Goodbye from Rob Pulleyn
I never intended to make a career of publishing a magazine
celebrating fiber art. I never intended to have a career
It started with a naive interest in creating a vehicle
for fiber artists and craftspeople to talk to each other.
It was 1974. I was weaving tapestries that were traditional
in technique but aesthetically contemporary. I looked around
and didn’t see any magazine that blended a respect
for the traditional with an enthusiasm for the new. Sensing
that there were others who were working with yarn and fabric
who were experiencing this same “disconnect,”
I decided that, what the hell, I would do something about
it. No money, no experience, and? I had nothing to lose.
It was a time of excess. I sensed that there was frequently
more energy than discipline in much of what was being done
in fiber: cramming more colors, more yarn, and more techniques
into a piece elevated it to “art,” and that
bothered me. I thought that exuberant excess rarely qualified
as art (except, perhaps, in the case of Gaudí or
Dolly Parton). The fiber world was like a puppy: inexhaustible
energy with a total lack of focus. It was an exhilarating
time. But there didn’t seem to be any center to the
maelstrom, no place to stop, look at, and think about what
was going on. Enter FIBERARTS.
But, hey, that’s my perspective on the founding
of FIBERARTS 30 years later.
At the time the magazine started, it was just a lark. Its
origin was an informal, typewritten newsletter titled Fibercrafts
Newsletter that was sent out to customers of a yarn shop
in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I got a few distressed letters
from folks who were offended by the word “craft,”
so I figured I’d avoid controversy by changing the name
to FIBERARTS. I also realized that I couldn’t
afford to send it out for free, so I asked readers to each
send me six dollars, and I promised to expand the coverage
of the newsletter. In August 1975, I published the first FIBERARTS
in a tabloid newsprint format.
After several issues and more and more readers discovering
the magazine, I hired an editor, Linda Vozar, to help me
out. She was an aspiring potter but had editorial experience,
which I didn’t. I told her that I didn’t care
that she wasn’t familiar with fiber. I wanted her
to represent the reader by being excited about work she
saw. Find good writers, find interesting work, listen to
the readers, and have fun, I told her—and every subsequent
With each issue, there were enough new subscribers to
pay for the next issue. It was hand-to-mouth from the beginning,
and the process of each issue paying for the next has existed
for 30 years. It’s never changed.
This is the last issue I will publish. With the next issue,
Interweave of Loveland, Colorado, will be producing
the magazine. The new publisher, Marilyn Murphy, brings
years of editorial experience at Interweave to FIBERARTS,
but, more importantly, she brings a love of fiber in all
its forms. Shortly after I started FIBERARTS, Marilyn
purchased the Weaving Workshop in Chicago, and then in 1986
she founded The Textile Arts Centre, a nonprofit educational
and exhibition center in Chicago. We’ve known each
other for all these years, and I’ve been deeply impressed
with everything she’s done. And she’s been a
loyal subscriber as well.
Interweave, as most of you know, publishes many fiber-related
magazines and books. They started the same month as FIBERARTS,
and we’ve been friends ever since. They are totally
reader focused, and I have absolute faith in their vision
for the magazine. They are dedicated to the proposition
that FIBERARTS should stay true to itself.
I should explain the underlying reason for this transfer.
When FIBERARTS and Lark Books were purchased by
Sterling Publishing Company five years ago, FIBERARTS
became part of a company that understood and supported the
magazine. With Sterling’s surprise sale to Barnes
& Noble last year, the magazine obviously was out of
place in the context of the world’s largest bookstore
chain. With no prodding from them, it became obvious to
me that, to maintain its focus and mission, FIBERARTS
needed a home that was simpatico with the readers and that
understood the magazine.
I am very happy with the transition. It will mean that
there will be changes to the magazine, of course, but that’s
good. It will also mean that I don’t help lay out
the magazine, don’t get a preview of what artists
the editor has discovered, and don’t get to share
in disagreements about what image should be on the cover.
Now I get to go to the mailbox, retrieve the new issue of
FIBERARTS, pour a glass of wine, settle down in
my chair, and share the joy of discovery with all the other
It’s comforting, too, to know that FIBERARTS
has never been in better shape. I think we’re beginning
to see a resurgence in interest in our chosen medium. As
evidence, there are more readers of the magazine today than
in the last 15 years, more advertisers, more galleries showing
our work, and more energy than I can remember. We may have
been the forgotten craft medium for the last generation,
but I really think the next decade will see us moving from
the wings to center stage. I’m looking forward to
This is the appropriate time to give my thanks to those
who really did the heavy lifting. FIBERARTS has
been published all this time because there have been extraordinary
people who have believed in the magazine and its readers.
First, the editors. I mentioned Linda Vozar above. She was
followed by a number of talented and inspired editors, writers,
and artists who managed the magazine. Jane Luddecke, Joanne
Mattera, Chris Timmons, Kate Mathews, and Carol Lawrence
stewarded the magazine as editors from the time we moved
to Asheville in 1979 through the late eighties. (Kate, my
wife then, was deeply involved in the starting of FIBERARTS;
she is now owner of Folkwear Patterns.) Then, for ten years,
Ann Batchelder edited FIBERARTS; encouraging a
new genration of fiber artists. Ann passed on the editorship
to Nancy Orban, her assistant of many years, as she started
a new career as an independent museum curator. In 2000,
the current editor, Sunita Patterson, took over from Nancy.
I’m happy to report that Sunita will continue to be
the editor of the magazine.
But a magazine is more than its publisher and its editor.
It’s the editorial assistants, the ad salespeople,
circulation directors, telephone receptionists, customer
service people, production directors, computer gurus, shipping
clerks, and art directors who help define and create a magazine.
They are the folks who have believed in the magazine and
have made it happen. Some have stayed only a few years before
moving on to other careers; others have been here a long
time (Dawn Cusick and Pat Wald have been here 16 and 21
FIBERARTS has been blessed, too, with the support
of advertisers who have had faith in the magazine and have
helped pay the bills. Many of them have been with us from
But I hope you know who gets the most credit. It’s
you, the readers. You’re the ones who have had faith
in the magazine and renewed year after year, even when we
produced issues with work you personally detested. You have
shared your enthusiasm, your opinions, and your love for
fiber. And let me take this last opportunity to thank the
four anonymous readers who voluntarily sent us donations
when we were on the edge of extinction 15 years ago. Because
of them—and you—we’re still here.
It’s been 25 years since my last tapestry. I still
have the yarn and the loom. I can’t say that you’ll
be seeing my work on the pages of the magazine anytime soon,
but I do yearn to get back to making stuff, whatever the
medium. And I’m really looking forward to the changes
that will inevitably come to FIBERARTS.
Thank you for 30 years of support. Thank you for giving
me a chance to make a difference with something. It’s
a rare opportunity in life, and you gave it to me. I’ll
be forever grateful.