Jeri Buek: Punch Needle

My husband, Tom and I retired to Hendersonville from Houston, TX  fourteen years ago. Since coming to the area, I have been busy with all types of sewing. Material Things Quilt Shop gave me the opportunity to create items for display, including quilts, punch needle embroidery and wool appliqué.

In 2012, I was invited by the State of NC to participate as a member of the Village of  Yesteryear at the NC State Fair in Raleigh, to demonstrate punch needle and wool appliqué. It was a great experience to be able to teach curious children and their parents about a craft that was relevant to a time period in our history.

I was a stay-at-home mom with a sewing business that kept me busy for a number of years with weddings, costumes and home decoration as well as children’s clothes, of course.

The classes at the Boarding House at Historic Johnson Farm have given me an opportunity to meet some very talented people with great ideas.

Learning never stops for any of us.


Charlotte Cornell-Simmons: Weaving
Charlotte is an award winning weaver who creates on a floor loom, rigid heddle loom and an inkle loom. She is also a spinner, dyer, quilter and knitter, as well as a Master Gardener. In her words, “My love of color and experimentation define my work.”.


Irene Heckel-Volpe

Irene has creating collectible soft sculpture since 1986. Starting with collectible mohair teddy bears, she has been designing and creating the teddies for over 30 years. They have been featured in several US magazines, including Teddy Bear and Friends and Teddy Bear Review and in several overseas publications, with an emphasis on some unique innovations and mixing of media.


During the time that she was creating teddy bears, in 2002 Irene discovered the art of needle felting. The use of wool fibers to sculpt became part of the teddy bears, but as time went on it became apparent that this new art form was going to become a very large part of Irene’s creative process and she began to create sculptures that were beyond the teddy bears. She developed techniques that pushed her to continue designing and developing. Most of her work makes use of mixing her media. Needle felting itself was new to most people, so Irene was called on to demonstrate and educate at many shows. She has also developed needle felting classes which teach the how to… but also using imagination and technique to create everything from 3D sculpture, to embellishment, and also using fiber to create paintings. She has recently been commissioned many times to create portraits of people’s fur babies. 

Her work has been exhibited and awarded both locally, nationally and internationally. Irene has taught classes all over the US including the 2017 Fiber Forum at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, where she will be teaching again at Fiber Forum 2019.


Irene is originally from Long Island, NY and relocated to the Asheville area in 2014, with her husband and her “fur-family”.



Ruth Howe: Fiber Artist

Needle and thread in hand since age five, Ruth’s fascination with all things fiber from a young age included sewing her own clothes, knitting, crochet and eventually a curiosity about how cloth was made. One orphan loom that needed a home plus a one-week weaving class in 1974, and the rest is history. 

Taking time off to raise her family, Ruth’s move to NC in 2006 and saw a notice in the Time’s News for a meeting of the WNC Fiber and Handweavers Guild which introduced her to the local weaving community. Retired with time to spend at her passion, she began teaching Beginning Weaving classes in 2007 at Opportunity House and now teaches at HWFA and her home studio.

Claudia Lampley: Rug Hooking
Born and raised in the North Carolina Piedmont, Claudia fell in love with the Blue Ridge mountains when she attended Appalachian State.  With the exception of one year in Greenville, S.C., Claudia has not left the Southern Appalachian range since.
Professionally, Claudia specialized in printing and layout design. Paper is just another form of fiber, after all. And indeed her fiber fixation began young—her aunt was a home economics teacher, who every year would give Claudia a new project to make or learn for Christmas. Claudia’s aunt had hooked rooster chair pads in her kitchen, but while her aunt taught Claudia many crafts, hooking was not one of them. It wasn’t until Claudia was an adult that she learned how to rug hook taking a class at Blue Ridge Community College.
While an equal opportunity crafter, Claudia always seems to come back to wool. She currently is working on a geometric sampler rug for her class in 2016, but enjoys wool appliqué and wool felting too.  And she’s particularly fond of her tools—especially her Miller hook and offset scissors. So long as she doesn’t run with them.

Zsa Lobel: Basketry
Zsa came to basket weaving because her doctor prescribed it as an antidote to her pressure-ridden career of running a company and solving other people’s problems. Claiming to have had “no creative life before weavers and risers,”
Zsa qualified as a Master Basket Weaver after a year of learning. She embarked on finding her own style when her instructor said she had nothing else to teach Zsa, and it was time for her to go explore and develop her own basket “character.”   Hence, Zsa’s "Out-of-the-Box" basket weaving series, which explores developing art baskets using unusual materials such as pottery, found materials and unusual dyes, was born. In fact, Zsa views all materials as fair game to make baskets--reed, grapevine, grasses, wire, ribbon, leather, fabric and virtually anything that is long and narrow. Look for gourds and antique wood blocks to make an appearance in her class offerings.
Like any artist, Zsa loves her tools.  She says they fit her hand in an intimate way.  “Some tools are just utilitarian, but some are my friends.”  In particular, her square handled ice pick and her old Tupperware lettuce keeper. You’ll have to take the Ginger Jar class to find out why.

Roberta Platt: Knitting
Roberta has been knitting since her Aunt Mary taught her the craft at the age of 10 and she never stopped.  She taught knitting at Knitting With Nancy in Naples, Fl for 10 years before retiring to Mills River in 2015. She has created many of her own designs, some of which have been published by Stacy Charles Yarns and Claudia Handpainted Yarns, as well as appearing on Ravelry under the Loops label. Knitting has been her passion and favorite form of relaxation for many years.

Suz Weitzel
Spinning and weaving have been a part of my life for over 40 years. When I was living in North Dakota a friend who learned from the Mennonite women in the area, introduced me to the joy of spinning. I learned on the Ashford Traditional spinning wheel and although there are other wheels in my studio, I still favor this dependable wheel. My fiber world continued to grow in North Dakota as a I got my first loom there, a 4 harness, 36 inch Harrisville. As a military wife, we moved 28 times during my husband’s career and I was able to join many guilds. Each guild helped me connect to the local area, meet other fiber people and learn through workshops and classes.  I had the opportunity to teach weaving when I lived in the Middle East.  It was an international community, so it was interesting and challenging to get these beginner weavers started on their fiber journey. I have been in South Carolina for two years and feel settled with my studio space and all my equipment around me. My favorite thing to do on my looms is rag weaving table runners and placemats continuing my fiber growth, I am taking lessons in rigid heddle weaving. The fiber world never stops spinning!

Micheline “Rusti” Nichols : My roots are in Belgium and in East Tennessee, my dad being an American GI stationed in my mother’s village of Flawinne,Belgium during WWII. My mother and I immigrated to the US a few months after I was born. She instilled in me the love of needlework, crafting, and gardening at a very early age, things all Belgian girls learned.

I wove my first basket as a young teen in Girl Scout Camp. Then as a stay at home mom with 3 preschool aged children, I found and bought a basket weaving book, some reed and began teaching myself basketry. As the kids began school, I went to work and back to school for my Master’s. No time for weaving until retirement, and then I was able to renew my interest in basketry, which evolved into inkle weaving (at the nudge of my neighbor, Irene Munroe), then Ridgid Heddle, now loom weaving. But basketry has continued to be near and dear to my heart. I fell in love with the Cherokee style of basketry and have focused on the various types of twills.

For about 4 or 5 years, I taught some basket weaving classes/workshops in Waynesville and currently teach a workshop each summer at our Balsam Community Center as a fund raiser for the center. Seeing the pride in peoples’ faces who have never woven a basket, is worth all the hard work that goes into teaching a workshop. I have never failed to hear, “Now I know why handwoven baskets cost so much!” Hopefully they all have come away with an appreciation for the art of basketry.




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Heritage Weavers & Fiber Artists, Inc.

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