One of the fun things about attending shows and events is meeting people and answering questions about what I do. When people want to know more about me and how I got into all of this, these are the questions they usually ask:
How did you get started ?
I love bracelets, but I was having a lot of trouble finding bracelets that fit my smaller-than-standard wrist. Add to that the metals that are in some bracelets bothered my skin in one way or another. I knew fiber was my thing, so I started experimenting with knotted fiber bracelets.I was obsessed pretty much immediately.
But even before this I liked working with fiber. I can remember as a kid going to vacation Bible school every summer. I loved Bible school because it was fun, uplifting, and it signalled the beginning of summer. We did crafts every day as you do, and it was there that I made a "God's eye" (it was the 70s), with popsicle sticks and yarn and I loved those things. Only years later did I discover that for some people,making "God's eyes" is a spiritual and meditative practice, which is how I feel about creating designs in fiber and beaded textiles.
How did you learn ?
I'm self taught. I have books on macrame and took a few classes in this area, but I really use one knot predominantly, the vertical double half hitch. Most of what I've learned has been through trial-and error with this one very versatile knot.
But I do like old, out-of-print books, because I'm kind of fascinated with things that time forgot. I've gone to our university art library to see if I could find older books and out-of-print folios on anything relating to fiber. and I did find some great stuff there. One gem I found is Designs Principles and Fiber Techniques by Joan and Henry Paque. It's a look at some truly amazing ways you can create just about anything with fiber if you have a mind to. It borrows techniques from basketry to make some pliable, if not scratchy-looking textiles. I haven't used any of their techniques, but I enjoy looking at this book every now and then because it's inspiring.
One of the things that came out of my time and trial-and-error, and one of the things I'm most proud of, is my original technique for creating a fiber bezel. This is my signature technique that I use in my big, bold cabochon pieces. I think it conveys a streamlined, minimalist style that identifies my work.
Do you teach?
Yes! Check out my WORKSHOPS page.
What is your background?
My education and experience is in English, Literature, and Technical Writing and Editing. I was an English major in school and went on earn a graduate degree in Rhetoric and Professional Writing, and that program's focus on Human Factors and Design made a big impression. Even though these studies are not purely in the visual arts, much of what I learned in these areas translates nicely to fiber arts in a surprising way. The level of detail I needed to access to work as an writer/editor certainly has its place in what I do now. And human-centered design in writing appeals to perception, cognition, graphics, and structures -- all pretty useful things for creating three-dimensional objects that I hope are beautiful. So, I like to think that what I did in school and work in earlier years has informed where I am now in fiber arts, albiet in a round-about way.
There is a pair of books that, for me, served as a kind of bridge between my studies and experience in writing and my desire to create appealing objects in fiber (or any medium). These books are Universal Principles of Design: 125 Ways to Enhance Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden and Jill Butler and Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions by Bella Martin and Bruce Hanington. These books are ones I encountered as a student of writing, but they are strongly infused with bedrock principles of art and design, as their titles suggest.
What is your process?
I start by developing a technique, which centers around how I want to incorporate a particular type of bead or cabochon into the textile -- it's a problem to be solved. The design then follows how I 've developed the technique, or how I've solved the problem. Once I've got my design, I replicate it as many times as I want using different color combinations of cord and beads. This is where the wonderful word of beads comes in. Bead makers have an sizable inventory of colors, coatings, shapes, and sizes, so there is no shortage of little problems. And every year, more shapes, sizes, and coatings are added and the inventory of beads changes and grows.
When it comes to beads (which is to say not cabochons) I use them in ways the manufacturer didn't really intend. The beads for the most part are intended for bead stitching, or bead weaving, which uses very small thread, about the size of sewing thread. This is the baseline "problem" that I begin to solve. Since I am using Anefil polyester cord to make a textile that uses the beads as an accent rather than thread that uses the beads to create the whole piece, I'm doing something new. This means my process begins with selecting a bead that I think I can work with in terms of textiles. Two-hole beads are generally great to work with, as are beads that have a small "neck" near the hole like Miyuki drops. After that, it becomes a matter of figuring out a technique and a knotting pattern that will work with the particular bead.
How long does it take you to make a piece?
My large cabochon pieces take anywhere from 30 to 50 hours, depending on how elaborate the textile is. If much of the knotting is used to create structure, then more hours are required. My beaded textiles take less time, but again that depends on how elaborate things get.
Why do you make AnyAngle Boards?
The existing rectangular macrame boards that I could find at shops and online were what I used when I got started making beaded textile jewelry, and they simply did not work for me and what I was trying to accomplish. For one thing, I turn my work frequently to work on a design at different angles, and just the shape of the available boards didn't work for that. When I began teaching classes I used my boards and I heard encouraging comments so I began offering the boards for purchase on a small scale. My AnyAngle Board page has a lot of information about my boards and the process I went through to create them.
Why do you use Anefil Polyester 207 Cord?
I came to Anefil Polyster Cord in a way similar to making my own AnyAngle Board -- what was on the market wasn't working for me. Anefil Polyester cord is far superior to C-Lon Nylon cord for making beaded textiles. For one thing it just doesn't get dirty like C-Lon does. It is stronger, sleeker, and much more resistant to everything like dirt, water, oils, and even sunlight. You could go kayaking with one of my bracelets on and feel good about it. Anefil Polyester is far and away the best cord for tying vertical double half hitches. No question. The only problem I had is that this product only came in black and brown. I believe in this product so much that I took the plunge and purchased a stock of 16 colors, and in May of 2017 (or maybe sooner if it all works out), I will be offering Anfil Polyester 207 cord for sale on this site. I'm pretty excited about it.
Can I contact you about teaching a group or creating a custom design?
Yes. You can use the contact form on this site or write to me at Kerrie Sue Miller, Interlace Designs, P.O. Box 465, Tiffin, Iowa 52340-0465.
About Interlace Designs