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Fiberarts Studios Contest


Rachel Nicholson
Raleigh, North Carolina

My studio is located on the upper floor of a steel building that is sandwiched between the North Carolina State University arboretum and the NCSU vet school. From my back windows, I view beautifully landscaped acres of exotic trees and shrubs, and from the front, a wheat field laden with grazing cows. My approach as an artist is intuitive and experimental, and the serenity of these landscapes helps to calm any insecurity when beginning new work.

The ceilings in the studio/gallery are 18 to 20 feet high and have large white skylights that block the dangerous rays of the sun. Steel trusses were left exposed in the ceiling, and a lighting system has been floated from the truss beams. Studio space is separated from gallery space by an 8-foot free-standing wall. I use the entire gallery area for display, hanging art over all the walls. My daughter is a furniture designer and shares the gallery space.

Workspace in the studio has been designed for convenience in the felting process. The fleece is stored by color and grade of wool in translucent recycling bins, which are stacked on top of each other covering one side of the studio. There is a worktable measuring 4 by 8 feet in the center of the studio, and a finer grade of wool fleece is stored under the table in translucent drawers. I use the colored fleece as a painter does pigment, so it is vital that I can readily see all the colors simultaneously and in context next to each other. A 3- by 4-foot wet station is set up next to the sink for smaller wet-technique pieces. The larger work is prefelted at the wet station and then moved to a front-loading washing machine for part of the fulling process. I use silk fabric and other found materials in my wall hangings, so they are stored in drawer systems on another wall of the studio.

You may take a virtual tour of my studio at Click on the gallery image for a large view, and move the mouse to see specific areas.



Studio photos: Rachel Nicholson.

Rachel Nicholson, Tonal Landscape, 2006; wool fleece, silk fabric, commercial wool batting; felted; 35" x 22" x 1 1/2". Photo: Rachel Nicholson.


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