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Fiber art fashion show features creative adornments

| Friday, April 27, 2007

LaVerne Kemp's handmade colorful creations might never grace the runways of Paris or Milan, but in the trend-setting world of haute couture, anything's possible.

The Homewood weaver and fiber artist says she is gaining a following for her ponchos, shrugs, shawls and scarves designed from ribbon yarn. And in Pittsburgh, where fashions tend to be conservative and predictable, she finds that encouraging.

"It's still difficult, but I'm very persistent," she says.

Kemp, a roistered teaching artist with Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Gateway Center for the Arts, is one of 16 artists who will participate in the Spring Fling Fiber Art Fashion Show Saturday on the tented patio at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside.

The runway event will feature wearable fiber art such as crocheted jewelry, hand-painted silk accessories and constructed fantasy garments by artists represented in the center's gift shop and members of the Pittsburgh Fiber Arts Guild, one of the center's nine member guilds. Many of the artists will be selling their creations at the event.

Kari Kramer, a fashion designer and wardrobe supervisor for Pittsburgh Public Theater, will have three of her dresses modeled in the show. She says the one-of-a-kind garments she created are designed to pay tribute to three elements of spring.

Her "Sun" dress features an orange bodice with silver rays emanating from the top and bottom of the garment. For "Sky," she designed a blue bodice with white and blue tulle depicting clouds around the collar and hem. A full-length gown, "Plant Life," is green with black tulle trim, white pearl sprays and a tulle layered bustle in back.

"These dresses are a little more practical than a lot of what I've done in the past," says Kramer, of Spring Hill. "You can't even sit down in some of (those)."

Fiber artist Amber Coppings, of Garfield, will have an outfit on the runway that she says illustrates her "revamped wear," or gently used clothing that she redesigns by adding stitching, ragged edging and other personal touches. The outfit she calls "Prissy Punk Rock" is an all-cotton tank top embellished with stitching and a short cotton miniskirt with similar techniques and ragged edges.

"It's really cute, a dichotomy between young and youthful with an edge," she says.

She also will have examples of her silver wire accessories and crocheted yarn jewelry with accents of fossils and semi-precious stones.

Coppings has exhibited in many local galleries and museums, including Garfield Artworks, the University of Pittsburgh and a fiber art installation during the Fiberarts International 2004 at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

The fashion show was inspired by the "Fiberarts International 2007" exhibition currently on display in center's gallery. The ticket price includes a tour of the exhibition and a brunch buffet.

Artists In the fashion show

Participating artists at the fashion show and their specialties include:

  • Amber Coppings, of Garfield: funky fleece, revamped fashion, pure silver crochet

  • Barb Kubala, of Indiana, Pa.: woven neckpieces, apron layer skirts

  • Barbara Campbell, of Grindstone: woven wearable pieces

  • Becky Peretz, of South Hills: couture hats, wearable fashion, ball skirts

  • Carol Gilfillan, of Bethel Park: handbags, fiber art dolls

  • Charnell Webster, of East Liberty: ponchos, wraps, shawls, purses

  • Cristina Roselle, of Monroeville: handbags, exotic leathers, feed bags, carpet bags, belts, a jacket with 1880 carpet inset

  • Joanne Baxter, of Wexford: "Goddess Wear," special tops and jackets

  • Judith Gentile, of Monroville: free-form crochet accessories, embellished denim

  • Kari Kramer, of Spring Hills: "Elements of Spring" dresses

  • LaVerne Kemp, of Wilkinsburg: Spring Ribbons series of ponchos, shrug, shawl and scarves

  • Nancy Hays, of Delmont: evening wear jackets

  • Rita Mullen, of Shadyside: dress and casual handbags

  • Sandra Trimble, of Indiana, Pa.: Serape, Cocoon Jacket, Pashminas, scarves and stoles done in Shibori Japanese fabric dyeing techniques

  • Sue Radford, of Penn Hills: hand knit sweaters from traditional Irish and English patterns

  • Susan Coen, of Renfrew: silk scarves, micro pleats and Shibori

Additional Information:

Spring Fling Fiber Art Fashion Show

When : 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday

Admission : $10 in advance, $15 day of show; advance tickets available in the center's shop or by phone. Tickets includes fashion show, brunch buffet, artists' boutique and admission to the current exhibition, 'Fiberarts International 2007,' in the gallery

Where : Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 6300 Fifth Ave., Shadyside

Details : 412-361-0873 or

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