MEET: Fiber Artist Nikki Parenti
When the pandemic forced Nikki Parenti to reevaluate her office-based career, it was a no-brainer that it was time to take her side passion to the next level. She did, after all, graduate from an arts college and had always worked alongside creatives.
Now, she’s among the most highly skilled of them, decorating walls and brightening spirits with her unique NikKnots woven and knotted creations that combine wool, silk, cotton, yarn, jute, and driftwood with other accessories.
After graduating Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with a bachelor in fine arts in 2014, the Titusville native worked in film production offices in Savannah before returning to Florida where she worked as a coordinator for creative teams at theme parks.
“I was always supporting the creatives,” Parenti said. “I do like being creative but I love planning, making lists and all that kind of stuff. I’m an organized artist.”
She said she enjoyed supporting creatives in departments like media, sculpting, show programming and props. She helped coordinate travel, maintained calendars, and was an assistant to multiple directors.
But like many, she found herself without a job when the pandemic hit.
“I was like you know what, I’ve been doing (fiber art) on the side as a hobby, now is the time to do it,” she said about going all in.
And art lovers out there can rejoice that Parenti, who just dabbled with macrame starting in September 2018 now is churning out intricately woven and knotted mixed-fiber pieces for galleries, shows and commissions.
Space Coast art patrons might first have seen Parenti’s work at the Satellite Beach farmers market in 2021. She expanded to some others, then exhibited at Fifth Avenue Art Gallery in August 2022 and again in January 2023.
Her largest piece, Sunrise, is over 5 feet across and tall. Recurring client, Khayla Winan of Lake Mary, has it proudly on display, along with over 10 NikKnots pieces, most custom.
Parenti satisfies our area’s deep love of coastal vibes by creating many pieces that invoke soothing beachy-themed colors. She has even incorporated actual seashells and starfish as finishing elements, and each piece hangs from driftwood she collects along the Indian River Lagoon.
More recently, she’s added in earth-toned and black materials, like in one piece she calls Black Sheep, which incorporates banana fibers.
“The materials have been eye-opening and I do want to learn more about different kinds of fibers and textiles,” she said.
In sourcing her materials, Parenti supports other artists. She orders her favorite art yarns from Etsy sellers. She also visited a high quality fiber store while on vacation last year in Maine, where she discovered new fibers and enjoyed being able to see and feel them before purchasing.
Parenti still makes the small macrame plant hangers that she started with, and she has fun videos on her Instagram showing how she dyes cotton to make her popular colored jellyfish. She averages about five hours a day weaving or knotting, upping that to about eight as she gets more pieces ready ahead of events.
But she is trending away from farmers markets and plans to do more juried shows. Her goals include doing a big installation either commercially or in a private home, and ultimately having her work on display at hotels, restaurants and other businesses around the world where many people can walk in or turn the corner and be wowed.
“I want to awe people, that’s my goal,” Parenti said about her vision of having people see her huge fiber creations on public display.
She had a taste of that awe-inspiring effect when she had Sunrise on display at the art gallery.
“People turned the corner and would exclaim, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’” she said. “That was a good feeling.”
Select items on display locally:
Junkfood Bakery, 259 Minutemen Causeway, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
March 4-5: Cocoa Village Spring Fine Art and Craft Show
Follow NikKnots on social media for updates on when she will have booths at local shows.
Size: 34” x 25”
Materials: Cotton, merino wool, hand-spun art yarn, banana fiber, hand-dyed Peruvian Highland wool, wool blend, and recycled sari silk on found Indian River Lagoon driftwood
Hours to create: 20
(Still available for purchase, as of March 1)
Overall size: 65” x 64”
Fiber measurements: 44” x 55”
Materials: Cotton, merino wool, handspun art yarn, recycled sari silk, wool blend, found Indian River Lagoon driftwood
Hours to create: 60
Commissioned for Ella
Size: 24” x 36”
Materials: cotton, merino wool, recycled sari silk, starfish on found Indian River Lagoon driftwood
Hours to create: 13
Photos by Kenneth Castoro and Lee Nessel