Once upon a time, before the internet was on everyone’s phone or tablet, in a time when Google maps were in their infancy, ...
...many fiber farms, fiber artists' studios and supply shops were virtually unknown, or hidden from view by the trees on the road, Maine Fiberarts decided to make a map that would guide the public to all the places in Maine that were connected in some way to fiber art and farms.
Turn by turn directions were written out for each spot on the map and it was categorized into the kinds of relationships each place had with fiber and fiber art. It was known as the Maine Fiberarts Tour Map: Studios and Farms. It was first a paper map, a 24” x 36", illustrated, full color map locating over 130 fiber destinations statewide. The first edition was printed in 2006, the second in 2009. This was the first self-guided tour for discovering art studios, cashmere farms, spinneries, yarn stores, fabric shops, and galleries along the byways and back roads of Maine. The Tour Map provided contact info, descriptions and driving directions to make visiting easy. An online listing of the fiber sites was also made available'';.
As an added feature for 2009, 2010 and 2011 Maine Fiberarts also hosted the Fiber Arts Tour Weekend held during the first full weekend in August. What could you see on the tour? Farms with cashmere goats, natural dye gardens, a collection of antique spinning wheels, freshly-shorn wool fleeces, handspun yarns, art wearables, fiber processing mills, contemporary quilts, island studios, hand-dyed fabrics, woven tapestries, yarn shops, cozy blankets, sheep in the meadow, hooked rug supplies, knitted copper, felted llama wool, handcrafted spindles, silk capes, a papermaking studio in an old mill, blended rovings, angora rabbits, whimsical folk art, sewing instruction, farm chores, reed baskets, and special crafts for children. All the Tour Weekend participaing sites were profiled with photos and directions on www.mainefiberarts.org.
The printed maps were available at Maine State Visitor Centers, art and craft and agricultural fairs and festivals throught Maine, yarn stores, Maine Tourism Association, and were mailed out upon request with a postage charge. There were 10,000 maps distributed during 2009-2012. The online version of the map using Google mapping functionality was added in 2009 and remained on this site through 2012, highlighting the farms and studios that were on the printed map. It was replaced by the Maine Fiber Resource Guide.
In 2013 Maine Fiberarts was tasked by the Maine Department of Agriculture, funded through a matching grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) to compile an online guide to Maine fiber resources related to fiber and the fiber industry, to provide useful information for fiber enthusiasts, fiber farmers, artists and craftspeople working in fiber, and anyone wanting to know more about Maine's growing fiber industry. In initial group of about 100 signed up for a free listing in the online Fiber Resoure Guide.
Over time we realized that the fiber resource guide with its mapping features had become the focal point of the new three-part “online digital tour” providing maps and directions to fiber sites throughout Maine, many of which are profiled in our Fiber Folio of photo journeys around the state and beyond. The statewide Fiber Bulletin of fiber-related events, exhibitions, opportunities and other news is also part of what we are now calling The Maine Fiberarts Tour. We redesigned our website to showcase the digital tour and other main events and programs such as our current gallery exhibition, links to our previous exhibitions as well as to the Fiber Folio and our Fiber Bulletin.
We are currently adding a new mapping feature to make it easier for folks to sign up to be on the map. The form asks for a description, website, the usual contact information and if classes or workshops are offered, and if some are for children and youth. It is possible to drag the map marker to where you like it, but you can also locate where you are by clicking a button without the need for typing in an address. So far most of the listings on the map are linked back to our former longer profile pages from the Resource Guide. We hope this new simple format will be more pleasing to read and use. If you are searching for fiber related people and places, you can filter these listings by category, and there is also a separate search feature. The link back to the map is in the black bar at the bottom of every page if you get lost.