The Colors of the Columbia

In 1961, when she was 23, Margaret Thierry moved from her hometown of St. Louis, Mo., to New York City, where she discovered she could be an artist. “While waitressing, I made friends with a bunch of artists,” she says. “They were always talking about art, so I started going to museums to see what the big deal was and to be able to contribute to conversations. After a year, I was hooked on art.”

She moved to the West Coast, where her first foray into art was a candle-making business that she started in the late 1960s. “Making candles really taught me about color,” she says. “That’s when I became interested in color and learned how to mix colors to get the exact shade I wanted.”

After visiting a crafts fair in Astoria, Ore., Thierry fell in love with the town and moved to Oregon, and spent several years moving between Astoria and Eugene, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from the University of Oregon. “Someone gave me a loom, so I began to study fiber arts and to use my knowledge of colors to dye fibers to get the colors I wanted,” she says.

Thierry, who works out of a studio in her home, uses silk yarns that she dyes herself and then weaves using an ikat method, which creates shapes in the final pattern. “Since I’ve dyed the yarns myself, I know just how they’ll look when woven,” she says. “I can dye the yarn in certain widths and certain ways that will create the shapes I’m looking for.”

The Wind is Blowing Cloud Rings (above) is one in a series of wallhangings that the Columbia River inspired. “I’m obsessed with the view of the Columbia River that I see out of my studio window,” says Thierry. “It changes constantly and is always inspiring a new design.” The 14½-by-21-inch

wallhanging is made from silk chenille and sells for $350.

Contact fiber artist Margaret Thierry via the RiverSea Gallery (1160 Commercial St., 503-325-1270 or go to ) in Astoria, Ore.