BNAFA – Rachel Suntop of Cool Climates
At age 5, my mom taught me how to sew on the sewing machine. At age 6, I learned how to knit. Since that time period, I fell in love with all kinds of fiber arts. I did embroidery, needlepoint and latch hook rugs at a very early age, in addition to my sewing and knitting. About 12 years ago, I learned how to felt. I started spinning yarn in 2002. I took a class in beadwork in 2003. I have since been working with all of these techniques.
What technique(s) offers the most challenge? Probably creating nearly 2 dozen wild hats/headdresses for my graduate thesis show in 2002. I really challenged myself to use unorthodox materials and make very unique pieces. It took me about a year to make all the hats, in addition to writing a long thesis paper where I researched many different artists.
I’m inspired by many artists, including Nick Cave, Annette Messager, plus numerous bloggers and fiberartists from around the world in Ravelry and Etsy. I also am really inspired by the textile art I’ve seen in Iceland (I did an artist residency there in 2005) and other Nordic countries. I would say that certain aspects of others’ work show up in my own work.
I do what I do because I am passionate about it. To me, creating art is one of the most fulfilling thingsfor me ever. I feel like I live a much richer life by making art. I tackle various problems and challenges with it, capture bits of life that I want preserved (such as travel) and use it as a form of therapy.
It’s hard to know for sure but I see a major movement coming in reusing or upcycling materials that hadprevious uses to make new artwork. In this day and age where so much is wasted, I think artists are becoming more interested and passionate about making “green” art or art that addresses some of our problems with wastefulness. I also see other trends: shabby chic is very big right now. So is organic and natural things. I also see some very interesting things coming out in the political sphere and “craftivism” or people using crafts in ways to better the community and the world.
I would like to see more emphasis on how to find jobs and get careers with fiber. I went to graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was disappointed because I was hoping to get a job
afterwards as a result of the degree. However, this did not happen and I feel frustrated about this. On another subject, I would like to see what Etsy people call “resellers” or people who sell cheap crafts made in third world countries banned from Etsy, a site that places a lot of emphasis on “handmade.” I feel these particular individuals harm the other sellers who really do make unique handmade art that has to be priced more steeply. I also wish that people didn’t underprice their art work (particularly knitting) on sites like Etsy. I feel that they are undervaluing their time and work and it gives people the wrong idea about the value of handmade.
a knitted vacation diary.