AMHERST, N.S. - When she was just eight years old, Brenda Clarke was introduced to what has become a lifelong passion for the fibre arts.
The Amherst woman’s work will be featured during the 11th Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival to begins Oct. 9 and runs through the 13th with a number of classes for fibre arts enthusiasts as well as numerous demonstrations, quilt and rug-hooking shows as well as the Zonta Bazaar on Saturday, Oct.13 at the Col. James Layton Ralston Armoury.
“It’s really humbling, but also a little exciting to be the featured artist,” said Clarke, who has worked at Deanne Fitzpatrick’s studio for 17 years. “I had a 19-year-old baby-sitter who used to always bring her knitting and I became interested in what she was doing. She taught me how to do it and it just grew from there.”
From learning to knit at age eight, she has self-taught herself quilting, rug-hooking, spinning, weaving, felting and other crafts. Recently she has focused on the use of wool fibres to make two-dimensional wool art with vibrant colours and Maritime themes that look like water colour paintings.
“Anything that has a needle or is fibre, I’m interested in,” Clarke said. “I never get bored because I change so much from embroidery, to rug hooking or something different.”
While festivals come and go, the fibre arts festival remains popular. Corey said many fibre artists work alone in their own homes or studios. The festival gives them an opportunity to interact with other artists and pick up a few tips to enhance their own talents.
“A lot of fibre artists are isolated in their craft and they want to meet other fibre people,” she said. “They also want to learn new crafts because most fibre artists don’t do just one craft, they delve into others and they’re always wanting to learn new techniques.”
Corey said she knits, rug-hoots and cross-stitches, while even the featured artists is involved in many different crafts.
“It’s sort of who we are,” she said. “We like to get together, share what we do and learn a few things. It’s a chance to show off their art. A lot of people don’t look at things like quilting as art, but it really is and it’s something that has to be shown to others to be appreciated. It’s not something everyone can do. Not everyone can paint a picture or write a song, and just like that not everyone can make a quilt.”
It’s also not uncommon to see people come from far away to attend the sessions put on by individual instructors. Taylor said there was one woman from Alaska at last year’s festival while some have come from as far as New Zealand and Australia to attend Deanne Fitzpatrick’s rug-hooking seminar.
The festival brings several hundred to people to town, but they are often hard to see because they are working in church basements or in classroom sessions around town or at the festival headquarters downtown.
“You often don’t see them, but they are there,” Corey said. “There are lots of people in town for the week, but they’re not the type you’d see out at the bars at night. They’re out at the restaurants at lunchtime though and Zonta has told us they often get more than 800 out for their bazaar.
Some of the highlights include the opening reception on Oct. 9 at town hall as well as a juried Fibre Arts Creations show from Oct. 9 to 21 which opens with a reception on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. at Focal Point Fine Art Gallery, the Zonta bazaar and quilt and fibre and hooked rug shows on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13 at First Baptist Church, Holy Family Parish, Trinity-St. Stephen’s United Church and Christ Church as well as as the Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre (hooked rug show).
Corey said the festival is continuing to look for volunteers for not only this year’s show, but also next year’s. For more information, go to www.fibreartsfestival.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.