Art Day and Fabric: Let’s Catch Up On What’s Going On in My Head These Days

After reading that long post title I am sure you are exhausted. So, just sit down, and I’ll do some talking.

First thing: We held another Art 451 day (so named by the participants as that is the street number of my house, where the event takes place, and I think it sounds very elegant, Art 451…) on July 30. You can read about the first outdoor Art Day here.

It was a very hot day, so we got started around 9 AM. I set up the tables outside:

Art Day 7-30-20 (2)

with some supplies, a bucket for cleaning brushes, etc., and of course the hand sanitizer table.

We worked on individual projects until about 1 pm, and then we went on to the rest of our day, re-energized. I feel I was singled out by a lucky star when I was asked to teach the mixed media class at the art center last winter, because it led to me meeting these two friends, Andy and Mary Ann. I am grateful, and looking forward to our next session.

Second thing, part one: I’ve been thinking about doing some fabric art again, the impulse spurred by sewing masks in the spring. It was before this blog began so there is no record of it here, but my art career started off as an outgrowth of my experience in sewing. I made quilts, in traditional styles at first, and then moved into applique and pictorial work. (Look here for a post I did about a past art piece in fabric.)

I moved away from fabric art around 2001. I gave away all my fabric but kept my threads, tools, and sewing machine.

Where is this all going? Well, first of all, two friends have been generous in giving me fabrics to work with. Shout out #1 to Tierney at Tierney Creates. A few months ago she put together an assortment of fabric for me and sent it in the mail:

And shout out #2 to Mary Ann (participant in Art 451) who gave me this bag of fabrics at our recent get-togther:

Mary Ann Fabric 7-20

Let me say right now that both of these artists do wonderful fabric work, and I hope some of their influence has infiltrated these fabric gifts, to help me along my own art path. Thank you both for your generosity and support.

Second thing, part two: So where is all this fabric talk going, you might ask. Here’s what I have been doing.

First of all, I bought some other fabrics myself, and I had some small yardage from mask making and a couple of other little projects. I assembled machine needles, bobbins, and found my sewing shears; I dug up my seam ripper, I organized my threads, and I brushed up on some sewing topics.

I do not use a rotary cutter since having a serious accident with one 20 years ago in which I cut off part of my finger and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance. (I just can’t face a rotating blade, not even a pizza cutter, anymore). So I did NOT let a rotary cutter enter my planning.

Then I refelcted on my  history in fiber arts, focusing on sewing (I say this because you may remember I knit, also, and I think I’d like to do more of that, too, but…that’s another topic and another post, someday.)

I’ve made clothing, I’ve done piecing, hand sewing, machine and hand applique, hand embroidery, and I’ve dabbled in painting or dyeing fabrics. I’ve been letting ideas float around in my head, and I’ve practiced a few techniques, to refresh my skills and to see which things I might like to be doing.

One such experiment led to these small 6″ x 6″ fabric…images…somethings…?

This work is done in the same applique techniques I was using when I left off fabric art – I stitch fabrics to a light canvas background using machine stitching.

Two conclusions:

I am coming to the feeling I would like to be making something using the above-mentioned style of construction.

And, I also want to sew seams. Yes, for some reason, I just want to sew seams. That means piecing, to me. Some kind of pieced work.


So…we’ll see. I am very close to starting in on a project. Or, I think two projects, side by side, but different. I feel the day approaching when I will begin.

I will let you know what happens. Until then, I will leave you with these views of me at Art 451 day:

And let’s end on an artsy note. Here I am, pared down to my shadowy essence, in my backyard on July 30, 2020.

Claudia shadow BW 7-20

22 thoughts on “Art Day and Fabric: Let’s Catch Up On What’s Going On in My Head These Days

  1. Leonie Andrews

    Looking forward to seeing where you go with your fabric art. I can see how these older images sit beside your paper collages. Happy sewing. PS Have you seen the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins? Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective is currently showing at UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, .
    I am spitting chips because I would love a catalog of this show but they are not posting to outside of the US. Duh!

  2. msjadeli

    I checked out your quilting images at the link and they are just as amazing as your paper collages. These “critters” for lack of any known term on my part are cool and have so much character to them. I like how you let the creative spirit move you.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I’m still feeling my way as to the fabric work – I know what I did in the past, do I want to continue it? Or get some new idea? Maybe both!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I feel confused still but moving toward something. I believe I will just start in, one day, and that day is very close now, I think. I liked making those little images. Different look to them but constructed in a familiar way. I am glad you like the one I sent to you, and that it has meaning. I try to remind myself, just because I don’t understand what I am doing doesn’t mean others don’t, either…if that makes any sense…

  3. Carol A. More

    Any ‘rotary’ tool scares the heck out of me, too! One little hiccup and…well, it happened to you (I’m so sorry). There’s something about working with fabric that ‘nudges’ one into a new creative space. Love these faces, too!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I still fear the rotary cutter (really, pretty much any cutting tool, I’ve already snipped one of my fingers with my sewing scissors, enough to need butterfly bandage, about a month ago. Eek). I think mostly I’m just thinking about how sewing feels rather than what it looks like (where that will go, well, we will see…)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I wonder how things will evolve. I have in mind two very different directions to go and I was torn, which to follow, then I realized – I don’t have to choose! I like how these little guys turned out and I was happy to see I can still do the sewing techniques.

  4. Chela's Colchas y Mas

    You are amazing! I love your fabric art. I was pondering if I should get rid of at least half of my fabric scraps, but now I will keep them all. After I finish two quilts that are in progress, I will try to put the scraps to some good use.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I think you should keep them all, your scraps, I mean. I know from collage work each little piece of paper can be the perfect one you want and you are glad you kept it. I think it’s the same with fabric. I made these pieces by just putting down whatever fbric my hand came to and then seeing what developed. Scraps made that possible!

      1. Chela's Colchas y Mas

        I love playing with scraps. Sometimes, my friends and I swap scraps. I have three bins filled with scraps…small, medium and large. I even save thread tails. I have used thread in some fabric art pieces. I have to do some organizing before the scraps take over my room. 🙂

  5. memadtwo

    I see you are already getting rave reviews. I really love what you are doing, a natural extension of your painting. And what a treat to have all those fabric scraps. I just love playing with anything fiber-related. (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I am inching along. I keep thinking I have to come up with something NEW and ASTOUNDING. Finally it’s hitting me, just start out where I am and see where it goes. I am no longer worrying about making art for sale, just for me (got to keep reminding myself of this) so…no expectations, no destinations.

      1. memadtwo

        Yes, I don’t miss all those years of satisfying my clients. Sometimes I had to bite my tongue and just give them what they wanted.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. At the beginning of my art career I made and sold fabric wall hangings constructed like this but didn’t look like this. (I grew up making my own clothes so sewing and fabric art came to mind when I started doing art rather than drawing or painting, we did not do that when I was young). I ran out of energy for fabric some years back (OK, about 20) but recently…the cycle has returned only things are going to be different this time, I can see that! It is fun to re-explore.

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