The Rapidian

Newly Formed Group of Fiber Artists Unleash the Potential in Found Objects

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Rose Beerhorst's Sock Monsters

Rose Beerhorst's Sock Monsters /Amber Stout

Emily Helmus' Terrariums

Emily Helmus' Terrariums /Amber Stout

Rose Beerhorst, Emily Helmus, and Rachel McKay

Rose Beerhorst, Emily Helmus, and Rachel McKay /Amber Stout

Knitting and crocheting in art is making a comeback and these three local fiber artists are leading the way. The girls met for the first time this summer and sold as a group at the Avenue for the Arts Market in August. They each value handmade qualities and aesthetics, as well as being environmentally conscious in their work.

Emily Helmus, Rachel McKay, and Rose Beerhorst all share the same passions—gardening and crocheting. It may seem like strange combination of interests at first, but knowing that they met at Barefoot Victory Garden on Wealthy Street helps to connect the dots. On Wednesday evenings at the garden there are small gatherings of artists called Craft Circles. Rachel McKay was one of the founders of this event, and soon after, Rose and Emily became the regular attendees. During Craft Circles, people from the community participate by bringing food for a mini-potluck, and by sharing their knowledge while working on their own unique project that they brought with them.

“It’s really inspiring to talk and share ideas and really learn from each other,” Rachel expresses.

Even though Emily, Rachel, and Rose enjoy some of the same techniques and ideas, each artist is unique in their own style. 

Emily is studying art and environmental studies at Calvin College but learned the art of crocheting from her grandma. Her style of work includes knitted heart pins and button necklaces, small ornaments, and even miniature terrariums in mason jars. 

“I am very inspired by nature in my work,” Emily explains. “I’m a gardener as well, so I really enjoy working with my hands.”

A majority of the materials Emily uses are recycled and repurposed. For example, she spins her own yarn from local sheep, and buys wool from the Fulton Street Farmers Market. The material is also naturally dyed from onionskins, carrot tops, and blackberries.

All three girls include natural items in their work, especially Rachel. She likes to incorporate actual things from the outdoors such as crocheted acorns stuffed with lavender buds and topped with real acorn caps. One of the items that Rachel enjoys creating the most are miniature hand bound journals made from scrap pieces of material. 

“I like to make sure nothing goes to waste. I often find fabric that is just too good to throw away. Sometimes it happens that I will be wearing an old dress of the exact same material I just made a journal out of!” Rachel confesses.

Rose Beerhorst has the same talent as Rachel in seeing the potential in things that others might not see.

“I definitely find myself unleashing the hidden beauty of objects in my work. I like to call it ‘reclaiming the unloved,’” Rose explains.


Her use of exclusively recycled material and yarn from places like Goodwill, emphasis her passion for being kind to nature. Rose’s style of work is playful and fun with brightly colored accessories such as button bracelets, headbands, and hairpins, as well as hand sewn sock monsters full of personality.

You can find more of Rose and Rachel's work around town at places like Clothing Matters. Rose also has items in Global Infusion, Bluedoor Antiques, and with her family on the Beerhorst Wonder Wagon.


To learn more about each of these three fiber artists, check out the links below and come meet Emily, Rachel, and Rose at the last Avenue for the Arts Market of the season on September 11th from 4-9pm on South Division Avenue between Weston and Williams.


More Photos:
Flickr Slideshow





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