Rudyard artist gains a national audience


A Hi-Line resident has stepped from teaching art in local schools to writing about and displaying art on a national level.

Diana Twedt of Rudyard said turning to writing after she retired from teaching at Blue Sky School in 1999 was like returning to a childhood activity. She wrote and illustrated her own stories as a child.

Her writings have focused on another interest that evolved from her childhood - making paper dolls.

"It's sort of an adult version of what I did as a child," she said.

Since she retired, Twedt has contributed to several art periodicals, including Somerset Studio, Belle Armoire and Legacy. She is working on articles for the spring 2004 issue of a new publication, Art Doll Quarterly.

Her writing led to her inclusion in Rhonda Rainey's book "Creative Paper Dollmaking," published in May 2003.

The publishers saw Twedt's writing and art in Somerset Studio, Twedt said, and contacted her about writing a piece for the book, which was Rainey's fifth since 1998.

The piece, with a photo of one of Twedt's dolls, tells readers how to make a petroglyphic profile doll out of paper and other materials. Photographs of other dolls she's made and a biography of Twedt are also in the book

Art has been a part of Twedt's life since she was a child, continuing through college and her career. A California native, she grew up in Bozeman and graduated from Montana State University with a degree in art education.

She moved to the Hi-Line with her husband, Russ, when she got a job teaching at Chester in 1975. They soon decided to move back to the Twedt family farm south of Rudyard, where they still live.

Twedt took some time off from teaching after her children, Matthew and Geneva, were born. She returned to teaching at J-I School after her children reached junior high, she said. She switched to Blue Sky School in Rudyard when a position became available.

Twedt said she is probably best known in Montana for her work in batik, a medium using wax to resist successive layers of dye. Those pieces, which depict Hutterites, were done in cloth, she said, but the technique also works with paper.

Twedt said one of the reasons she is attracted to using paper as a medium is that she can use so many different materials and techniques in making paper art.

"It's so versatile and readily available," she said. "It seemed I found something I can do all in one shot."

She began gravitating toward working with paper about 10 years ago. She started working with paper art both in the classroom and in her own work, she said.

About three or four years ago, Twedt found out that interest in art dolls, including paper art dolls, was rising in the art world. She has been making art dolls in a paper collage format professionally for two or three years.

Art dolls are not easily defined, a letter from Sharilyn Miller, editor of Art Doll Quarterly, says in the premier summer 2003 issue of the periodical.

Art dolls might be made from a mixture of cloth, paper, clay, wood, metal, beads and other mediums. They are generally human-shaped, but don't have to be. Most are three-dimensional, but can be two-dimensional.

"They can be so unusual, so unique. Some don't even resemble figures," Twedt said. "I've seen them made from watch parts and twigs, all sorts of things. So they're unusual for sure. That's what I like about them."

Her work, which she sells and shows in galleries, is known for covering a wide spectrum, she said. It includes paper jewels. She also makes a new series of Christmas ornaments in the fall of every year, and had a display of paper kimonos in a Butte gallery last year.

Her production of art has dropped some since she started freelancing as a writer, Twedt said. Writing the pieces for the periodicals takes much of her time. But she is still working on learning her new medium of art dolls.

"I still consider myself a novice," she said. "Someday I will be doing Hutterite dolls, but I haven't found my recipe."


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