Saturday, July 15, 2017

Meet the Maker: Virginia Fisher

Published July 2017 in Edible Memphis

Virginia Fisher weaves, twists, and stamps beautiful copper into even more beautiful baskets, bowls, and other art. Some pieces are functional, and some are purely artistic, but all have sheen and patina, texture, and whimsy.

What was your path to becoming a maker?

My parents both ran their own businesses when I was growing up. It seemed normal to me that you carry on in a family business or carve out your own little piece in the world. They encouraged creativity and education. When I graduated from college, I felt that I needed to set up a studio to make something that would allow all my interest to grow and also be marketable so I could afford to keep making. I had studied drawing, metalsmithing, ceramics, and fiber arts. My love of art is based on a fascination of our material culture history and the individual craft.

So, I had to work in a long lasting medium and make something that was interesting and functional. I decided on copper baskets. It was to me a very natural evolution in my work. Not many copper basket ladies out there and I quickly began finding a market for my work. The baskets involve traditional metalsmithing, weaving, coiling or whatever technique it takes to make an idea. I repeat processes in many pieces. This is how I refine my craft. I keep making.

Do you also have a “day job” ?

My art is my “day job.” I don’t have a plan B. I hope I don’t need one in the future. I have worked in stores and galleries in the past and consider that work my side jobs.

What inspires you?

What inspires my working? The action. It feels like being pulled down a river sometimes and I couldn’t stop if I tried, but if it is not flowing, I’m in a bad place.

What inspires the pieces?

Individual pieces are inspired by everyday things like leaves, other baskets, a problem that needs to be solved, or just an experiment with materials.

Favorite thing about being a “maker”?

The best thing about being a maker is that I have confidence in my creativity. So, I feel comfortable trying to think outside the box. Also, I have lots of tools and am always learning something!

How does being a “maker” help you look at other artisan products?

Being a maker helps me look at everything with an interested eye. I can’t look away from a new handmade object. In finished form, if you understand the making process, the piece has an entire story to tell. My husband and I go to craft shows and look at everything and talk to the makers. We believe in supporting other artisans. Our house is full of other people’s products.

Outside of your work, do you “make” anything else?

In my non-basket making world, I make pantings, jewelry, crochet, experiment with encaustic, and rug hooking. Cooking and gardening are creative endeavors as well.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Most importantly, always be kind. You never know who is going to be your next client and being hurtful tends to stress me out. Embarrassingly, it took me a while to learn that.

Copper Baskets

Look for Virginia’s art at the National Ornamental Metal Museum and the Memphis Farmers Market this summer.

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