Mary and Yoni hosted a studio tour for Local Cloth in June, showing us some of their creations and discussing their creative process.
Thank you, Mary and Yoni, for sharing yourselves and your art with us!
(Some of Mary's recent indigo rag rugs.)
How did you get connected with Local Cloth/western NC?
Yoni and I got connected to Local Cloth through our friend and fellow fiber-enthusiast Sandy, who lives in Asheville and volunteers with Local Cloth. We also have connections to Western North Carolina through having taken summer classes at Penland School of Craft in summer of 2018, which was a real turning point in both of our fiber journeys!
Where is your studio located? How did you come to be in this location?
Our studio is in our apartment in Northampton, MA. We live in an old mansion that has since been chopped up into several units. We live on the first floor in large, open rooms that flow into each other, as they were likely former parlors and sitting areas. We have repurposed one of these spacious rooms into our studio -- half for Yoni's sewing endeavors and half for Mary's weaving and knitting.
Tell me about a project you are currently making.Mary: I have been really excited to combine my love of natural dye with weaving and tapestry techniques through an ongoing series of upcycled indigo rag rugs. It has been a joy to process discarded t-shirts, experiment with dyeing techniques and turn them into interesting home accessories.
Yoni: I am constructing quilted pillowcases for a friend using garments that belonged to her grandmother, which she will distribute among her close relatives. I am interested in how materials have a voice and special meaning within family circles, and how collaborative repurposing can give them life into the next generation.
(A quilt Yoni made on the occasion of his brother's wedding.)
How long have you been working in this medium?
Mary: I have been weaving for almost 10 years and knitting for seven. I got my start in fibers as Earlham College, a small Quaker liberal arts school in Richmond, Indiana. While pursuing my degree in environmental studies, I was able to take three weaving courses and I was hooked! After graduating, I worked as an environmental educator locally and bought one of the older looms in the Earlham studio at a bargain price from my instructor, Nancy Taylor. I owe it to Nancy for keeping me in the weaving trade as a young adult just getting her start in the world!
Yoni: I started experimenting with paper and pressed flower collages when I was in school at Earlham College, then took my first fabric arts class during my final semester there. I've continued to learn and experiment with dying, piecing, and embroidery on my own for the past seven years, aided along the way with guidance from friends and short courses at the Hill Institute in Florence, MA and Penland School of Craft in Bakersfield, NC.
Who are some of the people who mentored/taught you along the way?
We have both been mentored by the incredible Nancy Taylor, who still leads the fibers program at Earlham College, as well as instructors that have taught at Penland School of Craft, including Tommye McClure Scanlin, Nick Deford, and Katherine Duguid.
What inspires you in your work?
Mary: I am inspired by geometric designs from cultures around the world and magnifying techniques that are usually done on a much smaller scale. One of my favorite rugs in this indigo rag rug series was created by experimenting with hachure, a shading technique traditionally used in delicate tapestry weaving. I try and balance planned design with the unplanned surprises from the dye pot and love weaving with variegated colors.
Yoni: I draw from my interests in Jewish history, botany, and found images to shape my pieces. I am often inspired to create things for friends and family based on their vocations or the pets in their lives. Fabric and thread are great mediums for considering disparate elements and tying together what is in my head.
(A quilted collage Yoni is working on, for a friend who owns a fermentation business.)