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Fresh Shop: Fibrations Studio

May 16, 2013

by Rob Kistner

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a handful of months or are waiting for those first few sales introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!

Hi! We are Kathy and Rob Kistner, the married artists behind Fibrations Studio. We are based in Portland, Oregon.

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Our creative collaboration began in 1987.  At the time, I was designing custom cabinetry for media rooms. Kathy did the rooms’ interior design: upholstery, drapes, carpeting, etc. Two years later we married, and our collaborative exploration into mixed media fiber sculpture began. That led to creating Fibrations Studio in 1993. We traveled for a number of years, exhibiting and selling our work at juried art shows. For a time, Fibrations Studio was a brick and mortar retail business, but the traveling made the retail location problematic. Today, we work from our home studio and make our work available primarily via the Internet.

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Kathy is truly the founding force behind our business. She is a mixed media and fiber artist who spins and dyes, and as an accomplished weaver she has mastered a variety of looms. I call her the Lara Croft of found objects because she is fascinated by their pursuit, and she loves incorporating them into our pieces. Her keen eye for color and texture serves us well. I contribute skills drawn from my work as a mixed media and digital artist in Mac OS. I also work in wood assemblage, which frequently gets incorporated into our finished pieces.

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Kathy’s favorite way to create pieces is through what she calls “fiber jazz” —  a.k.a. creative improvisation. She collects a number of yarns, fibers, cords, small branches, colored wires, reeds, wooden dowels, beads, found objects — anything that moves her — and creates in the moment, calling on real time inspiration, adding, subtracting, creating until the work is complete. She often uses her Navajo upright loom in this approach because it is very hands-on and permits immediate manipulation and modification.

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Sometimes our process is more deliberate. When we have a vision for a specific piece, we’ll create rough sketches and collaborate, modifying the sketches until we are on the same page. I develop a 3D CAD drawing, which we work together to refine. Next, I create 3D drawings of sub-components that Kathy uses to create the “soft elements” on one of her looms. These finished elements then go to final assembly. Any found object embellishment happens there. Finally, I create the mounting substructure for the piece. When we work on commissioned pieces for clients, we use this process and include the client in every creative meeting along the way so we can bring their vision to life.

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Kathy and I continue to expand our vision of the direction for Fibrations Studio. We are endlessly inspired by each other and the nature of fibers.

All photos courtesy of Fibrations Studio.

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