Sharron B. Parker

Durham, NC | Exhibiting Since 1983

When I was growing up in Florida, I loved coming to the North Carolina mountains for a week or two of summer camp; it was cooler, had rugged but lovely scenery, and some great old stone buildings. So I chose to come to NC for college, where I studied art, education, and interior design. After college, I took regular jobs — teaching, working in a shop — just doing art in my spare time. But a weekend in the mountains took me to Penland School of Crafts, where there was one space left in a two-month-long weaving class. It seemed like fate, since I was between jobs, having just moved to Raleigh.
Spending that time with the artists/craftsmen at Penland made us want to be a fiber artist full time. But I knew the reality was that I could not expect fiber art to offer much in the way of income; my husband and I would have to live a simple lifestyle, and I would need to work hard just to pay the expenses of a studio. So began my career as an artist.
I knew I wanted to work with textiles, and at first, I wove pillows, scarves, etc. which I knew I could sell in galleries and craft fairs. But I also took part-time jobs, for added income. Then in 1980, I saw handmade felt — the oldest textile technique, dating to the Stone Age — for the first time. Almost nobody was working in that medium, but I decided it was what I wanted to do. And it is what I have done now, for more than 40 years.
Now that I am much older, I can tell you that following my heart, in doing something a little weird and crazy, has a happy ending. In a couple of months, I will have a show of my handmade felt wall pieces and teach a workshop, in an old textile mill in a medieval village in France.
I will get to see lots more old stone buildings, cave paintings (which go with my Neolithic textile technique), and travel through areas as beautiful as the NC mountains.