A Short Retrospective

I was going through my computer files recently and decided to take a look at the one I have titled “Fabric Collage”.

Before I did collage or paintings, I made fabric wall hangings. I guess I started them in 1994 and did the last ones in 2000 or 2001. They grew from my interest in making quilts, which I took up after I stopped working in an office and had more time.

I stumbled into art, and this medium was my first more serious attempt at making art – before this, I had mostly produced craft work such as knitted bunnies and that kind of thing. Really, I was looking for a direction, and fabric collage was what started the process for me of getting to where I am today.

To describe briefly the fabric collage construction process, I sewed fabric pieces to a fabric base, usually with free motion stitching. I then put a backing on it and a hanging sleeve – I did not quilt the hangings. My first pieces were house portraits – I did quite a few of these works, mostly commissions. In my other work, I chose my inspirations from a variety of sources – photos, imagination, the fabric itself. Some are quite realistic and others are more flat and graphic. I tried a variety of effects (“Mystery Cottage”, for example, where I made the piece and then put it through the washer) and ideas (landscapes, vases, cats, you name it). I even wrote two self-published guides to how to do fabric collage and I taught some classes in it.

My work was exhibited in all kinds of places – “Garden in the City”, from 2000, was part of an exhibit in Philadelphia’s City Hall under the theme of community gardens – it’s a portrait of Glenwood Green Acres in North Philadelphia, for example. But mostly I showed and sold in art and craft fairs. I won a few prizes for my work in these venues – “Orange Fish” won a 3rd place in the Lansdale Festival of the Arts; it was my first prize ever and I broke down in tears. And the house portrait shown here was published in a book by Rodale Press – the book focused on the design process for various fabric and quilting projects.

Pyramid Mountain Lake

“Pyramid Mountain Lake”

Sizes range from quite small (8″ x 8″, let’s say, for “Pyramid Mountain Lake”) to large – “Garden in the City” is about 40″ in width.

All in all, I have many memories involving my fabric work and looking through the photos really brought those days back to me. I have selected some pieces to show here, with no particular reason for choosing them as opposed to others except that they happened to catch my eye. I hope you can forgive the poor quality of some of the photos – almost all of them were taken before I had a digital camera!

I made hundreds of these hangings and I only have a handful left – I sold most of them and gave some away at the end of the time I was making them. Why did I stop working with fabric? I enjoyed the composition process more and more as time went on, and I got more confident of my skills. But the sewing aspect was repetitive and took time away from making more art. So I went to the library, checked out a book on collage, and…

5 thoughts on “A Short Retrospective

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, I think working in fabric really taught me a lot about composition and how to manage making a piece of art, and yet I felt comfortable with it since it involved sewing, which I was very familiar with. Thanks for looking at my work!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      They are all different sizes. The largest one, “Garden in the City”, is about 30″ x 40 inches. “Along the Beach Road” was also pretty large, maybe 24 inches by 26 inches. “Cat in a Window” was small, about 8 inches x 8 inches. Most of the ones I made were about 18 inches x 18 or 22 or so inches. I did make one queen-size bed quilt – it was enormous, but the picture part of it was more like 3 feet x 3 feet – the rest was decorative fabric strips in a more traditional quilt look.

      1. pevaeva

        Thanks Claudia! I bet they look fabulous on the wall.
        As for the queen-size bed quilt…well, that must have been hard and difficult to make.
        Once I played with the tought of making quilt myself but my impatience won over and I never did. I did however made some sort of wall-hangings but they were simple. As you pointed out to make the are rather time-consuming.
        Take care!

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