Artist Kacie Lynn makes clothing, art—and more—from her Alpacas
The process that an artist uses to create their art is every bit as important as the final product. One could say that this truth applies to many things in life—entertainment, food, and clothing being just a few examples.
In this country, many people have no idea where their clothing actually comes from. They know what brand it is and where they bought it, but most don’t care what factory it was made in or who made it. This separation from the process has caused a serious international problem. An uncomfortably large population of people throughout the world, many of them women and children, live and work in conditions of extreme poverty to make the textiles that we buy in stores.
In addition to their questionable labor practices, the factories that produce our clothing also generate an incredible amount of pollution. This is why fiber artist Kacie Lynn is concerned with responsible material sourcing. After completing her degree in Apparel Design, she began to search for a way to follow her passion without using mass produced textiles.
“I really admire folks who take a problem and turn it into a viable business,” she explains. “The folks at Reunion Yarn Company are a huge inspiration for me as their entire business model seeks to revolutionize the way we think about garment consumption and recycling.”
While on a camping trip during her internship with Kavu, Kacie visited an Alpaca farm and became fascinated with the Llama-like South American species. She decided to farm them, and to use the fiber they produced to make her own textiles. Everything that she produces on her farm involves her small herd—she raises the animals, shears them, spins their hair into yarn, and uses it to make a variety of things, including fine art, garments, and even planters.
It was worth every minute of the hour-long drive up Monteagle to see Kacie’s farm. It was astounding how tame the animals were. As we walked around the property, Kacie was followed everywhere by Penelope the sheep, a little lamb that she rescued. Penelope was cute, but nowhere near as precious as newborn Ophelia, the herd’s first cria.
If you’ve never seen a baby Alpaca, it looks like something out of the Littlest Pet Shop.
“This week, beauty was standing out in the barn at 4 a.m. watching Ophelia finally begin to nurse on her own. Beauty is not being afraid to take a risk for something you believe in, and being willing to sacrifice for it,” Lynn said.
After touring the farm and surrounding forest, we stepped inside the farm house where Kacie showed me the process of turning the Alpaca fiber into yarn. The fiber is first put into a drum carder, a device that aligns the fibers in a uniform direction. The carder also makes it possible to blend different colors of fibers together. After being removed from the carder, the fibers are spun into yarn using a traditional spinning wheel.
She uses a loom to weave scarves, crochets hats, and recycles unusable fiber into planters and dryer balls (a natural and reusable alternative to dryer sheets). She makes her own dyes to create natural, organic, earthy fabrics—in some cases, she uses rust to create patterns that resemble abstract batik work.
In addition to her line of fine craft products, she is also producing a series of fine art pieces. The wall hanging assemblages have a natural look, most of them incorporating found objects with natural fibers. Their designs are elegant and compositionally pleasing, and their energy is serene.
“The textile wall pieces are assembled with various selections of cotton, wool, hemp, linen, and silk that have been naturally dyed,” she explains. “The bones come from neighboring farms and random adventures in the woods. The wood I use comes everywhere from old barns to partially burned down motels. I tend to subconsciously gather materials for a piece over a period of time; a few months to a couple years perhaps.
“The most recent pieces I created have wool from fellow farmers’ herds, horse bones from a farm I lived on years ago, and barn wood from my neighbors. Once I have enough cohesive elements, I begin putting them together to create something.”
Kacie’s work can be seen online at fiberfarm.net and farm visits are available by appointment. Just be ready for a cute overload.