Once again, I’m blown away by the level of expertise and extent of experience that our Fiber College instructors bring to us! Holly McBride’s fiber experiences are delightful to read about; I can’t wait to meet her! She certainly has a good sense of humor with which she’s created some amazing projects. At Fiber College, Holly will be teaching Sewing Machine 101 on Friday morning for both newbies and those who want to make friends with their sewing machine again. On Sunday afternoon, she’ll teach WordPress Blogging for Artists; have you ever wanted to share your creations and motivation with the world? You can do learn how (and actually start your blog) in Holly’s class at Fiber College. Can’t wait for you to meet Holly McBride!
Who are you? Tell us about your fiber journey.
I began sewing when I was 12, when I made my first dress, which was absolutely hideous. (It was a jumper from peach fabric with little sea foam green medallions on it. I worked on it for months and never wore it.) I began knitting, weaving and dyeing in college, graduating with a BFA in sculpture, with a focus in fibers and ceramics. I attended graduate school and received a Master of Science in textile design. My graduate thesis was on textiles for children’s wear and interiors, primarily woven but with a bit of printed and nonwoven work as well. I then worked in New York City for 10 years as a textile designer for the contract industry.
While I was working as a textile designer, I dabbled in creating and selling some handmade products. My love of designing for little people never faded, and after my daughter was born I threw myself into sewing clothes and toys for her. In 2012, when my daughter was 1.5 years old, we left NYC to move to Maine, when I started my blog Hamster and the Bee, where I document my creative work. I’m currently focused on learning pattern drafting for clothing and stuffed toys, and I recently started teaching sewing classes at local fabric shops and have truly enjoyed sharing the knowledge I’ve gained through my journey with new sewers and makers!
What’s integral to your work as an artist?
Learning – I love to learn something new! I enjoy challenging myself to perfect new techniques and try something I’ve never tried before. I’m constantly reading about photography or blogging or sewing, trying to hone and improve my skills.
Speaking visually, the common thread amongst my work would have to be a sense of humor and a graphic quality. It needs to make me smile; outright laughter is even better! I love designing for kids because you don’t have to take everything so seriously, but some of my work is for the young-at-heart (those adults who don’t take themselves too seriously!) I think inanimate objects translated into softies are hilarious. I like making things that you can interact with, and I enjoy boiling something down to its most graphic essence – just the most necessary information to convey the story.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given a student?
It’s harder than you think to break your sewing machine! And keep sewing, the knowledge builds upon itself. Things that once seemed difficult become second nature if you keep working at it.
What’s your favorite piece of work that you have created?
My favorite work would be either my pillow fight pillows or crocheted food; I’m quite fond of the burger and fries! I made a series of meals in 2004 while working for a mill in their NY design offices, so I had access to lots of different texture and color yarns. I really enjoyed selecting the yarn that would best convey the visual quality of the food I was making. I taught myself to crochet through vintage books and developed my own “crochet geometry,” which probably isn’t unique but I hadn’t found any design tools for creating sculptural forms through crochet or knitting at the time.
Shortly afterwards, I made a few large, weapon-shaped pillows using freezer paper stencils. I was living in a 500 square foot studio apartment in Brooklyn, so this was quite an undertaking. In 2008, my future husband and I moved into a one-bedroom apartment together and I convinced him to help me screen print 80 pillows so that I could participate in the BUST Craftacular, a craft fair in Williamsburg. We had huge screens made (the pillows average about 20”, some even larger), padded our dining table for printing and hooked up a hose to our tub faucet. It was crazy! We hung the wet printed fabric from a clothesline in our hall, and leaned the washed screens along the wall, trying to keep the ink off the walls and floor. We pulled it off and the fair was a success! Of course, I lost interest in making the same thing again…
What inspired you to become a fiber artist?
I feel like fiber, sewing and knitting have always been the background music in my life, quietly present through every phase, but I think that my grandmother on my father’s side was my biggest influence. She crocheted blankets and sewed clothes for my Barbie dolls, and these were such treasures to me! I find textiles and fibers to be a fascinating medium, through both the technical and creative sides. Combining the challenge of figuring something out through math or chemistry or physical manipulation, with color and texture to create my vision is my happy place!
There’s still time to sign up for one or both of Holly’s classes. You can read more about the classes and register at www.fibercollege.org — See you in September at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground!