November's NYGH Member Spotlight shines on Charlene Marietti, a guild member for whom we have much to be grateful. Charlene has been a dedicated volunteer with the NYGH for many years; she currently creates our monthly newsletter, which is no small feat! A very heartwarming part of the interview occurs when Katy asks, "What does being part of a guild mean to you?" and Charlene responds, "Being part of any group means that I have an obligation to help support the group."
Charlene has been making things with thread for as long as she can remember. As a child, she learned to sew, embroider, crochet, and tat, but trained for a career in clinical laboratory medicine, rather than the arts, which were her first love. On a trip to the South West, a vegetable dyed Navajo rug introduced her to the world of spinning, dyeing, and weaving. She took weaving classes and workshops whenever and wherever possible as she and her young family were relocated in corporate moves. At this point, Charlene can do pretty much anything in the fiber arts! Although she primarily focuses on weaving, she prefers an integrated approach to fiber art disciplines, which translates to "using whatever technique is most appropriate for any given project."
On being a weaver with a scientific background, Charlene says, "That is a logical progression. There's a lot of math in weaving, there's a lot of problem-solving - even in getting your loom in working order, the mechanics of that... which is what we all love, isn't it? The challenge of it, as well the satisfaction of doing something that we love."
While living in London, she was accepted into an intensive two-year course that culminated in a City and Guilds of London Institute Certificate in Creative Studies and Textiles (Distinction) and College Certificate in Creative Crafts: Textiles (Distinction) from London College of Furniture (now London Metropolitan University) with specialization in weaving and kumihimo. She is experienced and qualified to teach a range of textile crafts.
Using traditional kumihimo techniques, she creates unique braided jewelry pieces with an emphasis on contemporary use, often incorporating semi-precious stones such as coral, malachite, and jade.
Charlene's work has been featured in juried and invitational shows in the U.S and abroad. When asked about exhibiting her work, she says, "It's an affirmation that you're doing something right. Being accepted into some kind of exhibit, whatever it is, is always an affirmation, whether juried or not, whether by invitation or not. I think it's some added incentive, an encouragement to keep you going and say OK, now what's next, now I need to up that game a little bit, do something better, do something different."
The interview is filled with many gems of wisdom that you would hope to hear from such an experienced fiber artist. On inspiration: "I find many, many things inspiring, many that are very common - Nature is one of them... I saw a sweater yesterday that I wanted to touch - it's all around us. I can be easily inspired, be it the color or be it the design..." On how her weaving has changed over time, Charlene tries to "enjoy all the steps in the process rather than rushing to get it completed.. appreciating the earlier stages." There is also a confession: "I swore that I would never weave kitchen towels. (laughter) And then I started weaving kitchen towels and my family loves them! That's what they love to get for Christmas!"
Recalling when her seven-year-old granddaughter tried out weaving on a table loom in Charlene's studio: "I wish we all had that lack of inhibition... We should all be like a seven-year-old in that regard. Just wide open to the possibilities, the what-ifs."
You can learn more about Charlene Marietti and see her recent work on her website: Filamenti.net. We hope you enjoy this month's NYGH Member Spotlight Series interview: