Ashford Artist of the Month – Oct 23

Richard and Elizabeth had the pleasure of first meeting Astrid at SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) in Fletcher, North Carolina, in October 2019 as a young and very enthusiastic fibre artist. We are thrilled to see Astrid’s growth in textile experience and knowledge. What a journey it has been for Astrid. 

I hope you enjoy reading her story.


Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
I’m Astrid Tauber and I am a 14-year-old weaver, spinner, and garment designer. I currently live in a suburb just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, USA. I am fortunate to attend The Cut Fashion Design Academy in Vancouver, virtually. I am currently studying flat pattern making and loving every minute of it!  My main focus as an artist is creating garments made with natural fibers and handwoven fabrics. I love pushing the boundaries of handwoven use by creating form-fitting garments and adding technical elements like invisible zippers or zipper flies.

What was your background?
I truly don’t have a “before.” Once someone placed a ball of yarn into my hands at the age of seven and taught me to crochet… I was hooked!

How did you get started on your fibre artist journey?
My first love was crochet. I was seven years old and every time I finished a skein of yarn, I’d ask for another. YouTube was an incredible resource for learning new stitches and I found a few mentors along the way for difficult questions. We would set off for an 8-week summer road trip and I’d fill the belly of our RV with bins filled to the brim with yarn for summer projects.

How did your journey evolve over time?
Crochet was wonderful, but eventually, I started itching to make my own yarn and signed up for a class with Julie Wilson at Carolina Fiber Fest. I was still a small peanut and needed a special chair to be able to reach the treadles on the wheel.  After class, I practiced non-stop and eventually found the rhythm between my feet and my hands. I started building up quite a collection of handspun yarn, but didn’t really enjoy crocheting with it.  What’s a fiber artist to do??  
There was a grandma at our homeschool co-op who was a fellow fiber lover and she invited me over to try her rigid heddle loom. I had found it! The solution for my overflowing handspun collection “problem.”  
I took Kelly Casanova’s rigid heddle boot camp and within weeks I had rigged my little rigid heddle loom to behave like a 4-shaft loom so I could create modified pinwheels. Now I am thankful to have my Ashford Jack loom because the weaving width and design options are a dream!

What do you do with your creations/art/finished pieces?
Oftentimes I create garments for competitions or magazine features and I am lucky enough to keep them. However, I also add extra length to each warp so that I have fabric to make products to sell. I make small, functional items like zipper pouches, headbands, bookmarks, and eyeglass cases that find new and loving homes once they are complete.

Where do you sell it?
I vend at our local farmers market in Summerville, South Carolina each weekend along with some additional local shows for artists. When I vend, I bring either a portable loom or my Ashford e-spinner 3 with me to demonstrate during market hours. It is a wonderful way to share my love of fiber arts with shoppers. Additionally, working in my booth helps my very much introverted self begin conversations more naturally.
I also have an Etsy shop where social media followers around the world can purchase an item made with handwoven fabric that really resonates with them.

Spin anywhere, anytime
Spinning in Yosemite National Park

How do you manage a balanced life as an artist? 
Honestly, I am not sure that I do. Creating is my life and fiber invades my every thought. I am homeschooled and fiber became the foundation for my education years ago. I’ve explored history and geography through breed studies. I’ve explored chemistry through dye projects. I’ve learned technology through weaving software and other online tools necessary to complete my passion projects. My language arts education has come in the form of editing (and editing and editing) articles such as this one! Let’s not forget the endless math that comes with planning a weaving project.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everywhere. I see weaving designs in tile work, I have a Pinterest board full of garments that start my wheels turning and don’t even get me started on Australian artist Ebony Bennett’s parrot paintings. My current obsession is bioluminescent jellyfish and I have gone down such a deep biology rabbit hole on the matter. It has been absolutely fascinating!  

Do you have advice for people just starting out on their fibre journey?
Based on my own experience, there are two pieces of advice I would love to share. The first is for spinners…. spin whatever kind of fiber your heart desires!  If you’re new, you might think you have to “get good” before you should work with silk, cashmere, merino, and all the other awesome options out there. I was told by a number of spinners that I “wasn’t ready” for silk. One day I was at someone’s house trying out a wheel and she reached into her basket of leftovers. She handed me a bit of fiber with no instruction and just said, “Try this!”. I loved it and after a few minutes of spinning asked what it was. Did you already guess that it was silk? It sure was! I have never looked back! I love spinning silk and all the other fibers that some people tried to scare me away from because they were “too slippery” for a newbie.  
My other piece of advice is to buy the dream loom. As creators, we can sometimes be nervous to jump in with both feet because we already have other equipment and we might not like this new medium. However, as someone who upgraded looms three times in one year, I’d suggest just buying the big one to begin! If you don’t like weaving, you can always rehome your loom, but really…. who wouldn’t love weaving? 

Where will your fibre journey take you in the future?
During my high school years, I plan on continuing my studies at The Cut Fashion Design Academy and I have been pondering the weaving Certificate of Excellence offered by the Handweaver’s Guild of America. Beyond that, I dream of graduate studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology and internships at high fashion ateliers. Let’s just say if I ever make it through the front door at Dior, you’ll need to resuscitate me.