As a primarily self taught fiber artisan, I find myself frequently mentoring emerging artists in all phases of dyeing techniques, business development, marketing, and merchandising. It seems fitting to create a means of sharing my knowledge and 30 years of experience without having to repeat myself so often. Thus, a blog is born!
I have always been artistically gifted. Both of my parents are creative, inventive people who encouraged ingenuity. In elementary school and beyond, I had the blessing of excellent art programs and teachers. My mother made all of our clothing, even coats and formal wear. She taught me to thread her old Singer straight stitch sewing machine when I was 11 years old. But I was never taught to read a sewing pattern. Using her machine, I began making clothes for dolls, toys, puppets, and other crafts. After attending Tennessee Technological University and starting my family, I took some fiber courses at the Joe L Evins Appalachian Center for Crafts near Smithville, Tennessee. I studied the craft of weaving, loving every single minute of it. Unfortunately, the constant presence of tiny airborne fibers worsened my daughter’s asthma, bringing my pursuit of weaving to an end.
For several years, I worked as a florist, learning the art of running a small business from the shop owner. Eventually, I was asked to manage the shop, and did so for a couple of more years. As a hobby, I continued to pursue popular trends in arts and crafts, occasionally marketing at local fairs and events. In the fall of 1986, I purchased a small tie dyeing kit from a mail order company. Then I bought another one. I was hooked. Everything in our house was subjected to tie dyeing. My obsession grew. So did our family.
I began teaching workshops to Girl Scouts, families, schools, and church groups. A local consignment shop approached me to sell my tie dyed wares, beginning my professional career as a fiber artist. In 1992, I registered for my first big festival. For the next few years my oldest daughter and I traveled all over the Southeast US to music and art festivals selling 2,000+ garments a year. Gradually, I became recognized as an innovator in the field, winning awards, receiving invitations to share my techniques in schools and art programs. It was an honor to participate in several grant-funded projects. I branched out into other resist dyeing forms, teaching myself, then others, techniques in batik, shibori, and discharging.
In 2009, I opened my studio, Up and Dyed, to the public in a unique gallery/ studio combination where I lived, taught, worked, and sold my creations and the wearable art created by 12 other local fiber artisans. Currently, I am back in a private studio, teaching the dyeing portion of a University Textiles course every semester, marketing on-line and through a fair trades shop with artisans from around the world.
Now I am wishing to teach a wider audience of both beginners and seasoned dyers who wish to sharpen skills and learn short cuts. Welcome, friends. I am pleased you are here to learn and grow as artists. Questions and comments are welcome and encouraged.