Stacy Heydt | |

When I’m doing a show or teaching a class, people ask how I got started in the fiber arts. And my answer is always, “my horses.” I get the most quizzical looks, because other than strands of hair from their tail or mane, horses are most definitely not a fiber animal. However, they did lead us to buy a farm, which led us to fill additional pastures with alpacas, a business adventure I would come to adore.

After our first shearing, we had bags and bags of beautiful, soft, colorful, alpaca fiber. That was my literal “kick start” into becoming a fiber artist. Next season, we’d have even more, so it was agreed that I’d better learn to do something with it. I took a spinning class and fiber grading classes to learn how to make the softest yarn. Understanding the different properties and uses for each grade of alpaca fiber, my art business blossomed into spinning yarn, weaving, and all types of felting. I loved it all, and that became a spinoff. I also became a fiber-arts judge for the Alpaca Owners Association. I travelled, teaching classes and giving seminars in fiber and fiber art. I did art shows and festivals, until I couldn’t.

Felted Pot inspired by a trip to New Mexico and embellished with hand-crafted clay talismans, beads, and charms.

We all know how one event can change your life, forever. We had several life changing events pop up unexpectedly. My husband and I had our own health challenges requiring several surgeries. That we took in stride, mostly, until my accident, which resulted in a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). My world as I knew it dissolved, instantaneously. I lost much of my short-term memory and my ability to speak as succinctly as I had in the past. My energy level dissipated as my brain worked relentlessly to heal.

My team of neuro doctors and brain therapists encouraged me to continue with my art, specifically art journaling. Art heals the brain. It’s soothing, it’s cathartic, and it’s restorative to both body and soul. I can attest that art has had a great healing effect on my brain and I have improved a great deal, however, my doctors remind me that I’ll never be the person I once was. I am to embrace the “new” me. So, we sold the alpacas and the farm. We moved the horses (and some fiber) with us to a much smaller house with fewer acres, to the Four States area where Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas meet Missouri.

While many things have changed, so much as stayed the same. I am still inspired by my natural surroundings. Living here, I am near many of the things that inspire me the most from sunflowers to the Native American art and the colorful landscapes, from the birds that live in our woods and feed at our feeders to the old oak and hickory trees that provide nuts and branches, which I often use in mixed media art. There are new inspirations yet to be discovered around the small “mountain town” of Neosho and the surrounding area and states—creeks and mountain springs as clear as you can imagine surrounded by rock out-croppings and stunning vistas.

What’s next for me? As much as I enjoyed molding, shaping, and creating the 3-D felted items in my “before” stage, I am now being drawn to continue creating my fine, paper thin, wet felted pictures that I will embellish by sketching freehand with thread on my old sewing machine. Many of these pictures have been framed, but some have been finished to become a wall-hanging, using my painted branches as their unique hanger. A few have been finished to be used as an appliqué in quilting or other sewing adventures. But don’t be surprised to see a whimsical canvas pop up from time to time with a combination of fiber art and some natural “stuff” from my nature walks.

You can contact Stacy at [email protected]