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High End Etsy: Fiber Arts

Oct 9, 2008

by BonnieSamuelDesign

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

What does one gain from raising one’s own alpacas? Bonnie Samuel aka bonniesamueldesign.etsy.com knows the value of homegrown fiber, the material she works with to create unique knit and woven pieces. bonnie_002.jpg“My knowledge of the nature and structure of natural fibers — from the impact of animal husbandry on quality production to the end product — gives me a unique understanding of certain fibers in design.” But it’s not just the intimate knowledge of raising animals — she has also trained in how to sort and grade her annual clip. “Working with natural fibers brings the beauty of nature’s palette and textures to your work.” 

Bonnie approached Etsy’s blog, the Storque, with her story and with those of other high-end fiber artists on Etsy. These artisans steep their fibers in their deep skill and knowledge, and their high-end items’ price points reflect that. We invited them to explain what’s behind the drape of a sumptuously woven shawl or the details of a painstakingly crocheted art necklace. 

Awed_021.jpg
[Jesse James & John Brown, two of Bonnie’s alpacas]

Etsy offers a grand opportunity to both emerging and established fiber artisans. Since its inception, Etsy has evolved through layers of quality each in turn attracting buyers at the emerging level.

Truly talented fiber artists – weavers, dyers, textile designers, skilled knitters, art quilters and those reviving traditional fiber crafts in new dimensions – are now establishing shops on Etsy. The traditional “art” market is out of reach for many artists because of costs to enter the market of galleries, agents and promotion, while Etsy, however, offers wide internet exposure for little cost. Indeed, this trend may be changing the way art is marketed and sold as Etsy increasingly becomes the place to find and purchase unique and finely crafted, high quality art pieces in many mediums.

We’ve chosen just a few fiber artisans of the many talented on Etsy to showcase here…

Hedda Vatter aka HeddaVatter, who lives in Rapina, Estonia, creates wearable beauty in crochet.

As a romantic, I love crocheting and lace. I learned to crochet in school when  I was eight years old. My favorite materials are high quality cotton crochet thread, linen and worsted for the woolen lace. 

I am inspired by Irish lace in all of its richness and beauty. I try to bring the elements of the old lace into modern day using the lace for accessories and jewelry. I also add beads to Irish lace which makes it even more gorgeous. I have added felt, Irish lace and mond stones to my jewelry – the result is an interesting contrast.  Red mélange crocheted necklace (pictured above) is inspired by Irish lace. The cotton thread is hand dyed, making the necklace unique.

As I was studying in art school, textile was my favourite subject. After graduating, I studied three years of calligraphy and two years of decorating. I acquired my higher education in library science. Most of my life I have worked as an artist. The last three years I have worked as a self-employed entrepreneur/artist.  I have sold my work in Finland, Sweden, Italy, Germany and in France. And of course, I have made handcrafts for myself, my three children and for my home.

Scarfguy on Etsy is Fred Ullom, who is an accomplished weaver from Ohio.

As a career mathematician and computer scientist, my initial interest in weaving was as a science. It is, after all, an exercise in applied binary mathematics. When you look closely, all cloth is “pixelated”.  Beginning as a diversion from the stress of a high-tech career, I soon discovered that creating something tangible with my hands was much more rewarding than the abstraction of creating lines of programming code. There is no greater enjoyment than to take an idea and turn it into something real: a piece of cloth, a scarf, a garment that stands on its own, and provides warmth, softness, and pleasure for its owner.  Unlike most fiber “artists”, who are artists first, my greatest struggle has been to allow my creativity to flourish. I retired early from the high-tech world and now weave full-time (although at a leisurely pace).  I don’t often take inspiration from my surrounding as many do.


[Scarfguy at the loom]

My structures are usually just mathematical “play” with twill progressions. My color combinations are usually spontaneously sparked by fondling through my yarn inventory. I have a passion for exotic natural fibers. I’m always searching for the finest Merino wools, cashmere, silk, yak, and the elusive arctic muskox (qiviut).

Artmixter is Marion Barnett’s shop on Etsy, which features imaginative fabric art.

I am Marion Barnett, a Scottish artist living and working in Norfolk, England. In creating my art quilts and other fiber avatsquid.JPGworks, I work predominantly with lutradur, a non woven polyester fabric that is versatile and easy to use. I even wrote a book about it, ‘Lovely Lutradur’, with Dijanne Cevaal.  I  have a passion for layers and texture; as lutradur is semi transparent, it is an ideal medium for such work.  Most of my work has pattern and texture combined over several layers of cloth, with some areas of cloth cut back to show clearly what is lying underneath. Colour, too, is an essential part of my art; I dye or paint much of my own cloth, cottons, silks and lutradur, and use a wide range of paints to get the effects I want.  It’s very rewarding when people are drawn to touch the work; textiles are a very tactile medium, and I encourages people to pat and stroke the cloth and the finished works.

Rebecca Burgess’ fiber art and skills fulfill a mission. Her Etsy shop is ecologicalartist.


My work, my passion, lives within the relationship between restoration ecology and sustainable art materials.  I seek to create art whose strength lies within its process: a process that is restorative for the native plants that I harvest for dyes, for the women ranchers I buy my wool from, and is, most importantly, restorative for me as the composer and creator. I use local natural resources in a manner that supports the thriving and regenerative cycles of those resources.  The end product is equally important for me, in its quality, attention to detail, and how well it functions.

 
[ecologicalartist at work with some natural dying]

I envision a growing world of artisans and interested folks, making beautiful art from naturally dyed yarns and batts, and wearing naturally dyed organic clothes.  As this happens, our culture will become both aesthetically and ecologically richer.  While I enjoy the larger vision, I personally am restored by the feel of soft angora moving through my hands and onto the spinning wheel, or counting my warp threads in preparation for my loom.  The value of having one more happy and restored person on the planet is an immeasurable gift in itself.

designbynihan is the Etsy shop of Nihan Altuntas, a very creative designer and handknitter from Istanbul, Turkey.


I’m Nihan Altuntas, a 27 year old Turkish woman, whose passion is creating and designing. I’ve been crafting since I was old enough to pick up a crayon. My favorite childhood toys were boxes, yarns, pieces of cloth and all kinds of paints… I should add that I’m thankful for the support of my family. When I converted my jeans into bags or painted my canvas shoes, they never said a word!
 
I majored in cinema studies with a minor in marketing. During college, I got back to knitting to relax and to express myself. I never liked pattern books or reproducing brand sweaters. I would design authentic knitwear by improvising with needles, sometimes not even knowing what the result would be. The appreciation and approval for all of that hard work is the basis of my motivation to improve myself in this field.
 
I’m inspired by almost everything, even a simple button. I can suddenly decide to knit a sweater suitable for that button. My favorite material is cashmere, but the most important thing is to be able to discover the perfect match of the yarn and the pattern.
 
“Design by Nihan’s” success on Etsy is a combination of my talent, marketing and business knowledge and my personality too. I try to bring customer preferences and original patterns together. All “Design by Nihan” customers have an opportunity to choose the color and material, since all of the products are always knitted according to the customers’ measurements. Each item is totally unique to its owner.

Dottie Scher, aka ccdzs, whose excellent crochet skill reflects her heritage.

My mother was an old fashioned Southern Lady who taught me the age old art of handcrafts as we were growing up. I started knitting when I was five and needlepoint, embroidery, tatting, pottery, sewing soon followed. When I was 15 I found a book of crochet motifs and I was hooked, literally. I love the way the work flows and how quickly something can come together in my hands. This is an art that has been passed down through the generations of my family.

I work “during the day” as a Child Protective Services In Home Services/Foster Care Supervisor. My days are long and quite hectic. When I get home, after homework, supper, baths and smaller people’s bedtime, I can sit down with a hook and thread and just shut out everything else. Crochet is my refuge, my special place where everything is simply the hook, the yarn or thread, the colors, the texture.

When I’m designing my own patterns, it’s all about texture and counting stitches. The doilies are designed with their appearance from a distance in mind. So much of the design is not apparent unless you look at it from across a room or down a hallway. I love the symmetry and the geometrical design. I have been heavily influenced by Patricia Kristoffersen, a renowned crochet artist. Many of my framed pieces are based on her designs. But I also feel I learn from anyone’s designs and thus can bring my own ideas to bear, such as my two nautical sunbursts.

 

Constance Rose aka constancerosedesigns

I have been a textile artist since the early 1970s.  Prior to becoming a weaver, I was a custom clothing designer, silk painter, papermaker, beaded jewelry designer, knitter, crocheter and handspinner.  I’ve had a lifelong interest in fabric and thread/yarn, so I’ve explored any number of ways to create them and work with them.  I started college as an art major, then veered into and graduated in psychology.  Making art, although my first love, was always something “else” to do; that is, until I retired, recently, from the work world as we know it to focus on my art.  Although I’ve taken an art class here and there over the years, essentially I am self taught, propelling myself toward whatever felt like the next technique for me to learn.

I’ve always been inspired by nature, as well as art of other times and places — including the florescence of Art Nouveau and Victoriana, the stylized and repetitive geometrics of Art Deco and ancient Egyptian designs, Native American and ethnic tribal patterns, and the Arts & Crafts and Craftsman styles in functional and decorative arts and architecture.  My recent work creating woven shibori has been a way for me to pull together all of these design genre.
 
My work today is about TEXTURE — the tactility of cloth and fiber surfaces, what textiles feel like in your hands, as well as visual texture, the orchestration of patterns and colors that your eyes see.  My work is also about PATTERN — line, shape, form, and directionality inherent in the woven cloth or imprinted or dyed onto the fabric.  And it is about COLOR — how color lays on or becomes part of the cloth, how colors interact together, the patterns that areas of color create on a piece.  My textiles explore the fusion of these components on handwoven fiber structures.   Most recently I have begun creating Art Cloth — non-wearable fabric, wall and space hangings — combining loom-controlled and handstitched shibori, and surface design techniques on handwoven fabrics.

 

Thanks to bonniesamueldesign for putting this post together!  If you want to find more great fiber work, check out items tagged EtsyFAST team. You might also want to read more Storque posts tagged “Fiber”.

HUG ME - RESERVED FOR Rhauna-
HUG ME - RESERVED FOR Rhauna-
Sold
IRISH-STYLISH-WITCHISH -RESERVED FOR ERIN-
IRISH-STYLISH-WITCHISH -RESERVED FOR ERIN-
Sold
Framed Crochet Motif Doilie,Oracle Inspiration
Framed Crochet Motif Doilie,Oracle Inspiration
Sold
WOVEN SHIBORI SCARF
WOVEN SHIBORI SCARF
Sold
MULTI COLORED MERINO TOP, Fernwood, 4 oz.
MULTI COLORED MERINO TOP, Fernwood, 4 oz.
Sold

80 comments

  • buddhanature

    buddhanature said 9 years ago

    I can't wait until I can raise my own Alpacas and Cashmere goats! Beautiful article! I really enjoyed this one. The whole article is appealing to the eye. Congratulations to all these beautiful and natural fibre artists!

  • buddhanature

    buddhanature said 9 years ago

    I'm also just learning about spinning and natural dying. I've wanted to learn both these things for years, It's so rewarding to finally be able to try it out! Thanks Etsy for always inspiring me to take my artistic expression to the next level!

  • edor

    edor said 9 years ago

    I love the oatmeal colored knit! looks so warm and coooozzzy. and and those alpacas are cute!

  • Shutterkate

    Shutterkate said 9 years ago

    Hedda Vatter's piece is GORGEOUS!

  • autumnsarrival

    autumnsarrival said 9 years ago

    Laaaaaaaaa! LOVE all of these! I so wish I had a loom (and a couple of sheep to shear!)! Absolutely LOVE it!

  • Girlontherocks

    Girlontherocks said 9 years ago

    It's great to see recognition of some the amazing fiber art skill on etsy! Yet it seems a shame to me that according to etsy a painstakingly dyed or spun piece of fiber or yarn must still be classified as a supply.

  • jilldrapermakesstuff

    jilldrapermakesstuff said 9 years ago

    Love the fiber arts!!!! And I agree with Girl on the Rocks :)

  • dogties

    dogties said 9 years ago

    Simply Amazing!

  • rawfish

    rawfish said 9 years ago

    so great to see fiber arts highlighted here!! i agree with girlonthe rocks! as a spinner myself, i would love to see fiber/yarn as its own category!

  • glassredefined

    glassredefined said 9 years ago

    I really respect those artists who develop thier work through the full process...from raw untouched material to the final wonderful expression and mastery of the craft!

  • SpunOutOriginals

    SpunOutOriginals said 9 years ago

    Beautiful pieces. I can't wait to work with alpaca again, its so soft and lovely.

  • LieblingDesigns

    LieblingDesigns said 9 years ago

    Wow! A truly inspiring article. I have a deep respect for artisans that complete a project from the literal start to finish. And...I want those darling alpacas to come and live with me!

  • harvesttextiles

    harvesttextiles said 9 years ago

    Amazing work. It's great to see fiber arts getting some press. Especially fond of ecologicalartist's shop.

  • LazyTcrochet

    LazyTcrochet said 9 years ago

    Wonderful article...thanks!

  • HeddaVatter

    HeddaVatter said 9 years ago

    Dear Bonnie, this is really GREAT job! Thank You very much!

  • GumballGrenade

    GumballGrenade said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring artists. Textile art is an area I deeply admire. Scarfguy is further proof that logic and creativity can play nice together.

  • elizabethwren

    elizabethwren said 9 years ago

    Wonderful artists! I love to work with alpaca, the results are beautiful and it makes my hands feel so soft.

  • daniellexo

    daniellexo said 9 years ago

    Wow! Gorgeous work - and lovely photos too!

  • miscusi

    miscusi said 9 years ago

    Yessss, natural fibers! My fave. I usually work with recycled yarns but it's such a treat when I get to use freshly-sheared wool or alpaca!

  • OffTheHooks

    OffTheHooks said 9 years ago

    this is great, as i am just learning how to spin, and love the idea of using local, quality "ingredients" as one would with food! I attend my first spinning "class" tonight... i think my world's about to change... :)

  • bayousalvage

    bayousalvage said 9 years ago

    incredible underlooked work by talented and inspirational designers. the shibori gives me chills

  • Faydedcreation

    Faydedcreation said 9 years ago

    I just got my BFA in Fibers from SCAD. I have some all natural dyed accessory items, check it out! I aspire to have a printed textile business using only natural colors soon in the future. WooHoo! for Fibers!

  • missindie

    missindie said 9 years ago

    wow this was so interesting to read! and those pieces are absolutely beautiful!

  • HomemadeZen

    HomemadeZen said 9 years ago

    beautiful work!

  • designbynihan

    designbynihan said 9 years ago

    Great co-operation work!!! Bonnie, a million thanks, I'm very glad to be a part of such beautiful article

  • tanisalexis

    tanisalexis said 9 years ago

    I'd love to be able to search fiber artists within their own etsy category. It would be divine! :) Such beautiful, inspiring and high quality work! As a tiny little fiber artist wannabe, this is supremely exciting to see. thanks so much!

  • ccdzs

    ccdzs said 9 years ago

    I am truely honored to be in this group. Connie, a thousand thanks for including me.

  • OnSlenderThreads

    OnSlenderThreads said 9 years ago

    Thanks for shining the spotlight on Fiber Artists. What amazing works!

  • thefunkyfelter

    thefunkyfelter said 9 years ago

    Very impressive works of fiber art and interesting fiber art techniques. It is really amazing how fiber art can be expressed in such a wide variety of forms. I love all the possibilities shown here and the different options for animal fibers. I'd love to have some sheep, llama, and alpaca some day :) There are many, many traditional feltmakers here on Etsy who are truly high-end as well. I admire the work of DreamWoven.etsy.com lanadeflor.etsy.com ingermaaike.etsy.com and many others! Etsy is a feast for the eyes when it comes to amazingly high quality fiber art items.

  • bookwright

    bookwright said 9 years ago

    A lovely showcase of fiber arts - it would be nice to see some hand papermakers included in the fiber realm.

  • evesimone

    evesimone said 9 years ago

    beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

  • jschubertdesigns

    jschubertdesigns said 9 years ago

    Ahhhhh fiber! So alluring.....so addictive.....so much fun!

  • liongate

    liongate said 9 years ago

    The wonderful world of fiber! Awesome talent showcased here. Tanks for the article

  • elenaydesigns

    elenaydesigns said 9 years ago

    How nice to see so many creative pieces by talented fiber artists. Not funky, but contemporary, and classy.

  • beefancee

    beefancee said 9 years ago

    It sheds light on the various ways with all textures of fiber -- Beautiful creations!!!!!

  • adorkable1

    adorkable1 said 9 years ago

    Love this article!!! Everyone is so talented :)

  • knittingmette

    knittingmette said 9 years ago

    enjoyed pictures and words! thx!

  • BigSkyDreamer

    BigSkyDreamer said 9 years ago

    Hurray for fiber arts, the providers, artisans, bloggers and the article author, Bonnie Samuel. Beautiful. Great all the way around. Thank you.

  • ecologicalartist

    ecologicalartist said 9 years ago

    Bonnie, thank you for your vision, and dedication. I too would like to see a category for fine art yarns and fiber. Thank you for your appreciation and support Harvest Textiles.. Sounds like Off the Hook is on the road to the source! Here's to all the fiber artists on Etsy!

  • Yoola

    Yoola said 9 years ago

    makes me want to try fiber :)

  • BetaBoutique

    BetaBoutique said 9 years ago

    wow, these artists are so talented! and it is great to see artist from Baltic states (Estonia) here!

  • lizplummer

    lizplummer said 9 years ago

    Wow, these are awesome! I love Artmixter's wallhanging and am proud that I own some of her art. I agree we need a Fiber Art category as most of mine comes under that.

  • BlackStarBeads

    BlackStarBeads said 9 years ago

    What a wonderful article! So much talent on Etsy.

  • TalkingDog

    TalkingDog said 9 years ago

    What a beautifully-illustrated article! Hooray for fiber art! I also am lucky enough to own a piece by Artmixter and am so pleased to see her work included here.

  • RunAliceRun

    RunAliceRun said 9 years ago

    Totally amazing what these individuals can do!

  • ThEfReNcHtOuCh

    ThEfReNcHtOuCh said 9 years ago

    super cool! Audrey, aka Prolix www.thefrenchtouch.etsy.com THE FRENCH TOUCH http://prolix.typepad.fr Le Positivisme Art Creator ;oD www.myspace.com/p_r_o_l_i_x 50 articles into the media kit, (TF1, F3, french national radio, magazines, weeklies, dailies, ...) 46 art exhibitions (NY, Paris, etc) Noticed by Tate Modern & Dazed & Confused

  • AltheaP

    AltheaP said 9 years ago

    As a fiber artist, I'm thrilled to see more recognition of this medium. Great story!

  • StirAtHome

    StirAtHome said 9 years ago

    This article has a great mix of fiber art and artists. Nice job, everyone! Thanks for sharing!

  • bluebirdsandblossoms

    bluebirdsandblossoms said 9 years ago

    Great article! And the Alpacas are adorable!!! :)

  • FashionableByways

    FashionableByways said 9 years ago

    So great to see fiber arts getting attention. I have been procrastinating in posting my items for sale on Fashionable Byways, but I'm inspired now to know that such quality of work is on Etsy.

  • SmittenVintage

    SmittenVintage said 9 years ago

    Love!

  • artmixter

    artmixter said 9 years ago

    Thank you, Bonnie, it's a great pleasure to be associated with so many wonderful textile artists. Have you had your fiber today???

  • knitsbyteri

    knitsbyteri said 9 years ago

    Wonderful article and they (the artists) are all so talented!

  • Spazspun

    Spazspun said 9 years ago

    great article!

  • sweetbriarstudio

    sweetbriarstudio said 9 years ago

    I loved this piece. I'm a struggling person-who-sews (I can't write "sewer"...:)) who has started to felt and am trying to become more bold and wildly creative in both of these arts...and still find a market for those creations. Whew - now that's a big challenge (for me) as well as a long sentence! This article is very inspiring. Thanks so much.

  • SandFibers

    SandFibers said 9 years ago

    Thank you so much for highlighting these fantastic fiber artists! Etsy has such a diverse pool of talent; it never ceases to impress me :D (Fiber is another love of mine, a close second to Sand [beads])

  • DahliaHandbags

    DahliaHandbags said 9 years ago

    What a great article and very inspiring. Thank you very much!

  • satellitedaisy

    satellitedaisy said 9 years ago

    Alpacas....now there's an idea! I could have some alpacas then there would be no need to confront my fear of goats. Beautiful textures galore in this article. Thanks from a tactilphile!

  • thefevertree

    thefevertree said 9 years ago

    love this article!

  • CandyStickLane

    CandyStickLane said 9 years ago

    Fascinating! Thank you for bringing a wonderful article to the storque :D

  • MissPurl

    MissPurl said 9 years ago

    o yummy.

  • SkyBox

    SkyBox said 9 years ago

    Love this article. Hooray for fiber and fiber artists!

  • LittleAdorables

    LittleAdorables said 9 years ago

    Wow - Wonderful Talent! I would LOVE to be able to make my own natural fibers to knit or crochet with. That's amazing. Thanks for sharing this article. :o)

  • artmixter

    artmixter said 9 years ago

    You've read the article...now enjoy the treasury... http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=14407

  • morgansilk

    morgansilk said 9 years ago

    It makes me so happy to see the talented fiber arts sellers showcased here. The work is wide-ranging, unique, and labor-intensive: well worth celebrating!

  • ModFarmgirl

    ModFarmgirl said 9 years ago

    WOW! Amazing artists! I am completely stunned at their gorgeous, detailed work!!!

  • handbags8

    handbags8 said 9 years ago

    BEAUTIFUL !

  • lullabylily

    lullabylily said 9 years ago

    Exquisite work, thanks for this wonderful feature; very inspiring.

  • sweetrice

    sweetrice said 9 years ago

    This is wonderful! Thank you for introducing me to these great fiber artist!

  • DreamWhimsy

    DreamWhimsy said 9 years ago

    Amazing artist! I loved the article!

  • TemptressYarn

    TemptressYarn said 9 years ago

    Great article. I want to add that the EtsyFAST team's challenge for November 2008 is high end fiber art creations, featuring items retailing for $90 and up. Search handmade items using "etsyfast team" and "novemberchallenge" to find our beautiful work!

  • learntoknit

    learntoknit said 8 years ago

    This was a very interesting read! the pictures absolutely beautiful! www.learnto-knit.com

  • DianasArtQuilts

    DianasArtQuilts said 8 years ago

    I enjoyed reading the article. Amazing stories. I have made a few new favorites. The pictures were wonderful to see.

  • pearlsquiltedcrafts

    pearlsquiltedcrafts said 8 years ago

    It was a great pleasure to see the amazing knitted work of my ISOT team friend Nihan in such a wonderful article. Keep up the great work, Nihan!

  • StudioCybele

    StudioCybele said 7 years ago

    beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

  • Jurati

    Jurati said 6 years ago

    DEFINETLY. HOW WONDERFUL!

  • marla111

    Marla Barak said 4 years ago

    This is from Permies for anyone who is inspired because I love this site! The third is "symbiculture" and would have zero liquid petroleum, almost zero paint and almost zero plastics. The final chunk is "husp" and would have zero plastic, zero paint, no electricity, no plumbing, and figuring out how to live there comfortably would be an intellectual challenge. Even to walk onto the land, people would be required to wear only clothes that purely meet these requirements. It is 2013. And it is cold. In an effort to take on some of this intellectual challenge, we are attempting to clothe Jocelyn for extreme cold and to be able to walk onto husp land. I will pay for it.

  • LyudmylaV

    Lyudmyla from LyudmylaKnitDesigns said 3 years ago

    love love love the store!!! best wishes -amazing amazing shop !!!

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