TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Guest Artist: Lynn Hoyt of Midnight Coiler

When I saw Lynn's profile on Etsy, I knew she was a natural choice as a guest artist here on Fiber Focus. The selection she has on Etsy is but a small showcase of her beautiful work, so be sure to explore her website and other links she provides in this article. Keep up the good work, Lynn!

The Natural Fibers Group: Exploring Plant Fibers From the Ground Up

Natural Fibers Group Show at the Civic Center in Washington DC

Would you traipse through fields, woods and swamps to find and harvest your own plant materials and prepare them to use in your next fiber project? No, I'm not crazy, I just love using natural materials that I collect myself. I'm Lynn Hoyt, a basketmaker and gourd artist living in Eastern NC.

As a former garden designer, I've always had a love of plants and nature, and gourd art just seemed a good fit when I stopped designing gardens. One thing leads to another and it wasn't much of a leap from working with gourds to becoming a basketmaker. In 2003 my friend, Pamela Zimmerman, and I were invited to visit with an eclectic group of naturals artists in Maryland. We were so inspired by their excitement and by seeing their work, that we decided to start a guild focusing on using natural collected materials for basketry and art. The Natural Fibers Group was born.

Basketry is one of the very first crafts practiced by humans. Perhaps the oldest tradition at the root of all basketry is that of using the indigenous plants that grew close at hand. This is the way it had been done around the world for thousands of years. In modern times this tradition and much of the knowledge that went with it has been all but lost, as the use of imported materials like reed has become prevalent. The Natural Fibers Group strives to create an awareness of responsibly collecting and using plants for such arts/crafts as basketry, wheatweaving and cordage making.

The primitive technology we use for gathering and preparing materials is sometimes combined with innovative techniques. We use the materials not only for traditional and utilitarian work, but for contemporary art as well. The field is really wide open for experimentation with both plants and methods for processing them. We encourage the idea that there's no right or wrong way to create something, only the way that works.

NFG Co-founders, Pamela and Lynn

Living in a rural to small town area, there weren't many basketmakers, so from the beginning we opened up the group to those who wanted to learn. Luckily, we've attracted some local members who are experienced basketmakers too. We all try and help each other, depending on our areas of expertise and skill levels. Besides our monthly meetings, our activities have included gathering expeditions for materials like rushes, palmetto, yucca, hibiscus fiber and vines. We usually come back to a central location and process our finds, which is sometimes quite a learning process. Of course, we always laugh a lot and have fun along the way... a good thing since processing materials can often be pretty labor intensive. Some of our projects and techniques have included twining on bottles, knotless netting on gourds, coiled pine needle baskets, dream catchers with basswood fiber we corded by hand, white oak baskets, stripping, peeling and splitting barks like hickory, poplar and juniper, and random weave vine baskets.

A 501c3 non profit organization, the Natural Fibers Group supports itself through yearly dues, but part of our success is due to mutually beneficial relationships we have developed with other organizations. The Beaufort County Arts Council supports us with a place to meet, administers grass roots grants, and more. For the last few years we've held workshops open to the public during their Fine Arts Show, and have filled exhibit space when they have asked. We're lucky to have such a great Arts Council. The Blind Center of Washington also supports us with meeting space, and our group makes vine wreath forms to be decorated and sold in their gift shop to help programs for the blind. Their blind clients also make baskets and other crafts, so there's a connection in spirit with our group. We're an affiliate guild of the North Carolina Basketmakers Association. This year we were proud to sponsor our new annual award for the first time at the NCBA Convention for "Outstanding Natural Basketmaker."

Our group also sponsors classes several times a year with local or imported teachers, some open for public registration. Outreach to the public is part of what we do, with school programs and classes for children, talks, demonstrations and exhibits in the community. A quarterly educational newsletter is published for members, and an interactive list is available online for member discussion. We seem to be filling a niche for folks who want to share their passion for natural basketry and related arts with each other. Our membership hovers around 100, with members from all across the US and Canada.

There's something extremely satisfying in gathering plants and creating "something from nothing." Being close to the source of materials creates an awareness of nature and conservation, and knowledge of the skills involved in creating something from truly elemental resources. It reinforces a sense of place, connecting the maker not only with the earth, but with his local surroundings. Collecting and preparing ones own materials is a personal journey, often leading to highly individualized baskets. Working this way, from earth to finished piece, can be ripe with associations that are emotionally fulfilling. I personally feel a bond with others from the past who respectfully fashioned nature into their daily lives.
Lynn Hoyt with her two rescue dogs, Button and Scamp

Lynn Hoyt is co-founder and president of the Natural Fibers Group: http://naturalfibersgroup.tripod.com/

North Carolina Basketmakers Association: http://www.ncbasketmakers.com/

Lynn's Personal Websites:


1 comment:

  1. lynn (midnight coiler)April 20, 2008 at 3:07 PM

    I'm excited to be a guest artist on here. Thanks for such a nice spot on your wonderful blog- great job!
    lynn (midnight coiler)


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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