Emily Dvorin

“What Goes Around Comes Around,” made from spools and bobbins of thread, comments on the “karma of life,” says Dvorin.

Fiber art is a misleading term for the vessels Emily Dvorin creates. Woven sculpture made from urban materials is more like it. Dvorin rarely strays from plastics when she coils her eye-poppingly bright baskets from bottom to top. Her favorite material? The ultra-ordinary cable tie.

“I am trying to change the definition of basketry by exploring contemporary interpretations of a traditional craft using non-traditional ingredients,” she explains.

Emily Dvorin

Dvorin’s career did not begin with baskets; it began in a classroom. She taught third grade until her husband’s job was transferred from Greenbelt, Md., to San Rafael, Calif., in 1970. In her new scenery, Dvorin turned to a lifelong interest in art. She began producing and selling macrame wall hangings.

In 1974, Dvorin opened a craft gallery called Various & Sundries. With the help of local artists who she employed part-time, Dvorin was still able to devote plenty of time to her art.

She couldn’t stop at macrame. Dvorin took a workshop in basketry with sea kelp in 1985 and was hooked. “When you land on the art form you want to spend the rest of your life pursuing, you know it!” she says. In the 1990s she began making more contemporary work with hardware-store goods and found objects. She employs ingredients like wire, zippers and mountain-climbing rope to create vessels that range from prickly to sleek.

Dvorin’s vessels turn recognizable household items into visual comments on daily life. She is not only about building her own meaning; in addition to managing Various & Sundries, she still teaches adult workshops and children’s classes on basketry. “I do it out of love and sharing what I love,” she says.

This article was first published in the Spring 2006 edition of NICHE magazine. To see Dvorin’s current work, go to www.emilydvorin.com