Marian Vavra Wheat Art

August 31, 2023 | Member features

by Maya Corley, From the Land of Kansas summer 2023 intern

Growing up on a dairy farm in Iowa, Marian has always been familiar with grains. In 1980, she had an opportunity to use a wheat weaving kit and began making wreaths and ornaments for Christmas. In 1981 she moved to the middle of wheat country, Wichita, Kansas. Marian was surrounded by wheat, “I asked around to find a farmer who would let me cut a little bit of wheat with my scissors.”

Marian’s business began with her creating other things. “Over the years I found that people were interested in the wheat weavings,” Marian said. She decided to refine the business and focus on just wheat. Marian was a self-taught wheat artist for about five years until she came across a book about wheat weaving. A little while later she met a weaver at a craft show and found a group that weaved together. The group loved wheat weaving together; “We still get together to learn and teach each other,” she said. Marian is now involved in state, national, and international wheat-weaving groups. She has taught for many years and has received honors for her work and teaching.

Marian creates pieces for farm families that represent their love for wheat and farming. She also creates last-harvest memorial art, which are unique pieces using wheat from a farmer’s last harvest. Marian’s faith is very important to her, so she creates a lot of crosses. She challenged herself to make Easter crosses for church; each cross would hang on the front of the pulpit. She did this for eleven years. The crosses were all different, as Marian used different techniques based on what she learned during the year. Marian’s favorite piece she has created is titled The Simonopetra Cross, which she weaved in 1996. Her design was inspired by a National Geographic article on the Byzantine Empire.

In 2014, Marian felt that she wanted to write a book about the meaning and beauty of the crosses. She was on the fence about writing the book for a while, but after some encouragement from her daughter, Celebrating the Cross was published in 2016. In this book are the stories and inspiration behind the designs of nine beautiful crosses. Woven into the book are illustrations and instructions for how to create art like Marian. There are four ways to buy Celebrating the Cross: the From the Land of Kansas marketplace, Watermark Books in Wichita, Amazon, and Marian herself.

Every June Marian uses a hand-held sickle to cut wheat to create her straw art. Turkey Red and Larned are the wheat varieties she prefers to use, as they have a longer straw that is easy to weave. Lately, she has been intrigued by the local farm varieties for their unique qualities. After the wheat is harvested, it is sundried, cleaned, and sorted. Marian creates harvest symbols, love tokens, house blessings, ornaments, jewelry, and crosses.

Her beautiful art is available online at the From the Land of Kansas online marketplace and in-store at Maxine’s Invitations and Stationery in Wichita. Learn more about Marian Vavra Wheat Art at