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fiber arts and fibershed - what do they mean to you?  RSS feed

 
r ranson
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We have a new category called Fiber Arts.  It's still shiny and new, with lots of growing still to happen. 

This is very exciting because growing and creating textiles is a big part of my life... or to put it another way, all of my life.  That's what I do.  I grow flax, cotton and other fibre plants, I have rescue alpacas and llamas who pay for their keep with their fibre, sheep for wool, and just about everything else we grow on the farm is to support this - food or medicine for sheep or humans.  I grow the fibre and process it into clothing, sometimes selling yarn or other stuff along the way.

Is what I'm doing fibre arts?  I've been up half the night thinking about this.  That got me wondering, what do these terms mean to me and what do they mean to other people?

Fibre arts to me is transforming fibre into something which may or may not be clothing.  It could be felt, needlepoint, weaving, yarn, a wall hanging.  For me, the key word is "arts" as in artists.  I am not an artist.  I lack the particular qualia required for artistic vision.  I'm a farmer and a skilled artisan. 

Fibreshed to me includes all of the fibre arts and more.  It starts with the soil, building and improving it, grows the fibre, processes it through to finished cloth.  People involved in their local fibreshed can focus on one aspect like sequestering carbon in the soil to breeding the cotton, to milling the yarn, to sewing the finished cloth.  I feel that I'm a member of my fibreshed rather than a fibre artist. 

What do these two terms mean to you?  Fibre arts and fibreshed?  Is one more permaculture-ish than the other? 
 
Judith Browning
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Fiber Arts, I think, implies the finished work.  I think it also sounds exclusive because the word 'art' might seem to be making a judgement about where one is going with their work.  A lot of my take on the words comes from more than thirty years in a craft guild here in this state.  I was juried into the Fiber Arts category which included weaving, spinning, quilting, felting, etc. ...all finished work, although we were encouraged to tell our 'story' of how we produced our craft for the marketing end of it.

I prefer the inclusiveness of the word 'FiberShed' and agree totally with Raven's description of the term in her post above.   It's a new term for me over the past few years and I think a great area to encourage folks to think about and participate in.

If I were asked, I would vote for 'fibershed' as the forum title rather than 'fiber arts' for those reasons and look at it as an opportunity to educate........there are pages of links when one does a search on line for 'fibershed'. 

...hope this makes some sense, trying to write something to pop this back up for those better spoken to answer the questions


 
K Putnam
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To me, fiber arts means the act of making things out of fiber by hand, either functional or artistic.  Similar to the culinary arts, the fiber arts exists at many levels.  You don't have to be an "artist" to participate in fiber arts.

I do like the term "fibershed" because there is not a lot of awareness about where fiber comes from. 
 
Larisa Walk
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One could be a fiber artist, practicing some form of fiber arts, without any regard for fiber shed.  I would equate it to zone 1 in permaculture terms. Being locally conscious of materials sourcing is also akin to the local, slow food movement. Most chefs don't cook based on their local food sources but rather on shipped-in exotics, although this is changing, at least in a trendy way. In terms of textiles for clothing, the results will probably be better suited to the region's weather when made from what grows there. In my mind, for fiber shed to become the "norm" it will have to overcome the ideas of "fashion" and the attitudes of textiles being low value and disposable at whim. I believe that a fiber artist can be stimulated creatively by their fiber shed's offerings.
 
Sharon Kallis
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When i was writing common threads, my friend(and fibre yoda) insisted i NOT call her a fibre artist, though she is a spinner weaver  dyer knitter and more. She feels the label of artist is far too priveledged to describe skills of common work that (primarily) women around the world do as daily living. And I sit with that often- what it means that I essentially dabble in these skills. So all of this is preamble as a way of saying that, for the broadness of term and lessening of social politicizing I prefer fibreshed for title to fiber arts if I were to be voting! Once again, thanks Raven for all that you bring as a community catalyst.
 
Hans Quistorff
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I'm a farmer and a skilled artisan.  

That is fine, Artisan indicates skill and quality with out trying to make something just for decoration or entertainment. My cousin is an artist. she make decorative wall hangings for commercial and public spaces using unusual fibers for there visual effect. We Will be shearing our sheltie dog next week and I was thinking of writing her to ask if she wanted the wool with its orange and black guard hairs in it. Unless one of you would like it.
 
Sharon Kallis
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We Will be shearing our sheltie dog next week and I was thinking of writing her to ask if she wanted the wool with its orange and black guard hairs in it. Unless one of you would like it. 
what a lovely offer! Glad to hear the sheltie fibre will get used in some way- we just had a community groom and spinalong in our local park yesterday- it was a ton of fun and we might have to make it an annual spring event!
we found that great Pyrenees brushings was fantastic to spin- and everyone good a kick out of meeting a local Komondor who came by.
20170513_153741.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20170513_153741.jpg]
Komondor and human dreadlocks mixed in a hug
 
Sergio Cunha
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Is bamboo a fiber to you? Hier in Brazil we make a distinction between rigid fiber and flexible fiber and bamboo is rigid. I see that the new category doesnt make that distinction. I am a skilled artisan on   a special kind of bamboo - Phyllostachys aurea. I make furniture out of it. It is an invasive species so I don't plant it hier. I harvest most of it 16 km from my place. So no fibershed. But then, is bamboo a fiber in that new category?
 
r ranson
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Good question about bamboo.  I don't know.

Our local weavers and spinners guild includes basketry.  Basketry is the basically a kind of weaving, only using semi-rigid materials.  Some traditional clothing is made from basketry techniques, including shoes, hats, and coats.  A lot of cultures had a kind of rain clothing made from straw or bark. 

Is basketry a fibre art? 
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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English is not my first language. The term 'fiber arts' I only know since some months. The meaning seems to be: ways to turn fibers into textiles (like knitting, weaving, crochet). I always called such techniques '(textile) crafts'. When you say 'fiber art', someone doing it probably is an 'artist'. But from what I see, the products of the 'fiber arts' do not look like 'works of art' to me. They're just ordinary textile products, like clothes, hats, rugs. So i.m.o. calling this 'fiber arts' is somewhat strange.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Fibershed has a permaculture background. So in Permies a Fibershed forum is what we need (my opinion)
 
Abbey Battle
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Fibre Arts - there's a whole genre of fibre / textile artists in the fine / applied arts world. I could write a very long list.
It is one of my favourite fine art genres, books and printing making being the best.

As soon as I saw your post, I thought - Tadek Beutlich.

There are very many others - Caroline Broadhead, Micheal Brennand Wood, Marian Smit - I could go on.

I studied this at uni.
 
Abbey Battle
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Fibreshed - I'm havinf to google.
I have friends who process their own wool from raw stage to finished garment. This still doen't appear to fulfil your idea of fibreshed.
When I was making paper, I wanted to be able to grow my own raw materials. I doubt that this would have fulfilled any idea of permaculture.

Fibreshed appears to be a single company with one vision. (may be a large vision). Wiktionary says
The geographic region from which come all of the resources to make an article of clothing.
A movement to use textiles that are sourced locally.

You could put a permaculture spin on it but it need not be there.
 
Abbey Battle
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As with any art form, whether you are creating fine art, contextual art, wearable and/or functional art, - you can buy in all your resources or source locally, create without out commercially made tools - or just throw money at it and buy everything in. Both are art.

I have made art from the environment, made art with paper that I created myself using raw materials that I sourced locally. I've used locally grown plants to make dyes. Though these where just small projects that I did at home or while studying, I didn't take them any further.

The reason why Tadek Beautlich came to mind was the very organic nature of some of his work.


http://www4.clikpic.com/speedy/images/Figures_by_Tadek_Beutlich.jpg

hoping the links work.

There's an element to his work that reminds me of cocoons or wasp nests. Raw material that has been collected and chewed and spat out by the wasp (or hornet etc). It's something that is related to the process of making. Insects, we know, collect there raw materials as locally as they can.

I don't think art has to be functional to fulfill the idea of being permaculture, I think it needs to be thoughtful.k
I think most srtists are driven to create but that drive is different to the drive that one feels to knit a pair of socks. I think most artists feel that something of their soul goes into their work.
I hope I'm making sense.
 
r ranson
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What do you guys think of the word fibercraft?  What does that mean to you?
 
Abbey Battle
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Fibrecraft would be any craft that involves the use of fibre. I guess that it could easily overlap both fibreshed and fibre art. Though it doesn't have to.

As for bamboo - that is fibre in both it's raw state and very much so, it's processed state as both bamboo paper and textiles are fibre based. I would illiminate it as a fibre if it was being used as a pole say, to support plants ot for fencing / screening / building. I think here, we need to look at the way something is being used.
Recycled plastic bags in yarn, plastic bottles into string. There will always be things that don't quite fit but shouln't be excluded.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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It's difficult to find a clear name for such a forum in one word (or two). It's about (natural) fibers, growing them and making them into materials, the products made of those materials and the way they are made (crafts, techniques). If called 'Fibershed' it includes even more: organising craftspeople and (permaculture) producers of natural fibers, the value of handwork and local produce, etc.
 
Judith Browning
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What do you guys think of the word fibercraft?  What does that mean to you?

Among other things it is a trademark
Fibercraft™ is a Thermcraft brand of low mass ceramic fiber vacuum formed heating elements and insulation, together in one complete unit.


I think it sounds a little 'crafty', not so serious about the process/technique.....like using the word 'crafters' instead of 'craftsmen and women' or 'craftspeople'. 

I really like the term 'fibershed' and think it is just an education issue standing in its way. 
 
r ranson
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What other words do we have to describe this?  Are there words from other languages that mean this kind of thing?  What about going back to older versions of English?  Is there something from history that can describe this?

I'm looking for a word that can describe what I do. 

Artisan and fibre farmer don't really roll off the tongue and they aren't really sufficient.  I want to talk about the holistic systems, the community that works together to make cloth, the wind and the sun and the soil, and how each element creates uniqueness in the fibre.  Almost every human wears some sort of clothing.  Surely there are many more words to describe the creation process. 
 
Daniel Schneider
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Hej!
I have a little different take on the phrase 'fiber arts, for a bunch of reasons. Firstly, I see a difference between the 'arts' and 'art': my father was an oil painter (for the most part: he'd occasionally try other forms- anything from sculpture to etchings to renaissance silverpoint drawings if something about them sparked an idea- but he always went back to oils) what he did was 'art'. I'm an artisan, a practitioner of the Arts and Mysteries (the terms used on apprentiiceship contracts by the medieval guilds, and up till at least the 18th century) of blacksmithing, weaving, spinning, dyeing, and a few others, with wildly varying levels of skill. For me, 'the arts' are something approached with a certain mindset, one ethat is in contrast with the mindset of those doing 'the sciences'. I really don't want to try to describe the difference between the two, because, this being the internet, as soon as I state anything concrete, some bright spark will make it their life's work to find an exception to it, and the whole thing will bog down in a debate about definitions, but I think that if folks think about the two terms, they'll be able to get a feeling for the differences between them.  'Practitioner of the fiber arts' admittedly sounds more old-fashioned and is less zippy to say than 'fibre artist', but for me, that's fine. Its old-fashionedness  constanly reminds me that I'm following a tradition that's tens of thousands of years old- arguably, the first craft mankind ever practiced, once we advanced beyond 'pick up stick/stone and poke/hit something with it'. 'Fibershed', on the other hand has none of that behind it. To me, is seems like a makey-uppey word which is actually kind of misleading as to its meaning. The obvious derivation from 'watershed' makes my first reaction be to think that it refers to the sources of fiber a person/place has available as a raw material,  but that doesn't seem to be the way it's being used here . I think that we need to be very careful about inventing and adopting new terms for things because they sound 'more permaculture-y', especially when there are already mainstream terms for the same things, because they make it even harder to talk about permaculture to mainstream people without putting them off. The more we get used to using permaculurey tterms for things, the more likely we are to use them when talking to our neighbours, or families; and if we don't then stop amd explain what the term means( which stalls whatever point we were trying to make), they'll stop listening while they try to figure it out for themselves. After that happens a few times within a converstaion, they just stop listening altogether (as a native English speaker living in a non English-speaking country, I have a fair bit of experience in this, from the listener's side of things)
 
Abbey Battle
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Gestalt - what you described reminded me of my psychology lectures all those years ago.

Thinking about it, it's the inverse, the sum of the parts is greater (or more than) the whole.

Googling again - 'holism' - "the idea that natural systems and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts".

I've been searching Old English words today for a name for my field. Bit involved but I want something that fits. May be we'll have to start making words up - like in German.
 
Abbey Battle
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Daniel Schneider - Don't forget that artists were also apprenticed, which is why they are called Masters. It's the same origin.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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This is an interesting discussion for me, even from the point of learning more about the English language
Here in the Netherlands (with the Dutch language) we easily adapt English words for new things. Like in German, in Dutch we can make up new words by putting two or more words together in one long word. Often this doesn't lead to clear, easy-to-understand words. So English words are often better to understand.

So now we have Fibershed in the Netherlands too, following the example of the Fibersheds in the USA. We did not even try to give it a Dutch name, it's 'Fibershed Nederland'.
 
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