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JOCELYNN BROWN

Handmade: Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild develops skills

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News
Members of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild (AAFG) include, front row, from left, Anne Flora, Trish Ritchie and Sharon McKenna. Back row, from left, Mary Valerie Richter, Karen Turckes and Carol Fleischer.

Once known as the Ann Arbor Handweavers Guild, the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild, a not-for-profit club, has offered support to many textile enthusiasts who became members since its inception back in 1956. Membership has since grown from 19 to 120.

Guild President Anne Flora of Tecumseh said it’s an organization that strives to achieve many goals.

“First of all,” she said, “it’s to educate our members in various forms of fiberarts, and in order to increase member skills, we have workshops two times a year, and we bring in instructors who are nationally and regionally known. It’s a resource for people who want to get their toe into doing sales because we hold sales twice a year. It’s also a resource for those who’ve never done sales and for those who’ve previously done gallery sales.

Artwork by members of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild was recently exhibited at Kerrytown Concert House. Similar design works may be available at the guild's Fiber Feast 2018.

“We basically have an organization that embraces beginners in fibers — all the way up to professionals who make a living selling their work,” she continued. “What’s really important is that we are an organization that offers networking opportunities so people can share their work and skills, and support each other.” There aren’t any group outings because members are “primarily focused on meetings, programs, lectures, exhibits and sales.”

Fiberarts popular among members are felt making, weaving, surface design, knitting and crocheting. But Flora said they also have a few dollmakers, jewelry artists and basketweavers among the group.

Flora likes expressing her creativity through the art of felt making. She uses a variety of techniques, including wet-felting, nuno-felting and some needle-felting, all of which she says are “fun.”

"Niece Nice" by Carol Fleischer is part of the Fiberart Guild exhibit on display at the Kerrytown Concert House.**The Ann Arbor Fiberart Guild with items they've made. Photos of their exhibit at Kerrytown Concert House, and close-ups of their work., March 28, 2018, Ann Arbor, Mi. (Clarence Tabb Jr./The Detroit News)

Last month, several members, “who have sort of a design group” within the guild, had their work on display and offered for sale at Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown Concert House.

As a form of charity work, a group of weavers from the guild pays frequent visits to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor, where they do weaving demonstrations, and some even take hats they made to the patients.

Assisting Flora in her second year as president are Vice President Adelaide Ammon of Livonia; Secretary Janet Frank and Treasurer Ellen Willson, both of Ann Arbor.

Members meet the second Monday of the month from September through May at Zion Lutheran Church (1501 W. Liberty) in Ann Arbor, and in December one member will host a holiday party at their home.

Dues are $40 a year, which includes fees for attending meetings, lectures, programs and eligibility for selling one’s work at the guild’s two annual sales, and exhibiting at local venues.

Anyone can join the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild, even if they’re not a fiber artist. “And, there are no membership requirements, whatsoever,” said Flora, “like attending meetings a certain number times a year. Some members just come to hear the lectures and shop at the sales.”

These are among pieces of art produced by members of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild members which was exhibited last month at Kerrytown Concert House.

The guild will host one of its big annual events, Fiber Feast 2018, a fashion show, luncheon and sale, on April 21 at Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building (4800 E. Huron River) in Ann Arbor. There will be assigned seating, and tickets, priced at $35 each, must be purchased in advance. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. For tickets, email Amy Cameron at acam913@gmail.com.

The guild’s annual Holiday Sale is set for Nov. 17, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the same location as mentioned above. Admission is free. For more information on either event, call (517) 423-7348, or visit annarborfiberarts.org.

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 the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild at annarborfiberarts.org. Email: aflora@umich.edu.