Fine, Functional, and Fun Fiber – From Place Settings to Framed Art

(Above by Susan Lenz)

Decorative fiber is an art all unto itself. Whether it’s the weaving of fabric, embroidery and melting techniques, or collages of color in paper fibers, these artists explore the dimensional realm of their craft to the delight of all who step into their booths.




When we asked Susan what she loves about the PMA Craft Show, her reply was a keeper: “What’s not to love?” Susan Lenz didn’t “know” she was an artist until her early 40’s. Two years later she started using heat tools on fiber and not long after that she had a piece in the permanent collection of the George Washington University Textile Museum. It was a life transformed and she took to it like needle to thread, which is part of how she creates. Daring to dream, she took a chance and applied to her very first craft show and got in. It was the 2013 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and she hasn’t looked back since. Susan’s custom framed fiber works are made from layers of fused polyester velvet with self-guided machine embroidery and melting techniques that she discovered herself.

Her work is inspired by the Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser who was known for using “all the colors all the time” which Susan describes as her favorite palette. “Hundertwasser was a big supporter of sustainable practices and living in harmony with the environment ,which he knew was only possible if we lived in harmony with one another”, says Susan. “He advocated decorating outside every window, he hated straight lines, and saw no reason why walls and floors had to be perfectly level. My work can be viewed as an aerial view to an imaginary Hundertwasser city with every ‘box’ embellished with a unique motif and connected to all its neighbors.”




Leanne will be exhibiting for the second time, after being an emerging artist in 2016. The quality of the work at the PMA Craft Show is incredible”, she says. “I love participating because I feel very inspired by the artists and artisans around me and have made some wonderful relationships as a result. The Women's Committee, the Museum, and the local community are so supportive of the artisans and of American craft.” Leanne’s beautiful and functional individually handwoven textiles are designed and created with a minimalist eye, and her inspiration is derived from antique and vintage textiles.

Leanne studied textile design, fiber art, and fine art at UMass Dartmouth, Brown University, and the Rhode Island School of Design. She has been a full time artisan for the past six years but has been weaving for over 20 years. After being laid off from a full time job at age 30, she decided it was time to start her own business. Though not an easy endeavor, Leanne has built a studio she can be proud of and loves showing her craft and interacting with customers. With that, she expanded to have a retail store with her work and the work of over 75 other American artists and artisans.



Kate Norris has been an artist for over 40 years, but got into collage work just three years ago. This will be her first year at the PMA Craft Show. A teaching artist from Baltimore, MD, Kate describes her work as “similar to making a jigsaw puzzle except that I make up the placement of the pieces as I work.” Her work pays homage to naturalists and illustrators from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries such as Albrecht Durer and Hieronymus Bosch, and she is also inspired by vintage scientific illustrations and Persian miniature paintings. Kate creates her mixed media collages from tearing wallpaper and reconstructing the pieces, giving historic scientific illustrations a new perspective.

A graduate of Stanford University, Kate went on to earn her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has exhibited her work in San Francisco, New York City, Tampa, and Baltimore and considers her biggest achievement thus far to be a solo exhibition at Tennessee Tech University, Appalachian Center for Craft.



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