Plano’s fiber artists aim to grow an inclusive community for the medium

Since Christine Miller and Shannon Hardy were “young girls,” fiber arts have always been a hobby. Looking back, both have fond memories of knitting or sewing at recess.

“We were hardcore,” Christine says.

Now, nearly half a century later, the two are retired and devoted to the craft full time. With the help of Christine’s husband Keith and Martha Myre, whom they met in the Dallas Handweavers Guild, they have created a fiber arts community in Downtown Plano.

At 1108 Summit Ave., two fiber arts studios stand side by side like a “little compound,” with the four resident artists aiming to increase education related to fiber arts and get more people into the craft.

Miller, Hardy and Myre form a fiber arts community in Downtown Plano. Photo by Lauren Allen.
Christine Miller, Shannon Hardy and Martha Myre form a fiber arts community in Downtown Plano. Photo by Lauren Allen.

Looking at the space from the outside, it’s hard to imagine an artistic community lies within.

Upon entering the Summit Avenue Artisan Studios space, you’ll find a gallery to your left featuring Christine and Keith Miller’s pandemic-era collection that was shown at the ArtCentre of Plano. The collection features wire and fabric-woven pieces twisted to look like coral and paired with beachy resin paintings of Keith’s.

Christine retired from teaching art at Williams High School six years ago, and the artistic community gave her days a new sense of purpose.

“A lot of teachers say, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do when I retire,’” Christine says. “I just came right back to the studio.”

Summit Avenue Artisan Studios. Photo by Lauren Allen.
Photo by Lauren Allen.

Christine has spent the last few decades learning wire art, and even wrote a book called Weaving with Wire: Creating Woven Metal Fabric last year that teaches readers how to start weaving with wire themselves.

“After 30 years of weaving with wire, I haven’t even scratched the surface of its possibilities,” Christine says. “I’m just crazy for wire … You’ll have to pry my cold, dead hands off our looms.”

To the right side of the studio is a small retail space where fiber artists of all mediums can sell their pieces. You’ll find scarves, rugs, pot holders and more from local artists.

Hardy’s quilting and weaving studio space is tucked back there, too.

Summit Avenue Artisan Studios. Photo by Lauren Allen.
Photo by Lauren Allen.

“It’s kind of astounding when you look back on it,” Christine says. “The thing is that Shannon and I never stopped. Even when we had family and kids and all that stuff.”

Keith’s studio is a bit further down, where he experiments with different blends of resin art. After retiring from his construction supervisor career, Keith remembered a lesson he’d seen Christine teach on resin art and got to work perfecting the craft.

“[I was] learning and having a lot of fun, just trying things out,” Keith says. “There’s this thing that I like about it where you just have to move and go with it.”

In the next door suite is FiberFrolics Art Studio, home to classes often filled with fellow members of the Dallas Handweavers Guild. FiberFrolics is run by Martha Myre, who hosts classes at different levels through Zoom and in person. The studio provides classes on a gamut of fiber arts —  spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing, knitting, crochet and sewing. 

Fiber arts covers some fabrics’ journey from beginning to end. Myre has some clothing pieces that she’s dyed, woven and sewed herself, all in the studio.

“In Texas, people don’t know as much or understand as much about the fiber arts,” Christine says. “So for decades, I’ve been personally trying to educate the public about it … For hundreds of years, fiber arts have been considered women’s work, and in the 21st century, a lot of young artists are bringing fibers into their mixed media or into their artworks altogether and it’s really exciting.”

You can meet these fiber artists during an upcoming open studio weekend on May 18-19 or June 29-30 or spot the Summit Avenue Artisan Studios’ work at the ArtCentre of Plano from May 4 to June 22 in an exhibition called Threads of Our Lives, which includes pieces representing members of The Dallas Handweavers & Spinners Guild, The Dallas Area Fiber Artists and The Fort Worth Weavers Guild.

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