Dream Weaver

The art of Cassidy Fisher threads the handwoven works of The Northern Craft.

Written by Jenn Thornton

Artist Cassidy Fisher, founder of The Northern Craft, was a creative spirit from the start. Gifted an easel when she little more than a toddler, “I used that thing constantly,” she remembers. From then on, whether it was a piece of art or an opportunity, “I was always creating.”

But not always with support from those who found the idea of making art incompatible with making money. As she inched closer to college, “it was clear to me that art wasn’t appreciated or taken seriously,” says Cassidy, who nonetheless graduated with honors, got into a private college with an almost full ride and was on track to getting her master’s degree at a distinguished grad school. “I hated every minute of it,” says Cassidy, who while studying for finals, confessed her frustration to her husband, followed by her desire to be an artist. “I owe my husband a lot,” she says. “He told me I could do anything I wanted, no matter what the world said.” (This same man, incidentally, is the grand-nephew of Western literary lion Louis L’Amour, author of the book “Hondo,” upon which the John Wayne film is based.)

“I owe my husband a lot. He told me I could do anything I wanted, no matter what the world said.”

Six months after this fateful exchange, Cassidy dropped out of school and launched The Northern Craft, a line of handwoven wall hangings inspired by nature, sustainability and her love of the handmade. The brand, she says, is “the classic story of a girl pursuing her dreams.” The classic movie plot. “Person pursues dreams, even though everyone is against them, and then all it takes is one person to believe in them. Most people watch these movies and think they’re just that—movies. That real-life is different. But it’s not. It’s whatever you decide it is. I’m proof of that. If anything, I would hope someone would look at my story and be inspired to create their own.”

The Northern Craft aesthetic is largely informed by Cassidy’s native Northern California. “Our mountains, our rivers, our forests, our deserts—they are some of the most beautiful in the world, and they are literally in my backyard,” says Cassidy, who remembers running barefoot through the trees, collecting crystals and arrowheads, examining Native American grinding stones and wondering about the people who inhabited the land. “I’m very much connected to nature.”

So too, then, is her art, which she infuses with the natural colors and textures of her surroundings, including driftwood that she collects from rivers, lakes and beaches. “I look at a landscape and think, how can I translate this into a weaving?” She based her travel collections, for example, on different Northern California locations to draw attention to the landscape. “My proudest weaving is a piece named ‘Fever.’ It looks as if it has caught fire, and I photographed it in an area by my house that had been burned in a wildfire. I created it to represent climate change and how we care for our land—something I care a great deal about.”

The Northern Craft is, more broadly, an expression of Cassidy’s slow-living side (“I’d love to own a sheep one day and harvest my own wool,” she says). And, like many of her generation in the modern maker movement—not to mention American Westerners of every period—she is breaking with tradition to blaze her own trail. “I think a lot of us wanted to break out of this cycle and pursue something we loved,” she says of this enterprising, purpose-driven group. “We are returning to crafts and trades because it makes us happy, and we’re discovering that happiness is worth a whole lot.”

Her own process of discovery includes plans to uproot herself for parts unknown. “We don’t know where we’re going yet, but somewhere where we can have land to grow things and a big studio for me to spread out in,” Cassidy says. “Maybe get me that sheep. I want to dive even deeper into sustainability and show people that it’s possible to cultivate a life they’ve always dreamed of.” Look for her art to imitate life.

Photographs courtesy of The Northern Craft