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Art Department News

Fresh Starts for Fiber Arts

By Colin McCoy, Staff Writer 


The Fiber Arts crew is undergoing two major changes. They are in the process of moving and setting up a new studio, as well planning and beginning to build a dye garden next to their new facility.

        Two weeks ago, the crew moved from their old studio space to a larger space in the newly renovated Fortune House. While everything is moved in, the setup is not yet complete.

        “We’re balancing work with some maintenance so we can get it ready,” Fiber Arts Crew Intern Supervisor, Kelsey Brown, said. “It’s a slow process.”

        The space allows for a more spacious work environment.  “In our old shop, stuff was piled on top of each other and crammed in corners,” Brown said.

With the new space being three stories, each level will be dedicated to certain tasks. New, more effective lighting has also been installed in the Fortune house. The facility will also allow for more equipment such as a new loom, a washer and dryer, and a security system.

Many crews were involved in the renovation of the Fortune House. “I’m so thankful to all of the FMTS crews and everyone that’s worked on this project because they’ve been really supportive,” Brown said. “They deserve a big shout out.”

The crew will host an open house when the studio is completed on Wednesday, February 26th from 230 PM – 630 PM.

        Fiber Arts is also in the process of building a dye garden next to the Fortune House. The garden will grow dye plants, as well as fiber plants and plants used for papermaking.

        Meghan Gibbons is the student dye garden manager. She has just finished her initial research and design for the garden.

        “With any sort of gardening, it’s very much an experiment,” Gibbons said. “There are a lot of plants we could be growing but we’re purposefully limiting it to a manageable amount so that we can keep really thorough garden journals.”

        Gibbons is balancing information she reads with knowledge she’s gained by talking to local dye gardeners.

        “We did a bunch of research on different plants and decided which ones we want to plant this year,” Gibbons said. “We decided by what is our good for this region, and we also wanted a variety of plants so that we can get a good amount of colors.”

        “We’ve been meeting with a lot of dye gardeners in the area and they’ve been giving us advice that you wouldn’t find in a book – stuff that’s learned from personal knowledge,” Gibbons said.

The crew is bringing in one of these dye gardeners as a guest artist. Lindsey Warf, who is on the board at Local Cloth, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting collaborations between fiber farmers and artists, will be helping with the planning and implementation of the new garden.

Fiber Arts Crew is hoping to make local connections and be more involved in the region’s fiber and cloth community.

“Part of the mission that we have in making this garden is being able to study the plants so that we can interact with the larger fiber and local cloth community in the area,” Gibbons said.

The crew also hopes to be more ethical with the new garden.

“A big thing about having a garden is focusing on locally sourced materials,” Brown said. The garden will potentially cut down on outside sourced materials and could be more economical. It will also serve purposes other than providing materials.

“We wanted a large space that could be a community access space and that is not only a dye garden for our own use, but a place for people to hangout in or walk through” Brown said.

The crew will potentially host a workday event that will involve making the garden more comfortable by building seating areas and walkways. Gibbons has ordered seeds and will begin growing in the campus greenhouse until it is an appropriate time to plant.

“Once we get this garden up and going, we’ll be able to shear our own sheep for fleece, hand clean and card that fleece ourselves, and dye it with plants that we’ve grown ourselves,” Gibbons said. “That’s really cool.”


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