Thursday, October 28, 2010

Donna Lee Trunk, unique wearable art

Donna Lee Trunk of Donna Lee Fiber Arts, specializes in unique wearable art. Her pieces range from small items to coats; they are all made from natural fibers in nature inspired colors.

Donna Lee Trunk's both grandmothers were involved in crafts, one in sewing, one in knitting. Donna experimented with macramé and wood working in her college / hippie years. A Loom - a wedding gift from her husband, John, made Donna look for weaving instructions. She found them at the Paumanok Weavers Guild where she eventually acted as co-president. A Christmas gift - spinning wheel, directed Donna to the Spinning Study Group in Smithtown. She trained and took expert workshops with masters of the craft: spinning with Patsy Zawistoski, felting with Carol Huber Cypher, knitting with Iris Schreier, knitting and design with Louisa Harding, among others.

She has been active in the field for the last ten years or so; runs her studio in Shoreham, participates in shows, has web presence at, teaches hands-on natural dyeing, spinning, weaving, knitting and felting at various venues including 20 Long Island libraries. She has recently received a New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA) grant to teach fiber arts to the community including adults, youth and art teachers in schools. She is now in the process of organizing classes at Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead. Teaching comes naturally to her; she loves her craft and it helps that she studied psychology, sociology and education.

Her alpacas. There are two - ten year old Fitzroy, white coat, and five years old Gordon, black coat. The two boys are doing very well indeed. They are well adapted to Long Island environment, they enjoy the winter, their shearing time falls right before the hot summer months. They even like traveling in Donna's minivan to craft presentations around the area. Their gentle nature makes them a good company. Fitzroy and Gordon draw a fair share of attention on the few occasions when Donna takes them out for a walk around the neighborhood. How frequently does one see alpacas strolling through a quiet Long Island street?

With proper care one can get about 5 lbs of hair a year from one alpaca. Shearing is done by an expert from an alpaca farm. Donna spins and dyes the wool herself. She likes using her own dyes - marigolds for yellow/gold color, poke weed berry for purple, beets for red, onion skins for light brown, black walnut for dark brown. She plans to experiment with sumac bush and Concord grapes next.

The next thing - decorative fiber art, an exciting new chapter. It will be interesting to see where the inspiration takes her.

In the near future, Donna will be one of the guest knitters at the Long Island knits event on Saturday, November 13th, between 11 am and 3 pm.

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