Right outside my front porch, I had a magnificently amazing panoramic view of the Galisteo Basin and the Ortiz Mountains, where I had to stop whatever I was doing to watch the spectacular and breathtaking color show every evening, after the clouds have built up through the day, the blessings of rain storms passing over the land, and watch the natural color lesson begin, allowing me to think about pieces I would like to do, what techniques I want to use to express them, and how to use color to best express the drama of wondrous nature I see about me.

In January 2016 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and instead of looking forward to the 2016 studio tour, I was thrown on a new trajectory that I was not expecting, and requiring me to once again put aside my creative endeavors to focus on myself and my healing. I sold my large Cranbrook loom to a couple of retiring NM teachers from La Jara that wanted to learn to weave, as I did not see myself producing the large pieces I had been doing, and downsized when I moved to Cedar Crest, NM in the fall of 2017. I realize I am on a winding journey of self creation, healing, and creative self realization through the many forms of artisanship that is weaving my life together. I look forward to whatever comes next.

In 2020, through the ongoing closure of galleries, jewelry stores, and other avenues for showing of artistic endeavors, I have been experimenting with a potential design line of woven beaded bracelets using very small gemstone beads, with the idea of participating in a cooperative gallery endeavor in the Albuquerque or Santa Fe area at some future time when things reopen again.

As of 2021, I am currently working on creating a small line of jewelry which will be sold through The Gynecological Cancer Awareness Program - - which is focused on healing and support of women who have been diagnosed with gyn cancers, and with the intention of earning money for the many supportive programs theGCAP provides in New Mexico The plan is to have some very affordable fashion jewelry bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, and a few pieces in sterling silver, for a little higher end look, with the designs made in the related cancer colors with glass and gemstone beads, and supportive charms with words and quotes. The idea is to offer a wearable reminder of support for those healing from gyn cancer, as well as those for family and friends in memoriam for the loss of their loved ones. I feel that theGCAP has offered me so much support in my own journey towards healing from ovarian cancer over the past three years since I started participating with them. Through their supportive group, I have met some amazing women going through their own experience with gyn cancer, and all of the issues that come up from extensive surgery and with ongoing treatment, and I want to support them any way that I can, and use my creative skills to do so.