For thousands of years until the Industrial Revolution began some 200 years ago, everything was made by hand.
In the case of fabric, the work of many hands went into each sheet on the bed and shirt on one’s back. From raising the sheep, goats, silk worms, and flax and cotton plants to cleaning and preparing the fibers, to spinning, dyeing, weaving, felting and sewing, each step required skilled hand labor. In colonial America, a family’s collection of bed and table linens and intricately woven coverlets were often their chief wealth. Today many of our friends and neighbors in Mendocino County still pursue these crafts, and their work will be celebrated in numerous venues around the county during the month of October in recognition of American Craft Week.
From art cloth through knitting, weaving, felting, rugs and quilts to wearables in silk, wool and cotton, fiber arts and textiles of all sorts will be on display and for sale.
In Ukiah, the Grace Hudson Museum, 431 South Main Street, will host “Mendocino Quilt Artists: A Fiber Perspective,” featuring contemporary quilt work by the 12 members of the Mendocino Quilt Artists group, local quilters whose work has garnered numerous national awards by taking the traditional quilt of old into new and unexpected directions, uniting a solid grounding in craft with designs that reflect on contemporary themes, incorporate new material, and celebrate the beauty of the local landscape.
The Ukiah Library, 105 North Main Street will feature rugs and tapestries by Stephanie Hoppe, who works in wool and silk on a Navajo-style loom, weaving contemporary designs in techniques developed a thousand years ago by the Native Peoples in the American Southwest. The First Friday opening will include demonstrations of weaving and spinning.
Heidi’s Yarn Haven, 180 South School Street, will display knitted garments, shawls and hats by Clara Reid, Heidi Purcell, Jennifer Vagt and Sharon Ford, embodying the range and complexity of contemporary knitting. Expert knitters will be on hand during the First Friday reception, as they are every day, to advise and demonstrate and troubleshoot on knitting projects.
Textile members of the Corner Gallery, 201 South State Street, will have their work on display as well, including quilts, scarves in silk and wool, and felted garments and accessories by Ursula Partch, Cassie Gibson, Laura Fogg, and others.
All of the Ukiah venues will be open for First Friday festivities, October 2, from 5 to 8 pm, with hors d’oeuvres and music. View the exquisite craftworks as well as demonstrations of how they are made, and try your hand at some of the techniques.
In Willits, “Common Thread: Three Textile Artists Use the Dyepot as Their Palette: Art Cloth, Wearables, Rugs and Wall Hangings by Anita Sison, Stephanie Hoppe, and Ursula Partch,” will be on display October 2-25 at the Willits Center for the Arts, 71 East Commercial Street. Opening reception, Friday, October 2, from 7 to 9 pm. On Saturday, October 3, at 10 am, the artists will conduct a tour of the exhibit and talk about their work with very different methods of dyeing. Sison produces art cloth, commercial silk and wool fabric to which she applies natural dyes in a variety of dyeing and printing techniques. Hoppe dyes and paints wool and silk yarns she then weaves into rugs and tapestries. She also weaves rag rugs worn cotton sheets and clothing which she overdyes. Partch dyes wool and silk fiber, which she then felts into her own handwoven or commercial fabric to create wearable or wall art.
In Fort Bragg, Pacific Textile Arts, 450 Alger Street, hosts a Fiber Fair and Textile Bazaar, Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3. Visit booths offering all kinds of textile items for sale together with demonstrations of how they are made, including several methods of weaving as well as felting and kumihimo braiding.
In Mendocino village, Flockworks, at the corner of Kasten and Ukiah Streets, includes contemporary quilt and fiber arts among other crafts for the month of October.
For more information, visit www.MendocinoCraftWeek.com