Friday, March 4, 2011

Nestle and Soar: Fiber FolkArts

Folk art is as time honored as any other folk lore tradition. Utilizing common, every day materials, folk artists make everyday items beautiful. Unlike ‘fine art’ folk art is not confined to just being ‘a thing of beauty’. It is also practice and useful with designs that are meaningful to the community where the items will be used. Think scarecrows, quilts and hand-painted plates.
Treasured by generations long after a folk art item has ceased to be functional, it still continues to tell a story about a time, a place and/or a person. Visually, it represents a local expression of a universal theme. An example of this can be found in the work Folk Artist Georgianne Holland, owner of Nestle and Soar Studio in Colorado. She infuses the centuries' old tradition of needlework with her own unique perspective of the natural world. Here is what she has to say about her folk art:

A member of the fiber art community for over 20 years, my current contemporary folk art is a reflection of my love for natural science, along with a touch of whimsy. I use folk art as a way to express a passion for designs found in nature.

Birds and trees are often featured in my work. I feel a kinship to those who work toward preserving and celebrating animal and plant life, many who also use nature as the reference in their home décor and lifestyle. Through my folk art I promote organizations like the Arbor Day Foundation.*

I work primarily with wool fiber and the ancient craft of needle felting by hand involves the repetitive stabbing motion of a single barbed needle through many layers of wool roving onto a foundational fabric. This repetitive up and down needle motion causes the wool roving to adhere to itself (and eventually, to the foundational fabric), which is also called dry felting. In this artistic process, dozens of colors of wool are used to create a single bird or tree design. Added to this is the embellishment of my folk art using wool crewel yarn, beads, and buttons, making my fiber art original, sturdy, textured, and full of personality.

I chose my studio’s name because of my love of the energy in both nesting and gliding…everyone deserves the chance to nestle and soar!

Like countless other folk artists before me, I do not have a formal art education. When it comes to the idea that folk art is “naïve art” this suggests that the untrained artist did the best he or she could with the materials and supplies at hand. I can relate to this as my fiber art background includes my family’s involvement with the quilt making community since 1969. Over the years, I watched many quilters practice techniques that they learned at the knee of their grandmother or favorite aunt, or, they even made up themselves as they went along! It has been my pleasure to learn the needle arts by watching hundreds of talented artists flourish and create. What a wonderful educational path!

Folk art has been described as both utilitarian and decorative and can utilize countless mediums. This free-form path seems to unite those who love it, as a folk art community, we appreciate the effort involved---such as the long hours involved in the creation of handmade needle work. I also love the “Make-Do” attitude of folk artists, for when traditional materials are unavailable, new materials are often substituted, resulting in contemporary expressions of traditional folk art forms. Folk artists traditionally learn skills and techniques through apprenticeships in informal community settings, like I did, but they can also be formally educated or even self-taught. When it comes to dry felting, I am self-taught, and it was a series of trial and error experiences that has brought me to what you now see in my Nestle and Soar Studio. In the coming year I have determined I should spend time in other fiber folk artist’s studios. It would do my heart and my art good to learn more about wool and felt from other passionate artists.

*NOTE: Whenever you order an item of folk art from Nestle and Soar, a tree will be planted in your honor in our National Forests through the Arbor Day Foundation.


  1. Oh this post is great. I have always wanted to learn more about wool and felt. Thanks for the info!

  2. Hi Kiana. I think that Georgianne Holland is a remarkable folk artist. Be sure to let others know about her work!