Art is said to be a skill acquired through practice, talent and dedication. A skill worth every struggle. But for Carolyn Mount, 45, art was embedded in her since day one. She has spent her life navigating between all forms of art to satisfy her passions. Passing seamlessly, back and forth, between photography, embroidery, sculptures and textiles, Mount is a natural born weaver.
“I’m an artist,” Mount said. “I have actually lived across the country. I lived 14 years in British Columbia and four years in Winnipeg. I just moved to Fort Frances three years ago. I worked in arts and I did my master’s in fine arts in Winnipeg and then we moved here because my wife got a job with the Ministry of Natural resources.”
Mount’s travel has always been marked by her chasing the long dream of having a job that aligned with her passions. She always chased her dream of simply being an artist. Mount said she would take courses and switch over from one medium of art to another because it has been something she always wanted to do, regardless of the type of art.
“I have always been an artist and loved art,” Mount said. “It’s is something that I have to do. I have had many different jobs but I always said that I would have an occupation to support my vocation being an artist. It is something I have to do but I always had to have another job to support my art practice. I worked at museums and galleries but it was always to be able to support my practice. Before my master’s I mostly did print making. When I moved to Winnipeg for my master’s, I also ended up doing sculpture, drawing and other installation work.”
When Mount moved to Fort Frances three years ago, she was not sure what kind of artwork she wanted to do. Mount had access to communal studios in Winnipeg where she taught and was on the board. Until she moved to Fort Frances and discovered her talent in seamlessly weaving quality masterpieces for the home and the body.
“I got into weaving because my father had been given a small table top loom from a woman but it wasn’t really his thing so I just took it to experiment. So he sent me a table top loom and within a month of getting it, I got a four-loom that is over 80 years old.”
However, Mount said her weaving hobby turned into a full-time job when she had to quit her old job because of debilitating head migraines that forced her to also quit working in any office environment and dedicate herself to weaving.
“I could not be on a screen at all whether that be working on a computer or even using my phone or watching TV for months. One of the few things that I could do that did not really hurt my head more was weaving because it is an analogue process, not digital. There’s this head and eye connection that is very different from the digital world and so I ended up just spending more time weaving.”
After weaving occupied most of Mount’s time, she decided to open a business to sell her handmade woven pieces. This business sells items that you can wear or use at home.
“Things for the body like scarves, shawls and baby blankets. Items that you would use in the home are rugs, runners, table runners, place mats. There’s this wide gamut of things that I make using different materials. I have actually collaborated with another small business owner to provide me with high quality materials. Before COVID hit I had a gathering for all the textile people that I know here in the Rainy River District.”
Weaving is very different than knitting because it is very specific and specialized with equipment that takes up a lot of space and time. According to Mount, sometimes a single project takes 100 hours depending on the items and the steps needed to complete it.
Mount said she invests in the equipment she uses because it is essential to the quality of the end piece. Mount’s online business is called Natural Born Weaver, and is set to launch this week.
“Everything is online, so what I’m doing is week is actually officially launching my website and I am having a sale with 20 per cent off of everything so it will be a virtual open house so people could find out who I am and what I do. I can do shipping and refund shipping in Fort Frances. I mostly want to share my story and who I am,” Mount said.
“I also do commission so I have had local people say that they want to give gifts to their girlfriends and so I made something custom,” Mount added. “Whatever I make is one of a kind. When it is a commission, the person ordering has control over what they want to get whether it is a certain colour, or pattern or material. I can help them make decision if they are not sure what they are looking for. It is a nice way to give something that is really special to yourself or someone you care about.”
Mount said there are alternatives to the mass-produced cheaply made things that are in the market.
“If you want to show intention and care for the quality of products that you are buying and support a local small business there’s an alternative. You can buy from me and the money goes back to the community. What I make is not cheap, but I also have to pay myself, my equipment, my material and my time. A portion of the sales I make next week will be donated to our local United Native Friendship Centre. As a small business I do believe in supporting my community in a variety of ways.”
Mount’s website is www.naturalbornweaver.com or you can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mount is offering free delivery in Fort Frances either by private sale or by refunding the shipping costs.