Arrowmont school to host fiber forum

Keynote speaker will discuss "Surviving as a Rug Weaver"
Apr. 02, 2013 @ 11:51 PM

If you love fiber and fiber-related activities and you’re looking for something to do this weekend, head to the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.

Fiber Forum 2013, presented by the Southeast Fiber Forum Association and hosted by the Piedmont Fiber Guild, is a biennial event. This year the forum offers 10 different fiber-related classes from Thursday to Sunday.

“The classes include things like weaving, dying, felting and pattern grafting, but they’re all related to fiber in some way,” said event organizer Jan Smiley.

The two-day classes cost $195 for early registration and $225 for late registration. The fee includes lodging and food, provided by Arrowmont.

Smiley said last-minute registration for certain classes is still being accepted. “And instructors are bringing some extra materials in case people show up and want to attend.”

Approximately 100 people have registered for classes, Smiley said. She expects more at the free portion of the event.

“We welcome anyone to come on over to our vendor section and see what they have to offer, especially if they’re interested in fiber but don’t have the whole weekend to devote to that,” she said.

About half of the vendors are also instructors for the classes, “so they’ll have someone else coming along tending to their booth,” Smiley said.

Some of the vendors include an alpaca mill and yarn shop, as well as others selling materials geared toward felters, spinners, dyers and weavers.

Jason Collingwood of Suffolk, England, will be the keynote speaker. His presentation is called “Surviving as a Rug Weaver.”

“His father was also a weaver,” Smiley said. “He makes his living from a combination of making rugs on commission and also teaching.”

Collingwood teaches at art schools in North America, Europe and Australia, and he’ll be teaching “4-End Block Weaves” at Fiber Forum 2013.

The last forum was held at Arrowmont in 2011. Smiley said attendance is up 30 percent from the 2011 event, which she attributes to a combination of an increased number and variety of classes, as well as beginning planning earlier.

Prior to 2011, different guilds hosted the event in different locations. Smiley said the feedback from the Arrowmont event was so positive that they decided to come back this year.

“As an organizing chair, it’s so much easier when you don’t have to take care of every single detail,” Smiley said. “And it’s so much better here for the classes because the studios are set up for this kind of thing.

“There was a general consensus that we wanted to have the event in Gatlinburg again. I think it’s going to be a long-term partnership.”

For information on classes and registration, visit SFFA’s website at