Name: Emily Barton
As a self taught knitter, crocheter, embroiderer, and weaver, Emily Barton never let her 17 year old self's dream of owning her own creative fiber arts business waver. Carrying her passion for fibers through college, and even into her own wedding (where she crocheted a 10 ft. altar!), Emily has created a homegrown, truly handmade business.
Voted one of USA Today's Best American Makers, we had the pleasure of working with Emily as she designed one of her classic macrame necklaces for us.
Learn more about Emily's fiber art journey below, and get your exclusive kit here!
When did you start weaving/crafting? How did you learn?
I started knitting and then soon after crocheting when I was 17 years old (I’m now 28). I bought a book and some yarn and needles on a whim and started teaching myself with a garter stitch scarf. After that first project I was hooked and I bought all of the books I could and watched lots of youtube videos when I got stuck on a specific technique or stitch. Not long after learning to knit and crochet, I picked up weaving, macrame and even some embroidery techniques in the following years, all self taught.
What is your favorite memory involving your craft?
When I was in college studying studio art, my art department didn’t have a program focusing on fibers, but my passion for design and art all developed from my love of knitting and crocheting. I had some wonderful, encouraging professors, one in particular who pushed me to pursue a couple of independent studies focusing on fiber art sculpture. I had the opportunity to make several knit/crochet installation art pieces, one of which is still installed above the sculpture studio at my alma mater.
What inspired you to create your own small business?
When I started Barton Craft & Design, I was fabricating handmade displays for a retail company, and while I loved getting the chance to use my hands and create everyday, the ultimate result wasn’t always my own aesthetic or vision. I was still craving a creative outlet that was with my preferred medium and entirely of my own design. Whether it’s been knitting, crocheting, macrame, or weaving, I’ve always felt that fiber art has such a rhythmic and cathartic nature and it has always fulfilled me more than any other art form. The aftermath of planning my wedding (which was very DIY and involved a large crochet tapestry at the altar) also inspired me to start my small creative business. After months of grueling work, I realized I now had all this time that I could utilize to really pour my heart into my own creations. I’ve honestly dreamt of having a business involving fiber art since I was in high school just learning to knit.
Emily and her crochet altarpiece. Source: @bartoncraftanddesign
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your fiber arts career?
The biggest challenge for me in my fiber arts career has been finding the time to get the necessary work done and also balance creative experimentation. I’ve always been interested in multiple techniques, crafts, mediums, etc. and it’s a challenge for me to hone in on what I really want to create, what will sell, and what will continue to push me as an artist.
What tips do you have for other crafters who are looking to take their art to the next level?
I have always made the time to pursue what drives my passion, whether that means knitting a few rows a day, making something just to frog it later, or sketching some vague ideas down on paper. Every little action is a step toward realizing your dreams. My biggest piece of advice to fellow crafters, is to devote whatever little chunk of time you have to your craft first, and to just go for it. Often times we get hung up on this idea that when we have the right schedule, tools, more money, time etc. we’ll be ready to take the leap. The reality is that small steps add up to big payoffs over time and we’re never more ready then now. That doesn’t mean you have to be doing it full time right away, but make the strides you can now within the confines that you have. You’ll look back in no time and realize that you’re making it happen because you’ve committed to pursuing your passion.
What’s next for you?/What are your goals for 2018?
I am working toward participating in vendor fairs, craft shows and more in person events in the next year, possibly even some art exhibitions. I’d also like to start making more installation based fiber art again and hope to soon sustain myself completely with my fiber art.