Since most fiber festivals and events are on hold until (at least) 2021, we’re delighted when folks tag us on social media to let us know how they’re enjoying their Strauch products. Over the summer, we started to notice a lot of inspiring batt projects shared by @CharanSachar. As we followed along, we discovered that amazing and colorful batts were just the tip of the iceberg – Charan is also a potter, knitter, spinner and weaver! Charan’s business, Creative With Clay, features exquisite handmade pottery pieces (many of which feature a knitted motif!) as well as handspun yarns and carded batts, handmade fiber tools such as orifice threaders and dizzes, and more!
We hope you enjoy getting to know Charan in today’s interview!
Q: You do a lot of creative crafts – which one did you start with?
I was always a very crafty person growing up, drawing, painting, and working with my hands in every way possible. I would say my first absolute love for a craft was pottery. I was amazed at how a material like clay could be transformed into something functional like a mug and also a 15 foot doorway surround.
Q: How do you juggle doing so many creative crafts at once? Do you make time for each daily, or have phases where you’re more into one than the other, and then switch gears?
I honestly work with the craft that feels right at the moment. Pottery is not just my craft but also my business, so that happens everyday. With the way I work with clay, it requires a lot of intervals when the clay has to stiffen up before the next steps. These intervals give me time to indulge in the fiber crafts. I go from cleaning fiber, to dyeing, fiber prep, spinning, knitting, and weaving. I feel doing multiple crafts enhances learning and influences how I make my pottery. And of course, it also winds up being a big source of inspiration.
I don’t force myself to make time for crafting because I feel it would suck the joy out of it. But over the years, I have found that among fiber crafts, during the summer, I tend to dye/prep fiber and spin more. And during the winters it is more about knitting and using those yarns. But in all honesty there is always more than one knitting/spinning project going on all year round.
Q: What inspired you to start doing your own fiber prep?
I like to see the transformation of a material from its raw state to something entirely different. I know that fascinates me about clay, but it is the same with fiber. When I started spinning, I loved how the fiber changed to yarn and I was mostly buying hand dyed braids because I love color. But there were colors and textures I gravitated towards and then I discovered art batts. I was very inspired by batts made by Nicole Frost of @frostyarn on instagram and she has been a great mentor. And when it came to very textured and wild batts, I loved batts by Esther Rodgers, @jazzturtle. I loved the process of getting inspired by a picture, dyeing different fibers, making art batts to reflect the colors and textures. And then transforming them into yarn and using them knitted or woven pieces feels very gratifying.
Q: What is your favorite Strauch product?
In the past few years, I have been making a lot of art yarns and now making art batts with the Mad Batt’r as well. Since my main business is my pottery, I didn’t really think about selling anything fiber related. But over last year, with a push from my social media followers, I have started selling my art batts and yarns. So it is a start in that direction, but the process of working with these amazing tools to make art batts and yarns, is influencing some of my pottery work. I am working on some mixed media works as well and I look forward to where it takes me.
Q: We love seeing your color inspiration photos and the resulting batts on Instagram. Can you tell us a little more about how you approach those projects (i.e how you choose colors and fibers to best represent the image that inspired it)?
When I look at an inspiration picture, I like to really break it down in colors and texture. Just dyeing wool and blending it in all the colors of a colorful picture can result in a very muddy batt. (Been there, done that). So I find it important to select which fiber/material is going to represent what part of the picture. I like the wool top to be in colors that are cohesive which represent the overall dominant colors of the picture. I then pick silks, angelina, silk noils, sari silk, locks to represent other highlight colors and textures. I find that choosing different fibers doesn’t blend them all together even if they are all over the color wheel. I dye most of my fiber except for sari silks and many times blend wool on the Mad batt’r as well to get the color I want. It takes a few passes but I like the complexity of a blended wool rather than that of wool that is dyed the exact shade.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about your gorgeous pottery pieces?
My main business is my pottery which is highly influenced by my love for the fiber crafts. I spin, knit, weave and at the back of my mind, I am always thinking, “How could I do that in clay?” I like the textures of my pottery to represent the fiber crafts. All my pottery is handbuilt and the process is very similar to how fabric is cut with templates, sewn together, buttons added, etc. I make mugs, yarn bowls and all kinds of pieces from clay, still feeling like I am working with fabric. I like the feeling of bringing the two worlds together. You can check out my work at creativewithclay.com.
As our way of supporting the fiber arts community, we’ll be featuring more talented makers here on our blog. If you use Strauch products in your creative business, we’d love to hear from you!
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