The Mother and Daughter Behind the Fiber Arts Collective’s
Lois Ericson Design and Inspiration Resource Library
A call went out, FIRE GET OUT NOW! Diane Ericson raced to grab what she could in the few minutes available to her. The night before she had loaded all her mother’s books in her car to donate them the next day to the Fiber Arts Collective in Ashland, Oregon. Diane is an incredibly creative and influential presence in the world of textiles and design, and we are fortunate that she calls Ashland her home. Her Design Outside the Lines Retreats are legendary in their profiling of some of the brightest stars in the world of textiles. The spark of creativity emerged early in her life. She and her mother, Lois Ericson, were a dynamic team for many years prior to her setting off on her own path.
Diane only had time to push some of the boxes of books out of her car so she could have some room for the few things she had time to collect (her sewing machine being one of them). Diane lost her home that day in the Almeda Fire 2020 and many treasures she had collected and created over a lifetime of creative activity. However, due to a fluke of timing, she saved a significant portion of her mother’s wonderful library. Today that library forms the core of the Fiber Arts Collective’s Lois Ericson Design and Inspiration Resource Library.
Diane’s mother, Lois Ericson, had been a pioneer in the Art to Wear movement of the 60’s and 70’s. Art to Wear—also called Artwear or wearable art—emerged from the counterculture of those decades and reconsidered what art could be. Rather than static objects made for display in a gallery, the movement’s creations were meant to be worn as living art. Lois passed away in 2012 and a memorial written at the time about her best describes her contributions.
“Lois Ericson was an author, teacher, and artist. She designed patterns and touched the sewing community like no other. Her books, patterns, classes, and persona opened the door to individual creativity for thousands of sewers.
Any description of her legacy to the fiber arts world is incomplete. She was a prolific designer, garment maker and authored 14 books. She was involved in a lifetime pursuit of exploring new techniques for channeling her own creativity and encouraging others to discover and explore theirs. Lois and her husband, Len, started their own business, Design and Sew, created and marketed over 40 patterns. She authored a newsletter, The Good News Rag, that appealed to the creative spirit, offered helpful design ideas, recipes, and inspirational quotes. Lois taught locally, nationally, and internationally. She authored numerous articles that appeared in Threads magazine. Her artistic endeavors involved watercolor painting, gardening, and reading. Her legacy of influence is immeasurable and far reaching. Ironically, one of her areas of expertise was in creating unique closures for garments, but her life’s work is both a testament and an inspiration to opening the creative spirit in each of us.”
Lois treasured her library. She traveled the world through her books. Diane describes her mother as going into her library and blissing out for hours as she traveled around the world of design and art. Many of the 14 books Lois wrote are now in the Fiber Arts Collective’s Lois Ericson Design and Inspiration Resource Library.
In addition to the books gifted by Diane, many more wonderful books on textiles, sewing, embroidery, printing, dyeing, and design have been donated by other community members. The Resource Library is a unique and wonderful place to spend an hour. If you are a member of the Fiber Arts Collective, you can check out the books and take them home. In today’s world of computers, we should not underestimate the way our creativity responds to looking at a book. It is a totally different experience than looking at a computer screen.
When you come in to visit The Fiber Arts Collective and the Resource Library, please check out the collection of Lois Ericson and Diane Ericson titles. Look for this label inside the front cover (below). The Design & Sew it Yourself Book, a collaboration between Lois and Diane, was a celebration of their shared love of making and their relationship. This book has been revised and is available on Diane’ website: https://dianeericson.com.
Though many of Lois’ books were written 30-40 years ago they are timeless. An online visit to look up these books revealed these recent reviews of the books and their relevancy:
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical! Ethnic Costume – Reviewed on August 28, 2019
Magical! If you are open to getting your design ideas from folk clothes, you will love this book. If you want to do your own embellishments, you will love this book. I have a book on folk clothes that l refer to often, but this book starts with how to capture design ideas, mentions color basics and schemes, moves on to samples of folk clothes and closes with how to embellish your clothes with unique surface effects. It is magical to me because it contains information starting with the design idea. The drawings and instructions are very good. It isn’t exhaustive in each area, but it covers a lot and provides many ways to embellish. The drawings are black and white, which enables you to easily see the designs. I couldn’t put it down!
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book of all time, no, really.
Design and Sew It Yourself: A Workbook for Creative Clothing – Reviewed on September 13, 2012
I started weaving and designing clothing back in the 80’s and picked up this book at a conference somewhere. I studied the drawings and really fell in love with the concept of this book, and the creativity behind it. Somewhere along the way, I must have loaned it to someone. Note to self. NEVER loan books, especially your favorite one! I could not remember the title, just the insides, and ordered a book from Amazon thinking it was the right one. That was Opening & Closing by Lois Ericson. Also, a great book, but not the one I was looking for. I kept checking back, and finally found another book, and ordered it. It is mine, and I will never loan it out. I truly love this book.
Something about the fact that many of the ideas are drawings rather than photographs spurs me on to think about using that concept and building on it. I really do love everything about this book. Ms. Ericson is gone now, and I admire her equally talented daughter, Diane. Such an amazing amount of talent in one family!