Appalachian artways project turns focus to fiber arts

The Tanasi Arts and Heritage Center will continue its Functional Artways of Appalachia series with a free fiber-arts event from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Unicoi Tourist Information and Visitors Center, 106 Unicoi Village Place.

Participants will learn the processes of natural dyeing and create a doll made of corn husks to take home.

The featured artists will be Jennifer Bauer, an expert in natural fiber dyeing, and expert corn husk dollmaker Susan Acito.

A cultural educator and avid student of the traditional skills used for survival in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Bauer’s particular interest is fibers, spinning and dyeing with plants native to the region.

Her presentation will include a demonstration of how to extract colors from native plants over an open fire, a discussion of how the minerals of iron, copper and brass from which the dyeing pots are made alter the colors, and a display of plant sources for various shades of yellow, gold, tan, brown, pink and purple.

Bauer will also demonstrate the process of spinning fiber into thread on the spinning wheel and engage program participants in the spinning process.

A multi-medium artist influenced by local Appalachian culture, Acito’s works include two large acrylic paintings of early Kingsport and a hand-carved red-tailed hawk in flight displayed on the Kingsport Carousel. She is a juried woodcarver in both the Foothills Craft Guild and Holston Mountain Artisans and a crafter in the annual Dollywood Harvest Festival held each October.

Her Functional Artways presentation will focus on art of corn husk doll making. Acito will lead participants in in the program in the creation of their own stand-up corn husk doll, including the the process of soaking, twisting, tying, and shaping cornhusks into dolls. Corn husks will provided in natural and dyed colors.

The program is the fourth in a year-long series of Appalachian Functional Artways events being presented by the Tanasi Art & Heritage Center, with grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

An exploration of traditional Appalachian crafts that are both beautiful and useful, the series will continue over the next year with free, interactive programming led by professional artisans.

Registration for fiber arts program may be completed online at Hearing, vision or Spanish-language translation assistance may be requested on the registration form. Pre-registration is recommended but not required.

Program volunteers are welcome and will be recognized at a volunteer appreciation party at the conclusion of the yearlong project. For more information, visit, email [email protected] or call 423-735-0217.

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