Phoenix Rising gives new life to materials that have exhausted their original use. Carol Bridwell, from the New Concord area, thinks of ways for them to be reborn into unique and colorful pieces to accent your home or place of business.
She participates in many local festivals including Art on the Square in Caldwell, Raven’s Glen Winery Red, Wine and Blue Fest, Y-Bridge Arts Festival, and Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival. But Carol didn’t begin displaying her work until after she retired.
This lovely lady first worked at AK Steel Mill in Zanesville. She started as an hourly employee and worked up to a manager. By retirement, she had managed every operating area. Her energy knows no bounds. Even though she enjoyed crocheting at the age of six, it wasn’t until after retirement that she began to get serious about her creative side.
Her interest in weaving all started over thirty years ago when Carol bought her first loom. She knew this was something she would enjoy as she always enjoyed fabric – the threads and patterns. Guess she was a natural for weaving. But one of those early rugs sat unfinished in the loom for five years.
When asked about the name for this new business, Carol explained, “The Phoenix has always been a strong image of rebirth to me, so I chose the name Phoenix Rising to indicate that this venture was a new direction, and would continue to develop and grow.” Sounds like a great choice.
Hand-woven rugs are her specialty, and some are quite large. She enjoys mixing fabrics and colors to achieve a very special look and feel. Her rugs are very popular as they are washable and seem to last forever. Some people have had one of her rugs for twenty years. They are something you can use and enjoy every day.
A special room was added to their house just for her looms and creative supplies. And she has filled it quite well. Over a thousand spools of cotton warp can be found in a lovely pattern on the wall. The only reason she knows that figure is because her grandson counted them.
When she sees a piece of art, her mind begins thinking about how she can create a rug out of that pattern. She uses the cotton warp and cotton salvage fabric in these designs. Reusing worn out items also appears to be a pattern that Carol follows. She buys the salvage fabric 150 lbs at a time with no idea as to what colors or patterns will be in that package.
It takes about twelve hours to make a rug. Her grandson remarked, “People have no idea how complicated it is to make a rug.” And he is definitely correct. Each strand has to be threaded on the loom and tied individually. Plus, they must be done in the correct order and number of strands so the pattern emerges. It’s amazing!
While rug-making is at the top of her list, Carol dabbles in many other creative endeavors. She might use concrete, beams from an old barn, or boards from an old corral. The possibilities from her mind seem to be endless. Did I forget to mention that Carol also helps her son on their hog farm? This lady never stops.
Wood from pallets can be used to make boxes and signs, then designs are added for different occasions. Recently, she has been trying some wood burning. Animal silhouettes are another use of the pallet wood. Many of these are based on real animals. Her dog, Clyde, and their grandson’s goat, Gilbert, are just a couple examples of those special family pets used for models.
Her daughter, Alicia, helps with the painting of the signs, and both her daughters help her with her displays. But the creative part is mainly done by Carol.
Someday she would like to fulfill another dream – cheese making. She grew up with grandparents who loved cheese. But Carol doesn’t just want to make any cheese, she hopes to make sheep cheese and already has the place planned for this project. She prefers sheep cheese because it has higher butterfat and mild taste. After all, it’s the most prolific cheese in the world.
As you can probably imagine, she doesn’t give much time to sleeping – usually about four hours a night. She works in the shop in the afternoon and does her weaving in the evening. In case she gets an idea during the night, she keeps a sketch pad beside her bed.
You’ll want to stop by the booth of Phoenix Rising at the Salt Fork Festival in 2018 for their 50th Anniversary. Carol has attended the festival for many years and enjoys the great variety of vendors that appear each year. Her booth provides a colorful and interesting addition. You might even be lucky enough to watch her working on a rug.
You can contact Carol Bridwell at 740-319-1673 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about her creative work.