Sharon C.

Part I:  About Me

I was born in California but moved during my elementary years to Maryland so my father could work for a Congressman.  I have two brothers—one older (by just a little) and one younger (by a lot).  Once married, I moved back to California, where I stayed until 20 years ago, when I ended up moving once again to the DC area to finish off my career.

My marriage lasted just under 20 years and resulted in 2 children—a daughter and a son.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, but my talent and skill for writing and editing earned me a retirement from the Federal Government 10 years ago.  Once I retired, I moved back to the west coast to be closer to family—to Central Oregon, where my daughter had been living for several years.

Part II:  My Process

I tend to think of the way I work along the lines of haphazard, intuitive, or often driven by serendipity.  I am frequently motivated and/or inspired by color and line, with ideas seemingly just “popping” in my head.  Well, that seems to be how many of my creations begin, although I suspect the ideas are often lying dormant until something gels.  One idea and/or quilt can frequently blend or move to the next—so bits and pieces of ideas tend also to flow one by one to the next.  I often take “rejected” scraps and/or ideas from one project and incorporate in another project.  For example, I decided to use a bunch of leftover pieces from several classes in a current project.  It’s interesting how many of the pieces seem to blend well together—despite a clear use of what seemed at the time totally different fabrics.  I also like to experiment with some idea or form of construction in one project and then incorporate that style in the next.  

Something I have been doing a lot over the last several years is incorporating traditional motifs or designs such as geometric shapes (half and quarter square triangles as well as log cabin) into my work.  I like how those structured pieces contrast with my randomly constructed (or improvisational) pieces.  I’ve also found that creating log cabin blocks when starting a piece is a good way to get the piece going and test what colors I like together.  I will sometimes cut the log cabin pieces in half and reassemble with another cut-up log cabin—adding variety.

How I work

I’ve been asked before about the cognitive process of my work and truthfully, but I try not to think about the “how” and focus on the results—which is to say I haven’t a clue how things go together—it just happens.  I took a psychological profile test once (16pf) where one of its measures looked at creativity.  The psychologist (who was conducting surveys for her dissertation) conducting the test told me she redid my score for that area several times because based on other criteria, my score was too high (11 out of 10)—it did not really surprise me, because I’ve always felt a creative pull for modifying, improving, or problem solving.

I don’t want to try and analyze it too deeply because I’m afraid the “magic” will disappear, and I’ll lose that sense of spontaneity.  It’s totally intuitive and often experimental.  I think subliminally I must be asking myself “what if” and then respond either on a design wall with fabric or when I’m designing something on the computer.  With my digital work, I know that I like to take what feels to me to be disparate images, overlay two or three, then go about seeing if some artistic effect, blending mode, or change of color “strikes my fancy.”  I feel it is totally visual and intuitive and how my brain responds to an effect, blend, or color “works.” 

So, I can express “how” but not “why.”  I’ve wondered myself how my brain knows to move this or that piece to a new location or place certain colors together.  However, I don’t question it and simply try to go with it.

Part III: Content (passion)

It seems to me that my most underlying passion revolves around simply “creating.”  I feel most fulfilled when I am working on a quilt project or thinking about colors or reviewing my photos for potential images to modify.  I basically just love the design process of contemplating, collecting, and then the actual creating. And the best part of creating improvisational pieces is figuring out the “how” of piecing and how pieces to together.  There seems to me a clear correlation to designing an art quilt and the edit process, in that it seems like solving a puzzle—figuring out what best fits in specific places.  

I think those characteristics can be applied to a broad range of creative activities—even activities such as researching, writing, and quilting.  The process seems the same—gather items to work with, begin experimenting with possible approaches, and then apply the thoughts or visions to notes, paper and pen, or a design wall/computer.  I am drawn to graffiti-type work, but creating it is a challenge for me.  I always preferred appliqué to piecing because with appliqué there seems to be more flexibility and it is less tight and structured.  I used to do a lot of appliqué and hand work, but not so much as I’ve aged and seem to have moved into creating with fluidity—or that’s the goal at least.  

I’m always less excited about the finished product, other than the fact that it generally allows me to move onto another project.  Some quilts are more satisfying than others—and I often recall the steps I went through to get the end result.  Although the quilting and stitching itself adds a finishing touch, sometimes it feels to simply be a necessity—the thing that actually makes it a quilt.  I most appreciate the stitching, I think, but not because of the intricacies of the stitching design but because I actually prefer random and unpredictable stitches—something I try to project with piecing.  

Michele K.

Part 1 / History

My brother and myself are born after the war. I am the second, born in 1952. Our parents were different one of each other, and, for what I remember, had no complicity ( and love ?) together. When I was a child, I loved reading. I was very often playing theatre on my own, disguising myself with old clothes and blankets. I was often on my own. I used to glue scraps together to make clothes for my doll. According to the teacher, I would never be able to sew correctly.

I loved puzzles, sand castles, soap bubbles and books. My father used to buy me lots of books. I was cheerful and trusting but shy.

My childhood ended when my father died. I was nearly 12.
It was at the same time the beginning of adolescence. I closed in myself.
But I still liked making stuff with materials and paper. My grandmother taught me how to knit and crochet.
I studied French, Latin and Greek in university. I have forgotten all that now. I had a job at the same time because I didn't want the money from my "parents" (my mother had remarried).
I was part of an association collecting old stuff to make money for charities. I choose to work at collecting the clothes and materials, old napkins, dresses, handbags etc. That was during the seventies. I bought lots of old dresses and laces. I loved that.

Around 1980, I changed my profession ( I was teaching) and started a formation of librarian.
I met John, an Irishman who had come to France for one year to study French. He had a great sens of humour.
We married, lived in France and had 4 children. Very happy together. Complicity, friendship, love.Happy life.
I was still making some clothes when I found time. Around 1996 I started to do patchwork with the scraps, according freely my scraps.
2001 John is diagnosed with a cancer. Clouds were coming.
I took an early retirement.
I had a friend who liked to play with material like I did, any type of material. We have had great moments together. She died 5 years ago.
2008 John dies.
The children were doing their studies.
It has been long and difficult to go back to my own balance after those years of illness, pain and death.
I have never stopped sewing. I went for a while to an association making traditional patchwork. I was not interested but my head was empty and it was nice to have materiel and threads in my hand. It helped me. That emptiness lasted for something like three years.

For the last five years, I have learned how to live with myself, on my own. Most of the time I feel happy. My children are great, I have 2 granddaughters. I have discovered textile art with a group of five persons that I like. I learned lots of things and techniques.
I have the feeling that I need now to involve myself in a more personal work, and I feel strongly that time is passing by very quickly.

Part 2 / Process

At the moment, I am usually starting with an image or a few images (photos, pictures from a magazine, art books) that give me an atmosphere that I like. I choose images accorded to a word : tree bark, stone walls, seaweeds...
I am trying to do some very basic sketches and write some options. I don't always do it.
Usually the first thing I am looking for, are the colours. I go to my boxes of material and scraps. I am getting a bit better at dyeing fabric and I have a preference for those fabrics now.
I like when the piece has some volume or some bas-relief. I am often using techniques which allow that : pleats, multiples layers, overlap of material, thin or thick strings.
When the piece is nearly nearly finished, I like to add some free embroidery.

I have also started to make 3D felt pieces.

Part 3 / Content

What I am interested in :

-The Celtic atmosphere that is quite similar here in Brittany and in Ireland where I often go : the paths and walks along the river, the seashores and the rocks on the strand, the stone walls, the Irish landscapes, the stones, the colour of the sea and sky, the rain and the fog, the heathland, the flora.

-The white and coolish atmosphere of the Nordic areas of Europe I like yellows, greens, some blues, greys and whites. 

Vernon S.

MY STORY

I was born at 7:39 am PDST on July 7, 1948 in Exeter. Tulare County, California, USA.  My parents met in San Francisco, where my mother was working at the time as was my grandfsather, who worked in the shipyards, where he met my father, whose ship, a repair vessel for the U.S.Navy hadjust returned from Guam after the surrender of the Japanese.  My father stayed inCalifornia and he and my mother were married on July 20, 1947 and my father was a member of the Machinist's Union and lost his job after the McCarthy people blacklisted him because of the union, ALTHOUGH HE DID NOT KNOW WHAT A COMMUNIST OR EVEN A SOCIALIST IS and he only joined the union to get a job.  He was not a racist, but my mother was, and he often countered her racist remarks, telling us quietly to respect my mother, bt not to listen to her statements about blacks, hispanics, and Indians, he was part Chocktaw.  hr made arrabgemebts with a black family to take us to their church and againdt my mothers wishes made certain that we went to integrated e  schools.  He turned to farming, as he had been born on a farm in Montgague County,  Texas.  We also raised chickens and rabbits, and that wss the part I did not like, the chickens.  I much preferred working in the large truck garden where we grew strawberries, and sold them and other vegetables and fruit including several varieties of tomatoes (green, red, yellow, and purple), bermuda onions, oranges, peaches, walnuts, pecans, almonds, blackberries, raspberries and muscatel grapes (after we moved to Texas, every year we would make a trip to Hillsboro to pick wild mustang grapes Muscatels) for making grape juice, this was long before Napa Valley, at a stand at the front of our house.

When I was 5, we moved to Dallas, Tx, where my father's family had moved after losing the farm to the Corps of Engineers to make Lake Whitney)  after the death of my paternal grandfather.  My father and his twin brother were rejected by the family, and we were never very close to any of his 14 brothers and sisters, of which they were the youngest.  Much to my mother's chagrin, we settled in the barrio in West Dallas.  We celebrated Cinco de Mayo, Dia de los Muertes,  the festival of Oue Lady of Guadalupe, although we were protestant, the posada, and Juneteenth at school and with our neighbors.  Mom eventually joined in, learrning to make enchiladas, chiles rellenos with huge poblano peppers, which she grew herself, and mole negro from the Guatamalans, who were fleeing to the US.  They were all more afraid of their own than they were of anything else, except for La Miga or ire were nngs at that time, that came later, and we were never allowed to wear khakis or slick our hair back.

My mother's family consisted of 4 boys and 2s girl, 3 of whom went into the ministry, my mother wanted to be a violinist, but it never hsppened, snd that disappointment would color her life thereafter.  Her sister graduated from USC Berkely with a degree in mathematics and worked with Oppenheimer at White Sands, N M  before she married a man with a doctorate in tree genetis who worked for the Cakifornia forest service.  My father eventually became a roofing contractor until he fell off a roof and was severely injured and he went to work for a building supply company as a truck driver.  He had wanted to ne a pro baseball player

My maternal grandmother worked as a librarian, but was also into painting landscapes in oils and I was the only grandchild who she taught to paint saying that I was the only one who had expressed  an interest in learning, which was true except for my mother, and for that my mother never forgave me, because my grandmother had tried to teach her, but mother was not interested in learning at that time and when she did become interested, grandmother was no longer interested in teachng her.

At the age of fifteen, I was diagnosed as mildly autisic, Asberger's syndrome,but functiong at a high level and I was placed in advanced college preparatory classes.  When I graduated, I enrolled in Junior College, and I started dating my future wife.  At the height of the Viet Nam war, I was called up, and since I did not believe in it, even though because of a heart condition, I was told they would not take me.  But I dreamed of a romantic life of adventure, and I caught  a train and fled north to Canada, where I lived for 4 years in the town of Stratford, Ontario , studied ballet, and after six months of training on scholarship I got a position as premier danseur with  the  Khoros Ballet and danced the lead roles in The Nutcradker, Giselle, and Sleep;ing Beauty, but i left after thecine season.  Due to a friendship with a cast member of the Follies Berjer, I was offered a job in Paris, France dancing with Josephine Baker, but I decided to stay in Canada and studied acting in Toronto at Victoris College at York University where I attended a few lectutes given by Marshall McCluhan, who had not yet been discovered.

I redturned to Stratford as a actor and director and platwright in periferal peoductions at the Shakespeare Festival and made a few films, but I did Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and Arrabal's The Architect and the emperor of  Assyria's North Anericam premiere. Arrabal was the sybject of a Dali [ainting, the portrait of a bearded mabm with hands on his shoukders but there was bo one standing behind him.  I slso a series of readings of Macbeth with Antony Burgess prior to the release of the film version of A Clockwork Orange and did a workshop with Malcolm McDowell of the script for what later became the film IF

My parents arrnaged for me to return to the US  where I TOOK MY DRAFT PHYsICAL aND WAS REJECTED FOR SERVICE.  TWO OF MY BROTHERS SERVED 2 TOURS in vietnam, one in intelligence, the  other as a helicopter pilot.  I intended to reyurn to Cabsda to vnyimur my varwwe but was approached by the FBI to work undercover for them, tgheir assunptiom neing yjat i was part of the undergound,I refused as I was only ab rxpatriot and nolt sa revolutiomary.

When I had returned to the US, I had been correwsponding with Karen, and we married after she graduated summa cum laude from UNT with two degrees, one in Biology, the other in Chemistry and mathematics.  I returned to college for a while, but never graduated, although I had enough credits to do so.  I went to work for the UT Southwestern Medical School and then took training as a lay therapist and worked at a private psychiatric hospital for 3 years.  Karen and I divorced due to her  severe drug problem from which  she never fully recovered.  I hated divorcing her, but it was what she wanted, no demanded, as did her doctors. SHE WAS THE ONE TRUE LOVE OF MY LIFE.

By this time, I had started acting afain, and performed in a number of productions at Theatre 3 and The Dallas theatre center, amd several little theatre and college productions.  I was olffered a scholarship to the Circle in the Sqyare Theatre in New Tork City, but i turned it dowm after visiting New York, which I did not like at all.

I then moved to Austin, Tx, where I lived until I developed Parkinson and working for The State, I was able to retire early. at age 60. ad moved first to Lancaster, and finally to Irving, Tx.  I painted and drew, 

I studied painting and life drawsing for 2 years with Mission Renaisance in Austin.

Over the years I've perfected various skills and techniques.  I took classses in quiltmaking, and worked wsith an textile artists' group (we WERE NAMED BY A SCIENCE FICTION WRITER, MARGARET BALL)  SHE HAD CALLED Us tHE MUTANT VAMPIRE FIBER ARTISTS, and we had one GROUP show at a specialty fabric store called Silk Road. Our members included Joy Baklini whos quilts are featured in several of Joan Wolfram's books and, Malka Dubrawsky.  For nearly a year we met every Wednesday for critique, and on Saturdays we met to learn dyeing, surface design.  We shared what we knew, and what we didn't know, we researched and learned by doing.  With Malka's help, we taught ourseabdfes batik or was resist, pole wrapping (arashi) and we had plastic shapes laser cut,  learned this from Marian Clayden (who did costume design for Hair and did private couture) for itajime. ori nui, stitch. silkscreening and printmaking, sun printing, cyannotype, paste resist, pleating, dscharge with bleach and paste, transfers of various kinds, devore.  Margaret and I took  workshop at Surface Design Symposium, I took Ned's class and Margaret took a class that she hated, why i mever learned.

By this  time we seemed to need to go our own ways.  I started entering shows but wass mosty rejected, but I continued making art quilts and doing surface design because I loved the process.  I mainly made things for gifts and for friends

Then I devekoped Parkinsons and it became difficult for me to do anything, and Margaret and I took up polymer clay and Gass bead making, Margaret broke off our frendship  and she took Jane's summer workshop with Vivian who is nmentioned in the book.  Vivian tried to get her to reconcile but we never did.

I bought a cheap Elna sewing machine and began expeimenting with free motion embroidery,making scarves and bags, and quilts  while studyng and coorresponding ith several European and Australian artists including Valerie Campbell Harding, Marie Roper, and took 2 sessions of City and Guilds training but had to stop when it became too expensive.

I read voraciously and tried everything at least once,  I had taken classes with Beth Kennedy, but eventualy it  has become imopoisiboe for me to use a sewing machine, so I do everything by hand now.

I became disillusioined with fiber and took 2 years of ceramics at Clayways Studio in Austin.  Even as a student, my work  sold, especially ny handpainted pieces.  I worked with other pottery artists, painting their items and they all sold.  I took a workshop sponsored by the San Antonio Pottery Guild with Lana Wilson.   I did discover that I had a real love for painting and design, though I did not understand why my work sold so well.  A friend finally told me that I was the only person who colulf not see my work s it truly is and I think that is still true although I habe begun to make some progress in that area..

I discovered Jane's book and the CST group on Facebook, but I am still not sure of what exactly I want to do.  I'm taking Jane's class and the floodgates have opened and I am writing poetry primarily, but i'd like to write critical essays.  I did not mention that  I took some online writing classes, finished 2 novels, neither of which has found a publisher, and then I began to write poetry and I write everyday now and my poetry has been rejected but with encouraging notes from editors.

I believe that I am very good at critique  and using those skills to assess my own work is cvery promising and I'd like to do that as well as write for zines and journals on poetry, art and the creative process. and illustrate my poetry.  I believe I have a talent for humor that is not cruel or sarcastic, and I'd like to write in a humourus way that is positive and helpful and not destructive as well, and I've been noodling around with playwriting as well.  I've also considered doing readings of my poetry and other writings, but the Parkinsons disease has weakened my facial and throat muscles  which makes it very difficult for me to talk and be understood at times;  i able to talk clearly for only about 2 hours in the early afternoon so doing readings would require special arrangements.

Denise B.

History

I was born in the 1960's and grew up in South West London.  My sister arrived 2 years later and we all lived together in a terraced house along with my grandmother who lived independently in the house upstairs.  My sister and I, in our early years shared the same bedroom as my mother and father and then some years later my grandmother gave up one of the upstairs rooms so my sister and I could share a room together.  We had no central heating so it was pretty cold in the Winter. But, we had a wonderful dad who would go around lighting all the oil fires so the house was a little warmer when we got up.  Having my grandmother living in the house was an interesting challenge and not something I would recommend.  

I went to a small primary school just around the corner.  I was very shy and consequently didn't like school, but it didn't stop me from working hard and enjoying education.  When the time came for me to go to secondary school my mother wanted me to go to a grammer school.  I didn't believe I was bright enough so opted for the local comprehensive nearer to home.  I was put in the grammer stream but unfortunately was in the class with the students who didn't want to learn, unlike myself.  I was bullied for some years until I came to study for my O Levels when I was swapped into the other grammer class with the students who wanted to learn and school became fun.

When at home I loved drawing, listening to music, reading, gardening, knitting, cooking and sewing.  I wanted to do O Level sewing but was prevented from doing this by my mum and form tutor as they considered this a wasted O Level.  Our bedroom had a balcony overlooking the garden.  In the Summer I would grow plants in pots and hanging baskets on my balcony.  I remember some lovely hours spent with the doors open, sun shining in whilst listening to music and sewing, knitting or doing some other creative hobby.  

When I left school I went to university up in London where I studied computing and later did a maths degree.  It was good fun and I made lots of friends.  I wanted to do Operational Research but after getting a job with British Aerospace and having very little work, which was boring I changed careers and studied as an accountant and have been in this line ever since.  I am now self employed as an accountant as well as running a heating spares business.  I love the flexibility that this brings, although hard work.  I would love to make use of my creative skills one day so that I can reduce the mundane work that accountancy brings now.

About 10 years ago I studied for another degree and then did a masters in Psychology.  I found the degree really interesting and helpful in all aspects of life.  I have continued with my hobbies and 2 years ago I started a city and guilds course in patchwork and quilting,which I have nearly finished.  Since doing this I have learnt not to follow other people's ideas but to create my own designs.  Suddenly a whole new world has opened up before me which I am loving and want to develop.  Whilst I am not into patchwork I love creating pictures on fabric by dyeing, hand colouring, stitching and Applique, along with anything else I can think of.  My inspiration mainly comes from the countryside.

I now have a daughter who is 7, who is not at all shy, compared to me at her age.  She loves school and is happy and friendly.  I have never married, but did live with someone for 10 years before we went our separate ways apart from running the heating spares business happily together.

Three months ago my daughter and I took the big bold step and moved down to Cornwall.  We now have a wonderful house, with fantastic views and a very large garden of an acre in size and lots of trees on a slope!  I hope soon to have an extension built where I can work and explore my creative skills.

Process

My recent work comes from the countryside and the seasons.  For example at the moment I am interested in the colours of Autumn and wanted to use all the lovely oranges, yellows, reds,etc that come from the leaves on the trees.  I will spend a lot of time absorbing what is happening around me when I am out and about admiring what I can see.  Taking photos, looking more closely at what draws my attention, reflecting on what I like and why.  I have not spent time drawing, although I probably should.  I then consider what I would like to do and start playing around mentally with ideas.  I may make a few small sketches and look on the Internet for further pictures relating to my thoughts.  I am pretty bad and don't jot much down.  I will reflect on this for some days having ideas mulling them over, discarding some, focusing on others which may later develop further or may also be discarded too.  I will get fabric out and lay pieces out with pictures, coloured pencils and markal sticks, if I plan to use them.  These will be left out for some days which may be changed as my thoughts evolve until finally I get to the point where I know I am happy and have hatched my idea so to speak. Once I have reached this point I will then start my project, which will continue to evolve further as I go, but at this point I "know" what I want.

Content

I care about the world around me, the countryside, the sea.  I love bright colours and often find myself using flowers in my projects a lot.  I don't tend to include people or animals in my projects, although I care very much for them and like to see people happy and fulfilled with life.  I aim to create texture and would like to create atmosphere in my work as well as depth to draw the viewer into.  I am very interested in how creativity is a way of escaping and meditating, and bringing mental well being.  This is another area which I also want to explore further.

Theresa F.

Its been an interesting few weeks ...had to put on my 'big girl pants' I had a 'crunch' in my day job - delivery on an important deadline.  Work goal was achieved...now back to some important (to me) work........my artist statement.

 

A Work in Progress.....

My world and where I come from is a place filled with love – sometimes gentle love, sometimes tough love, but love all the same.   It’s not all fairy floss and butterflies – it is very real, with all that that entails- it can be ugly and harsh, but it is always true and authentic.  A part of this for me has always been textiles, fibre and stitching – in its many forms – from items made for me by my mum and my grandma’s to the little jackets made for my new born babies by me, by my mum and their dad’s mum, to clothing and pieces I have made for myself and others to my now making/creating/adventuring in to into unknown territory.

I curate collections of ‘things’ – images, words, ideas and my own sketching and doodling – all stored in my journals – this is the bedrock of my creativity and artistic self.   I love embroidery and stitching – with no preference for hand or machine stitching – both have a place in my artistic repertoire.   

I love beauty, simplicity and depth and layers – I don’t like settling for the ‘obvious’ – there is usually no ‘obvious’ in any aspect of life.  I seek to create pieces that can be enjoyed on purely a visual level – are pleasing to the eye and provide a moment or two of pleasure and enjoyment.  For those who have the time or inclination – I hope my pieces can engage at a deeper level – eliciting emotions and thoughts -  connection to the light and dark, the passion (feeling) and reason (intellect) of life.  Despite the many wonderful things in our world, life is hard but beautiful and this is what I seek to communicate with my art – duende.

Ricki O.

I'm struggling to abbreviate this any further:

History

Many years ago, I was given a screen printed cloth as a gift and I knew immediately that this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I took 6 months off work and spent that time experimenting, learning and exploring screen print. At the end of that period I knew I would never go back to my old job andI have been printing and teaching screen print professionally ever since.

After selling printed cloth for several years, I decided that printing would be a wonderful thing to do with children and I gradually started working in community settings. I now work in schools, youth clubs, with older people and and with people with learning disabilities.  In effect, I have now become a full time community artist and textiles tutor. 

Over the years,  I have added to my arsenal of textile skills to include felt making, dyeing, and stitch techniques. It’s been an exciting and wonderful journey for me and I have never for one moment regretted leaving that job 26 years ago. 

I recently returned to doing my own personal work for exhibiting, and realised what a lot I have learned from collaborations with communities and how much this has informed and matured my current work.

Process:  

My first stage is always brainstorming, research and sampling. Research may involve gathering materials from archives, taking photographs, doing drawings, speaking to people, measuring and thinking…lots of thinking.

Then I work to develop images. Because I have developed a mild tremor in my hand, I am always looking for different ways to generate images. This has been an opportunity for me to seek out less conventional ways of making drawings and capturing a mood. Cutting is generally easier for me than drawing so I often use cut and torn paper as a design tool. I like that this process makes me think in terms of space and shape. I also like to use unconventional tools to make expressive marks or scratches in surfaces.   

I always start with white fabric and colour it myself with both natural and man made dyes. Sometimes I like to stain or degrade cloth, sometimes to crudely mend or bind things with string and rags. I sometimes use machine stitch to draw with a because I love the fast spidery quality of the line. Equally, I enjoy the thoughtful meditative process of slow stitching by hand. And of course, I always like to screen print..

Content

I have an innate need for diversity and have always worked on multiple themes at once.  I havea need to balance any one thing I am making with at least 2 others to create a stable tripod of ideas.

In one corner, I like scratchy things, scarred things and worn cloth.  I see the process of working with cloth as a healing process to patch up and bind the more broken and painful aspects of life. Sometimes this is about contemporary or personalissues, sometimes it’s about memory of place and people as evidenced by the objects they have left behindor the objects that survived them. Sometimes it’s about the earth, about burying my hands in the earth to pull out weeds and pushing plants in to make them grow. I like to make ritual objects that bind us to the ancestors, to the power of earth and the cycle of life.

In another corner,  I like the logic of exploring formal design exercises and pushing the boundaries of technique.  I like to have the ‘what if?’ conversation with my work to drive it into new territory -    looking at logical variations, options, progressions and letting the process inform me on where the work needs to go next. 

My third corner often comes through my screen printed and community work. I like to reference 20th century art and graphic design. I look for pattern that celebrates the every day and the ordinary. Patterns that are exuberant and fun and happy - like the summer garden after all that earth stuff has happened and it’s time to go outdoors eat all those warm homegrown tomatoes on a chilli- pepper- hand- printed- picnic cloth!

Susan D.

Weeks Seven and Eight

My Story

This was quite a process for me. Difficult is an understatement and even though I’m left with some pretty raw emotions I am glad I pushed through and finished. It’s been enlightening and has helped me focus. I now have a much clearer picture of who I am. I’m very thankful for that. 

Me —

I care

Authentic/Honest

Creative/Resourceful/Independent

Generous

Mindful

Impatient 

Anxious

Introvert

 

History —

Family most important!

Very, very young parents

Strong hands-on Grandparents

Creative resourceful people 

Yankee do it yourself-ers

Everyone worked with their hands

Learned as we did

Making and sharing what we make is in our DNA

Making = everyday life

Adventures in textiles just a normal thing

Immersed in the richness of what was going on around us

4-H

Handmade - from the heart

So much more valuable than store bought

Lots of love

Memories

History

Lived in history state

 

Family first teachers, then self motivated learning

Self taught thru independent studies

Many teachers

Always teaching, always learning

Thought everyone grew up this way

Still assume that anyone can build a dress 

Still shocked every time I relearn that this is not so

 

Tragedy struck when I was 17

Idyllic naive 1950’s life style came to a screeching halt 

Again at 25

Haven’t felt totally secure since

 

Didn’t follow my dream of art school

Thought only talented folks got to go to art school and hangout

High School Counselor - boys golf coach - didn’t talk to girls

Do something useful (get married)

Playing (art) didn’t always didn’t fit the model

We do the responsible thing first

Associates Degree in Liberal Arts

 

Interracial marriage, kids, step kids

Mortgage

Corporate world

Channeled creative energy into career in computers

Project Management

Jobs for $’s

Not much of me left for art

Creatively drained

 

Left corporate world

Home based commercial embroidery business

Fun for a while

 

Penland Folk School Experience - Dismantling the Wedding

Woke up my creative juices

Textile Center

Found my tribe of kindered spirits

Retired

Art now a central part of my life

 

Persevered — Survived!!!

 

Process —

I use my hands and heart to make things that touch people

Try to express myself through kindness, compassion and beauty

I’m happiest when making

Making is meditation

Know that I’m coming out of a depressive episode when I make something

Usually give it away - Rejoining the world

Making comes easy so I over think and complicate it

Learning to trust that I have something to say

 

Universal/spiritual connection between people and the water and the sky

Experienced from the heart - Soul connections

Water and air come from the sky to the people

The sky, the air, the water - Blue

 

Dyeing, Sewing, Stitching, Draping, Shaping,

Pressing, Shibori, Boro, Embroidery

One-of-a-kind pieces

 

Fabric speaks to me

Display it - Look at it - Watch - Wait

Shapes and purpose reveal themselves

Play - Explore - Experiment 

Do and Redo

Trust in and enjoy the journey 

 

Garments - Wraps, Vests, Jackets, Coats, Scarves

Wrap people with my love

Celebrate color, shape, line, texture

? Are garments a habit or is it where I want to be

? Must my art be functional

 

Mixed Media - 

Honor and celebrate history

Tell the stories that are being forgotten

Explain some of the old ways

Trigger curiosity and wonder

? Can my art hang on a wall

? Does bringing joy to someone constitute function

 

Content —

Nature inspires, informs, motivates

Nature is the family religion

Natural colors, natural fibers

Keep it close to the earth

Respect Mother Nature

The environment

 

Collections - yardage, thread, ribbon, lace, buttons, etc

Found items - wood, sticks, stones, feathers, glass, rusty bits

Scraps, discards, left overs, orphans

Unused, previously loved, forgotten

Recycle favs - old wool blankets and old denim

 

Week Nine

Distilling My Story

I’m from a long line of resourceful, creative people who worked with their hands. Making and doing were just as much a part of my growing up years as my siblings were.  If you needed something you made it, if something broke you simply put it back together just the way it was, unless of course, you could do it better. This experience provided me with a solid foundation in problem-solving, organization and the pure joy of learning. I love the challenge of taking risks and venturing into the unknown. Give it a try, lets see what happens. This attitude and these skills serve me well as I create my art. Each piece is an adventure and one-of-a-kind. 

Creating something new from something old is where my heart is. I collect old wool blankets, worn denim and have a difficult time passing up a well loved table linen. My collection of found items is extensive. Brand new things make me nervous. I’m much more at home with things that have a past, a history and a story to tell. By reconfiguring and reassembling these found treasures I feel I’m simply adding another chapter to their story. 

I prefer the old ways, a simpler way of life. I actually hang laundry on the line and enjoy sewing by hand. My inspiration and my motivation both come from the environment. Whether figuratively or literally nature and history always influence my work. Blue is my color, the sky, the water, the air. 

Michaela M.

Edited version of my History, Content and Process - still a work in progress!

I had a very happy childhood and grew up in a loving family.  I enjoyed school making life-long friends, despite being chronically shy.  I always loved making things and playing with fabrics to produce dresses for my dolls with the help of my beloved Grandmother who was a skilled seamstress and seemed to enjoy passing on her love of dressmaking to me.  At Secondary School I was told I was too ‘academic’ to persue art or needlework and as I was such an obedient and docile child I didn’t argue but dropped my favourite subjects to study history and classics instead. 

I did well in my exams and went to university in Southampton to read Hellenic and Roman Studies.  My parents didn’t think I would survive being away from home and coping on my own but it turned out to be the making of me.  I made some really close friends who I still see today and also met Peter who later became my husband.  Neither of us wanted to have children but we are still blissfully happy and enjoy (pretty much!) everyday we have together even after nearly 40 years.  He has always  indulged me and let me spend a lot of time catching up with all the creative passions I have had, even though he didn’t always understand what I was trying to achieve.  But then I often didn’t fully understand myself!

We have always travelled extensively which has influenced my art and often an Eastern or Aisian influence has crept in.   Peter is retiring at the end of this month (June 2016) so life is probably going to undergo some changes and may take on a different shape.  However, we are planning to travel some more so I will continue to have a wealth of ideas and images to stimulate me for years to come.

 Over the years I have taken numerous classes and workshops trying out just about every creative craft going.  I am a bit of a butterfly and always want to try out the latest ideas or techniques.  However, I have constantly returned to my original passions of textiles, printing and mixed media.  Just this last weekend (18 June 2016) I attended a workshop which has finally shown me how to draw together all my ideas and practices!   I am hopeful I will now be able to pull together my printing, fabrics, papers and ephemera into meaningful pieces of work.  Whether I just do them for myself, give them away or maybe sell them is yet to be seen but I finally feel I have found a way to work which has always eluded me before so that is very satisfying.

 

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.

Jacqueline H.

All my life I have been working with fabric and yarn. Sewing, knitting, crochet, embroidery. I got my first sewing machine on my fourth birthday. Being the only girl in a family with in total ten brothers/cousins, I had to live up to many expectations. Trying to please everybody became my second nature, ’disappearing’ one of my virtues. I would have loved to go to art school, but this didn’t fit the image. Instead I went to law school. In later life I realized I could only feel complete if I made more out of my obsession with fabric, yarn and fibers.

I like to start my art work with a blank canvas: plain fabric which I dye myself, sometimes together with fibers. I may use the dyed fabric as a base for needle felting. I like to experiment with differentfabrics, fibers and other materials, which are not considered to be ‘traditional’ felting material. This felted base can be machine stitched, thread painted or I use appliqué. Other fabrics come out of the dye bath with interesting patterns. In that case, I may skip the needle felting and just use machine stitching, hand embroidery, beads, painted accents. I can work on a piece for a long time if it needs a lot of embroidery. Other pieces can be finished quite quickly. Sometimes I take a diversion to making books and/or working with perspex, but always combine these with fabric and fibers. All my work is rather small. For me, a 1 m2 piece is huge.

I often find inspiration in nature: colors, growth, bloom and decay, but emotions as well, can be sources for both figurative and abstract work.

Mary L.

Raised on a farm in Ohio I spent my days caring for animals and exploring the woods, orchard and swamp collecting bugs and leaves.  Summer meant trips to Lake Erie where I learned to swim, canoe, fish and bike. In August mother and I took and annual car trip to Indiana to visit my grandmother.  There I learned to knit and slept under beautiful ancient quilts.

By the time I was in high school I sewed all my own clothes. I particularly enjoyed playing with the leftover scraps from these forays and made more than one randomly pieced quilt from them.  My passion for textiles and handknits took a backseat to science during college and graduate school, and then marriage and family.

I rediscovered my fabric roots after a house fire on Ash Wednesday in 2000.  Quilting became my creative outlet and I met new friends at quilt shops, retreats and guilds.  Gradually my work has evolved from more traditional to abstract and contemporary.  

My abstract textile art is inspired by the places I visit, the patterns I see, and the colors I love. It is informed by my fascination with biology and microscopic forms, geometric designs, and the natural landscape.

Each piece is a new adventure. I work in series, experimenting and spontaneously exploring new ideas. Color and contrast are of primary importance. Fabrics are combined intuitively with vintage ephemera, paint, and paper incorporating many of the techniques of traditional quilting.

I am drawn to textiles by the tactile nature of the medium.  I repurpose vintage handwork and wools.  I sew individual elements together into blocks that please me when they are arranged on a design wall.

My work is constantly evolving. Each artwork becomes a distinctive statement of place and time.

Sandra O.

My Story

I grew up in a family where my mother and grandmother’s textiles were made for both enjoyment and functionality.  My father also worked with his hands and he and my mother turned our back garden into a beautiful and productive place with fruit trees, grape vines, vegetables, chooks and always an abundance of flowers to give and share with others.  There was little waste with items being repaired, reused or recycled.  This influence developed in me a love and appreciation for the role of fabric in daily life, such as clothes, household items, for sleep, work and play, protection from heat and cold, and for celebrations and life passages.  From an early age my siblings and I had piano lessons and regularly competed in the annual eisteddfod.  I also enjoyed singing and elocution lessons.  As a child I was quiet, introvert and shy but felt loved and secure within a happy and loving family.

For many years now I’ve been privileged to live and work with many people both through my husband’s ministry and my work in aged care.  It’s only in more recent years that I’ve undertaken formal study to firstly cement my love and passion for textile art, but also to gain skills and confidence.

The materials I use include fabrics that are old and previously discarded, hand printed, dyed and rusted, and papers and textile throwaways, reflecting a previous use and memories of lives lived.  I’m one of four in a collage group working for an exhibition at the end of this year.  I find that the culture and work ethic in the group provides a good environment and stimulus for me, in that I work on my own for the month and at our monthly meetings receive the feedback, critique and encouragement that enables me to continue working.  I feel inspired as well as disciplined in this environment, but I know that the outcomes are really up to me.

I love fabric, the feel, texture and colour and the effect of stitch and I’m so often surprised with how it all comes together.  I care for and love deeply my family and friends.  My inspiration comes from influences including the passion and skill for all things textile passed on from my mother and grandmother.

It is important for me, in bringing together cloth and ephemera, to create something that reflects some meaning or story.  The exploration and use of techniques and fibres are not only an aim in themselves, but also a way to create a story with them being the vocabulary.

Pauline C.

I grew up in a climate that encouraged outdoor activities which meant that my family spent many happy holidays and weekends  bushwalking, canoeing and camping.  I was (and still am) an avid collector of stones/rocks, shells, driftwood, dried seaweed and leaves of many colours and patterns.  From an early age I was also a doodler, playing with coloured pencils and crayons making all sorts of crazy patterns. I also loved to make elaborate mudcakes and I’d decorate them with leaves, berries and twigs.

My introduction to sewing/textiles did not really begin until I started school.  We began with samplers of different stitches and techniques and by the time I had completed by first cross-stitched placemat and sewn my first skirt I was hooked. Browsing through the local fabric shop while my mother did the weekly shopping was a treat I looked forward to.  I was considered a bit of an oddity in my family but as the middle child of five I had plenty of space and freedom to pursue my own activities. Attending a single sex high school meant that needlework and cooking were mandatory in the early years – whilst I had no problem with this I did struggle with the rigid programme.  However, Textiles became an elective subject for me and I finished high school with a Distinction in this field.

After completing studies in Marketing and working in several companies both in Australia and U.K., I felt a need to add another dimension to my life.  I yearned to play with patterns and colour – to create “something” of visual beauty.  After the birth of my daughter and with the support of my long suffering husband I began a Textile Design and Printing course at night.  I then studied Design and Colour for a further 2 years and I was on my way – a journey I was to find both incredibly fulfilling but with many moments of frustration.

Workshops, textile books and DVD’s have been my saviour. I’ve pinched, scrunched, wrapped, tied and dyed and then repeated the process.  I’ve handpainted, discharged and overprinted or stamped always using many and varied colours to create the layered fabrics I desire.  I love the unexpected and less structured look that Shibori gives and the unpredictability of manipulated fabric that has just been removed from a dye pot. I love that surprise element.

I am a passionate environmentalist and spend many hours trekking along the coast where I live, through local rainforest and bush areas, and I never cease to be amazed at the many patterns, textures and beautiful organic shapes I find along the way.  I take my inspiration from nature and strive to emulate this natural beauty in my work.   If I am able to bring awareness of nature’s wonderland to the attention of others, in particular the fragility of our environment, then I feel I have achieved at least one of my goals as an artist.

Suzy B.

A needle whispering through cloth, the tactile pleasure of fabric sliding through my hands as I stitch. The pleasure of working with colors that make me happy. My blue tinged fingertips as I dip white fabric into the indigo dye pot. This is why I have chosen to work with textiles. 

I cannot say that I am self taught for I have had many teachers. Most do not know me. 

For the past few years I have worked on a series. I start each with the same   archetypical shape. I  may use cotton, silk, linen, or hemp. I dye, paint, embroider, hand stitch, patch, and quilt. I may use a sewing machine or hand stitch. Each one is different and could be imagined as kimono, a turkish robe, a patched and worn garment or a favorite wrap worn to a party. The difference being that these are to be hung on the wall. 

And, if you desire a nomadic existence, your favorite piece of art can be rolled up and taken with you!  

Kerstin E.

Books and reading has always been important to me. My parents liked to read and our home was full of books. As the only child I have always had to rely on myself and do things on my own. Reading could give me imaginary friends all over the world. Besides reading I also liked to do things with my hands. My mother had married late and had not learnt housekeeping or handicraft. So when I wanted to learn to knit, crochet or embroider I had to learn it by myself. It was a good thing that I was so used to books and I learnt different crafts by reading books with instructions. 

I liked to go to school and got such grades that I could go to university. At university I studied economics and law. I met my husband early and we lived together when we went to university. Both of us were the first from our families that were able to get higher education. We had not much money to spend. For three years I got a small amount each year from a scholarship fund for women. The first year I used the money for paying our debts, the next year we could by a washing machine. The third year I wanted to spend some money on myself and I bought myself a weaving loom. I remember that my wish for a loom was very strong but I don´t know were it came from. I had never weaved and I didn´t know anyone who did. So once again I had to read books to take me through all the steps that was required. I enjoyed the hours spent with my loom. Mostly I made rugs and wall tapestries.

After university I was eager to get a job in the law field. I worked very hard and at the same time our only child, a daughter, was born. I got a job on one of the largest law firms in Sweden. I had to spend much time at my job and became the firms first female partner. During those year with a growing child and a heavy workload I didn't do anything creative. My loom was stuffed away.

When I was in my forties I felt that life should consist of something more. I quit my job at the big firm. We moved to a small farm in the countryside. My job is still important but to find balance in life I also have to give place to other things in my life.

During this new phase in my life I felt a need to express myself and my feelings in colour. I started to paint watercolour, took courses in calligraphy and drawing. Calligraphy and books are closely related so I also learnt how to bind books. I love working with paper, text and colour. My bookbinding skills have been very useful and I have done some books on commission to use for guest to write in at weddings or christenings.

And suddenly I got the chance to get a new loom. And once again I felt that strong wish to have it. So now it is in my barn waiting to come to use. And it feels very right to start weaving again on this farm because when we moved to the farm the former owner gave us a book about a woman who had lived on the farm until 1954. She was named Selma and was a famous weaver. Selma made tapestries in a very special technique that are unique for this part of Sweden. The pictures in the tapestries are built up by squares in a double binding. That is the next thing I am going to learn.

My creative journey have been taking a lot of different ways. Books, papers, pens and yarn have always been important. But I feel that the circle comes together with my new weaving possibilities and that all the other knowledge will be useful when I explore new ways to weave. It also connects me to the farms former inhabitant Selma and I strongly feel her approval of what I am doing. I will carry on binding books and make drawings but I feel that weaving will have a big part in the future. 

Carol H.

My love of textiles began as early as I can remember. It was sparked off by seeing beautiful, magical patchwork quilts with their sensational colours and textures. I was captivated by the names of the fabrics too - moygashell, taffeta, grosgrain, organza... My family encouraged and embraced creativity and I, along with my three older siblings, were always making things. I was immersed in the richness of what was going on around me. I knitted, made patchwork, fabric boxes, collaged bags. But my life took a different turn when, at age 18, I had the chance to work for a writer on a lecture tour of the United States, then a film director in New York, followed by jobs in publishing, the theatre and animation in London. But I always found time to take textile courses, culminating with three inspirational ones with Nancy Crow which motivated me to do a textile design degree at Central St Martins college in London where I specialised in weave. So finally I became a weaver and I love being part of the long line of weavers that began thousands of years ago.

I like to work with silk, cotton and bamboo yarns which I often dye myself. I usually begin a design by working from my own photographs, sometimes ones from the past. There are many stages to the weaving process; dyeing the yarns, making the warps, threading the loom. They are very time consuming and exacting. But once the threads are on the loom wondrous things start to appear as you play with the warp (vertical threads) and the weft (horizontal threads) and the almost infinite ways they can intersect and interact.

My focus is to try to create beautiful things that will in some way enrich people’s lives. My preoccupation at the moment is with gradations of colour, perspective, the way light changes in the landscape, space, simplicity in complexity and beauty. 

Sue W.

Week Nine – Each of us is Fascinating: Part 2 – The Edit

I was fortunate to be born into an inquisitive and artistic family that travelled and worked around the world – not a traditional education but an inspiring one.

This gave me the opportunity to see colours and pattern making, through young eyes in many different cultures and climates.  From this young experience grew a love of texture and order trying to make sense of what I saw – this in turn from the age of sixteen, when I had my first loom, lead to a fascination with woven cloth and textiles – order and pattern not to mention colour.

Training in Textiles and working in public art galleries organizing exhibitions continued to feed into arrangements to make sense of History of Art and the continuum of ideas and the wonderful joy of creativity that is expressed throughout the world.  Then came working in children’s television, again reusing the joy of colour, pattern and story telling and the endless creativity that film allows.

During this time my own textile life continued – weaving rugs, cloth and garments over the years on a variety of looms, including jacquard and dobby looms.  I recently have simplified my weaving studio and only have three looms allowing me to experiment with different yarns from paper, wool, wire and silk in varying degrees of woven complexity.

I now live by the sea, the vast landscape and seascape that personifies Norfolk.  I continue in wonderment to weave from the inspiration such an ordered environment gives to my current work using woven tapestry as my chosen medium. 

Ginny G.

The first version I wrote of the history paragraph included my father and his influence/effect on my life and who I am.  And then I realized (lightbulb!) that I did not need to include him here. That I now understand that what I found/find so traumatic about my relationship with him (my “committee”) is my response to his involvement.  My response.  So that is now about me and not him anymore.  And my response was indicative of my personality—who I am and was.  About I much I cared and wanted to please.  About my desire to be successful, honorable and strong.  I am still that person but with lots of years under my belt and with many people in my life who have loved me well without trying to overpower me.  And I can describe myself and my work without including my father any more.  So, here is my piece with no mention of my father (other than this opening statement) and I feel so much better about it!

I grew up 14 acres of land with few neighbor children.   My brothers were busy with sports and my sister was 7 years younger.  So I spent many hours by myself wandering over our property and in the contiguous woods talking to the animals, birds, deer, flowers, trees and water.   We were encouraged to be active and spend time with productive activities which did not include art.  The closest I came was to creatively sew my own clothes from age 7 on and decorating our home for holidays. 

Years later after high school, college, a secretarial course, job, marriage and 4 children I discovered quiltmaking.  I loved working with fabric, color and stitching.  When an annual quilt conference offering classes began in my area I took every art quilt and design course available learning quilt construction and patchwork methods; dye and surface design techniques on fabric; stitch and embellishment.  More recently I have studied design skills, and how to clarify what I want to show and say in my work.  I design on a design wall—beginning with an idea, constructing part of the piece, then adding more fabric or stitching, (sometimes even covering up what is there or cropping it off) until it seems ready for the final assembly and quilting. 

Nature inspires the forms I use.  Shape, line, texture and color are derived from the subject motivating the work.  Sometimes the fiber piece has a destination and the patterning derives from that.  I make many bed and wrapping quilts for charity and to commemorate family events—births, graduations, weddings.  I believe that a quilt made with love brings that love into the owner’s live.  I listen to recorded books and music while I work and know that these themes also enter the quilt.  Memory quilts for times in my life bring closure and peace to me.  Photographs taken by myself or my husband provide subjects for wall pieces.  Working with different forms of quilts and other fiber art maintain my interest and passion as they help me express who I am in this world among other people and in my life.

  • Color
  • Fabric
  • Texture
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Representing what Bobb and I have seen and done—ref. photos
  • Representing what our grandchildren love and do
  • Nature:  flowers, birds, trees, water, sky, stone, reflection, distortion
  • Motion
  • Balance through imbalance
  • Poetic thoughts
  • Spirit

Sammy C.

Art practice has been a constant thread throughout my life history. I am a country girl with a heart for people. Family and place are important to me together with all the associated meanings of heritage, culture and understanding. God has gifted me with the ability to see the world creatively which I consciously put into practice without holding back. Understanding these significant aspects of self and personal growth has led to a confidence in my goals, no longer ephemeral dreams, transforming ideas from vague and indistinct into reality.

Family heritage has gifted me with a love of working with my hands, in particular the hand crafts of sewing, embroidery and crochet. To incorporate these age-old practices with traditional Shibori practices is a marriage of heritage and culture that mirrors my passion for balance in a turbulent world. My paintings and drawings are the embodiment of my voice in the darkness seeking to share God’s love as an expressive response to the imbalance of the world today. The perfect balance is achieved in a work incorporating a combination of hand-craft, Shibori and painting or drawing, using my favourite pallet in strong tones of oranges, reds, blues and greens. My use of bright and bold colour is an act of defiance against the darkness of this world.

I see the world as a busy place which is travelling at a frenzied pace, with little time for understanding of differences. Spending time with people, caring for them and listening to their stories is the colour of life for me. I am enamored and challenged by God’s desire that all people come to know His love, no barriers or divisions, no exceptions or exclusions. The uncaring nature of this world is at odds with my own nature and this struggle resonates in my soul, emerging as bursts of expression in my work which is a reflection of the colour of life and an expression of God’s desire.

Paula K.

I’ve just got round to listening to Jane’s week eight/nine audio recordings (13th June), having completed this exercise and the following paragraphs a few days ago. So much of what Jane said I have felt, particularly on putting a positive spin on the past, and is reflected in what I’ve written. Jane in your comment on my week seven post you talked about the sea being different even though it is the same and quoted from a Paul Simon song “Nothing is different, but everything’s changed”. This feels a little like that. Thank you.

I haven’t finished this exercise yet. This isn’t a page I’d want to reproduce for general reading beyond our CST group, but it’s helped me become clearer in my mind about why I’m doing what I’m doing even though the words I’ve used and the way I’ve put them together in the HISTORY/PROCESS/CONTENT paragraphs can still be distilled so that I’m clearer about them (and it becomes shorter). One of the things that has struck me in doing this is that I could write multiple versions of my story from the lengthier earlier exercises. I can choose what I focus on. Particularly, I can choose to remember the positive stuff that so often, certainly for me, is submerged. I’m too serious. The first paragraph for me is particularly resonant – I’ve never thought of my parents/background in this way before. It feels like I’ve rewritten a narrative!

These exercises have led to discussions between my brother and me too. We laid some ghosts to rest, talked about our memories and shared some good ones, we laughed. We’re both too serious!

HISTORY

I don’t come from a traditional textile family. Growing up in the island we were into water! Dad was a skipper, a surfer, a swimmer. He drew too and played the guitar, he built boats and worked in wood. Mum was a reluctant swimmer, more of a watcher from the shore but she sewed, most of my clothes as I was growing up, and knitted and cooked – so many delicious family meals. They were both creators. We were in the water from babyhood.

I drew from an early age; I won a prize at primary school for drawing. I still have sketches of one of our dogs. I would draw him whenever he was still enough for me to do so. I taught myself to crochet when I was about 11, I guess around the time Mum taught me to knit. This all took a backseat when I left the island at 18 to go to teacher training college in England, eager to be away and to experience life where it was at - out there! Qualified to be a teacher. Took a detour and ended up working in the City. Suffered from sea sickness –it seemed such a long way away! The death of my Mum when she was 45 changed my priorities. I left my job and a long-term relationship travelled across Europe to Greece, Turkey, Syria and Jordan, then on to Pakistan, Northern India, and Thailand, ending up in New Zealand.  I returned to the island with opened eyes, and stayed, married. Then, after having cancer my priorities changed again. I left work, re-evaluated my life, learned to sail, took some felt making classes and enrolled with City and Guilds as a distance learner, currently studying Advanced Feltmaking.

PROCESS

Wet felting – fascinating and often meditative. Working with wool tops (like fibre candyfloss), laying out layers of fibre, watching them come together as I rub and roll them, using water and olive oil soap – currently a long eroding truncheon of a bar from the South of France. I use plastic resists (it keeps the layers of fibre laid on both sides apart, forming the basis of the hollow inside) to make forms and sometimes bags and hats. I work with wool and silk to make lattice scarves and with natural tops to create hangings and flammables. I’m drawn to working with natural colours, natural fibres and lots of texture. I love the alchemy of felt making.

Perhaps the link is water, albeit not salt! Being in touch with what I’m making throughout the process is important – knitting, crochet, beading, feltmaking – making the fabric I’m working with from scratch. I’m a luddite – no or little machinery, various types of needle, hands.

CONTENT

I’m drawn to the wild. It doesn’t have to be wild on a grand scale or distant, it can be small and right here - in the small confines of my garden, on the beach a short walk away or in the wilderness of some distant land! The pieces I make are inspired by the sea, the coast, the green neglected wilderness of my garden, the architectural shape of plant leaves or heads or the colour of self-seeded flame-orange Californian poppies, the fractured edges of cliffs - rhythms, lines, shapes and sometimes colour. I make, I think, to celebrate what I see - to celebrate the gift of seeing, to evoke/remind me of what I’ve seen – to marvel at the, sometimes small, things that delight. I make forms to explore the way the fibre can be worked and shaped – to celebrate colour, form. To celebrate!