Tuesday, December 27, 2005

1. Being born into the Fiber

This starts a series for my talk in April.. part 1 of ?

I went to Haystack in the summer of 1969 as a Jeweler. . I came out as a fiber artist. What made the leap for me was Walter Nottingham. I was a jeweler and metalsmith in those days, but where the real action was at Haystack was next door in the Fiber Studio. These folks worked in their studios till 3 and 4 in the morning, and rocked out. Truly, we had the best music in those days!

One night, Walter gave a talk on the Magical, Mythical qualities of fiber. OOOuuuuuooooo. He showed so many groovy slides of his student’s work. I remember one so vividly. It was this sewn quilt. The artist had sewn a pocket inside the quilt into which she concealed a lock of her lover’s hair. It was a secret that nobody knew about, except her. I was sitting there with my mouth hanging open.

After the talk, Walter came over to me and said, “Your hair is so black, do you mind if I do something with it?” Imagine being in this weaving studio, you know they have bins and bins stretched out across the length of the room, full of yarns and long elements, all arranged by color. A feast for those of us who love color and texture and organization! Anyway my hair was pretty short. He took little strands and wrapped my entire head with every color possible. I looked like I had a gazillion tiny palm trees all over my head. Pre-dreds. That was the end, or should I say, the beginning of me! I was hooked, gonzo. I was a Fiber Artist. An even better secret is that Walter probably has no idea that he had this effect on me! He baptized me a fiber artist, not bad for a jewish girl! You go, Walter!

I can't say enough about the Haystack Director, Fran Merritt. A more fantastic man than that did/does not exist. He had an amazing vision, knew everyone, and was completely kind and full of wisdom. That session, even Jack Lenor Larson was there, weaving out on the deck with steel cable.

This is a letter dated September 22, 1969, from Walter Nottingham, to director Fran Merritt.
The web is too amazing!

I returned home to my senior year at Cal State Northridge, which we then lovingly called Valley State (fer sure, totally), only to take every textile class they offered, with the lovely Mary Ann Glantz, and Bea (can't remember her last name-it will come to me). Tomorrow’s entry will be starting grad school at UCLA in 1971.

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