April 2008. Watercolor by Gene Usimaki.
Header image: Watercolor by Gene Usimaki

Featured Artist: Sandy Spiewak

Sandy Spiewak gives an air brush demonstration to the Le Sault Artists Guild at Alberta House in March 2008. Photo courtesy of Dave Bigelow.

Sandy Spiewak gives an air brush demonstration to the Le Sault Artists Guild
at Alberta House in March 2008. Photo courtesy
of Dave Bigelow.

Sandy Spiewak is typical of Eastern Upper Peninsula artists in that her creativity isn’t limited to one area or even to one medium. In her own words:

My background is in the sciences. I worked as a histotechnologist, which involved the differential dyeing of tissue elements for identification, so my interest in dyes goes back a long ways.

My grandmother promised to teach me to spin but died before she was able to do so. I learned at a class at Greenfield Village about 35 years ago and have continued to spin since then. Once I had all that white yarn, I needed to come up with some color. My first interest was in natural dyes and I was often to be found combing the countryside for plants to boil up. I used the yarn for knitting and crocheting.

After about ten years, when the yarn piled up to alarming levels, I learned to weave. Given a false sense of confidence in my ability to use up a lot of wool, I purchased my first sheep and angora rabbits. Felting came along, then locker hooking. Commercial dyes began to be attractive. Beading snuck in, not to mention silk ribbons.

My house is filled with items I have made with my handspun wool or woven with commercial yarns. I have dyed with a wide range of things, including commercial dyes, plants, lichens, copper pennies, and spices.

When I retired from War Memorial five years ago, I decided to do something I had always been interested in: learn to paint with watercolors. I took Tedi Selke’s class at Personal Touch and she led me into a whole new world. I also have taken classes from Helga Flower. I have added an interest in collage and various paper arts. I am interested in trying my hand at assemblage. I have learned not to say “never” in terms of art techniques.

Perhaps because I am not classically trained in art, I tend to ignore the separation of craft and fine art and tend to go where the spirit moves me. If that means making paper and then painting it and then applying it to cloth and then painting some more and then adding beads, well, that is what I do.

I have sold my work at craft and art fairs locally. Currently at Alberta House I have some hand-dyed woven chenille scarves (see below).

One of the things I love about the UP is the depth and breadth of artistic talent here. I have learned so much from so many wonderful artists here.

As you can see, Sandy is also typical of the artists in this area in that she values the interaction and the generous spirit among EUP artists and craftsmen. They work together, teach, help, and encourage one another. This is one of the finest characteristics of the arts and artists in the EUP.

Sandy is a member of the Eastern Upper Peninsula Craftsmen, the Bridge Shuttlers and Country Spinners, and the Le Sault Artists Guild. Last month she gave an air brush demonstration for the Le Sault Artists in Alberta House and Dave Bigelow took the photograph above.

Sandy currently has lovely, soft chenille scarves with beading in the Alberta House shop and has work in this month’s Blues show.

Sandy and her husband, metal craftsman Otto Bacon, live on an acreage in the Brimley area. Their working name is Whiskey River Forge and Fibers. Sandy volunteers in Alberta House, demonstrating and staffing.

Works by Sandy Speiwak
Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Chenille scarves with beading by Sandy Spiewak, currently for sale in the Alberta House shop

Chenille scarves with beading for sale in the Alberta House shop

Bench by Sandy Spiewak, painted for the 2005 Art Auction

A bench Sandy painted
for the 2005 Art Auction

Watercolor by Sandy Spiewak (from Feb 2006 Alberta House News)

Watercolor (from Feb 2006 Alberta House News)

Last updated: April 1, 2008

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