Artist Profile: Jackie Ottino

Fiber College—part school, part camp, and much of it feels like a HUGE playground! Giggling, experimenting, trying something new, encouraging teachers, and best of all, making LOTS of new friends. And anyone who has taken a dyeing class with Jackie Ottino will tell you that her colorful classes are a blast and a great place to play! Start with luscious fiber, create delicious colors, and stir in a bit of chemistry – fabulous! Many of you returning to Fiber College this year have peeked into some of Jackie’s dye classes in previous years and marveled at the riotous colors . . . you know who you are! Now is the time for YOU to play. Jackie will help you get started with natural dyes and will teach you what you need to know to do more at home. You’ll finish the day with gorgeous yarns that YOU have dyed and friends you’ll keep for years to come (I speak from experience!). Jackie’s teaching Nature’s Palette, an all-day class on Friday, September 9th. And on Sunday, September 11th, she’ll teach Frankly Scarlet, a class that focuses on Cochineal  — her favorite!  Let’s meet Jackie—and then you can go learn more about her classes and sign up for one or both of them here.

Jackie loves playing with color

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.

In the grand scheme of things, the fiber arts community is pretty small.   I think you are pretty lucky to live in the physical vicinity of someone else who is into fiber arts, which is why the virtual community of fiber artists is so important.  People can get the experience of knowing one another through their photos and postings, and that plays a big part in my fiber life.  I don’t spend a lot of time doing fiber arts face to face with other people, I’m too busy. So I connect online with them.  Then in the best case scenario our paths cross and we become real live friends.  Magic.

Skeins on a line

Skeins on a line

What keeps you coming back to Fiber College? How is FC different from other teaching venues? What’s your favorite thing about Fiber College?

Well, I will teach at Fiber College as long as they will have me for several reasons.  One, I live in midcoast Maine, so it’s the easiest venue for me to teach at.  No travel, such a huge bonus.  I love the people, many of whom I have seen at every Fiber College I’ve been to, which I think is around 5.  (maybe 6?) I love smelling and hearing the ocean while I teach, and I especially love Astrig and Steve’s dye garden.  And the after-hours get-togethers are such a treat.

Jackie's students are able to dye using indigo that they pick right from the garden at the campground!

Jackie’s students are able to dye using indigo that they pick right from the garden at the campground!

How do you keep your creativity fresh and new?  What have you experimented with in the fiber arts in the past year?

Well, I recently learned how to crochet.  And now I can’t stop.  Granny squares anyone?  I’ve also been obsessive about shibori and indigo.

Shibori

Shibori

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given to a student or another fiber friend?

I teach dyeing, which can be an intimidating subject for lots of people.  I try to break it down so  it makes sense and isn’t scary, and allows for experimentation.  I tell people that there are no dye police; you can do whatever you want! (But here are a few guidelines…)

Corespinning is a terrific use for naturally-dyed fiber

Corespinning is a terrific use for naturally-dyed fiber

You’ve hit a roadblock and need to get back into your creative groove. How would you do that?

I can usually get back into a creative groove by cleaning my studio and finding forgotten gems which leads to inspiration.

Cochineal -- one of Jackie's favorite dyestuffs.

Cochineal — one of Jackie’s favorite dyestuffs.

What does your studio space look like now? What change would you make if you could?

My dye studio consists of a utility sink, a wool spinner, tables, and burners.  I like when it’s nice out and this space can expand to the outside, where I have extensive clotheslines and drying racks.   My spinning studio has my carders, my wheels, and all my washed/dyed fibers for blending.  This space also migrates to the living room so I can watch TV while I spin.  Really though, all the fibers are all over the house.

Nature's palette

Nature’s palette

Tell us about a proud moment you’ve had as a result of your students’ efforts.  

I had a Fiber College student come back and show me the dye work they did on their own, catalogued beautifully in a journal.  Impressive!

Skeins dry in the sun at Fiber College

Skeins dry in the sun at Fiber College

What project of yours has surprised you the most and why?

I’m surprised that I crocheted an afghan . . . I identify as more of a knitter.

Now that you’ve learned a bit more about Jackie, go here to sign up.

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