Five Questions Salon Edition with Lynn Cooper

Five Questions Salon Edition with Lynn Cooper

Lynn Cooper star rug

A star rug knit by textile artist Lynn Cooper.

On December 12, the American Craft Council Library will present the last session in its five-part fall Salon Series. The Textile Center and the American Craft Council are joining forces for a special holiday edition of the Salon Series. Stars are a traditional textile motif throughout the world, and the use of stars is widespread in holiday traditions and decoration. Join us to embroider a holiday ornament using your choice of traditional star designs. Fiber artist and instructor Lynn Cooper will teaching with assistance from Textile Center staff members. We asked Cooper a few questions about work she’s done, favorite resources, and what we will be doing in our salon. Here’s what she told us:

When did you first start doing embroidery? Do you have a favorite style?
I learned to sew when I was about 6, when my mother finally decreed that I was mature enough to be trusted with sharp objects. I assume that I added self-designed embroidery to the large number of doll and stuffed animal garments that I produced. A few years later, someone's mom came to Girl Scouts and led a couple of lessons in embroidery. Her work was beautiful, and she had a European accent, so I thought she was the most elegant lady in town. I embroidered a grubby little doily, but never finished the edges because I thought the butterfly was stupid. A few weeks later, someone else's mom came and taught us how to hem dish towels on the sewing machine. I embroidered a lily pad on my dish towel and, for some reason, this act of embellishment made the Girl Scout leaders mad. I still can't understand why. I prefer embroidery that is simple and linear. Most of the embroidery I do tends to be on the edges of garments or home projects - a bit of clear color or texture that is often practical as well as attractive.

Give us a teaser, please – which countries are you going to feature as sources of your star motifs?
All I'm willing to say now is mostly Northern Europe. I'll explain my reluctance to elaborate on the night.

For those of us who can't make it to the ACC Library salon, do you have a favorite online embroidery sources you recommend?
For embroidery, I'm much more likely to head to my bookshelf than to my iPad, but I know there is a lot of good craft instruction on the web. Because people learn in different ways, I always encourage students to look at several websites to find the one that makes the most sense for the way their brains work. For anyone interested in the craft, check out Scottish Tapestry. This project is super cool. I will leave you to discover details on your own.

What is your most-read art or craft book in your personal collection?
When the world is just too much, I sometimes lose myself in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion series. The more contemporary "In Detail" series of books about dress from the Victoria and Albert Museum is also a great escape. To be honest though, I don't technically read these old friends anymore. I remember their words. I just look at the pictures.

If you could master a new craft, what would it be?
If I could master any new craft, I would like to try blacksmithing. I normally work on small details with flexible thread, yarn, and fabric. It would be kind of fun to just beat on big hard stuff with huge mallets and get really dirty and smelly.

Our Holiday Salon is currently full, but you can add yourself to the waitlist by visiting our event listing. You can also get your fill of holiday craft by tuning in to the "Holiday" episode of Craft in America, screening on December 22 at 3 p.m. on KCTI, Mpls/St. Paul, MN. Check your local PBS listing for showtimes in other cities. 

Five Questions is a brief Q&A about books and craft, with people who love and use the American Craft Council Library.