Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interview with Sandra Tyler

 Sandra is from Long Island, NY

The name of her store: Sandra’s Fiberworks
 Random Facts about You?
 Published author of two novels; former professor of writing; worked in graphics for years to support my writing.  Now I have two young boys, 5 and 7, who have transformed me creatively, as now I am a weaver!
I'm the author of two novels, “Blue Glass” (A New York Times Notable Book of the Year) and “After Lydia”, both published by Harcourt Brace. You can find them on Amazon. They're literary novels, about mothers and daughters and sisters.
How long ago have you started weaving?
About 5 years ago
What got you started weaving?
 I missed having the project of writing a novel; rather, I missed having that sustained creative outlet, something I could return to daily. With two toddlers, only 17 months apart, it was the first time in my entire life that I did not have the time, focus or energy for anything creative. That void made me anxious and unsettled. I thought about knitting, but knew I would get in knots and wind up abandoning the project – weaving appealed to me, as you can rarely get in knots. You may have to rip something out, but I’ve never abandoned a weaving project, unless I just didn’t like it!
So I ordered a child’s peg tapestry loom. From there, I bought books on tapestry weaving, and began making my own looms, first the standard frame wood loom with nails, and then the Archie Brennan pipe looms – I loved those. Worked on them until I realized I was serious about this, and invested in my beloved Mirrix loom.
Any particular technique(s) that you enjoy the most?
Tapestry weaving is my favorite, as tapestry is closest to painting; alongside the writing, I have always been drawing or painting, and just before I discovered tapestry weaving, I was working in collage (boys’ naptime, I’d retreat to the basement).  Not only do I feel I am painting with yarn, but as well, incorporating collage techniques of combining different textures of yarn or even raw fiber, as well as entirely different mediums – ribbon, string, even torn fabrics, anything that can be woven.

What part the process makes you the most passionate?
Hard question. I love the rhythmic process of weaving. I can’t do it for hours on end, and that’s why I think I moved on to the rigid heddle, for variety. I didn’t think it would interest me as much as the tapestry, but since I started making handbags and scarves, I haven’t touched my Mirrix loom in over six months!
I also love experimenting with different textured and weighted yarns. That’s where I’m really in touch with the side of me that loves drawing, painting and collage: seeing how one color and texture works up against another. As warp meets weft, those color and texture combinations can surprise and excite in the most unexpected ways.
What is your source of inspiration?
I love looking at other fiber artists, but truthfully, as to tapestry anyway, my mother’s paintings inspire me most. She is an abstract expressionist, and has been painting large abstract landscapes her whole life. Subconsciously, my tapestries always wind up as landscapes.  But, as is true to my mother’s painting, my expression is intuitive, never planned. She never has painted from photographs; I never use cartoons behind my tapestries. As to rigid heddle weaving, I still feel in touch with the collage aspect, as I’m less interested in producing something pretty, than interesting and surprising, with nubby highly textures yarns.
Where do you sell?
 Mostly at local craft shows. I’ve been on Etsy for some time, but my New Year’s resolution was to try and really push the online selling – not easy!
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I’m a full-time mother of our two boys, ages 5 and 7. I’m a 40-something mom, with a whole professional writing career behind me; I’ve met my goals, in that sense. But having children has transformed me creatively – the cerebral of writing appeals less than the tactile. Rather, the tactile has become more accessible. This transformation, is all the subject of my blog, and what has actually gotten me back to writing as well as weaving!

What first made you want to become an artist?
No real decision here. I was always exploring a creative outlet. For some reason it was the writing I pursued, earning my MFA in writing; writing two novels; teaching creative writing on the undergraduate and graduate level for years. Then my life changed when I had children, and so did my priorities.
Please describe your creative process: how, when, materials, etc.:
Well, overhead is pretty cheap, as I look for yarn sales, and beyond that, it’s about weft and warp, ribbon, and sometimes beads. I usually pick the colors I want to experiment with, and then see where it goes. It’s all intuitive, and that’s what finally keeps me moving from one project to the next.
 What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My mother’s paintings that she has given me.
Can you tell us more about those paintings?
I'm not sure how else to elaborate on my mother's painting, except that she paints intuitively, the same way I approach y tapestry; never from photographs. Her paintings are an emotional response to landscape rather than a literal one. You can see her work at:
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
That’s a hard one, as I’ve been on Etsy for a couple of years, but feel brand new, as I’m only now really paying attention to my shop (now that both my boys are finally in school!). I would say be sure you have your own website up and running, blog, and Tweet Tweet Tweet. Exhausting, and I can’t swear by any of this advice as I have yet to see an end result, but other than that, it’s depending on craft shows that are also hit or miss. All in all, to pursue the online avenue, on some level you have to enjoy it and think of it as a social as well as creative outlet. To keep yourself coming back again and again!
What weaving activities or guilds to you participate in?
Do you have a website, blog, Facebook page, or other online endeavors?

That was our interview with Sandra. We've learned a lot, but one of the most important things - when we feel love and passion, we are able to go fearlessly through the new experiences, caring gracefully the power of ACHIEVEMENTS! Doesn't matter how they are being measured...

Great job, Sandra!


  1. Being an avid blogger, Sandra is also encouraging everyone to share Blog pages with her, so that she can promote them on her personal page. Please go to her Blog pages and become her Friend!

  2. Hi Sandra! So nice to get to know you!! You articulated alot of what I feel when weaving--the unexpectedness of it, the texture, the color combinations! Lovely interview. Now I'm off to check out your shop! xo Cait

  3. Oh, it makes me want to try tapestry weaving! I'm so glad that you found an outlet for your creativity while raising small children.
    We'd like to have links to all of our members' blogs in the blogroll in the right sidebar. If you have one that is not there, please let the captain know so that we can add it.

  4. Gosh, I'm really touched by these comments -- you get lost in cyberspace, so it's nice to be noticed, if just for a few minutes!

    I have set up a page on my blog to post your shops, just as a little promo thing, if you're interested:

    Thanks again for your wonderful support and new friendship! I look forward to following your own blogs.

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  6. PincushionCrazy said...
    A very nice article...I now feel like I know you.

    I love following the journey of artists into their craft and how it fits into their personal lives.


  7. This was an amazing interview. Sandra is one of the sweetest artists I've met here on Etsy. We chat and help each other out with our doubts, questions and fears through convo's. I'm so glad we somehow met and joined the Etsy weavers team because it's just been a great support system. She's so supportive of all the weavers...just a beautiful person inside and out.

    You are an amazing artist Sandra. Love your work. I've learned even more about you. I didn't realize about the Tapestry weaving. I too design tapestry's but for machine woven fabric. I would love to learn how to hand weave a tapestry. That would be amazing. We have so much in common. I loved your moms paintings. I paint emotion based as well. I loved your pictures. So cute. I'm so happy for you right now. I wish you nothing but the best. xoxo -Michele Soares

  8. Michele, to your and everyone's pleasure I think we would be able to feature a "How To" session with Sandra in the near future. We are working on it!

  9. Thanks again, everyone -- nice feedback. And if you want to be featured in my "Fiber Cybershop" (Alvant is showcased right now! Her work is truly unique and gorgeous!) submit your link at:

    I'm trying to do a rotating gallery so would love to feature some of you!

  10. Wow, thank you, Sandra!!! I hope the rest of the team takes you upon your offer ;-)) will be a full-time job there! ;-))

  11. Enjoyed this interview so much. Great to get to know you a bit, Sandra.

  12. Thank you Sandra for this interview! I love to know about weavers lives! About their work an their normal life! It is usefull to create a woldwide community!

  13. Thanks so much! And as you post, I love visiting all your shops, so inspiring!