Jennifer Appleby

Jennifer is the woman you’d love to have living next door to your house.

Even better, you’d like to be a close friend because you know that if she’s on your speed dial, she’d be there no matter how silly or dramatic your problem was to everyone else.

She’s the kind of woman who sparkles with energy and inspires you to have faith in your dreams…and it’s not just because she’s beautiful on the outside~ she possesses magic on the inside.

This year you’ll find her teaching Hooping for Fiber Artists on Friday afternoon and Pop-up Puppets on Saturday Afternoon.

We recently sent her a list of questions that we hoped would introduce you to this wonderful woman…and this is what she had to say:

If your life were a box of paints…would you be pastel colors, jewel tones, flesh tones or black, white and shades of grey?

According to my husband, who I had to consult to avoid having a complete identity nutter on the first question, I am: “definitely not pastel colors, too pale; definitely not jewel tones, too overstated; definitely not black, white and shades of grey, too understated”, which leaves me with flesh tones by way of default. This does not, however, account for all the richly saturated times, the startling sparkling times, the broody blue times…….

Jennifer, tell us about your first attempts to be creative.

I had early aspirations as both an artistic participant and teacher/director. In elementary school I organized neighborhood art shows and sales, as well as directing and starring in a fully choreographed, backyard production of Grease. I also made elaborate sock puppets with my creative mother; dressed my Barbie dolls in tin foil leotards and spun them ‘Circus-Barbie’ style from the ceiling in dramatic flashlight spotlights; twirled baton in parades; made tack for my play horses with paperclips and gimp; and spent many years becoming a classically trained dancer while flamboyantly costumed ‘modern’ dances occurred regularly in the living room (often along with Denny Terrio, Elvis or whatever disco music I could find). As an undergrad I also did a lengthy stint as a Batik artist, co-owning a small business that made and sold lampshades, wall hangings, clothing and even a large scale stage backdrop for a music festival.

 If you could have any mode of transportation in the world…how would you get from place to place?

I would like to live in a world small enough that a horse could easily get you to your needs and neighbors. On the other hand, air travel is attractive to me so magic carpet or jet pack would be great.

 

Do you make a living with your art?

I currently work as an LCSW administrator overseeing a day and residential treatment facility for traumatized youth. Within this context I run a “Hoop Group” and Pre-Vocational Arts Fiber Studio. So it is true that elements of my artistic inclinations are present in my day job. Being a trained therapist, and even being an administrator also ask me to be creative most of the time. I am inclined to believe that if you are an artistic person it is often less about the medium, and more about the way you approach the activities the world demands and inspires you to perform. In addition, I do run a small craft business (Good Nature) participating in 5-6 shows a year.

What is your preferred environment when you’re in a creative mood?

Anywhere quiet, without distractions, without too much clutter, without outside expectations. I like many surfaces to spread out; I like to be surrounded by things I and others have made; I like an organized but dynamic space; and there should be somewhere comfortable to sit.

What do you wish you could do?

Right now in my hoop practice I have a vision of my early ballet days when I could do many things that my now older body thinks improbable. I would, however, really love to again be able to pull my heel up so it is over my shoulder, leaving my toes to the sky so that I could hoop overhead with my foot.

Name five adjectives that best describe you at your best.

Mindful, Playful, Visionary, Inspiring, Surrendered

Are you currently working in “the perfect” studio?  What does your perfect creative space look like?  What would we find in the drawers and cabinets?

I have had some really great studios in the past, including one on Martha’s Vineyard that was a stone’s throw from the ocean and one story up from a spectacular music venue/coffee house. My current studio is on the second floor of my barn. And while it holds a certain charm, it is sadly unusable for the many cold months of Maine winter. I typically overrun my family’s dining room, which is where my spinning wheel and sewing machine live year round. If you could look inside drawers and cabinets you would find boxes of organized collections, many of which are from the natural world. In some of my crafts I use milkweeds, stones, feathers, pinecones, driftwood…..you would also find a dremel, tiny tin boxes of watch gears, yoga magazines, empty matchboxes, beads, …….My perfect studio is either a refurbished mill room with exposed pipes, large wooden posts and huge windows overlooking a river, or a hillside yurt enclosed by herb gardens and frolicking fiber animals.

When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

One of the things I love the most about dancing with a hoop is that you constantly have opportunity to laugh at yourself. The hoop can also provoke you to take yourself too seriously or find ways to erode your self esteem. As a recovering perfectionist (J) I like an art form that pushes at you to strike the balance between doing your very concentrated best, and abandoning yourself to the process, whatever the outcome. Laughter is a necessary part of life and health. I also think the ability to laugh at one’s self allows others around you to lighten up on themselves.

 How many projects do you generally have going at one time?

Many of my projects kick around for some time in my mind before ever becoming a reality. So in this sense I probably have around 6: 3 that are gestating and 3 that are vying for attention. Right now I’m imagining a chicken-charka spun-boa that I was hoping to have done for fiber college but is likely going to make an appearance next year (thanks to the lovely woman who sold me a very reasonably priced bag of beautiful, washed, feathers at SPA). I have also wanted, for over a year, to make a meditation tent with silk scraps and a salvaged beach umbrella. I’m also thinking through a “cooperation puppet” inspired by Bread and Puppet’s beautiful birds that come over the hillside at their Vermont farm. In the land of the real, I’m finishing up a poncho, embellished with felted glass beads and soy silk spirals, as well as gearing up for my fall/winter shows of cone puppets, angora slippers and milkweed angel dolls.

If you’d like to know more about Jennifer, you’ll need to meet up with her right here at the College because she doesn’t spend her spare time on line at our favorite haunts like Ravelry and Facebook…and we’re still trying to convince her to blog and show off her magical creations.

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