What does it mean to be a Fiber Artist?

This is a question that comes up, quite frequently, actually.  For me, "fiber artist" became a better fit, when "quilter" didn't quite explain all of things that I was doing with fiber.  When I was solely creating quilts, then cotton was my medium: 100% cotton fabrics, 100% cotton threads, and 100% cotton batting. Now, I also work with wool:  felting, crocheting, embroidering, sometimes weaving. These two fibers - cotton and wool - have something in common....they are both natural fibers. That is, cotton harvested from plants and wool harvested from sheep - are processed from nature - they are not synthetic. Creating fiber art from cotton and wool has a historical basis in the broader field of textile arts which stretches as long as humans have created clothing and shelter and added their own personal embellishment. Thinking of my own journey, I began life sewing and quilting, making clothing and bedding, but when my quilts became my own unscripted designs and jumped from the bed to the wall, I was then becoming a fiber artist.

What to do with all these wonderful materials?  Fiber Artists employ many techniques and tools to work with cotton and wool: hand-stitching, machine-stitching, quilting, crocheting, knitting, weaving, felting, beading, etc.  Painters have a canvas, brushes and paints.  Potters have clay, wheels, tools and glazes.  Photographers have camera, (film), computers, and printers. I have cotton, wool, needles, sewing machine, looms, and scissors. Gathering all these items, is only the beginning - then the creating begins.....time thinking, hatching...time in the studio....handling the materials, putting colors together...time working, stitching.


So, we looked at the "fiber" part of the equation, what about the "artist" part?  For me, an artist uses their imagination to express and create something new - appreciated more for its aesthetic value than its function.  What gives each artist their own unique style, is how they work with color and design, and the level of achieved craftsmanship, which only comes from years of experience handling their medium.  


My goal as a fiber artist is to make something by hand, with the finest of materials, with the highest regard for technique, and with my own vision.  I feel like the luckiest person in the world - to handle these sumptuous materials, working with my hands and imagination, transforming them into things of beauty, to bring others joy. Materials, techniques and artistic vision: this to me is what it means to be a fiber artist.  What are your thoughts?


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