Fiber College ropes in artists from far and wide
Searsport — Susan Barrett Merrill came to Searsport from Brooksville this week to showcase her unique fiber sculptures, creations she said came to her in a dream after 45 years as a weaver.
Friday, Sept. 6, Merrill adorned her display booth with what she called Zati masks, which she said are collections of intricately woven faces that signify some piece of human identity. Each mask can take up to two months to complete, and are typically part of a series of 12 that all carry a similar theme.
The masks Merrill had on display at her table were part of her Mother Earth series, with one mask acting as the earth supporting the beginning of human life and the other signifying a parents instinct to protect their young.
"Each one is an exploration," said Merrill. "They evolve. It's really fun to see who arrives."
Merrill had her masks on display at Fiber College, an annual event hosted by Searsport Shores Oceanfront Campground, and she was one of many skilled crafters offering classes and demonstrations on all things relating to fiber art.
Just a short distance away, Lisa Westervelt was preparing for her day of demonstrations as owner and operator of Cranberry Moon Farm, where she raises rare breeds of sheep like the leicester longwool.
"There are only about 300 of them in the country," said Westervelt.
Those particular animals, she said, yield a strong wool used to weave yarn ideal for garment and rug making. Friday, Westervelt used yarns she'd spun from another heritage breed of sheep she raises, Merino, as well as a little angora yarn, to demonstrate the use of a weaving machine called a Duncan carder.
Westervelt said this was her first year at Fiber College, and said she would likely return for more Fiber College experiences in the future.
Across the way, brothers and wood carvers Tom and Dee Cote showcased the various pieces they created from their chosen medium — detailed wall hangings, colorful gnomes, knitting bowls, and a little something special for the local military veterans.
Tom Cote said he planned to give one wooden carved cane with an eagle head decorating the top to a 20-year Army veteran named Karyn A. Lyman, who served from 1977-1997. Along with the eagle's head, detailed with features and other textures created through a technique known as wood burning, Cote gave it a personal touch bu adding the soldiers name and her dates of service along the front side of the cane.
He said the canes can take up to 18 hours to complete.
It's something the Cote brothers do all the time, and Tom Cote said they are not alone in the effort.
"All the carving groups in Maine are making these canes for the veterans, and they're all personalized," he said.
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Tanya has been a general news reporter in Waldo County since 1997.
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