Arts and Entertainment

Artists work together to weave a common thread

Yarn skeins by Kim McDonald.  - Courtesy photo
Yarn skeins by Kim McDonald.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

It’s not what you expect to find at an art gallery — a colorful line of hand-knitted socks hanging high above the entryway.

But that’s what’s in store for art-lovers on Friday night, when a new fiber art exhibition opens at the Blue Heron Gallery.

It’s the first-ever group show for FiberNet — a collective of Island fiber artists and aficionados that has been meeting for years to trade techniques and find inspiration in each other’s work.

Now, the group is branching into exhibition, with a show gallery curator Janice Mallman said is “spectacular.”

The work — much like the line of socks that serves as its introduction to viewers — is both sophisticated and quite literally homespun, including 40 works by 30 Islanders.

For some of the featured artists, fiber art has been a passion rather than a profession. Other artists have exhibited and sold their work for many years.

Sue Willingham, a weaver who is one of the group’s founding members, said that she was excited by the “incredible variety” of artwork in the show.

“There is jewelry to wall art, embellishment to clothing to practical household items,” Willingham said. “Our goal was to show what kind of talent the community has.”

FiberNet began in 2003, when Willingham joined forces with Island tapestry maker Carolyn Dyer and Mary Hosick, a potter who often incorporates fiber in her raku-fired pots.

“We thought we’d invite people to a meeting and see what kind of turnout we got,” Willingham recalled. “About 25 people came. It didn’t take much of a push to get the group started.”

The group now numbers 105, communicates by e-mail and also meets eight times a year, usually on Saturday mornings at the Sunrise Ridge conference room.

FiberNet has no officers or membership fees, although members are asked to donate a dollar each time they attend a meeting.

The group’s monthly programs vary, from field trips to exhibitions in Seattle and Tacoma, to presentations by members on techniques and textiles from around the world.

Past programs have delved into tapestry, spinning, kumihimo and blueprinting on fabric.

“FiberNet is truly a learning group,” Hosick explained in a recent Island View article. “I can pick out something from every meeting that has inspired me.”

Another of the group’s members, Molly Green, who knits and works with felted wool, came up with the idea for the group to have a show at the Blue Heron.

When the group enthusiastically embraced Green’s idea, a formal proposal was submitted to the Blue Heron, and the project was handed over to a steering committee led by Karen Perla.

“We’ve been working on this for almost two years,” Green said. “People are stretching themselves to do their most interesting work.”

FiberNet exhibit

FiberNet’s group show will open from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 3, and remain on view throughout April.

FiberNet will also host a free demonstration of spinning, weaving and other techniques from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at the Blue Heron.

For more information about the group, call Sue Willingham at 463-1747 or e-mail msuewill@centurytel.net.

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