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Teacher Spotlight: Courtney Craig

Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell 

Courtney Craig, a self-proclaimed “fiber art nerd,” is spending this surprisingly crisp September afternoon getting ready for fall. In between taking out the air conditioner and folding sweaters, she shares her passion for fiber art and her journey to teaching. 

Courtney Craig

“Fiber art is a way for me to relax, but also a way for me to create something by hand. I like to dye, or weave, or screen print—see it in pieces, then see it to completion. I like it old school,” says Courtney. “At the end, it’s custom. You know no one else is going to have it and when you see what you can do, it’s rewarding.”

When she graduated from Buffalo State with a degree in fiber art, there were only six people in her major. This was before “Pinterest boom” in indigo, eco-printing, and tapestry. After graduation, Courtney started to design wallpaper but thought that Shibori would be a perfect workshop where people could come together and share in making something custom. Missing the studio environment she had in school, she decided to teach so she could experience that sense of community, while spreading the love for fiber arts. As she was toying with the idea, she discovered Rochester Brainery where she has been teaching Shibori, weaving, and eco-printing for over five years.
 
Indigo Shibori

Her classes
really do become like studios, where people are sharing materials and trying techniques together. Courtney attributes the bond people create in her classes to our innate desire to keep learning. After school or college people still want to get together and learn something. Courtney’s workshops give people an environment to learn, share, and critique each other’s work—and hopefully pick up a new skill.
“Because of how corporate our society is, you see all these things that are trendy but when you can make it yourself and it looks better than what you saw in the store people are surprised,” says Courtney. “I always tell people that you can be doing something for five minutes and get the same results as someone who has been doing it for 50 years.” In her studio in Henrietta, Courtney is creating space for people to pop in and try something new. Whether they want to experiment with the indigo that goes from yellow to green to blue with the oxidation, or try their hand at weaving, her mission is to share the love and freedom that comes with fiber art.
 
Weaving
 
Creating something custom and your own is unique and freeing experience. During one workshop, a woman with Parkinson’s (a disorder that can cause tremors) was concerned she wouldn’t be able to weave, but was interested in the process. She quickly got into it and it turned out to be a wonderful experience for her. Working with fiber arts gave her the freedom to think, be creative, and not focus on what her hands were doing. 
 
“I just want people to leave a workshop and think ‘I did it’,” says Courtney.

If you’re interested to try your hand at fiber arts or be a part of a studio environment, check out Courtney’s classes here