Fort Vancouver Tapestry

Historical Overview

click here for the printable overview


Eleanor Van de Water

Eleanor Van de Water (1932-2005) Co-Founded the Fort Vancouver Tapestry project and served as Director from 1999-2002. She was a nationally recognized fiber artist and a lifelong resident of Clark County, Washington. Her unique textile pieces are currently exhibited in churches and private homes in Canada, Wales, Russia and the United States.

Sherry Mowatt

Sherry Mowatt, Artistic Director
Sherry Mowatt is a gifted artist (pen & ink, acrylics), stitcher, seamstress, knitter, quilter, upholsterer, horticulturist and carpenter.

Sherry designs and teaches new stitching techniques specific to surface design tapestries and textile narratives.  She is responsible for all color selection, assigns all stitching  projects to the artisans, and oversees all aspects of creating, framing and display of our tapestries. During her long association with the Grant House Folk Art Center at the Vancouver National Historic Reserve, Sherry gained the support and trust of artisans throughout the region for her dedication, perfection of craft and honest approach to a life guided by artistic vision.


The Fort Vancouver Tapestry was designated a Washington State Lewis and Clark Legacy project in 2001. Our mission is to honor our region’s history through a wool-on-linen textile narrative. The tapestry measures 28 inches high and 108 feet long. It will finish at just under 100,000 hours of embroidery.Baskets

Hours invested:
Over 57 volunteer stitchers have donated time to the Tapestry. Stitcher contribution averages 8-14 hours a week: 16,000 hrs/yr. Project estimate is six years: 96,000 hrs/completion. A three inch square takes approximately 1 hour.

When completed: Summer 2005.

How many people:
The Fort Vancouver Tapestry is supported primarily by volunteers. We are guided by a Board of Directors and a staff of two.

Material variety and selection:
The Tapestry is composed of Portuguese wool and Belgian linen—the Bayeux Tapestry is made of similar material and remains fresh looking today. It was completed in 1067.

Panel selection committee:Huckleberry
An eight member selection committee suggested the subjects for each of the seventy panels over a three day ‘retreat’. The committee was made up of long term residents and local historians.

How many colors:
There are 111 colored yarns and an additional 8 custom ‘flesh tone’ yarns in the Tapestry. Some of these have been blended to produce additional tones. Many of the yarns have been blended to produce an additional 40 shades of color.

Tapestry Exhibition:

Clark College, Vancouver, WA August 2005 - July 2006
Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival August 2006
1st United Methodist Church, Vancouver, WA September 2006
Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, OR October 2006
1st Congregational Church UCC, Vancouver, WA November 2006
Columbia Room, Washington State Capitol January - April 2007
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vancouver, WA May 2007
Joyo Community Network Center, Joyo City, Kyoto, Japan October - December 2007

For further information regarding viewing the Tapestry, or exhibition in your locale, please contact

Sherry and Eleanor

We are funded by local and civic organizations, foundation grants and the support of our community.
We rely on our community of friends as much as possible. For example, we teach life skills classes at the Washington School for the Deaf in Vancouver, WA in exchange for our studio space; a community based in kind donation.

However, any large scale multi-year community art project is expensive. And we need your help.

Please call Sherry for information on the many forms of community and individual support available. Your contribution will make all the difference.