I have been involved with needle and thread for nearly 60 years now. I’ve been hanging out with fiber folks for about 35 years, including guilds and groups and working in a needlework shop for a few years. Every once in awhile, I have found it beneficial to dip my toes in other waters for a change of perspective, some new vocabulary and insight into how others think and talk about their art making.
There I was at the library, minding my own business, and the reader board announced something called “Focus on Creativity.” Intrigued, I decided to show up just to see what was what. It turns out this group was started by several people who met taking a painting class together, and kept meeting after the class was over. They opened the group up to any interested parties, and meet twice a week. On Thursday afternoons, when the weather is cooperative, they are out plein aire painting or drawing at some location on the island. When the weather is lousy, they work indoors on a still life, from memory, or from photographs. On Friday mornings they meet to show their latest work, drink coffee and talk art. At that first meeting there were several painters, a photographer, a poet, a stained glass artist, and me, the lone fabric artist.
The more I hang out with these folks, the better I get to know them and how their life path has influenced their art. There are engineers, architects, scientists, teachers, salesmen, graphic designers and more, all together because they love what they are doing and want to work and talk with other like-minded people. They have found their tribe. And I was instantly accepted as a member of that tribe. No business meetings, no dues, no officers or committees – just one person who sends out a reminder email every week with the location for Thursday. The camaraderie is wonderful, I am absorbing much about other art media, but I am also sharing my own work and am delighted that they are interested in learning about working with needle and thread. The fact that they expect everyone to bring some recent work to talk about helps to keep me productive every week.
My point in writing this is that I have found it invaluable to spend time with artists in other disciplines, and would encourage others to take a workshop in some unfamiliar art form, or join a small general art group that isn’t focused solely on one medium. It is enlightening, exciting, and helps keep my own work fresh. I love working in fiber and fabric and beads, and that isn’t going to change. But I am learning things that add depth and nuance to my continuing explorations.