Fiber Art by Paige Houghton – Fiber Vessels of Gratitude
The Fiber Art of Gratitude
In it’s simplest terms, gratitude just means “thank you.
”’Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility and understanding.” ~ Alice Walker
The three dimensional fiber art vessels and panes created by local artisan Paige Houghton have been compared to both blown and fused glass artwork. Her artwork is truly unique and always spectacular burst of colors and highlights.
Mountain Made is happy to present her interview as part of our series “Inside the Artist’s Studio.”
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Be an artist! But, my crayons were confiscated by my second grade teacher when I would not stay inside the lines whilst coloring.
Later, unbeknown to my parents, I applied to a major college’s art program. When I was accepted, I discovered that “artist” wasn’t an acceptable career path.
Message here: follow your passion!
When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?
I think I always knew working with my hands, crafting this or that, was what brought me pleasure. I’ve always created with my hands.
First with those crayons. Then clothes for kids and for myself (I love making funky clothing). In junior high I loved to paint with both water colors and acrylic. And those paintings reflected beaches and mountains, the sun and the moon.
Then I moved on to wall paint, needlepoint, fiber art and quilts.
How long does it take you to create one of your pieces?
The [fiber vessel and pane] process takes days: lay out, sewing, casting, painting and then resin.
It depends on the size of the vessel or window piece, and the colors of the loose fibers I use. If I am doing an Appalachian Sky piece, I generally use eighteen to twenty-four different colors!
Now those colors are intermingled and layered together. So I use my favorite moss green on the bottom, over lay it with two other greens, and then top it off with a smidge of the moss green.
When I do the hand painted embellishments, I use many colors, laying color on color until it’s just right.
What is your schedule like when you’re working?
I’m in the studio an average of six days a week, four or five hours a day.
What would you say is your interesting quirk while working?
“Circling the wagon.” Meaning sometimes I’ll lay out the loose fiber on my work table, leave it smack in the middle and just walk by it for several times, tweaking it as I pass by.
Right now I’m embarking on my largest piece ever: sixty by twenty-four [inches]. I’m channeling Michelangelo and actually having to draft a paper “cartoon” pattern.
Okay, I will admit that I watch crime dramas. I’ll throw in some documentaries and nature shows so my mind doesn’t turn to mush!
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your artwork?
Mother Nature! A sky, a river, a tree. I am captivated by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, our smashing sunsets and sunrises and my beloved French Broad River. You can see the River in many of my vessels and window pieces.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on your art?
Ah! First on my list is spending times with our grown son and daughter, and our daughter’s two boys.
I also have a serious love affair with Asheville, and love visiting around the City, seeing artists and galleries, and interesting historic architecture. I blog about that on my website, and have titled it “Wonderment Wednesday!”.
Gardening and movies are also a fav. Reading is a passion that I need to find more time for. My favorite author is the incomparable Pat Conroy.
But I will admit that too long away from my wee studio and I start longing to be back creating.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your art?
I continue to be surprised that an idea in my head can be transformed into a solid, dimensional piece. Daily, I’m reminded that being true to one’s vision is the way to go! I am overwhelmed with Gratitude that I am a full time artist!
How many pieces to you think you have you created?
Which ones were your favorites? How do you decide on which ideas to develop?
I’d guess almost 100! My favorite is the one that came to me during radiation therapy. I still have that vessel, and add slips of paper with notes of Gratitude.
The ideas for a piece come at the oddest time. We’ll be out and about and see a marvelous sky, a composition of leaves and twigs on the forest floor, and I’m sketching out a design.
Note to self: always take sketching materials with you on your daily journeys!
Do you hear from your fans? What kinds of things do they say?
I love hearing comments. One of my favorites came recently from a man in Germany. He’d seen an exhibit of chihuly, and quipped that I was “the Chihuly of Fiber”.
Note: “Dale Chihuly, is an American glass sculptor… His works are considered unique to the field of blown glass, “moving it into the realm of large-scale sculpture,” ~ Wikipedia
Many people say the pieces look like glass, and have the quality of light reflection. A local man in the Asheville art scene said [that my piece] “Forest Floor” looked just like a geode, just dug up from the Earth.
I hear from many people who have dealt with the dark side of tumors. They understand in their bones that life is still like a vessel: full of things to have Gratitude for.
The income from my art is nice, but personally, for me, this is better: my hope that someone in the Bay Area, in Dallas, and other place may glimpse a piece, see a smidge of nature that reminds them of the blessing of seeing and receiving something they have Gratitude for.
What do you think makes good art?
Everyone sees beauty in different thing, so I think it is different for each one of us. It is what speaks to our Spirit.
But, art is everywhere. The moss on a branch. Flowering shrubs in the forest. Even on walls of buildings around Asheville!
But it comes down to each artist grasping a vision and drawing on their passion to follow that vision.
The first vessel I ever “saw” was during radiation for an inoperable brain tumor. And the message was that my life, even at that moment, was like a vessel, full of blessing.
For years, my husband and I planned our life in Asheville. Once here, I took that vision and married it with my passion to create, and voila! Now I’m a full time (mayhaps obsessed!!) artist!
If you like Paige’s work, and would like to see more, we invite you to come by the gallery > Directions to Mountain Made, an Asheville art gallery.