Craft Arts Visual Arts

Fiber Weekend at the Folk Art Center

Barbara Miller working on her loom.

Most fiber wares or products undergo at least five processes from start to finish, including carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving and sewing. On Mother’s Day weekend, May 13–14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., nearly 20 makers of the Southern Highland Craft Guild will convene at the Folk Art Center for a free event to demonstrate these processes.

“On Saturday I will be magically turning fiber into yarn on a great wheel and a castle wheel,” says Asheville’s Mary Nichols, who will be spinning with friends from the Blue Ridge Spinners and WNC/Fiber Handweavers Guild. “The weekend is such a treat for the general public. They can watch a sheep being sheared of its fleece, wool fleece being spun into yarn, yarn being dyed and yarn being woven into fabric. They can also learn how straw can be spun into gold and just what it was that Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on.”

Anthony Cole will be shearing sheep as Julie Wilson spins yarns from her own rabbits, alpacas and goats. Natural dye master Dede Styles will boil plants and flora for infusing color as Haywood Community College professor Amy Putansu demonstrates the dye process.

Now in its 18th year, the annual Fashion Show of Wearable Art will be held on Sunday at 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m. “The Fashion Show has evolved greatly from the first few years upstairs in the former library, with some 30 outfits, to our stand-alone event in the Folk Art Center Auditorium, showing some 90 outfits and the work of nearly 40 Guild members,” says the show’s emcee and weaver, Elizabeth J. Spear of Waynesville. “My commentary describes each designer/maker’s technique and materials and answers the questions: ‘What do the professionals do with those materials and techniques?’ and ‘Where does their inspiration come from?’ The show is a visual explosion and the best way to show wearables: being worn and enjoyed.”

Rita de Maintenon of Fletcher will be demonstrating heritage crochet lace, done with hairpins and broomsticks. “The most important aspect of Fiber Weekend is to introduce our visitors to the many activities and demonstrations that are featured,” she says. “Adults and children alike are usually fascinated by the weaving, spinning and dying.”

Known for throwing a shuttle and teaching others, Barbara Miller will be selling her latest book, Frances Goodrich’s Coverlet and Counterpane Drafts, with coauthor Deb Schillo, focused on one of the founders of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The book is available to the public for $45.

“Textile arts build a sense of community, and to celebrate this, the Guild invites visitors to bring their own handwork projects,” says Hannah Barry, SHCG communications director. “Weather permitting we would like to fill the hill behind the Folk Art Center auditorium with people engaged in fiber arts.”

The Folk Art Center is located at Milepost 382 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, just north of the Highway 70 entrance in east Asheville. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Learn more at craftguild.org. 

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