Back in 2005 when I started Dark Elf Dice, I didn't realize just how many amazing people I'd meet throughout the years. Yes, I had a dream of providing dice and other gaming supplies to people who shared a similar passion for RPG gaming, but I suppose I didn't anticipate the close friendships and relationships I'd make. Truly, the best part of my job is the daily human connection -- meeting people throughout the world and sharing positive stories about gaming and life.
Recently, I had the pleasure of getting to know Janean Easley. Janean and her boyfriend are avid D&D players. Over the holidays she bought two matching sets of metal dice from our shop and I came to know her remarkable story.
Janean not only channels her creative energy into RPG gaming, but into her unique and incredible artwork. She's the founder of Mystic Handworks, an online website featuring her brilliant fiber arts.
Finished dice bag. © Mystic Handworks.
As an artist, she began working with silver and smithing, but she soon grew discouraged with metal work, finding it difficult to make her creations match her vision. It was then that she rediscovered fiber arts -- an art form she first became interested in as a young girl. As Janean explained: "I began working with various disciplines of fiber arts when I was 12 or 13. I carried my interest further with sewing and garment construction in my early twenties."
Years later, Janean expanded her interest in fiber, using knitting, weaving, and spinning to focus her creative passion to handcraft works of exceptional beauty. As she told me:
Fiber art is like wool, it sticks and felts together. When you explore one aspect or technique, another pops up and grabs your interest. Before you know it, you’re trying your hand at various forms of weaving and ordering a spinning wheel. Fiber arts worked for me like nothing else in my life. I’m able to read, look at pictures, and view a video or two and be able to pick up the skill and add my uniqueness to it. I gained an intense interest in old and somewhat forgotten techniques. These vintage techniques are part of my hallmark.
The vintage techniques that Janean refers to are simply fascinating -- especially to a history and fantasy buff like myself. The dice bags pictured in this blog post were created with a technique called Nålbinding, a precursor to knitting from the Viking age. Furthermore, the drawstrings were made using a vintage braiding tool called a lucet (again, dating back to the Viking period).
Dice bag shown with lucet. © Mystic Handworks.
As a true master craftswoman, Janean's fiber art isn't limited to strictly Viking forms. Her techniques include: crocheting, knitting, sewing, embroidery, needlework, inkle weaving, tablet weaving, Navaho and tapestry weaving, spinning, and lace.
Like many people, I've always been fascinated with the entire creative process and the passion that drives people to create beautiful things. It's not only the historical techniques, but the use of color and design in Janean's art that really speaks to me. I see both orderliness and spontaneity -- two normally polar concepts deftly melded into something fresh and new that I readily appreciate.
Dice bag creation process. © Mystic Handworks.
When I asked Janean about what inspires her art, she told me:
I'm inspired by the resourcefulness and hardiness of our ancestors, as can be seen by my interest in formerly common techniques used in everyday life. Use of our brains and hands is becoming less and less common as our society becomes more and more automated. I keep my world a step back by learning the skills of yesterday while utilizing today's technology.
Janean's vision and inspiration are contagious. For her, fiber art is an obsession. She shares her passion by teaching privately and in workshop settings, and is also a member of the Gainesville Handweaver's Guild. Janean uses her incredible talent to truly create art with soul.
When Janean isn't gaming or working on her craft, she's busy studying to become an RN and would one day like to write instructional books for various fiber crafts. Needless to say, she keeps incredibly busy, but like any true artist she's always learning and inspiring others (including yours truly). So please be sure to visit Mystic Handworks to see the variety of amazing art she's created.
The nålebinding technique. © Mystic Handworks.
So there you have it, fellow travelers! As you go about your day I hope you find inspiration in Janean's story and I encourage each and everyone of us live life to the fullest. As I've said many times in the past, life is a gift -- let's make it amazing! Until next time :)