It’s the time of year that many of us crave color! The greys of a nearly-no-snow winter fade away as we spot the first crocuses in the garden and the myriad shades of green in blades of spring grass and new leaves on trees. The fabulous tuffets created by Kerin Ferrin and her students include a riot of color for all times of year and are guaranteed to bring a huge smile to your face. We are delighted to have Kerin join our Fiber College teaching staff this year. She’s teaching a two-session Tuffet class on Saturday morning (9-12) and Sunday morning (9-1), September 10-11. Let’s meet Kerin! And then go read more about her class; you sign up for her class here.
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 a place where one is accepted and celebrated, a place to be wholly your own. Community is my extended family, a loving, noisy bunch with a few wildly creative streaks. Community is also who I sew with, who I teach, and who I learn from. Creative makers of things inspire me – quilters, knitters, bead makers, photographers, writers. I consider all of them part of my extended community.
Tell us how you entered into the world of fiber and the fiber arts.
My daughter was almost ten and I decided to make a quilt out of her baby clothes. I daydreamed about about it and soon I was adding photos and recreating outfits by appliquéing collars, buttons, bows, and even a baby bonnet onto fabric. When I finished, I decided to take a quilting class. In 2009, I became a quilting instructor, and have shared my love of quilting with many people. That first baby clothes quilt is still one of my top 5 most proud projects.
When I first saw a Tuffet on Pinterest I knew I had to make one! I was thrilled to find a perfect pattern from Tuffet Source in North Carolina. I travelled to Winston-Salem, NC, completed a 4 day workshop with Sharyn Cole, Tuffet Source founder and CEO, and became a Certified Tuffet Source Affiliate for New England. I have been teaching for the last year and I love this process of sewing and building a piece of furniture.
How do you keep your creativity fresh and new? What have you experimented with in the fiber arts in the past year?
I purposefully explore new things. Annually, I take a class that gets me out of my comfort zone. I get excited to hang out with people who are exceptionally talented and get inspired by the things they create. A year ago I set out to make three very different projects using only my scrap fabric. (The techniques were a Susan Carlson fabric collage class, a complex paper pieced wallhanging and a string pieced quilt using every color way I own. All three were in a quilt show titled Just My Scraps)
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given to a student or another fiber friend?
Don’t cut corners. Give it your best effort and enjoy the process. If/when you see imperfections, let them GO! People love that you actually made something for them. And lastly, if it is for yourself, use what you made, love it, and enjoy it.
What does your studio space look like now?
My Studio Space is painted my favorite color, bright periwinkle blue with white trim. There are five windows, a wall full of photos on canvases of my kids growing up and artwork that I have made. There is a cool section of pegboard with wire racks that I bought from a CVS store that was closing (the racks held prescriptions so they are shaped like a basket in front) It hold lots of fabrics and is easy to grab from. I have a large studio table that I designed, a few ironing boards, my sewing table, a few beautiful antique cabinets filled with quilts that I have made, and a LOT of tuffet supplies!
Tell us about a proud moment you’ve had as a result of your students’ efforts.
Rarely do quilting or sewing students complete a project in just two sessions. Because of how tuffet classes are set up, students go home with a finished piece of furniture at the end of their second session, DONE! In addition, most tuffet students have never attempted upholstery, so to see their faces shine at their finished product makes me so PROUD! I love taking photos of the students and their finished tuffets and I don’t consider my day complete until their photos are posted on my FB page, Tuffets with Kerin. The photos say it all!
Who has had the greatest impact on your work as an artist?
Simply put, Philip Jacobs. His brilliant explosions of color and florals completely inspire me. His designs work spectacularly on tuffets and on simple quilts for large scale dramatic prints. (My two favorite things to make!)
How do you ensure plenty of time to be an artist?
I limit my teaching days to three days a week, with one additional office day. I schedule entire days off to be in my studio, to have a pot of coffee with my husband, to walk my dog, to read a book. When I make time to do the things I love, the creative side follows naturally.
What’s the most important thing that you want potential students to know about you?
I multitask exceptionally well. I love it when I teach a class with varied levels of experience. My mannerism and demeanor is calm and positive. People leave with a finished piece of furniture, feeling genuinely accomplished!
Tuffets with Kerin