Stevensville ribbon artist to be featured at Artisans Festival
STEVENSVILLE — Wende Woodham of Stevensville will be the featured artist at the Rotary Artisans Festival in early October at Chesapeake College. Woodham has a unique craft that creates pictures out of bits of ribbon. Her works have displayed in exhibits across the state and in private collections worldwide.
“As a tomboy, from the time I could crawl, I spent more time in trees than on the ground,” said Woodham. “One of those climbing adventures brought me face to face with an exquisite nest fastened tightly into the fork of an old oak tree I was challenging that day. There, anchored solidly in the crotch, was the most perfect ‘bowl’ of mud, leaves and twigs I had ever seen. It contained three, bright blue eggs and, to my amazement, one of my sister’s colorful, plaid, hair ribbons. Mama Robin had woven this lost ribbon in and out so tightly and with such precision that I knew immediately it was the very instrument that held her world together.”
That moment started Woodham down a self-described path of addiction, collection, and later in life a career in ribbon artistry. From that day forward, Woodham said she collected ribbons wherever and whenever she traveled — both nationally and internationally — Woodham found herself traveling as she spent 10 years working for the government and 24 with the U.S. Army.
Finally, in 2001, Woodham said she found the time and opportunity to uncage her pent up creativity and deemed herself an “Artist of Ribbonry” and established her own company, “Ribbons Across the Chesapeake.”
Woodham said she started this new endeavor by creating abstract ribbon weavings for clients’ walls using a variety of weaving techniques and patterns and the same ribbons she had by then collected from all over the world. Most ribbonry [sic] up to that point dealt with pillows, flowers, hair bows, and package wrapping. Woodham said she stepped out by taking it to the walls and remains one of only a handful of artists that work in this medium today.
In 2006, Woodham said she became a bit bored with creating in the abstract genre and decided to try her hand at creating actual ribbon “pictures.” To those weavings she added fabric, fibers, snippets of paper, and paint to create her ribbon “scenes” of today — specializing in designs that represent the beautiful Chesapeake Bay.
“I love to capture the bold, bright, colors that surround us every day on the Eastern Shore and strive to bring a little taste of our Bay to each person that is exposed to my one of a kind, ribbon creations,” said Woodham.
In recent years, Woodham discovered alcohol-based inks. “The inks were bold, bright, and eye-popping and they complemented my ribbon artistry perfectly,” said Woodham. She incorporated those inks into ribbon papers and fibers to offer a new dimension to her work, and has created a complete line of hand painted art cuffs, art pendants, and art earrings. They are a fun, funky and colorful way to dress up your body as well as your walls, said Woodham.
“Although I love to dabble in other art forms, I always return to my studio and the bookcases full of Utz Pretzel jars containing the most magnificent art medium in the world — ribbons,” said Woodham.
This year Woodham said she is focusing on taking her designs into the realm of print media hoping to allow a greater number of people the chance to see and enjoy her creations. She also participates in ribbon weaving demonstrations with art, community and women’s groups and said she enjoys seeing other people’s reactions to her heart’s passion.
Among Woodham’s clients are the Ginger Cove Retirement Community in Annapolis, the U.S. Naval Academy and the National Rifle Association.
Woodham’s home studio on Kent Island is her design “port” and where she always stands ready to welcome new ideas and challenges. Commissions are always happily accepted, Woodham said. Visit Woodham at the Rotary Artisans Festival in Wye Mills in October or online at www.ribbonsacrossthechesapeake.com.
Heron, a ribbon work by Wende Woodham.