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Plymouth fiber artist creates 'practical' handwoven goods

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

Julia Targus spent her "whole childhood" crocheting and sewing thanks to her mother and grandmother, who shared their skills. Years later, as a student at Wayne State University (WSU), she chose to put those skills to work by pursuing studies in fashion design, but after taking a weaving class, her career goal took a turn in a different direction.

Photos are of weaver Julia Targus with her floor loom in her Plymouth home, September 18, 2018.

"The curriculum makes you do a lot of dying and printing, as far as textiles go, as well, but I was definitely more interested in the weaving side of it. I immediately decided this was the side of fashion I was interested in," explained the Plymouth resident, who graduated from WSU in 2011, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with a concentration in fiber arts.

In 10 years, Targus, 30, hopes weaving will be her livelihood. It's a form of self-expression that gives her great pleasure because her mother and grandmother, both deceased, were very passionate about their crocheting and sewing. "They were both so involved with them," she remarked.

But, in the meantime, Targus works full-time as an administrative assistant, filling much of her spare time weaving beautiful decorative accents for the home -- blankets, throws, pillows, rugs and unique wall hangings. She weaves a couple hours, three or four days a week, using a "big floor loom" in a room inside her home that's "dedicated" to her weaving and sewing projects. Most of her sewing is done with the fabric she weaves.

Examples of throw pillows made by weaver Julia Targus.

She sells her collection of "hand-woven home goods," under the name Electric Pink Crafts through her online shop at etsy.com/shop/electricpinkcrafts, and at Post (14500 Kercheval) in Detroit, where she's also taught several weaving workshops.

Targus is fascinated with the weaving process and textured fabric it produces because, "You start with nothing and end with something really tangible," she said. "You start with threads and yarn, and you end up with fabric and blankets."

As someone who's not "picky" when it comes to the fibers she weaves, Targus is big on challenging herself by using "anything," including recycled fibers whenever possible. "I shop thrift stores and recycle centers, and people give me their leftover yarn," she said. 

Most of the pillows she makes are 100 percent acrylic, and stuffed with polyester fiberfill, making them machine washable. "The fun thing about acrylic," she said, "is that it can really make some crazy looking fibers. I look more at texture and color, rather than the content of the fiber." However, she purposely adds wool fibers to her skillfully-designed and boldly textured wall hangings which suspend from pieces of driftwood, gathered in bundles by her family members. "I like the look and colors that come from wool. I don't use it in my blankets and pillows because the upkeep is a little harder."

In terms of prices, she feels keeping them low will make her work affordable to more people, and more likely to be used and enjoyed. "I want things to be attainable and practical," she said. "My general throw blankets are $75. I want things to be used, washed and dried in the machine."

Weaver Julia Targus holds a woven wall hanging in her Plymouth home, September 18, 2018.

Targus, who accepts both wholesale and custom orders, will be instructing another weaving workshop at Post Nov. 24, from 2-5 p.m. The fee is $60, and includes supplies, and instructional materials. She said, "Everyone will leave with a finished framed tapestry." Persons interested in taking the class should visit post-detroit.com.  

Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact Electric Pink Crafts at electricpinkcrafts@gmail.com, or on Facebook.