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Featured Artist: Jessie Nordholm of Hello Purl

by EBlack on August 2, 2012

Publishers Note: This week’s featured artist was our very first Reader’s Favorite winner of the Secret Stash contest. Jessie Nordholm is an amazing talent from Hello Purl.  We have already heard from her partner in crime,  Melissa Bohrtz, the other half of Hello Purl, and now Jessie is sharing her thoughts with us. She  has truly embraced fiber artistry, and is dedicated to teaching and exposing as many people as she can to this outstanding craft.    I know you will enjoy getting to know Jessie better…
Spin Artiste (SA): Hello Jessie, we are excited to hear from you! I understand you have been involved in fiber art for about 6 years now. How would you describe your journey in fiber so far?
Jessie Nordholm (JN): My journey in fiber arts has been a continued path of change and growth. I started out as just a knitter and then a few years later became a spinner.  When I first learned to spin, I spun very traditional yarns. Then when I became friends with (and then business partners with) Melissa Bohrtz, I came out of my comfortable spinning zone and started experimenting with making art yarns. I love all the skills that is required to make a well balance and high quality art yarn.
SA:  Sounds like you have really become a fiber expert. You spin, dye, knit, and felt  –  you seem to do it all! What facet of fiber art do you most enjoy?
JN:  I love to dye! I love hand painting the top and dyeing the different fibers we use to create art batts including local farm raised fleece.  One of my other favorite fibers to dye is faux cashmere because the colors come out bright and true.  I could spend days on end dyeing if I had a large enough dyeing area and time.
SA:  It is clear you are truly a talent, and I hear you enjoy sharing your skills with others. Tell us a little about your experience teaching.
JN:  I try to spin at every event that our local spinning guild attends as part of public fiber arts demonstrations.  I also teach classes at the DIY studio in Green Bay, WI with Melissa.  We teach knitting, wet felting, nuno felting, needle felting, and spinning classes.
SA:  Hello Purl is building great reputation, and it seems you and Melissa have been really successful. How did you and Melissa pair up to become such a fantastic fiber duo?
JN: We meet at our local spinning guild.  Our first real bonding experience was when I came over to her house to teach her how to wash a raw Corriedale fleece.  A few months later, we became business partners after she started Hello Purl.  We shared a  booth at an art shows together, and decided it would be fun and much easier if we just worked together.
SA: It is great to hear about artists working together to expand their artistic abilities.  How has working with Melissa influenced your work, and vice versa?
JN: Working with Melissa has made me trying new things such as creating textured art batts, spinning art yarns, and making wood and stone buttons.  Working with her has helped allow me expand my skill level too.  I think Melissa has become more outgoing especially with talking to people at our art and fiber shows and spinning demonstrations.  I tend to do the talking and now she seems more eager to jump right in.
SA: How would you describe your artistic style?
JN: My artistic style is very much about technique, control, and color.
SA:  That is a winning combination and it shows in your work.  Describe your studio/work space.
JN:  My studio is a spare bedroom in my house.  I have a large cabinet with counter top that my grandpa built.  It holds all the fun add-ins for art batts like silk noil and Angelina sparkle.  I also have wire cubes that holds the rest of the fiber, including hand dyed fleeces with lots of locks.  I also took over the laundry room for dyeing.  I can set up all my turkey roaster and have an area where I can layout combed top for hand painting. There is also a large wash sink, which is really nice.
SA: What are your preferred tools of the trade? Tell us about your wheel!
JN: I have two wheels. I have a Jensen Tina 2 and a Schacht Ladybug with a bulky flyer.  I really like both wheels. The Jensen Tina 2 lives at my cabin in Michigan, so I can spin on the weekends. The Schacht Ladybug is my traveling wheel.  I also have a Louet classic drum carder that used to live a Melissa’s house until she got one of her own.  So now I can card batts whenever I feel the need.
SA:  I read on your blog that, about a year ago, you had just started “art” yarn. You said that you were learning to step outside of your comfort zone. Looking back, how have you grown as a fiber artist?
JN:  I have grown as a fiber artist by trying new fibers like faux cashmere, corn, milk fiber as well as working with different breeds of sheep wool in my dyeing, spinning and carding. I’ve also been experimenting with colors and various color combination.
SA:  Did you ever imagine you would be in a business related to fiber arts? If you weren’t in fiber art where would you see yourself?
 JN:  No, I didn’t imagine myself being in business in the fiber arts world.  I don’t think I would be if I hadn’t meet Melissa.  When I’m not working at my day job as a journeyman electrician,  I’m always doing something with fiber for our business.  I would continue at my day job and create with fiber just for fun even if I wasn’t part a fiber arts business.
SA: You seem to really have fiber running through your veins! None of us could forget your win as Reader’s Favorite in our very first Secret Stash. Tell us more about your piece, Black Shatter, and what inspired your creation. 
JN: A necklace or cowl – I just thought it would be a good way to show off different types of yarns with all the different materials.  I had also just taken a beginning crochet class and learned how to make a flower and wanted to try making another flower.
SA:  The necklace was truly beautiful; a well deserved win. Now for a curve ball; what is your favorite midnight snack?
JN: Usually sleep like a rock…so no midnight snacking for me.
SA: Ha!  If only I could be like you on that one…It has really been a pleasure getting to know more about you, Jessie. You are a creative artist who seems to love learning and growing in your art.  Could you leave us with a recent “ah ha” moment  you experienced while in the creative fiber process?
JN: I have a lot of “ah ha” moments when I’m dyeing.  I’ve been experimenting with different brands of professional acid dyes to see how well colors and dye brands take on different fibers and if the dyes split.
SA:  Very cool!  Jessie, again, thanks so much…Readers, guess what?  Jessie has a giveaway for one of you…4 oz. of hand painted faux cashmere in the colorway she’s named “Delish!” (pictured at right).  If you’d like to get in on the giveaway fun, leave a comment at the end of the post letting us know what yummy project you’d have in store for this fab fiber if you win.  A winner will be picked at random after 5 PM this coming Sunday night.  Additional entries for sharing on FB, tweeting, etc.  Just leave an extra comment letting us know you did.  Best of luck to all!  Arlene

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