Jill Nordfors Clark

My interest in contemporary basketry has evolved over a forty year career in the fiber arts, specifically embroidery.

After venturing south at age 19 from my birthplace, Victoria BC, to the University of Washington in Seattle, I completed my BA in Interior Design. Rather than return to Victoria to work in my father’s retail furniture store as planned, I adopted Seattle as my new home.

My early design work developed from a love of sewing, fabric, yarn, and threads. A chance meeting with a noted author and embroiderer led to the writing, illustration and publication of my two books on Needle Lace, a form of lace made with a needle and thread.

As a result of my book publication, I was immediately recognized as “The Lace Lady”, and I was invited to teach workshops all over the USA, in New Zealand and in the UK. I have been an instructor at four NBO national conferences.

Along with teaching came exhibitions, the highlight being one of four artists from the USA invited to participate in the International Triennial of Tapestry in Poland in 2016.

I am grateful to have my work included in many private and museum collections including the David and Sara Lieberman, and the Lloyd Cotsen collections, Racine Art Museum, and Pacific Lutheran University.

My work took a turning point in 1989 when my husband convinced me to go river rafting in Alaska. At the museum in Anchorage I “discovered” the work of native artists who traditionally used seal and walrus gut (better known as sausage casing) to make clothing and vessels. I was hooked! I learned that seal and walrus gut are protected by law and can be used only by indigenous people, but hog gut (opaque when wet, translucent and parchment-like when dry), could serve as a readily available substitute.

I have now been living in Tacoma WA, and working with gut for about 20 years. My “title” has been changed to the “Gut Lady”. When I discovered that wet gut could be threaded on a large needle and used as a thread, then dried over a mold it would be stiff and could stand on its own, my work suddenly changed from two dimensional to three dimensional. Basketry was a natural transition for me by combining my knowledge of needle lace stitches with gut, an intriguing material with infinite sculptural possibilities. My thanks for the welcoming and supportive basketry community!

More about Jill on her website: Jill Nordfors Clark

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