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About Artful Gifts
We are fulltime fiber artists Lisa and Jim Jacenich. We use raw fibers of wool and silk, combined with accent pieces of other natural materials, to make fabric. We take the fabric and make clothing from the fabric. We have coats, scarves, hats, gloves, wrist warmers, neck warmers, shawls, dresses, including a little black dress, tunics, blouses, sweaters and jackets. We repurpose wool sweaters to make scarves and mittens. We embellish existing clothing with our handmade fabric. We make unique, individualized hats embellished with one of a kind woolen designs. We make intricately braided belts and necklaces. We sell our clothing and accessories under the business name, Artful Gifts.
Artful Gifts has recently moved to 6 Byers Street in Staunton where Lisa and Jim Jacenich, with help from coworkers and friends Deborah Lambert and Debbie Hevener, manufacture handmade felted-wool clothing, and offer felting and art classes. Artful Gifts helps Highland County Crafts to meet its mission of providing education in the arts and crafts. Artful Gifts has sponsored a nationally-known seamstress, weaver and fiber artist to come to the Highlands to teach, and offers classes year-round in painting, drawing, papermaking, and collage, in addition to felting taught by Lisa. Artful Gifts averages two classes a month, ranging from three-day group workshops to two-hour individualized classes. The summer months are especially busy when local youth prepare for the arts and crafts section of the county fair by taking advantage of the studio space and one-on-one mentoring.
Highland County Crafts, Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax exempt non-profit organized in 1969 for the purpose of providing retail space for regional artisans and arts and crafts education to the public. HCC has 58 dues paying members who also sell their handmade goods in the store, with a percentage of the sale price going to building maintenance and upkeep. Many of the members are elderly, retired and living on fixed incomes. Members come from all over Virginia and six neighboring states, with members hailing from Covington, Clifton Forge and Alleghany County, as well as Bath and Highland counties. HCC contributes to its members’ quality of life by providing a retail outlet for their products and supports the preservation of Appalachian culture through the perpetuation of traditional handcrafts, including woodworking, embroidery, quilt making, knitting, crochet, painting and the fiber arts. HCC is located in the center of town, across from Evelyn’s Pantry and the SPCA benefit store, The Attic.
Lisa Jacenich began felting in 1997, after she and Jim moved to Highland County, Virginia.
Highland has more sheep than people. When we arrived in Highland, we asked people where the wool goes after they shear the sheep. They said they just threw it away. “I felt wool as a way to make use of local wool,” says Lisa. Our small business helps sustain traditional farming activities.
We came to the mountains to be artists. We learned how to paint, make paper, felt, and explored many mediums. Ultimately, we came to realize we could paint with wool and silk and we could make pieces of wearable art which becomes one’s personal expression.
Lisa specializes in design, while Jim works with kumihimo or Japanese braiding. He makes belts and necklaces integrated with beads and hand-blown glass and jewelry.
Both artists work with materials that are organic and sustainable.
Our interest in creating felted fabric is based on its sustainability. It is a green, environmentally friendly way to create a beautiful and functional fabric.
The wool fibers are harvested without harm to the animal and their natural element of lanoline makes it very practical for outerwear. It naturally wicks the water of snow or rain keeping one dry in inclement weather. It is a perfect survival fabric. Even if it becomes totally saturated, it will still keep you warm.
Wool and silk are lightweight. Clothing and accessories made of wool and silk are practical for traveling. A shawl can be easily rolled and put into a woman’s purse, to be easily accessible when entering an air-conditioned restaurant or hotel.
You can be dressed up or casual, you can wear it with jeans or a fancy outfit. Scarves can adorn a simple turtleneck or blouse and make it a signature piece.
We make children’s hats, booties, mittens, jackets, and embellished clothing.
Little black dress and tunic are also included in our inventory.
Nuno felting, where the wool fibers find their way through the weave of the silk fabric, creates a unique texture. You won’t know whether to wear it on the right side or the wrong side. Nuno felting creates a unique texture.