The Smokey Mountain Fiber Arts Fair
The Smokey Mountain Fiber Arts Fair brings the tradition of fiber arts to east Tennessee. With a focus on education, the talented instructors at this festival aim to teach festival goers about the journey from fleece to fiber. Be ready for a day of hands-on learning and falling in love with a new craft! Read more about my conversation with Susan on this wonderful, educational fiber festival.
Gus: Tell me about the history of the Smokey Mountain Fiber Arts Fair.
Susan: The Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival was begun in 2009 by a group of artists in east Tennessee who wanted to highlight the tradition of fiber arts and integrate that heritage into a modern arts movement. The vendors, demonstrators and instructors explained the process of harvesting fleece from sheep, alpacas, and llamas and transforming the fleece into fibers, using the newly spun thread to craft finished goods and art pieces. Today the Festival offers an opportunity to learn about these animals from those who raise them, learn in classes with master teachers who to take the fleece and transform it into amazing creations. Participants can also procure the tools and supplies necessary to continue personal exploration of the fiber arts.
Gus: Pretend you talking to someone who has never been to your fiber festival, what would you highlight as your “WOW” attractions?
Susan: The Festival is a hands-on experience to explore the Fiber Arts. All of the Festival personnel are genuinely interested in encouraging beginners to start the process of learning and offering guidance at all skill levels of techniques and applications. While visiting with the vendors and instructors, new approaches to creating art pieces, clothing and home décor can be teased out from questions and interaction with professionals in this field. Artistic styles range from Civil War era designs to Steampunk creations and even to electrified fiber pieces.
Small class sizes are available to allow individuals to learn from different starting points. Projects are generally completed in class and the students leave with the skills and knowledge to continue their own journey into this creative art form.
Gus: What are your biggest festival do’s and don’ts for enjoying your fiber festival?
- DO: Plan on spending a day exploring all that is available at the Festival. Be sure to ask questions and explore approaches that differ from what you may have tried before.
- DO: Enjoy Southern friendliness and passionate fiber artists. Spend time enjoying the facility, which offers museum quality artifacts of the culture and history of the region.
- DO: Save some time to visit in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park as inspiration for your new art project.
- DON’T: Consider fiber arts to be “granny squares and muted colors”; it’s modern and bright. Don’t be afraid to introduce middle school and high school children to the creative process.
- DON’T: Wear spiked heels or bring your four-legged friends (cats and dogs).
- DON’T: Wait too long to register for classes!
Yours in yarn,
—Gus C. Baxter
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