A decade ago, Darcie Shively traded her harried schedule in Los Angeles’ advertising industry for the quiet beauty of Boulder—and a life that stokes her artistic interests. She gave herself a challenge: Do 52 creative things, one each week for a year, and track them on a blog (aptly named “52 To Do”). Those endeavors included tempering chocolate, knitting, roasting coffee, and researching her family history.

Darcie Shively works on one of seven looms in her Boulder home. Photo by Rebecca Stumpf, styling by Natalie Warady

But one pursuit evaded Shively: weaving. “I wanted to learn, but I just didn’t have time to figure it out in a week,” she says. So, once her year of challenges ended, she took a weaving class—and was hooked. “I love pattern and color and the experience of watching it come together on the loom,” she says. “It’s a meditative process for me.” And a successful one: Today, art lovers (most of whom have found Shively on Instagram) clamor to commission her work.

Shively weaves large-scale geometric tapestries with hand-dyed wool in bright hues and unpredictable sequences of color. To generate the hues and patterns she uses in a piece, she embraces serendipity: Sometimes she’ll flip a coin (after assigning a specific shape and color to heads and another combination to tails) or reach into a bag stuffed with wool scraps; whichever color she pulls, she uses. “This way, I don’t have to speak to current trends or cultural preferences,” she says. “I feel like this [random approach] gives my work a more lasting quality.”

It’s also a reminder that efforts to control every element of our lives are futile. “My work is about embracing uncertainty,” Shively says. “We can’t pre-program our lives, so instead, maybe we can find some joy in the not knowing.”

This article was originally published in 5280 Home August/September 2020.
Hilary Masell Oswald
Hilary Masell Oswald
As the former editor for two of 5280’s ancillary publications, Hilary Masell Oswald split her time between the vibrant design-and-architecture scene in the metro area for 5280 Home and the always-changing field of health for the annual 5280 Health.