Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Featured Arkansas Artist: Diana Taylor

The Arkansas Studies Institute houses four art galleries, including a retail gallery, featuring the work of Arkansas artists and art related to the state. This post is part of a bi-weekly series featuring ASI gallery artists.

Diana Taylor


Fiber artist Diana Taylor, inventor of Ficklesticks, has been an architecture aficionado since early childhood. She returned to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2008 after spending the previous five years in the San Francisco Bay area, trying to become a California girl, but mostly hanging out with her children and grandchildren, who all lived there. This stint included a failed attempt at re-inventing herself as a real estate agent, and the launch of STICKBALL studio, from a bedroom in Oakland. She was producing large sculptural fruits, cactuses, figures, and animals made of patchwork fabric and paint, somewhat reminiscent of her early work at GRANNY’S FAN. Her designs were sold in artisan galleries, boutiques, and museum gift shops, such as the Museum of Arts and Design and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City; the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco; the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Along the way, Ficklesticks were born. Originally, these thicker and heavier fabric-and-wire sticks served as stems for stuffed cherries and pears, legs on animals, and as parts of some very large wall weavings. In 2007, she discovered a way to produce Ficklesticks that were only about a quarter inch wide. This opened some fantastic new doors. Suddenly, she was a jewelry designer—a fiber jewelry designer, to be exact, whatever that was! These smaller Ficklesticks also worked very agreeably for making baskets, mobiles, flowers, wall weavings, and the Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired wall art she began creating.

In 2008, she published an instructional crafts book for making Ficklesticks titled Fast, Fun and Easy Fabric Ficklesticks. This led to teaching workshops and lectures to sewing and quilting guilds about her work. She has been selling her Ficklesticks art, book, and supplies for making Ficklesticks at quilt festivals throughout the United States. She also launched a website: In 2009, Interweave Press published three articles featuring Ficklesticks in Cloth, Paper Scissors Magazine (April 2009), Studios Magazine (July 2009), and Quilting Arts Gifts (September 2009).

Taylor has lived in the Netherlands, Spain, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, California, and, for most of her adult life, Arkansas. It could easily be said that she has stitched her way across time and space for more than fifty years. She has outfitted brides, Halloweeners, cheerleaders, prom goers, drag queens, and herself and her family. She has made hundreds of dolls, quilts, doilies, and sweaters. By her estimate, she has also made about 10,000 Ficklesticks.

Click here to see more work by Diana Taylor.


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