Lost in Fiber | archives + preservation initiatives

Lost in Fiber | Interview | Brece Honeycutt

Posted on: Monday, June 23, 2014

Brece Honeycutt has the midas touch with colonial living, drawing, eco-prints,
natural fibers, slow handwork, and organic studio methods
(studio photographs by Abigail Doan | September 2013)

As Lost in Fiber transitions to the artifact stage (in terms of documenting and synthesizing materials gathered from various contributors' studios), I was curious to understand more about the inspirational objects that various makers surround themselves with and the creative ways they populate and become immersed in their unique studio environments.

Brece Honeycutt's rural studio offers a new twist on modern 'domesticity' and 'farming'

My visit with artist friend Brece Honeycutt last autumn left me wanting to know more about her day-to-day musings as well as her process-centric relationship with materials and tools be they ancient, historic, or contemporary. I follow Brece's impeccably researched and thoughtfully written blog, On A Colonial Farm, but I wanted to also learn more about how she melds the past with the present in a way that reflects the spirit of a modern gathering.

A slow moment of light on fiber, tools, and webs in Brece's studio

AD: Might you share five objects or artifacts that you currently have in your studio or home – particularly as forms that you feel resonate with your studio work and current investigations?

BH: My great-grandmother's peddle sewing machine; old woven wire mesh fish traps; a complete box set of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Books; a mended piece of rusted metal fencing (darned with wire); and a bowl of handwrought nails saved for me by my husband when he re-clad our house.

AD: Do you use social media on a daily basis and if so, do you feel that is helps you to build community in ways that non-virtual interaction does not? That is, do you feel that you have 'virtual friends' who are essential to your creative community? How does this inform your work day-to-day, if at all?

BH: Twitter has opened up a new community to me – historians, scholars, librarians, artists, thinkers, and makers. Their fact-filled tweets form strands of the weft or layers of facts that filter into my work. Recently, I attended the Mass Humanities History Conference and met the historian and author Marla Miller (a twitter friend) and Amy Dufault (introduced to me via Facebook) in person. A real treat. And, I do believe that you and I first met via your blog, Abigail, and years later, here we are.

Embroidered curtain in the soft autumn light of Brece's studio windows

AD: What does 'slow' design or living mean to you?

BH: Slow might mean being more aware of how one's actions impact others. For example, who made a garment? Where was it made? Was a fair wage received? And was it made with (minimal) impact on the environment? 

In the 18th century, articles of clothing were prized possessions and (typically) passed on to succeeding generations. Often when one examines an antique garment, it becomes evident that the piece was both re-styled and mended for continued use. Once a piece of clothing was no longer usable, it was sent to the 'rag bag' and became transformed into another item, a rag rug for example. 

On our farm we try to live more thoughtfully and add back by planting fruit trees and native flowers wild flowers, tending bees, and growing what we can ourselves. We also have a flock of chickens and enjoy the fresh eggs that they lay. Our home life is to a substantial extent 'slow'.

Stacks and inspirationally transporting layers in the barn studio

AD: If you could travel anywhere in the world over the next months, where would you go?

BH: Japan. My preferred mode of travel would be an ocean liner (like those from the 1920s) 
and I would use time onboard to rest, rejuvenate, look, stitch, knit, read and research along
the way. Alternatively, if my travel was limited to the USA, I would venture south by train, if
possible, and visit the Alabama Chanin factory.

Birch bark and hand-stitching gathered and fused by Brece

AD: What was the best nature walk you ever took?

BH: From the Lao Cai train station, we drove up the mountains among the terraced rice 
fields arriving in Sapa, Vietnam, very near the border of China. We walked down into the
valley along roads and through planted fields. It had rained the night before and the air
was fresh and all the greens sparkled. We walked past homes of the Black Hmong, each
with their indigo vat. The long pieces of deeply dyed hemp, hung like banners, drying.

AD: Is there a tool from the past that you feel needs to be re-introduced? Or rather, is there 
a 'modified tool' that you think would make your creative life more complete?

Victorian sewing birds via here.

BH: The darning egg and the ‘sewing bird’. Both of these items were used for hand sewing. 
Recently, I have been darning and mending garments and textiles, as well as sewing my 
Alabama Chanin DIY skirt. 

AD: What hue or texture has made the most impression on you?

BH: Indigo, especially the Japanese 'boro' garments – beautifully mended with stitching and 
patches from other worn textiles. I am very much looking forward to taking an indigo dyeing 
workshop this summer with Michel Garcia. Not only will he unravel the mysteries of indigo 
dyeing, and he will teach us how to maintain an indigo dye vat in one’s studio.

Brece Honeycutt's 'morning glory / black walnut' 
(gloria di mattina / noce nero), 2014

watercolor, silk/cotton thread on Fabriano paper, 76 cm x 55 cm (30”x 22”)
Photograph by Douglas Baz

Currently on view at the invitational 
Fabriano in Acquarello/Fabriano in Watercolor 2014
through 6 July

(all studio visit photos by Abigail Doan)


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