Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Woman’s world travels fuel folk art collection

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Her Quaker grandmother taught her to sew. Her mother was a tailor. Ridgefield’s Carol Pinnell, 67, has fabric in her blood.

Pinnell asked a ton of questions as she walked through the antiques district in Vienna, Austria, when she attended college there.

“I learned I was intrigued by all types of textiles,” she said.

As she traveled, she started collecting ethnic and vintage folk art from around the world. She has visited more than 130 countries.

Out of college, she buckled on her backpack and hiked around Europe. Later, she hiked throughout South America. She has visited reserves, tribal areas, animal refuges and world heritage sites. Pinnell said she once sat on a cloth in a Peruvian market and traded her flashlight and hairbrush for whatever folk art the natives were willing to give her.

Pinnell has been organizing “unique itineraries” trips for groups since 1973. She has worked with well-known European travel expert Rick Steves and her tours have been featured in the New York Times, Conde Nast and Lonely Planet guides.

She said, “I found it easier to collect textiles when I started traveling with a suitcase.”

Recently, she was a travel consultant for five weeks for a crew filming a documentary in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Pinnell said good folk art is getting harder and harder to find; the crafts are disappearing. She wants others to learn about folk art and see the beauty of her collection. Her most prized item is a heavily sequined voodoo ceremonial piece from Haiti.

Pinnell will speak at the Clark County Historical Museum at 1 p.m. Jan. 7 in conjunction with the current exhibit, “Working with Tradition: Folk Artists of Washington State.” Items from her collection will be on display. Those attending are invited to bring a favorite piece of folk art for sharing or to try to have it identified after her presentation.

Pinnell has lived in Ridgefield for 10 years and arranges trips through her company, Group Journeys, http://www.groupjourneys.com.

— Mary Ricks

Local woman named finalist in blogger contest

Nola Falan, 52, won’t be on the red carpet at the MusiCares Person of the Year Event honoring Paul McCartney in February, but as one of six finalists in the MusiCares blogger contest, Falan still feels like a winner.

“The fact that I was chosen as one of only six people in the entire U.S. to be a finalist is unbelievable to me,” Falan said.

MusiCares helps uninsured musicians with medical, dental and other needs they might have.

This fall, the organization held a contest and Falan of Brush Prairie entered her blog, “Ramblings from a KUPL Listener.”

For the most part, Falan, who doesn’t get paid to blog, can write about anything she wants. As part of her deal with the radio station, she attends the shows KUPL sponsors in the “Bing Lounge” and blogs about them.

Because she wanted to be a radio DJ, Falan got a degree in broadcasting, but she never used it. Instead, she’s been a records specialist for The Standard for 17 years.

“Growing up, I heard a lot of country music, since that’s what my parents listened to mostly. As I got older, my tastes expanded to include almost all types of music,” Falan said. “My favorites growing up were Paul Revere and the Raiders and Mark Lindsay.”

Blogging was new to Falan when she began writing hers.

“This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’m very excited about it,” she said.

Learn more about MusiCares at http://www.grammy.org/musicares. Read Falan’s blog at http://kuplramblings.blogspot.com.

— Ruth Zschomler

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Ruth Zschomler, 360-735-4530, or email ruth.zschomler@columbian.com.