Haywood Community College Professional Crafts Fiber students Abigail Ahlberg and Tony Embrey both were recently recognized with national awards. Ahlberg won a woven design scholarship based on her portfolio of first year work at the college. The $3,000 award is from the Handweavers Guild of America and is called the Dendel Scholarship. Embrey won second place in the Design Competition Award from Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association. The prize is a $750 scholarship.

Both of these students competed against mostly four-year colleges and universities. This is the fourth time a student from HCC has won the Dendel Scholarship in the past six years with only one winner in the nation in the textile design category.

Ahlberg came to HCC with a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and Women’s Studies. When trying to decide whether to pursue her master’s degree, she opted to come to HCC because of the reputation of fiber instructor Amy Putansu and the affordability of the program. In fact, she got married and moved here the next week from Ohio just to attend HCC.

“Amy is incredibly thorough and the program is rigorous,” Ahlberg explains. “When you finish, you come out with a really broad knowledge. It takes independent weavers years to learn just what students learn in the first year here.”

Ahlberg wants to start her own business after finishing HCC. “The program at HCC really prepares you for professional work. It is everything I hoped it would be. The Creative Arts Building provides great motivation. You see other students’ dedication. It’s an encouragement to push yourself and it challenges you. I can take all this knowledge wherever I go.” 

Embrey came to HCC after retiring from the military as a civilian. After going to work straight out of high school, one of his life goals was to get a degree. He admits that before coming to the fiber program, he couldn’t even thread a needle and didn’t know how to sew.

He moved to Buncombe County from Southern California in 2013. He learned about HCC’s Professional Crafts Fiber program when he took a basic weaving class in the River Arts District from a graduate of the HCC Fiber program.

“The immersion in the program is intense,” he explains. “But hands-on is how you learn and Amy is there to help you and give you confidence when you make mistakes.”

Embrey hopes to give a different perception with a male view point in his work. His business, Man-Made Textiles, will feature items for special occasions such as bow ties and yardage that can be used for any purpose.  

For more information about HCC’s Professional Crafts Fiber program, please call 627-4672.

Photo by Aaron Mabry. Haywood Community College Professional Crafts Fiber students Abigail Ahlberg and Tony Embrey (pictured left to right) both were recently recognized with national awards. Ahlberg won the Dendel Scholarship from the Handweavers Guild of America. Embrey won second place in the Design Competition Award from Alpaca Owners & Breeders Association.