Karen Thorn’s grandmother and mother were both avid sewers when she was growing up, so it’s no surprise that she has a passion for fibre arts.
She’s always dabbled in it—weaving and dying yarn, for example—and she opened SheepStrings, a wool shop, in 2003. The SheepStrings storefront closed in 2009 but has always remained behind-the-scenes, and Thorn dreamt of opening her own gallery where she could showcase makers like herself.
That dream will become a reality when Fibre, a retail gallery and fibre arts studio that will showcase her own brand as well as other local fibre artisans, opens this weekend.
Thorn’s passion for fibre lead her back to school later in life. She attended Haliburton School of Art and Design where she learned to work with many types of textiles, including needle felting and screen felting. She received a certificate in Fibre Arts, finishing with top honours, in 2017.
Thorn’s final course project was a coat that was nominated for the national BMO 1st Art! competition. “To be recognized by the people I was learning from was truly quite an honour and it pushed me to develop my own brand of clothing and funky coat wear,” said Thorn.
Thorn’s brand, Frockful of Funk, uses different textiles to create one-of-a-kind clothing pieces.
“The tag line for my brand is is ‘transformation beyond belief’,” says Thorn. “I like taking something very similar and turning it into something beyond your imagination. The crazier it is, the better!”
She has won other awards for her work, including People’s Choice Award for a Fibre Art Concept Piece at the 2019 Wearable Arts Show in Oakville and second place in the Fashion Fallies show at the Haliburton School of Arts.
“I like telling a story from start to finish of each piece,” says Thorn. “I’ve always been complimented in what I wear and people told me to start this journey. I never thought I would be sewing since it was more my mom’s thing but when I went to school it was pretty evident this was what I wanted to do. I used to hate sewing but I’ve found a calm and a passion within it. Each time I start a new product I get more and more excited.”
In addition to Fibre and Frockful of Funk, Thorn still intends to take on passion projects and commissions within her realm.
The lower level of Fibre will be a work area, the mid-level will be the gallery where she plans to feature the works of about 10 artisans from Muskoka and Ontario including clothing, accessories, wall art, and other textile pieces, and upstairs Thorn plans to host classes and workshops once the COVID-19 pandemic settles.
Above: Some of the items you’ll find at Fibre, Huntsville’s new retail gallery and fibre arts studio (photos: Sydney Allan)
Fibre will feature the works of Karen Thorn (Frockful of Funk wearables), Marni Martin (weaving), Zara Gardner (ceramics), Kate Carder Thompson (spinning), Pam Carnochan (needle-felted watercolour wall art), Sandi Luck (nuno-felted wearables), Grey Matter Collection (accessories), Ro and Jo (hand-painted and screened handbags), TL Indigo Wearables (indigo-dyed wearables), Ana Falceta (textile wall art), Artisan Accessories (bags and accessories), Diane Bickley (knits), and Beebagz (beeswax food storage bags), with more soon to come.
Thorn invites other artisans to contact her if they are interested in showcasing their products in the gallery. Call her at 705-990-2888 or email email@example.com.
Fibre will be open on Sunday, July 12 and will be open Sundays through Wednesdays from 10-5 or by appointment/chance. It’s located at 494 Muskoka Road 3 North. See more images and follow Fibre on Instagram @fibrehuntsville.
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