Try to keep up with Erin Carlson. She has a lovely garden, weaves, felts and, well, hasn’t met a craft she hasn’t wanted to try! All while keeping up with a one year old!
When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
I can remember very early on, even in Preschool, having very clear images and ideas in my head which needed to find their way onto paper. I think I was probably a bit of a bully about the art supplies and would often neglect to share the markers or paints or whatever because I had already determined each color I would need to complete a project.
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I cannot remember a time when drawing did not feel intuitive, the lines feeling almost preordained. I spent a lot of time as a child studying and replicating the illustrations in the Peterson Field Guide to Birds. I do not know if I had an invested interest in birds from the start, or if that was simply the inspiration I had at hand, but birds have remained a theme of my artwork.
You weave, felt and garden. Do you have a favorite? How do they all work together?
Yes, I do say that I am a weaver, felter, and gardener foremost, but that is mainly to provide a sense of direction and clarity.
I have not met a craft that I did not want to learn. I also dabble in basketry, spinning, natural dyes from the garden, quilting, embroidery, wood carving, baking, linocut carving, crochet, knitting, sewing, clothing repair, processing flax into linen, I could go on.
I am waiting for an ideal time to devote myself appropriately to rug hooking. I tend to dive into new endeavors headfirst and prefer a learn-as-I-go approach rather than any extensive reading or tutelage. I think one of the most wonderful things about fiber craft is how accessible it is if one is willing to give it some thought and time.
As for the big three, weaving, felting, and gardening all inform each other.
I am very observant of the seasons and rhythms of nature and try to allow them to govern my own schedule. Spring is a busy time of sowing seeds and preparing earth, summer is usually a big frenzy to accumulate enough work to sell at summer and fall festivals, and in winter it is very relaxing to devote time to weaving which harmonizes with the meditative nature of the season.
The garden, and plants and animals more generally, are my biggest inspiration. The scenes I create around my felted animals to be photographed and printed onto notecards combine many of my interests — I find it very joyful to craft tiny props from unexpected materials and often incorporate weaving techniques and garden materials.
When it comes to creating, are you more of a planner or an improviser?
I have periods of intense focus, especially before deadlines.
During those phases I have ambitious plans written out regarding what I should accomplish each day. Let it be known that I have never been able to stick to this schedule, but it does give me a realistic idea about the amount of work ahead of me.
Left to my own devices I am more improvisational. The times I have felt most excited and inspired are when I am creating more conceptual mixed media pieces.
If I had all the time and space in the world, I think my work would be much larger and evolve slowly to incorporate all of the sticks, driftwood, shells, rocks, nuts, grasses, notable leaves, wasp nests, and pressed flowers that I can’t seem to help but collect.
When is your most productive creative time?
I would have to say the morning. If I don’t get started with something straight away, I tend to putter around doing a little bit of everything and never get around to sitting down and doing any deep, meaningful work.
Describe your creative space.
I have a studio on the second floor in our house with low and sloped ceilings. That is where I work on the loom and store shelves of yarn cones and bags of dyed wool as well as teaching supplies. I often bring my felting downstairs to sit on the couch and work.
Perhaps to the chagrin of my husband, the whole house and yard are at times an extension of my studio.
Do you lecture or teach workshops? How can students/organizers get in touch with you to schedule an event?
Yes, I teach needle felting workshops mainly around the Pittsburgh area. My teaching schedule is posted (and sporadically updated!) on my website www.redcottagefiberstudio.com. This year has been a little slower than normal because I am a full-time caregiver to my one year old son.
Where can people see your work?
The best places to see my work and be made aware of upcoming exhibits and festivals are by following me on Instagram @redcottagefibersudio or visiting my website!
Interview posted August 2023