Cleo C.

            During the many years of academic pursuits, my goal was to take advantage of all avenues to build a successful teaching career in order to make my parents proud and to assure myself of a comfortable future.  When I look back to those years in High School the only rough waters I remember were those surrounding my terrible experiences in Art classes. Now I can see clearly that it was the sewing classes of the French nuns, expert needlewomen, that rescued my artistic spirit and helped me to reconnect with the magical hours spent watching my uncle with scissors, cutting cloth, and my grandmother with her crochet hook, making cloth. The Sisters introduced me to needle, cloth and sumptuous embroidery threads and stitches which helped me to revive a fascination with textiles that had lain dormant during the years of study in High School.  The ‘back to basics’ movement in vogue during my University years, provided the right environment to  further increase my interest in textiles, and to extend my skill in making garments and embroidered articles.  Continuing to work creatively helped me to cope with the differences between my simpler early life and the new, more complicated, situations that arose in my later life.   It reminded me of my true self and has given me the confidence to continue learning and developing new skills.

            Having discovered the joy and satisfaction of working with textiles I continued making small articles, all the time getting familiar with the characteristics of different types of cloth and suitable techniques for using each type.  I graduated to making quilts and wall hangings of different sizes which taught me valuable lessons about colour, value and composition and opened my eyes to the possibilities of including the patterns and designs in commercial fabric in appliqué work.  This led me to experiment with patterning my own fabric. Using our plentiful sunshine, I now use cyanotype and simple sun printing to produce fabric pieces, some of which I embellish with embroidery, beading and overprinting. I enjoy  the simplicity and convenience of using the sun’s abundant rays and continue to search for new methods to add enriching details to my work.          

           Closeness to nature is a constant in my life.  It is always the myriad shapes of the leaves, flowers, and pods or the natural habits and forms of insects and other animals in the natural environment that catch my eye. I am moved to use these forms in sun printing, appliqué, embroidery and other techniques to make yardage or transform cloth for decorative pieces.   Through my work I hope to share with others, some of the excitement and wonder that nature inspires in me.