Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wherever We Go, There We Are

Summer's hot, sunny days are done and fall is especially brilliant as a result. Gone, too, are summer vacations and weekend getaways. Did you take some time away from home? Who were you when you went?

As fiber enthusiasts and artists, we travel with a particular frame of interest and experience. It's who we are. On some level everything we see or pack into our journey is processed through that screen of fiber and texture.  Are those memories and colors subtle or loud in our consciousness? The simple idea that we are what we pay attention to can lead to personal and artistic alchemy. Why not embrace influence and see where it takes us?

I spent a weekend in New York City this summer. Looking back on the trip and seeing how it came together as a fiber journey helped me appreciate and enjoy it beyond my return to MKE.

My short list for the trip: 
  • See my son and his gal Esme 
  • Walk the High Line
  • Catch the Cindy Sherman exhibit at MOMA
  • Eat dim sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlor
  • Visit Habu Fibers' studio and showroom
The High Line is an urban park above street level in Manhattan
It's built on an old railway line
For those cold NYC nights

In Chinatown Since 1920

Entrance to Cindy Sherman's Show at MOMA

Along the way I found and delighted in yarn-bombed statues, appreciated how fibers and colors in Cindy Sherman's photos are as much a part of the characters and caricatures she embodies as she is, and felt a strange mix of serenity and mind-blowing excitement from the beauty and creative potential of the fibers at Habu's studio showroom.

Habu Fibers Showroom

Though I didn't I know it at first, my trip was a fiber journey.

SDA Wisconsin member, maker, teacher and writer Donna Kallner has created a very intentional creativity quest to Ireland this April 19-30, 2013. If you book by Nov. 5, you can save $300! Follow this link: Local Colour trip to find out more.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wisconsin SDA Spring Meeting May 19, 2012

Sara Von Tresckow has opinions about over-conscientious meter readers, neighborhood schools that decline her invitations to graze sheep on their athletic fields and the value of doing personal research in textile history and weaving. She says one can be self-taught but first look to seminal works in museums, learn to use bibliographies and check out older books beyond their copyright. Useful links are & 
She also knows a good tea when she tastes one. Sara and her husband Hans were our hosts for the Wisconsin SDA meeting held Saturday May 19th at their store, The Woolgatherers Ltd. in Fond du Lac. See Jill Robinson's post about Sara, Hans, the store's history and its unique mix of new and old school supplies.

Somewhere between its mid-morning start and its late afternoon close our spring meeting became a mini symposium. No one wanted to break. We were just that happy to be together to talk about fibers and our lives related to fibers and creative expression. Certain themes around play and risk taking developed. Call it a Fiberholics Anonymous meeting except we shared last names. Also, talk about our substance of choice was not discouraged. There were nine of us around a U- shaped table in the shop's classroom space and over 2 pots of aforementioned tea (Harney's Green with Citrus and an East Freesian Black) we introduced ourselves. We each spoke with humor and passion about our lives and current journeys with fiber and textiles. We found lots of laughs and common threads.

Jean McCulloch Harper and Alison Gates in the shop

Jean McCulloch Harper from the Shawano/Clintonville area started us out. The following day she’d be heading out to Durango, Colorado for a second dyeing and felting workshop with Lisa Klakulik whom she met at the SDA conference in Minneapolis last June. It was Jean who said she was devoting the rest of her life to playing with every medium she ever taught in. Not to make light of the wisdom and commitment in her statement, but it reminded me of the notion behind Cooking with Julia but with a lot more courage and fewer dishes to wash. Great artists and teachers never stop growing and learning. Jean’s both.

Textile archeology and gender politics came up too. Fibers help tell history and the history of women is tied up with cloth in a big way. University of Wisconsin Green Bay Textiles professor Alison Gates told us about her involvement with Helen Klebesadel's Exquisitie Uterus Project (Here’s a cute little knit one for you, Mr. Legislator, so keep your laws off mine.) Alison says you can participate in a similar design challenge. The project here is different -- more of a political yet very personal statement. It would be interesting to start a discussion here about the process of embellishing one’s (Spoonflower fabric template) uterus, no? Alison will be posting more on this topic but ladies and gentlemen if you just can’t wait to start your uteri here are the links you'll want:   Helen's Blog  and Template from Spoonflower What personal political stories and reflections would that call up? I can think of a few worth sharing. Maybe others are interested in exploring political aspects of art in general... 

Sara demonstrating her computer assisted dobby loom with Susan Leschke and Jenny McComb looking on

Stevens Point sculptural fiber artist Susan Leschke brought fellow fiber artist jazz musician Jenny McComb. Their friendship started in a class that Susan taught.  Both mentioned the influence of grandmothers in their work and that push/pull between play and performance and knowing the rules so you can break them more artistically. With grace and honesty they helped us explore reclaiming physical and emotional space for our studio and personal work. Then Alison mentioned the idea of the older emerging artist. Hits home, doesn't it?

Marcia Anop Romashko, Hans and Jill Robinson loving the linen

Former English teacher Marcia Anop-Romashko of Genessee picked up Alison’s thread when she talked about her formal and informal studies with Gail Harker in LaConner, Washington She spoke of committing to learn the rules, knowing the structure of textiles and the strength of the community/sorority of artists in her graduating class and the value of buying a puppy to comfort the family we leave behind those weeks away while we're out following our muse.  Art quilter and former SDA WI state rep Jill Robinson also reflected on breaking rules, coloring outside the lines (most recently with deconstructed screen printing and soy batik), new leadership and the direction we’d like to take in the national and WI SDA. We explored ways to connect with other members in our own neighborhoods and at bigger seasonal fiber related events and meetings. We are committed and looking forward to building our fiber community both face to face and on line. There’ll be more on how to do that here very soon. As the new SDA Wisconsin Area Rep I’m looking forward to hearing your voice, opinions, desires and needs and getting to know you better. Email me any time. Subscribe to this blog by email or RSS.

I hope you're getting a sense of the depth of discussion and great energy that filled our time together.  Join us for our next meeting in September. We considered connecting with the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival weekend September 6-8 in Jefferson County, perhaps meeting in a university textiles classroom or doing member studio tours in the future. Would scheduling a meeting that weekend at the festival be an incentive to come or would it pull you away from the conference? Let me know how you feel about that. I recently moved to a mid-century modern house in Milwaukee (It’s kind of like living on the set of Mad Men because it’s all 60’s all of the time) and would be happy to host but it's quite a distance from Jefferson. Before then check out the blog this summer and if you haven't yet renewed your membership, please do. Alison has an article in the August SDA Journal and you won't want to miss it. Follow this link and click on Join Us in the bottom right corner. You can also learn more about new SDA President Jane Dunnewold and Executive Director Diane Sandlin who are looking at all ways to improve what SDA can offer its members.

From left: Jill Robinson, Marcia Romashko, Alison Gates,  Jean McCulloch Harper,
Jenny McComb, Lisa Sattell and Susan Leschke

We closed the meeting by sharing recent work. To call it Show and Tell really doesn't do the level of fine craft and creativity justice, but if you have a better term do post a comment below. I look forward to connecting with you in the months ahead. In the meantime, here are some pics to inspire and enjoy. Talk soon, Lisa

Jean McCulloch Harper's hand dyed silk, felt laminated, and embellished scarves

City Block 5- Jill Robinson's hand-dyed and soy batik cotton art quilt

"Tree Keeper in the Garden" (work in progress) Hand Embroidery by Susan Leschke 

Marcia Anop Romashko's machine and hand-embroidered embellished book

Details from Marcia Anop Romashko's handmade book

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Woolgatherers in Fond du Lac

Our last SDA meeting on May 19 was held at Woolgatherers in Fond du Lac. Shop owners Sara and Hans von Tresckow recently expanded their business to this larger store where they have an extensive variety of spinning, weaving, and knitting fibers and supplies.

Sara learned to weave while living in Germany for 20 years. She is largely self-taught through books, some lessons, observation of professional weavers, extensive museum visits/connections. She has always been interested in textile history and archaeology. Sara weaves on countermarche looms, a 16-shaft computer assisted dobby, a 50-pattern shaft drawloom with 8 ground shafts, and Jacquard looms.

Her beautiful woven work centers on household linens and rugs, decorative items from the drawloom, and clothing fabrics/scarves. Sara studied drawloom weaving with Joanne Hall and took three courses in Jacquard design at Eastern Michigan University, Oaxacan rug weaving with Wence Martinez, and Jacquard weaving at Oriole Mill with Bethanne Knudsen.

In addition to selling finished pieces and supplies, Sara also provides private instruction for beginners as well as advanced weavers. Hans, the engineer and woodworker in the family, evaluates, repairs,  restores, and maintains looms and spinning wheels.

Hans and Sara are available for seminars, lectures, demos or event booths. Their website contains details about looms, wheels, lessons as well as their show schedule. If you have questions or needs regarding spinning or weaving, these are the folks to call!

Sara von Tresckow
Hans von Tresckow

 Look for the Woolgatherers at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI September  7-9, 2012 and at the Townline Art Fair at The Fine Line Gallery in Ephraim, WI.

Many thanks to Sara and Hans for hosting and supporting the Wisconsin SDA!! Sara, who was able to join the meeting while Hans watched the store, brought insights and humor along with her 30 years of fiber arts experience. We enjoyed getting to know you and your shop.

For more information visit Woolgatherers or email Sara.

Fine Line Designs Gallery
Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival

Coming soon--- new rep Lisa Sattell's blog about the meeting.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Common Threads" exhibit in Stevens Point

Wisconsin SDA members Susan Smith Leschke and Donna Kallner are among the artists who will be exhibiting their work at the Riverfront Arts Center in Stevens Point, WI.  The exhibit, entitled "Common Threads",  begins April 20 with an opening reception from 5-7 PM and continues through May 27th.  Congratulations!!

For more information, visit:

Riverfront Arts Center:

Susan's blog:

Donna's blog:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Metal and Willow on Silk

After Donna Kallner's inspiring demo at our October meeting, Alison Gates and Alicia Engstrom dove right in with silk ... Here are their results!

Right and left: Alicia's experiments with willow tea, nails, screws and wire. Alison created the center one by rolling horse shoe nails up, binding with wire and dousing with vinegar.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Fiber Art Exhibit- Prairie du Sac

Collaborative art partners and SDA members Donna Kjonaas (South Dakota) and Vicki Kessler (North Dakota) are the featured artists at a contemporary fiber exhibit entitled Holding the Holy.

The exhibit will be held at The River Arts Center in Prairie du Sac, a short drive west of Madison.

River Arts Center

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wisconsin SDA meeting October 15, 2011

Professor Alison Gates, Alicia Engstrom, Dr. Heidi Sherman of UW- Green Bay
holding traditional tools used to make flax
Our meeting at UW-Green Bay was very enjoyable AND educational. We had an excellent presentation by Professor Alison Gates, student and Flax Team member Alicia Engstrom, and Dr. Heidi Sherman, an authority on medieval history. The ground-breaking Flax Team hopes to continue their seed-to-cloth flax growing project. The process was chronicled by student Alicia Engstrom whose special interest areas are spinning and weaving fibers.

One of the plots is located on top of a campus building. Its visibility has created a buzz within the campus community that reaches beyond the Art and History Departments. Members of the team have received advice and support from many who are helping keep an eye on their "babies".

The team plans to start a website to document the progress of the project-- stay tuned!

Alicia Engstrom shows flax growth
Artist, teacher, writer and SDA member Donna Kallner presented a willow and tannin printing demo at the meeting. Donna and other members discussed India Flint's presentation at the SDA Conference, and Donna showed how she uses a botanical dye that grows in abundance in Wisconsin. Donna also makes willow charcoal which can be used to make marks on silk. Needless to say, there was a lot of note-taking going on during her demo and her silk samples were gorgeous.

Donna Kallner (l) , Alison Gates (r)
raw materials for willow print process
willow printed silk scarf
By popular request, Donna is blogging about this process at

We finished up the meeting with show and tell.  Laura Fisher-Bonvallet, weaver and designer of fine art wear, showed samples of her beautiful hand-woven wearables. Laura is a 2-time winner of the esteemed NICHE award and has her studio in Oneida, WI. See more of her work at:

Laura Fisher-Bonvallet w/ woven jacket
Thank you to all of our presenters and attendees-- it was a meeting full of beautiful art, enthusiasm and inspiration!