Marsha van Rijssen / Marsha Elliott DesignsI have been called a squirrel by fellow hikers. I love foraging for unique twigs, nuts, and leaves in perfect...
Media: FiberI am a weaver of cloth, and maker of garments. My fabrics are a blend of cotton and rayon yarns in a variety of textures and sizes, beginning with the selection of a dozen different shades of a single color.
The rag fabric is a favorite, though small part of my fabric production, left over from the days when I made a living as a potter, and had time to weave only a few rag rugs. For a number of years, this was enough weaving, to keep cloth and thread in my hands, and rationalize the further and never-ending collection of looms, fabric and yarn. When I decided to switch to weaving full-time, I moved to Western North Carolina, attended Haywood Community College, and discovered that what I really wanted to weave, was yardage, and lots of it. I was, after all, a production potter, and accustomed to handling large numbers of pots. The functional aspect of what I make is also important, so I decided that I wanted to sew garments out of my handwoven cloth. I found that I missed playing with the commercial fabrics, cutting them up and re-weaving them into new cloth, playing with the colors. So, I decided to see if I could make the rag fabric soft enough to wear, and kept cutting the cloth into narrower, and bias strips. This rag fabric is now a part of my line, a little heavier than my regular twills, and generally made up into lined jackets. I weave yardage, sometimes with a specific garment in mind, or a series of pieces, or to work with another fabric, often made by another fiber artist. Several years ago, I began to inset small pieces of hand-dyed, handwoven fabrics from a friend into some of my shirts, often waiting until I had just exactly the right fabric to make a garment that was greater than the sum of its parts. This success led me to further collaborations, and to appreciate the intellectual and sometimes, manual, challenge in working with others’ skills and colors. Currently, I work with an art quilter, a marbling artist, a spinner/knitter, and a couple of woven shibori artists. I look forward to, somehow, incorporating felt, handmade paper, and polymer clay into a series of exhibition pieces, in the form of this Celebration Coat.