I have always been a maker. From the time I was a kid, I spent hours turning scrap materials into something else. I can't tell you when it started but I remember exactly when everything changed.

In elementary school, I learned how to make stuffed toys from a kind lady who ran an after-school program. That was cool but what REALLY sticks out in my mind is the very first time I made a toy from a pattern that wasn't given to me. Here I was, a kid in elementary school recreating perfectly well a professionally manufactured product. And that - THAT is what made me fall in love with craft. Learning the skills to make something specific until you understand the process well enough to bend it to your own will.

That experience of creating something from nothing changed me. I have a bottomless desire to understand how things are made, and to learn them from start to finish. When I wanted to learn weaving, I started by building a loom. When I picked up spinning (no, the other kind - think yarn), it was a struggle to stop short of actually shearing a sheep myself (though I try to visit my favourite farmers on shearing day to pick out my fleeces). The better I understand all parts of the process, the more control and, at the same time, the more freedom I have in what I'm making.

Olena with a handwoven pillow


In recent years, two primary interests emerged as ones that bring me the most joy: printmaking and fibre. While they are completely different, I realized that I what I enjoy most about each process is the methodical way in which I practice both of these. Whether I am sketching, carving linoleum blocks, or weaving threads, the pattern emerges slowly and deliberately. Line by line. You can't rush this. And even when you reach the level of a true craftsman, the process is the same. Your technique may be different but you're still creating something line by line.