Vicki Essig is known for her detailed and Zen-like handwoven mixed-media art.
But in a recent, atypical work, the North Carolina artist used her own home-grown silkworms to make a dress, which sold to a collector.
The artist: Born in Denver, the artist grew up in Colorado. She lived in Europe for four years before moving to Asheville .
Over the last 20 years, Essig has studied at various craft schools, including: Penland School of Craft, John C. Campbell Folk School and Haywood Community College’s professional crafts program, where she studied for more than two years under Catherine Ellis, well-known in the weaving and dyeing craft world.
Three years ago, she moved to Penland.
The studio: Essig’s 900-square-foot studio features lots of windows and overlooks what, she says, is the most beautiful spot in North Carolina. In the studio are two looms, a paper/book studio, a small darkroom and a small display.
She and her artist husband Daniel Essig built studios when they moved to Penland.
The art & materials: Weavings of silk and other ultra-fine threads that often incorporate paper, book elements and fragments of nature.
Prices range from hand-bound books (about $45) to handwoven pieces ($125 to $3,000, though mostly around $500).
Source of materials:
- Natural objects found on her daily walks.
- Silkworms, actually caterpillars, for pieces, like the 18-inch-by-108-inch dress (pictured right).
Essig raised more than 400 silkworms, a time-consuming process for the sole purpose of having them create (actually stitch) the pieces of the dress, which was completed last year. The dress was made to fit Essig though she never wore it.
Important tools: Loom and large magnifying glass.
- Beauty, patterns and small objects in nature, including buds, grass-like plants and insect wings.
- The quiet and repetition of her detailed work.
Fun, special or unusual commissions: Requests to use people’s special papers or plants in a work.
Awards: Many including:
- Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, best in fibers, 2014.
- Washington Craft Show, collectors’ choice award, 2014.
- American Craft Exposition, best new (artist) to show and collectors purchase award, 2015
- American Craft Council, award of excellence, 2015.
- Piedmont Craftsmen, award of excellence, 2017.
Recent show: Smithsonian Craft Show in April. It was the first craft show she has done in five years.
- Revisit work with cyanotype and van dyke process on her handwoven pieces.
- Studying and working with baskets woven off and on the loom.
- Working on another piece of clothing with silkworms and hopes to finish by July.
- Piedmont Craftsmen in Winston-Salem, two-person show, May 6-28.
- Toe River Arts Spring Studio Tour, with 100-plus artists, Spruce Pine, NC, June 3-5.
- Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville, Sept. 2-Oct. 26.
Where to buy: vickiessig.com and at the following galleries:
- Mica Gallery, Bakersville, NC
- Blue Spiral 1, Asheville.
- Penland Gallery, Penland.
- River Gallery, Chattanooga.
- Instagram: vickiessigstudio