Take on Fiber
by Barney Quick (photo by Chris Gustin)
A fresh creative vision is joining the ranks of art to be seen on the tenth-anniversary Brown County Studio and Garden Tour the last weekend in June. Weaver Sarah Noggle has been creating unique designs, figurines, and puppets for many years, but this is her first participation in the tour, and one of a small number of shows for her.
The other activity that’s been keeping her busy along with making fiber art is teaching. She has conducted classes and given individual lessons at Yarns Unlimited in Bloomington for twenty-five years. She has taught wool felt-making at fiber guilds throughout the Midwest and at Elderhostel workshops at various Indiana state parks. And she has taught spinning at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.
Her work can be found around Brown County. Her rugs grace the floors of the Artists Colony Inn in Nashville.
Noggle has been involved with Bloomington’s Lotus World Music Festival for many years, and once participated in a fiber-art show at the Waldron Arts Center in conjunction with Lotus. For that event, she worked with the theme of the archetype of the trickster in various cultures. Several of the figurines in that show were rabbits, which, she says, are frequent symbols for tricksters. She also exhibited a Kashari, a trickster character from Hopi culture, and the Turkish Nasradin. “They’re the ones that kind of make people straighten up their acts,” she explains.
Noggle’s entire family is creative in the broadest sense of taking raw materials of one sort or another and crafting something of lasting aesthetic value. Her husband designs houses, and the building of them is a real team effort. The family finds clients by way of a low-key marketing effort, consisting mainly of word of mouth. “One daughter comes in from Idaho to help. Another comes in from Atlanta. Our son is an electrician who designs lighting fixtures.” Sarah, of course, is enlisted to provide rugs.
She has always liked to draw. Her exposure to weaving came early as well. “My nose was at the height of the front beam of Grandma Percival’s [a well-known Brown County weaver] loom when I took notice of what she was doing. She made sparkly stuff and navy-blue wool things.”
Noggle still focuses more on color than on exploring intricate structure. She also prefers natural fibers. In the same spirit as her Lotus involvement, she likes to blend influences from various cultures. “I once made a rug that had an African pattern and Andean colors for a Filipino customer,” she says.
Sarah likes the physicality of weaving. “I once conducted an experiment with a cat,” she recalls. “I gave it three blankets to choose from, one made from store-bought wool, one that was store-bought but hand-woven, and one that was hand-spun and hand-woven. The cat went right to the last one, so I think the energy of the work stays in these things.”
She also enjoys the solitude of weaving. “I’ve listened to a lot of books on tape,” she says. Tour participants will understand why she is drawn to her studio one they take in the view overlooking a wide ravine bathed in green from the windows on the deck side.
The studio’s floor is interesting as well. “My daughter and I dyed the beech wood squares with the dyes you use on plant fibers,” she says. The result is an array of intriguing patterns that invites extended pondering.
Her puppets elicit perhaps her most personal involvement. “I did this wolf puppet in two days,” she recalls. “I’d get to certain points in the process and say, ‘You’re so darn cute! Who are you?’” Some of her puppets have gone to puppeteers, but she says that generally “if someone inspires me, that’s who gets the piece.”
Sarah looks forward to sharing her take on the world of fiber in June with visitors during the Studio and Garden Tour.
Her studio is at 3113 Clay Lick Road, and she can be contacted at (812) 988-0240 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.