This is my Pecha Kucha presentation (with the text) that I presented at the Surface Design Associations' 40th anniversary conference 4/3 - 4/6/2017. Find out how receiving an SDA scholarship to attend the 2011 Minneapolis conference planted the seed for the creation of www.ExploreFiber.com
Surface Design Association
Pecha Kucha presentation by Christine Miller
2017 Making our Mark 40th Anniversary SDA Conference
My name is Christine Miller and I am a life long fiber artist. As an elementary student, I
would go outside for recess, stand up against the wall and knit. Through those early
years I also learned how to sew, embroider, needlepoint, and weave. Weaving is at the
core of my fiber art for over 40 years.
My professional fiber art career took a turn when I became a
Visual Arts Educator at 50. This job in my path was
unexpected, but it is an important puzzle piece in my journey. I
am currently teaching art to 14-16 year olds in Plano, TX. The
struggles are real; the rewards are great.
When I have yarn or fiber in my fingers, I feel
centered, balanced and whole. This is the
Universe I travel in. It has been a natural
extension of my passion for fiber to bring it into
my art education classroom and share it with my
students and colleagues.
I was one of 10 art educators across the U.S. that was awarded a scholarship to
attend the 2011 SDA conference in Minneapolis. The intention for the SDA Scholars
was to foster fiber art in K-12 art curriculum. SDA planted the seed that would
become Explore Fiber.
After the conference, I knew that my mission was to teach not only my students about
fiber art, but to also teach teachers. How could I weave those two groups together?
My love of technology supported the idea of creating a collaborative website devoted
to fiber as a fine art material.
This was a big idea that came along as I was undertaking an online Masters program
in Art Education from Texas Woman’s University. The synergy of online education
and the possibility of connecting a global fiber community grew bit by bit. I began
weaving the fabric of Explore Fiber.
My art classroom is 1800 sq. ft., the same size as my house! It
was a natural extension to set up a weaving studio in my room.
Within a year’s time, weavers from all over the state of Texas
donated equipment, materials, tools, and financial donations to
make it happen.
The students love to weave. I have twenty 15” Schact Cricket rigid heddle looms. The
first weaving project I give them is a scarf, something fairly quick and easy to weave in
plain weave. I had all 20 looms going, with kids coming back for a second project!
Weaving was a big hit on my campus!
The pride they have from creating their own cloth is evident in this photo. When my
kiddos are weaving, I am a ridiculously happy art teacher! Having this program grow
and develop keeps me balanced and centered in my job.
This student advanced to a small floor loom after his first scarf project. I do not
exaggerate when I tell you that I saw the FIRST smile from him as he started this
weaving he would give to his mom. Until then, he showed up with a poker face every
day. These are the moments that keep teachers going.
My web designer announced to me that Explore Fiber was live on July 12, 2014. I was
FREAKED out! There were lots of my original photographs for eye candy, but NO
content! Though I was a full time art teacher, and a graduate student, I hustled to start
creating my fiber community vision.
I first started blogging. I had maintained an art education blog for six years, so it was a
natural place to begin. As the curator of the blog, I focus on the work of fiber artists,
developments in fiber technology, fiber education articles, and fun fiber videos.
Explore Fiber is collecting fiber art lessons to make available to art educators.
Teachers don’t teach what they don’t know. Supporting them with lessons, videos and
tutorials increases their comfort level to bring fibers into their art classroom. These free
lessons support fiber students and enthusiasts as well.
Though I am the little engine behind this mission, it is meant to
be a collaborative community, not “my” website. Individuals who
contribute lessons and fiber education stories are given free
contributor pages that list their bio, artist statement, and personal
links. Many voices create a rich, woven tapestry.
Your story is valued as part of this conversation. When you
share your community fiber experiences, others are inspired
and hopefully motivated to create their own experiences.
The resources section of the website is
growing day by day. You can find links
to University programs; journals and
publications; schools, classes and
workshops; and fiber galleries and
museums. A new resource page lists
conferences, institutes or symposium
One of the newest features on Explore Fiber are the Labs. I teach short, hands-on
workshops exploring different processes, materials or techniques related to fiber arts.
Area art educators and fiber artists sign up to expand their fiber knowledge.
These Labs are made available for a minimum cost online to help support the learning of
anyone interested. With a lifetime of fiber experience, there is a long list of Labs to come!
This is where the marriage of my teaching career and my fiber art career are happily
There has never been a more exciting time to work with fibers.
Fibers are one of the most important 21st century materials, and
not just from a technology stand point! Artists from many
practices are working entirely with fibers, or incorporating them
into their artistic expressions.
Let me introduce you to Tito, La Tortuga, the first needle felted sculpture I made
alongside my students. Just like Tito, my fiber journey has been long, steady and true.
Explore Fiber is truly the culmination of my life’s passion for fibers. Please join the
Explore Fiber community to take our love of fiber arts to classrooms and studios around