By Gina Malone
Lorraine Cathey, Cathy Langdon and Dian Magie are sisters in—and daughters of—art. Lorraine works at weaving, Cathy in fiber and Dian in clay. Their mother, Ruth Goldsborough, was a nationally known portrait and landscape artist who taught classes in Hendersonville from 2000 until her death in 2013 at age 95.
From April 4–21, the sisters will contribute their individual talents to Twisted Sisters: A Journey in Fiber & Clay, an exhibit at The Gallery at Flat Rock that celebrates spring as well as sisterly collaboration. (See page 58.) Their work will be exhibited as a “Teddy Bear’s Picnic,” with Dian creating plates, cups and bowls; Cathy weaving table runners and placemats in spring colors; and Lorraine providing the guests of honor: handcrafted teddy bears, each with its own name and personality. It is, says Dian, “a whimsical approach that centers on special craft designs for children two weeks before the arrival of the Easter Bunny.”
Cathey has made forays into various modes of creative expression—sewing, felting and painting—through the years. “In the early 2000s, I began watercolor classes,” she says. “I decided on watercolor because that was one medium that Mom didn’t work in and I thought it would lessen the critiques from her, but that was not to be the case. Her advice was always spot on, even though I didn’t always want it.”
Living in Pensacola, FL at the time, she became active with galleries and art festivals. She had already discovered the artistry of mohair teddy bears, traveling the Southeast to show and sell her creations. “My process is the same as the original bears of 1903 and Teddy Roosevelt’s bear,” she says. “I use quality mohair from Germany, glass eyes, and they’re all hand stitched and five-way jointed.”
On a trip to Hendersonville to visit her mother and sisters, she discovered the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, an annual event held in Fletcher, which sparked her interest in fiber. “Painting with fiber became my medium of choice,” she says. In 2013, she relocated to Western North Carolina where, a year later, her work was juried into the Southern Highland Craft Guild, a longtime goal she had set for herself.
Currently, she creates needle felted and wet felted landscapes ranging from 8” x 10” to 24” x 36”. Scenes are needle felted onto white pre-felt backing that serves as canvas and wet felted to securely lock the fibers in place. She then steam irons and, occasionally, stitches certain areas to provide additional texture.
“These mountains are home now and driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is fuel for the soul,” Cathey says. “I never get tired of stopping at every vista and photographing scenes for future felted works of art. So the crazy lady in the car ahead of you going 20 miles per hour just might be me searching for the next great shot!”
Her work may be found at the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s three gallery locations: at Biltmore Village, on Tunnel Road and at the Moses Cone Manor on the Blue Ridge Parkway. At the Folk Art Center, she will participate in Fiber Day on Saturday, May 11, and a scheduled demo in early June.
After years of adventure that included scuba diving in St. Thomas, living on a 40-foot sport fishing boat in Tarpon Springs, FL and traveling and living in a motor home with her husband’s work in construction, Langdon relocated to WNC in 2012. The move brought her closer to family and into an area “rich in crafts,” she says, where her husband Jim also found a creative outlet in pottery.
Like her sister Lorraine, she was also inspired at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, buying her first small square loom while still living in the motor home. “I now have two looms in my living room, which is really my weaving studio,” she says. She uses a 4-shaft Schacht Baby Wolf for hand towels and scarves. “I like using cotton or cotton blend yarns for these,” she says. Her larger loom, a 50-inch Norwood, is used for placemats and rugs. She uses recycled sheets cut into strips to weave. “It is a wonder how a really ugly pattern on a sheet can develop into a beautiful placemat or rug,” she says. “As long as you like the colors, it will turn out great.”
Langdon is a member of Heritage Weavers in Hendersonville and the Western North Carolina Fiber/ Handweavers Guild. Spring and summer months find her at the Transylvania Farmers Market selling her handwoven placemats, hand towels and rugs alongside her husband’s mugs, plates and bowls. The market scene was part of her formative years, she says. The youngest of the sisters, she spent high school summers traveling with her parents to carnivals and fairs. “Mom did portrait profiles and full- face sketches, and Dad made funnel cakes. I would help them both out, collecting money and setting up appointments for Mom.”
Langdon has shown her work at NC Arboretum’s Blue Ridge Fiber Show and at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair in Fletcher.
It was while their mother was living a nomadic life in Arizona painting images of the West that Dian visited and fell in love with the area. In the 1980s, after serving as the first director of the Arts Council of Northwest Florida and coordinating the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival, she moved to Flagstaff to become director of the Coconino Center for the Arts. “Many weekends were spent on the Hopi Reservation, hiking into the Grand Canyon and, during one stretch, visiting my mother at Canyon de Chelly where she was painting landscapes and encouraging Navajo artists,” Magie says.
A job as director of the UNC Center for Craft, Creativity and Design brought her to the mountains of North Carolina. When she retired in 2010, she devoted herself full-time to making pottery. She took college classes and enrolled in workshops at Penland School of Crafts, Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts and John C. Campbell Folk School.
Assisting Brevard potter Judith Duff for the last 15 years inspired Magie to build her own wood fire kiln. Her request to Bakersville potter Will Baker was to design a kiln “for women over 50 who want to wood fire,” she says. “It can be loaded standing, wood stoking is at waist level and it fires in 12 to 18 hours—so no strain on the back and no overnights.” It has been nicknamed the “Cougar Kiln” for its folk art head of a cougar on the shed and because the mostly female firing crew draws a cougar around the peep hole so that the likeness appears to be roaring when the peep brick is pulled out.
Magie’s pottery includes detailed sgraffito on porcelain based on native plants and birds as well as stoneware sculpture and functional pottery that showcases the action of the flame in wood fire. Her work has been displayed at Blue Spiral 1, The Gallery at Flat Rock and juried wood fire exhibitions throughout the country.
To learn more about Lorraine Cathey’s work, visit LorraineCatheyFiberWorks. com or find her on Facebook at Fiber Works by Lorraine Cathey. Find Cathy Langdon’s handwoven goods at the Transylvania Farmers Market in downtown Brevard on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. beginning in May. Dian Magie’s pottery may be found at The Gallery at Flat Rock in Flat Rock and at Mud Dabber’s Pottery and Crafts in Brevard. To learn more, visit DianMagiePottery. com. An opening reception for Twisted Sisters: A Journey in Fiber & Clay will be held at The Gallery at Flat Rock on Thursday, April 4, from 5–7 p.m. On Saturday, April 13, the three artists will give demos in their chosen mediums at the gallery from 1–5 p.m.