Craft Artist Feature: Barbara Zaretsky

September 12, 2011

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Barbara Zaretsky is the fiber artist behind BZDesign and the director of Cloth Fiber Workshop in the River Arts District in Asheville, NC. Her studio and workshop are located in the Cotton Mill Studios on Riverside Drive where I was able to ask her about working as an artist and her thoughts on craft.

Barbara moved to Asheville more than 10 years ago from her home in Chicago. She has studied Textile Design at the Art Institute of Chicago and Northern Illinois University and Art History at the University of Illinois.  She has also continued her education at the Penland School of Crafts, here in Western North Carolina.  Her work is primarily in natural and sustainable fibers and natural dyes extracted from plants.

Her work often involves “Peace Silk”, which was a new concept for me; her web site describes it as:

“This type of silk is obtained using a humane process that allows the silk moth to emerge from the cocoon and live out its full life cycle. When the moth breaks through the cocoon the silk fiber is broken into many smaller strands, so the harvested silk is spun similar to cotton or linen, instead of being reeled. The resulting yarn is soft, fluffy, and light.”

Barbara’s work is natural, comfortable and functional with a subtle beauty in each design. When asked what inspires her, she says “Everything.  I’m inspired daily by the thinks around me—color, movement, light, nature, architecture and design”

I inquired if she has a favorite item she has ever created. I imagine this question is difficult for most artists to answer, but something I am always curious to learn. Barbara said, “once in a while there is something about a piece that really strikes me… it may be the way the dye took, or a unique color combination…then that piece becomes my new favorite”. On occasion, she admits keeping one of these favorites for herself!

Barbara is enthusiastic about her work and teaching others the importance of the handmade item. She has enjoyed collaborating with other artists to display how handmade items can create a unique home with furniture, house-wares and decor made from the heart by hand.

To find more information about Barbara Zaretsky and BZDesign, visit her web site and for information about classes and workshops, visit Cloth Fiber Workshop.


Research and Communications Assistant

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