As we look ahead to this year’s Tenth Anniversary of Fiber College, we welcome both new and returning teachers and students. It will be fun to visit with dear friends, reacquaint ourselves with familiar faces who are sure to become dear friends, and venture into new relationships with soon-to-be friends. We’ll surround ourselves with riotous color, talented teachers, inspiring materials, and resourceful vendors! We’ll learn new techniques for fiber arts we already know and we’ll be able to experiment with new fiber arts, perhaps timidly at first, but soon with creative abandon! And isn’t that what Fiber College is all about?
This year’s Artist Profile series will expand this year to include a few profiles of returning students. Have any of you have attended FC every year? Please let me know. We’ll also profile some of our faithful volunteers who continue to make Fiber College a fabulous event anticipated by so many every year.
Beth Berman returns to Fiber College this year and we’re so glad she’s back! Beth loves color and isn’t afraid to experiment and try new things. She’ll be teaching three classes: Screen Printing (with Thermofax) on Friday afternoon; Tyvek Surface Design and Beads on Saturday afternoon; and Batik Printing on Sunday afternoon. Let’s meet Beth and see what she’s been up to. (And then you can click here to register for one or more of her classes.)
As we celebrate the tenth year of our Fiber College community, tell us about how community plays a part in your life as a fiber artist.
Community is of major importance to me. I need to be surrounded by members of my tribe, people who know what I am talking about and are going in the same direction. My personal art friends challenge me and encourage me to try new things, see things a bit differently. Fiber College is a place where all these things take place, a tribal meeting of artists ready for meeting a new friend and a new adventure.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given to a student or another fiber friend?
I think the best piece of advice I could offer someone is that their art isn’t “precious.” By that I mean, add something, cut it up, reassemble it; if you made it once, you can make it again. Experiment, throw caution to the wind. Art, like life, is full of possibilities.
You’ve hit a roadblock and need to get back into your creative groove. How would you do that?
When I encounter a creative roadblock, I sit down at my sewing machine and start to piece odd scraps of fabric together. This is called improvisational sewing: sewing, cutting it in half, adding to it, cutting it again. It really gets the juices flowing. Being retired, I “play” almost every day. I move from one project to another. I never stop. Also being retired and with bad knees, I have had to leave my fabulous studio on the second floor of my house and move into a smaller area on the ground floor. I have managed to get it to work for me and my work hasn’t been affected at all.
Who has had the greatest impact on your work as an artist?
I have a particular friend whom I call my Muse. Our art work is nothing alike and we couldn’t be more different but something happens when we are in the same room. We may not even be doing the same thing, using the same materials but creative energy is flying between us. I listen to critiques but mostly go by my gut. I weigh what people say, take it into account, but go with what I like. If I am happy with a piece, I am satisfied. What others think of my work isn’t my business.
I would have to say that Laura and Linda Kemshall have had the largest impact on my art work. I see the effects almost daily. This mother and daughter have opened up areas of artistic expression I had never known about and their sharing their of how they find inspiration was, well, inspirational (smile).
What’s the most important thing that you want potential students to know about you?
One of the comments I get from students after a workshop is that I am a good teacher. I think that has more to do with my attitude and organization than with any great skill! I lay out the processes in an orderly way, encourage questions, tell about my mistakes, and emphasize that mistakes are really lessons, so congratulate yourself. These lessons can lead to great creativity. I also LOVE what I am doing and I think that enthusiasm rubs off on the participants.
How do you keep your creativity fresh and new? What have you experimented with in the fiber arts in the past year?
Over the last few years I have starting watercolors, bookbinding, pen and ink sketching, felting, and I have picked up the knitting needles after a few years “rest”. I have also bought some palettes and will start painting with acrylics again as soon as I can find a minute.
Visit Beth’s blog here: http://sewsewart.blogspot.com/
Registration is now open for Fiber College classes — register early to guarantee slots in the classes you want! www.fibercollege.org