On Saturday May 13th and Sunday May 14th, the fiber community of the Southern Highland Craft Guild will gather in sharing their knowledge and skills. An open and free event to the public, Fiber Weekend is held annually at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. From 10-4pm on Saturday, more than two dozen members will be demonstrating their craft processes, with and invitation for visitors to get hands-on with all sorts of fiber. Sunday will hold the 18th annual Fashion Show of Wearable Art from 1-4pm.
Generally, fiber wares and products undergo a minimum of five processes for its completion, including carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving and sewing. Due to these multiple stages, often small, specialized groups form in mastering a single process. Groups such as the Embroiderer’s Guild, Tarheels Ruggers, and The Mountain Lacers all will be showcasing these niche skills on Saturday.
“These organizations provide space for collaboration, innovation, as well as education,” says Guild Education Coordinator Deb Schillo. “Throughout history there have been groups forming around fiber, and it is certainly a testament to how important craft is in building community.”
Schillo is also the librarian and archivist at the Southern Highland Craft Guild. She and regionally acclaimed weaver Barbara Miller just finished their second publication about fiber. Frances Goodrich's Coverlet and Counterpane Drafts will be available to the public for purchase at the event for $45.00. Miller’s knowledge about fiber is extensive, and has been able to highlight how certain processes have transformed.
“When we first began to read the different dye recipes that were being used several decades ago, we had to make sure that folks did not repeat them,” says Miller. “With some asking to add lye, following with directive to taste the water for sweetness...well, we had to say, ‘don’t try this at home’!
The dye process of yarns and fabrics is often one of the more laborious parts of transforming fiber. Master dyer Dede Styles will be using many natural flora found in the Western North Carolina region.
Beginning with the source, Anthony Cole will be up on the hill shearing sheep throughout the day. Julie Wilson will also be working with different animals, such as alpacas and rabbits, in studying various fiber structures. She also will be carding and spinning. Other members will be showcasing tapestry weaving, crochet, knitting, macrame, doll making, sewing, quilting, felting, tatting, rug hooking, embroidery, lace making and more.
To see these processes in finished pieces, be sure to attend the two fashion shows on Sunday hosted by weaver Liz Spear of Waynesville. Almost two decades in production, Spear has consistently elevated the works of members with ample commentary on design and technique. There will be work from 40 Guild members, showing a total of almost 100 different outfits.
Textile arts are known for building a sense of community, and to celebrate this, the Guild invites visitors to Fiber Weekend to bring their own handwork, whether it be crochet, embroidery or spinning. Weather permitting we would like to fill the hill behind the Folk Art Center auditorium with people engaged in fiber arts. Bring a blanket and enjoy a spring afternoon of craft.