Fox Hutt weaves art into her life

December 21, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

PERRYVILLE - Fox Hutt's love of functional art began when she was a little girl. Her grandmother was a fiber artist who taught her weaving, crocheting, knitting and tatting. In sixth grade, she wove potholders and sold them for money to buy a transistor radio.

Now, Hutt works in different types of fiber - cotton, wool, and, most recently, chenille - to create vibrantly colored rugs, pillows, handbags, table runners and wall hangings. Each piece Hutt makes is created by hand from beginning to end.

"I love patterns and there's just something systematic about the way you put the warp (or vertical threads) on," says Hutt of her affinity for weaving. "My brain works that way.

"I wonder if I wasn't a weaver in a past life. I get antsy if I don't do it for a while."


The horizontal pieces that are woven in are called the weft. Hutt says she prefer natural fibers, and weaves with a cotton warp. Usually, the warp is 10 to 20 yards, and it takes most of a day to warp a loom.

She likes wool strips for the weft because "It packs much tighter and is more durable." The wool also resists dirt, Hutt adds, although the rugs she makes can be cleaned in a washing machine. She's been weaving with wool strips since 1982, when she was apprenticing with a weaver in Lebanon.

Chenille has been her latest venture, which she weaves into the cotton warp to make handbags. Sometime her patterns, whether for purses or rugs, come to her at odd times.

"I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for patterns," says Hutt, who also calls herself a "very amateur quilter." "Each piece is different. I never make the same piece twice. That comes from creativity, from being the artist. I'm not interested in being a factory."

Practically lives in her studio

Hutt says she practically lives in her studio, located at the country home, called Turtle Island Farm and Gardens, that she shares with her husband, Steve. She works on a 36-inch Nilus LeClerc floor loom.

There are many different stages to creating a piece, she explains: Warping the loom, designing a piece, cutting strips, shaping purses, adding tassels to rugs. "Weaving time is just a part of it," Hutt notes.

She also takes a great deal of care with the weft joints and selvages, which results in pieces that have a long-lasting, tailored look. Customers often find her pieces to be "reversible."

It took her a while to call her weaving "art." She says she participated in a workshop with Chuck Whitehouse that focused on the book "The Artist's Way." Hutt says the book "helps you release your creativity."

"It was a good experience," she says of the workshop. "I was able to say, 'I am an artist.' ... It helped me acknowledge my artistic side."

Turning her weaving into a full-blown business

Another big step Hutt took was to turn her weaving into a full-blown business, called Lacetree Weaving. "Lacetree" refers to something Hutt saw many years ago. She was looking out her window and admiring the silvery leaves of a white poplar tree. She thought they looked like an elaborately-woven piece of lace. "Lacetree" came to mind, she says, and she chose that name for her business.

Hutt actually started Lacetree Weaving when the woman for whom she apprenticed closed her business, but then finished her bachelor's degree and earned a master's degree in counseling psychology. When she retired in July 2002, she returned to her weaving with renewed enthusiasm and love, she says.

The business aspects of Lacetree Weaving constitute her biggest challenges, she notes. A member of Kentucky Craft Market Program, she had to write a business plan and organize her presence at the 2004 "Kentucky Crafted: The Market," which was held last March in Louisville.

"It was a great experience," Hutt says. "It was really hard but I learned so much. It's very complex - the biggest thing I've ever done with weaving. There were more than 300 exhibitors. I had to design my booth. There were so many things I never considered. This year, I can already tell - it's going to be so much easier."

The business formation has its up side, too, Hutt adds. "I enjoy meeting people - that's the positive part of turning what I do into a business."

Hutt's works are in the Artisan Center in Berea as well as in New Jersey. She also has had works for sale at Perryville Battlefield and Constitution Square.

A member of Wilderness Trace Art League and Gathering Artists

The fiber artist is a member of Wilderness Trace Art League and Gathering Artists, which she founded with Wilma Brown and Madelyn Worley. Hutt likes the makeup of the Gathering Artists assemblage."It's a real laid-back group," she says. "It really tries to encourage people and really has promoted art in the area, like the exhibits all over town. ... The arts have blossomed in Danville. I'm constantly amazed at how many artists we have in this area."

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