Fiber-based 3D Assemblages


One day, many years ago, a master weavero and a furniture designer met, and fell in love. The day was in September of 1987. Their names were Kathy & Rob. They both loved to create, and they discovered they both loved to collect things – things like books, music, movies, art deco and mid-century items, and they loved finding unique discarded “stuff”, stuff they saw as abandoned little treasures – “found objects”.

Soon they were creating things together.

Kathy would make a weaving, and Rob would design and make a tasteful top mount piece by which to hang and display the weaving on the wall. They were also embellishing the pieces with the found “little treasures” they were collecting. They got better and better at making these fiber mixed-media art pieces, and in 1992 they began participating around the country in juried art and craft shows displaying under the name Fibrations Studio.

Hello, I’m Rob. The pieces Kathy and I create have always been sculptural in form. We have always also paid close attention to what our patrons request. Over the years, a frequent request was for pieces that fit in narrow or limited wall spaces, such as skinny wall sections between multiple picture windows, cupboard filled kitchens, slender bathroom wall spaces, and the like.

Influenced by the traditional Cook Island wrapped “god sticks” she had learned about at college in the early 80’s, Kathy has been wrapping cylindrical wooden dowels and aluminum tubes of different diameters and adding them as accents in her artwork since the early 1990’s. Helping Kathy with this wrapping, I had become enamored with the technique. I loved the intensity of color and texture that could be achieved.

I became equally fascinated by the cylindrical shape. I saw almost a mystical element in the shape. It was the perfection of the circle, drawn out to what, if not disrupted, would continue to infinity. Infinite perfection, a very magical concept. The cylindrical shape exudes visual motion and conceals a rather captivating mystery. Just what is on the other side?

I also saw these cylinders as the perfect answer to our client’s requests for slender art pieces, the ideal opportunity to call into service the cylinder, not only as an accent, but as the primary piece of art. It was in this mindset that I began researching potential candidates as cylindrical substrates. I took notice of the tubes that lay on the desk by my CAD station. I had used them for years as archival storage for the schematic and solid perspective printouts of my furniture designs. These tubes are strong, lightweight, and resistant to moister – and come in a wide variety of lengths and diameters. I shared this info with Kathy, sparking a eureka moment for both of us.

We realized we could wrap one of Kathy’s slender weavings around one of these tubes, creating a very pleasing and engaging shape, one that was perfect for our client’s “skinny space” needs. The seed for the Serenity Totem was planted, though we had not yet arrived at the name.

An early client, who had purchased a Fibrations Studio fiber art piece for her wall, opposite her panoramic window wall, saw one of our fiber art tubes wrapped with one of Kathy’s slender weaving, and purchased it. She was very pleased with her purchase of the weaving enwrapped tube, again not yet called a Serenity Totem, so she wrote us a very nice email. “I really love the cylindrical fiber art piece my husband and I bought from you. It is quite unique, unlike any other art we own,” she wrote. “With the accents you adorned it with, it is like a fascinating little fiber totem pole. It is exactly what we needed for the small space between the windows in our view wall. It is not only beautiful, it truly enhances the joy and serenity of the view.” There it was, the ideal name for what was then, our emerging series of 3D fiber mixed-media art tubes – Serenity Totems.

Since those days I have come to wrap much more than just Kathy’s weavings and wound yarn around the cylinders of our Serenity Totems. We now wrap leathers, suedes, metallics, satin cords, ribbons, etc. l have also begun to wrap pieces selected from our decades long collection of luxurious Couture Remnants, as well as exotic wraps, like Japanese Chiyogami/Yuzen handmade, hand-painted fiber stock, which is still created today by the same exacting centuries-old techniques of their ancestors. Among the exotic wraps I now also employ are handmade, hand-painted, sun-dried Lokta from Nepal, and hand-painted, recycled ragstock from India; both also created in strict adherence to the practices of their forefathers. .

I have, in recent years, succumbed to my surprise avocation as a jeweler, by hand assembling adornments for our Totems, using jewelers tools and techniques. They are carefully composed of the many bits, pieces, and discarded “stuff” Kathy and I collect everywhere. I call these little creations Talisman, and clients seem to be developing a special attraction to them.

This year I will be introducing what I am calling the Digital Series. They will feature my, and my son Justin’s, original giclée art pieces. Each giclée was drawn by hand, in the digital environment, utilizing digital creative tools such as Wacom Tablets. The Digital Series Totems will be exciting, colorful, and very future oriented. They will be the only Serenity Totems not one-of-a-kind, but rather they will be sold in limited editions of 5.

The sale of Serenity Totems has grown steadily over time. While I still enjoy, and will continue helping my wife Kathy as part of Fibrations Studio, my primary focus is now on the Serenity Totems. In support of this focus, I have created Serenity Totems Studio, with its own website and Etsy store.

Well, this is the story of Fibrations Studio, and the history of where Serenity Totems came from, and a glimpse of where Fibrations Stufio and our Serenity Totems Studio may go in the future!