Fiber as Medium
Fiber tells a story. I like to think about the path the yarn takes before getting to my hands. From the seed of the farmer or from an animal to sheerer, mill, dye house, then small business. So many hands were part of the process before reaching mine. Each fiber is spun with history and tradition by hard-working people. I try to work with fibers where I know their story. When I was seeking a new creative outlet after my husband and I relocated to Pittsburgh, I revisited fiber arts.
My childhood days were filled with embroidery floss and friendship bracelets so being around yarn awoke those memories. Two decades later, I found myself learning to knit, then crochet, followed by weaving and a touch of spinning. I was never great at following patterns and weaving offered a certain amount of freedom to create. It was the fiber that initially attracted me to this medium, but the process of weaving that made it stick.
Life as Influence
My life as an artist goes hand-in-hand with motherhood. It’s a very unique relationship but a path I know I’m not alone in. Being a fiber artist was a way to recapture my identity — something that was just for myself and not tied to my role as a mother. I started weaving before having children, but it was only after having a newborn baby that I decided to start sharing what I made. For me, having a child reminded me of the fragility of life and I was able to pivot from a job in the corporate world that allowed financial freedom to developing a weaving practice that nourished my soul.
Time became the most valuable commodity in our family, so I started choosing to explore life as an artist with the time I had. My style of weaving was greatly influenced by a teacher I had at “The Weaving Kind” retreat hosted by Sarah Neubert. Lucy Poskitt taught a course titled “Weaving With Alternative Materials” that totally changed my perspective.
In this spirit, I began exploring Bauhaus weavers and now very much like to find unusual materials and experiment with them. This has led to a deep exploration of core spun wool and ropes — and now I’m in the process of exploring some finer fibers like cotton gima, handspun rami, and mohair. Inspiration always comes back to the fiber and what it can do.
Advice for Artists
Experiment, fail, learn, and repeat. Learn the foundational elements of your chosen art, then break all the rules. Quiet your mind, focus on your hand movements, and be accepting of the process. Ask for help. I think you can be an artist in a non-traditional sense too. Maybe your art is gardening, or software programming. Art by definition is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination”.
I was not trained in fine art or textiles. My background is in foreign language study and compensation, but through my work, I like to think that I was making progress even then towards what I am doing now in the fiber world. It was not until my 30s that I revisited fine art. Just because you have never created art in the traditional sense before, does not mean you don’t have the skills inside you to develop. It’s never too late to try.