17 Oct Inspiration Diaries with Margaret Hluch
Margaret Hluch and I have been friends and collaborators for pretty much my entire 14 years being in business. She has exhibited, sold her scarves, sold her husband’s pottery, taught many of our classes, and collaborated with me in hosting the classes. She has also been my friend. Sitting down with her in her studio to talk about creativity and what it means to be an artist, I learned even more about this very special woman.
“For me, it’s not so much about feeling like an artist. It’s who I am, it’s my being and I pretty much knew that my entire life. It is something that comes naturally to me and I love doing it.”
Margaret graduated from Kent State University with a BFA in textiles. She found textiles her junior year when she took weaving. That and surface design became her focus for her last two years there. Besides weaving, she enjoyed batik and screenprinting which was being developed at the time that she was a senior in college. Margaret continued on to graduate school at St Cloud University. Her husband was teaching there and she was able to get a masters in textiles with a weaving focus.
Although weaving has wavered in and out of Margaret’s life, she has always worked in textiles as an artist and teacher. She has never stopped. Within the art world, textile trends have moved from weaving to surface design to quilting and then ultimately into the digital world. She found it increasingly difficult to sell her weavings as the trends and economy changed.
While spending a semester teaching in Korea, there was no loom. She began to collage using paper, fabric, thread, felting and encaustics (a method of collaging using hot wax). After an eight year break from weaving, she is back to weaving. “It’s something I know I do well and I enjoy it.” Her current work takes techniques from the past but incorporates skills and experiences she has learned since then. She weaves simply, unsure of where each piece is going to go. If she needs to she can add an image or add texture with felting and thread. “I love to incorporate collage into my weavings as well.”
1. What inspires you? Travel inspires me. Also historical textiles, art and nature. In my art, I pull from my own life images that are universal as well. The viewer can take from it what they want. Artists get ideas historically when they start out and from there they make it their own. Travelling to Kenya, the Middle East, Egypt, Costa Rica… you get inundated with everything around you. It truly affects you.
2. How do you turn those ideas into action? I think it flows through my fingertips. Something will strike me… after I had my son Matthew, my husband gave me a bouquet of flowers. The colors and the vibrant Iris were so beautiful that I had to do a painting. Later I did a weaving based on the painting.
3. Do you start with a plan or are you spontaneous? With weaving, it is a crazy process. I get the warp ready. Once it is laid out, it is a blank canvas. I paint the threads with dye. They need to be taut and in order meticulously. I paint from thumbnail sketches. I have the composition part all laid out when I paint the thread. It is done slowly and gradually until it’s done. Then it’s washed, dried, put on the loom and I weave line by line. I have to immediately make a decision. It can be frustrating but I try to just build it and let it go. With my encaustic work, it goes more with the flow and I’m not sure where it will end up.
4. What is the greatest enemy to creativity? Time. There is never enough and weaving is especially time consuming.
5. How do you get yourself out of a creative rut? You just have to go for it. When I started weaving again, I just had to start and go with what I knew and build on that. We can all put barriers in front of us and use this excuse and that excuse. I put art in the front of my lifestyle.
6. What does an average day in the life look like? I always make coffee. That first cup is very important. Then I chill out, and make a small yogurt granola breakfast. Then I go to my yoga mat. It’s important for me to do yoga in the morning. I do it pretty much every day. It makes me feel better physically and mentally and I totally believe in it 100%. Then I work in my studio if I am not teaching that day. I also have to maintain my garden and orchids. At 6′ oclock it’s time for the news, cocktails and dinner.
7. Who are your mentors? My first mentor was my 6th grade teacher, Mrs Birch. She was totally my advocate. To have someone find something really good about you it gives you confidence. She read to us and talked to us about listening. That was something that really stuck with me and over the years I see how important it is to listen. When I was in undergrad, I had supportive textile teachers but as a graduate student I had to become my own mentor. It is up to me to have a critical eye, know how to finish the work and how to promote it. And my husband. He is always extremely supportive of me doing my artwork.
8. What other hobbies do you enjoy? I love gardening. I love cooking really good food. And I love to dance.
9. How do you maintain balance? To maintain balance you have to prioritize and realize what is important and what makes you happy. I’m married, have children and like doing art. I have to deal with it all to be successful. Those other interests help me create better art; travel, seeing shows, gardening, family, cooking…all of it comes into creating my art.
10. What words of wisdom do you have for others embarking on their own creative journey? Try not to be so critical of yourself. Learn from everything you do and take something positive from it. You will grow and get better and better. It’s tough,; there are not a lot of outlets or information on being an artist so you need to know within your heart that what you are doing is good and worthwhile. Take classes, look at exhibits, travel…travel is really important.
This November and December you can find Margaret’s current work at The Muse for her first weaving exhibit in over eight years. Join us from 5-9pm on November 4th for the opening reception for “Back to Old Tricks”. As always, you can find her scarves at The Muse. She also has a studio Open House on December 9th and is participating in the In Bloom Jewelry Studio Holiday Open House in December. She teaches at FCC and The Muse. You can find more information on her website hlucharts.com Instagram @mmhluch and on facebook at Margaret M Hluch.