I just want to spin a good yarn.
March 7, 2011 6:39 PM   Subscribe

[art school filter] Help a non-traditional student explore her options to learn fiber arts intensively.

FYI, I already read this and this and this.

I think it'd be fair to say that I make interesting art without much craft. I used to be okay with that, but now I want to see what kind of work I can make with formal training and access to equipment. I am interested in learning weaving, felting, and screenprinting as well as learning how to use knitting machines and a loom. I want to find a quality and intensive fiber arts program where I can study all of those things in one year or less. Can you help me find such a program?

What I am looking for (and what I'm not):
I'm not interested in pursuing an MFA (and I already received a BS in an unrelated subject in 2007). I am open to completing a one-year certificate program or a shorter program. I want to spend as much time in the studio as possible.

What I've already tried:
I took one studio art class in college during my final year because a visiting artist was teaching the course and I was already a fan of his work. It was a fun class in which we made zines and screenprints and discussed art collectives. Because I was already making zines, screenprinting and sewing independently (and coincidentally interacting with some of the art collectives that we "studied"), I did well in the course. Since graduation, I have been working full-time in an unrelated field that I find fulfilling. At the same time, I have shown art in (usually artist-run non-commercial) galleries in America as well as England and Japan. I also have curated a number of exhibits with some noted artists (though I guess that depends on who is taking the notes). I go to as many exhibits and lectures as I can to educate myself. At this point, I have a CV, a portfolio, and a community of awesome friends near & far who make art and encouraqe me. I consider art to be my hobby and I am not interested in being a "professional artist." However, art is an important hobby for me. As I read more about art history and talk with artists whom I respect, I have realized that I want to become truly skilled at fiber arts so that I express my ideas better.

Oh, and I have already taken quilting and sewing lessons privately. I also spent a year as a part-time apprentice to a printmaker. I feel that I have learned what I can from assisting more experienced artists with their screenprinting projects and installations, but now I want to take actual, intensive classes. I chatted with a fiber arts professor at a respected art school about my options and she suggested asking admissions to let me take one course at a time. But with a 9-5 office job, I just don't see how I could leave in the middle of the day to take a studio class. However, you have successfully done what this professor suggested, I'd love to hear how you made it work. Currently, I think I just need to take a chunk of time off from working at all (which I can prepare financially to do, within reason, of course) in order to take the kind of classes I want to take.

Living debt-free is important to me and I am very frugal, so bonus points if you can point me towards reasonably priced programs that I can save up money for (or borrow a reasonable amount of federal student loans). I recognize that this will be a significant financial investment in a hobby, but I am willing to make that investment within reason.

I can relocate for a program. I am located in the USA.

Oh, and if you have advice on preparing a portfolio and application for such a program, I would love to hear that as well.

OK, artistic MeFites, hit me!

(anonymous because an unbalanced family member has started lurking and would behave irrationally if he saw this.)
posted by anonymous to Education (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have a friend who has taken fiber arts as a course, and although I believe she did it the traditional way, it wouldn't surprise me to know that she hadn't. On the other hand, our university does offer both intensive summer courses (regular semesters compacted into three-to-six-week sessions) as well as independent study.

For shorter but intensive courses, you might also try a folk art place such as Augusta, Campbell, or Sievers. These might be good places for networking and making connections with private teachers.

Please feel free to contact me privately about independent study and other courses here in beautiful (and peaceful, I swear!) Madison, WI.
posted by Madamina at 7:03 PM on March 7, 2011

I've learned my fiber arts at a craft center in Northern California (Davis) where I take classes after work, without going through an intensive program (though I do have a design degree, it was mostly sewing/drawing work). And I do volunteer work there, so I get classes for cheap/free. Does it have to be A Formal Program for you? I can't say that I know much about that, but there are other ways to get the knowledge while still working a day job and being cheap. The SF Bay Area has a lot of places to take classes, and the California College of the Arts sounds like it's a craft-based sort of place in general, I think they're a full degree program though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:40 PM on March 7, 2011

I am wavering between majoring in drawing or fibre for my BFA :-) It's tough! I took a class called Fibre 2D last semester and we did natural dyes, weaving, wet felting and screen printing as well as a fabric collage. I have always loved textiles and fell in love!

Does your state have an artisan craft council? Maybe they have a directory of classes. My college has a credit free adult programs for spring and summer where you can take a course in a particular craft aspect for a couple of months, so maybe a local college has the same thing. I don't know where you are located to be of more help :-)

You could also research local artists in your area and see if they offer classes or if they could help you locate a teacher. Many people are surprised by how much artists will tell them if they ask. Good luck and I hope you can find something!
posted by Calzephyr at 8:17 PM on March 7, 2011

Have you looked into the Haystack Mountain School in Maine?

Also, there might be something useful here.

Good luck!
posted by Gusaroo at 11:04 PM on March 7, 2011

Oregon College of Art & Craft has one year post-bac programs that sound a lot like what you're thinking of, and a fiber arts department.
posted by polymath at 11:28 PM on March 7, 2011

The University of North Texas has a fibers program that offers BFA and MFA degrees.
posted by Uncle Ira at 3:56 PM on March 8, 2011

You might try calling the Fabric Museum and Workshop. I know they have a screenprinting apprenticeship program. Philadelphia University, formerly the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Design, might also have some suggestions. Their textile program is hard to find on their site, and is more industry-oriented, but they may still have an idea.

You could also see if your area has something like the Fleisher Art Memorial, which offers free or low-cost evening art classes. I know Fleisher has several fiber arts classes, which is what made me think of it.
I've also taken evening classes at local art schools, which may be closer to what you are looking for. I've also seen occasional studios that offer instruction at various levels of formality, including a walk-in fiber arts studio in a storefront here.

Sorry for such a philadelphia-heavy answer, but maybe it will still be helpful.
posted by sepviva at 5:42 PM on March 8, 2011

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