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Residents show off artwork at exhibit through July 4

Debbie Bell

The Daily Record

Melisa Morrison takes her fiber crafts seriously.

Melisa at 'Strut Your Stuff'
Melisa at ‘Strut Your Stuff’

One of the featured artists at the “Strut Your Stuff” exhibition at Fremont Center for the Arts, Melisa raises her own sheep, spins their wool into yarn and then creates finished masterpieces from the fiber.

“I enjoy the critters, and I enjoy the final product,” Melisa said during the show’s opening night on Friday. “Shearing, not so much.” Although she takes care of the animals herself, she recently hired someone else to help with the shearing.

Melisa currently is raising 29 sheep of various breeds at the Alba Ranch near Tallahassee that she shares with her husband, Charlie. Her handiwork on display through July 4, includes a variety of wall hangings, rugs, scarves and even a purse. Every item in the exhibition is for sale, and Melisa also has skeins of hand-spun yarn available in a variety of soft, natural colors.

“This rug I dyed with Kool-Aid,” Melisa said. “I will dye fibers when I get tired of natural colors.”

Four Seasons
Four Seasons Wall Hanging

Her favorite piece on display is “The Four Seasons,” a grouping of wall hangings that represent each changing of the seasons.

“This was the first time I’ve ever made a piece I didn’t know what it was going to be when I started,” Melisa said. “The fiber had to speak to me.” She said she was so excited when she realized what she had begun that she couldn’t sleep and wanted to spend all her time on her art.

Her creative streak grew from a young age, when she would submerge herself in music at the piano for hours on end. An artist at heart, she started photography and painting while in college. After meeting her husband she moved to Scotland, where Melisa got her start in fiber crafts after she struck up a friendship with a Scottish woman.

“She got me started,” Melisa said. “There was a local group of ladies and a couple of gentlemen called Common Threads – knitting, weaving, spinning – as long as it had something to do with fiber. She got me into spinning, and it was so much fun.”

Melisa learned how to spin by hand with a drop spindle and, later, with a spinning wheel. She soon was weaving, felting and renewing her talents in crocheting, which she had learned as a child. She also tried her hand at knitting but sticks with her new favorite, weaving.

Her husband, Charlie, also is an artist. He creates paintings and photography when he’s not busy with his job in off-shore construction. Born and raised in Scotland, he draws inspiration from photographs and views, but makes his paintings his own.

“I never could come to grips with watercolors,” said Charlie, who prefers to work in oils.

After high school, Charlie took a course titled “Industrial Design and Technology,” which applied art to the design of high-technology objects and fully encompassed his love of both art and science. Without much encouragement from his tutors, Charlie abandoned most of his artistic pursuits for many years.

Although a career in electronics and control systems allowed him creativity through photography and computer programming, Charlie never forgot his passion for painting and picked up a paintbrush and palette again 18 years after his “failure” at university.

“My favorites are landscapes, and I am particularly partial to forests,” Charlie said.

The Morrisons exhibited their work during the recent Blossom Festival Art Show, but the Strut Your Stuff exhibition is the first continuous local art display both have entered.

“Strut Your Stuff” offers a variety of media, including paintings, fiber craft, woodwork, photography and more.

“We asked artists to bring in what they wanted to put in a gallery type format to show what they do,” said FCA executive director Mary Hammer. “It’s a cash and carry show – you can buy it and take it with you. We have items ranging from $5 up to $8,750.”

“Strut Your Stuff” will continue through July 4 at the FCA, 505 Macon Ave.

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