Escanaba fiber artist Carol Irving discusses her woven creations and current DeVos exhibit

MARQUETTE — Carol Irving is a fiber artist who makes woven creations like these in her Escanaba home studio. She’s had her work featured in numerous exhibits and art shows, and she’s been perfecting her craft for most of her life.

“I have been weaving for over 40 years,” Carol said. “I got into weaving in general when I was still in high school; I had a friend who got me into it. We started off with frame looms, just did very freeform weaving and lots of found objects like bark and feathers and shells incorporated into the projects. They were pretty small pieces. And things just kind of kept going from there.”

Carol’s love of weaving grew over the next few years. She developed an incredible skill and passion for fiber arts.

“After that I taught myself,” said Carol. “I’m all self–taught. I did take a weaving workshop back in the late 80s with a British rug weaver, and that started everything. He used a different technique called ‘shaft switching.’ I bought a loom that’s very specific to that. All my designs are my own designs, and allow me a lot more creative license and to do different things in my creations and my design process.”

That design process is quite unique. Carol takes photographs of the beauty she finds around her own home, and she turns those photos into rugs and wall hangings.

“We’re now living on Lake Michigan, and I’ve been very inspired every morning and every evening by sunrises and sunsets,” Carol said. “I have software where I can bring that photograph into the software, and it digitizes it. And I’m able to translate that photograph into a woven project.”

Carol currently has some of her work on display at the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University. The exhibit features designs of endangered wildflowers specific to the Upper Peninsula or the state of Michigan.

“It’s called ‘A Weaver’s Journal of Endangered Wildflowers,” explained Carol. “That’s a project that I started in 2016, and I worked on it specifically and extensively for 2 years. There are 12 panels in all, and each panel highlights a different threatened or endangered wildflower.”

Carol has two bachelor’s degrees, and one of those is in botany. She combined her knowledge of these flowers with her passion for art to make an exhibit that is not only enjoyable, but informative. The exhibit includes journals detailing the wildflowers and informing people of how they can help protect these plants.

“Along with the journals, I also have some tips on what they can do to minimize threatened and endangered wildflowers, or any species for that matter,” Carol said.

The exhibit will be on display at the DeVos Art Museum until the March 29. To learn more about Carol and her unique creations, visit her website or Facebook page.