We’re glad that you enjoyed our previous Fiber Artist Feature with Nicole Frost from Frostyarn.
As part of our ongoing series, today’s interview is with Esther Rodgers from Jazzturtle Creations.
Esther is a brilliant fiber artist who spins, weaves, knits, and dyes. Her style can be described as free-spirited and colorful.
Why do you love fiber so much?
Wow, that’s really hard to pin down. I love that fiber has so many possibilities. What it becomes in my hands is totally different than if it was in the hands of someone else. I love that it’s ageless. I’ve spun with multiple generations in the same workshop. Fiber Art lives because it’s passed down through hands. Techniques are re-invented, but all have been inspired by teachers before. Fiber transcends boundaries and brings people together. In this time, when there’s so much anxiety and division, something that can people can share, when they may not have anything else in common, is important.
How did you get your start in the fiber arts?
I was always good with color. When I was in massage school, I made quilt tops that I turned into clothes and sold them. I loved scrapbooking- playing with textures and color. Then when Bryan proposed I decided I was going to teach myself to knit, so I could give shawls to my bridesmaids; but the yarn that I found in the craft stores (since that’s where I went for scrapbooking supplies, I didn’t know about “yarn shops”) wasn’t what I was looking for. I decided that I was also going to teach myself to spin. I took a few classes at my local yarn shop and promptly bought a spinning wheel. Soon after we were married, my husband lost his job in the economy crash. I began selling my yarn, which carried us through the months he was without work. I had no idea that when I started putting yarn in my Etsy shop, that it would become what it has.
What inspires you?
Everything? But really, I find inspiration in everyday things; music, nature, colors I see in the most random things, and textures I come upon. I was even inspired when I was in the hospital. It was somewhere around day 8 or 9, I know I was still on lots of drugs, and I looked up at my very full IV pole- at all the clear tubes and glass tubes and I thought, OH that would be cool woven… I had the nurses start flushing and saving the IV tubing when it was done. Now I have a couple bags of things that will make an interesting wallhanging for my surgeon. Really, there’s inspiration in everything.
Which other fiber artists do you admire?
Jackie Graff, her natural dyeing blows my mind (and she’s an awesome spinner, too). I am really interested in natural dyeing, and Jackie does amazing things. I also am constantly astounded by Melissa Nasby, and her felted puppets. I treasure the mask I have of hers; she is supremely talented. I love Nicole Frost and her use of color and inspiration for fiber. Lexi Boeger has always been an inspiration, she has that insanely irritating ability to be good at most things she touches. She is my ear and my soundboard and without her I would go nuts inside my head. There are so many people that I admire and are inspired by, I could go on and on and on. Stephanie Stratton (A Tangled Yarn) is a master of color. Then of course I’m inspired by my fellow educators, Amy King, Abby Franquemont, Jillian Moreno and Beth Smith, they were very supportive and encouraging throughout my medical trauma and recovery. They really helped keep me together.
Describe your creative process
That’s a hard question to answer, because it changes by the day and by the yarn and by the project. I have concept yarns that are in different places; being mapped, having bags where I’m collecting supplies, and some that are just ideas on paper. I do write a lot of things down. I have multiple project journals that have ideas in various stages of planning. I find that the creative brain is one that doesn’t hold onto ideas long, when another arrives it pushes the first one out, so writing things down is important for me. I used to have a gazillion post it notes on things, now I keep my post its are in journals.
Which Strauch product can you not live without?
HA! That’s easy – my Mad Batt’r. I love that carder. I really learned how much I love that carder in the last few months. The medical trauma stole all my core strength (major abdominal surgery will do that) and so when I got my creative vibe back I wanted to spin and weave and create. My Mad Batt’r s chain drive gears are so smooth that I can card batts without the discomfort I have when using other carders because I need a bit more core strength.
Thanks for being part of our Fiber Artist Feature series, Esther!
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