Fabric memories 1

I was going through some old photos a little while ago and came upon a grouping from several shows I did back in the 1990’s. They feature my fabric work, which was the first medium I exhibited.

As background, I started making fabric wall hangings in 1994 or so, and at first, I concentrated on making house portraits. I built up a little business doing portraits on a commission basis and also sold them through a local shop, along with some items on spec.

In the beginning, I worked totally in hand applique with edges turned under. Later on, I learned to do free-motion machine applique and I then switched to raw edge applique.

These first pictures are from a show at New Hope, PA, probably in fall 1997. I date it this way because most of my work here is still hand applique. Also, I am no longer using my homemade display set up; I have the professional racks, but no tent.

Next, here I am in May, 1998, at the Roxborough (Philadelphia, PA) Festival of the Arts. I can date these photos because I won Juror’s Choice at this show. I was thrilled at the recognition and also flabbergasted at the size of the prize, which helped me buy my tent with money left over.

Here you can see that almost all the works are raw edge applique done with the machine.

I was also amused to see the sign on my display signifying that I accepted credit cards. Back at that time it was costly and work intensive to do so, but I remember that at a show the year before, I had almost missed a sale because I didn’t take cards and the buyer didn’t have enough cash (we figured things out, thank goodness).

So I had moved up in the art show business world with this step. To remind you how things were, I used paper receipts and a “knuckle-buster” machine, and after the show I had to take the slips to the bank and deposit them to get credit.

I’ve got a few more reminiscences that I’ll share in another post!

16 thoughts on “Fabric memories 1

  1. Storyteller

    Wow and so detailed. Yes I remember years ago when I used to display art at the markets. I didn’t last long. Another stall owner said that you needed to include cards of your work at the stall. Sounds like they were right.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. Working with fabric is something that comes from my earliest days – I learned to use the machine at about age 7, but I was doing hand sewing before that. I am hoping to resume some fabric work (what is stopping me is a lack of what direction I want to go, I find I’m not sure yet, so I am kind of waiting for the fabric to tell me…).

  2. agnesashe

    Your work was/is sumptuous and it’s interesting and intriguing to see it change, but still retain the same essence of your style with the evolving techniques. Do you ever make the odd artwork nowadays that’s hand appliqué with edges turned under? I don’t have the patience, although I might make a hand hooked piece every now and then – they are very small! 🙂

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. No, I don’t do any hand sewing any more. With my various eye issues over the last 8 or so years, I can’t see well enough to do it, even with magnification. Luckily I can still work with the machine, but those hand sewing days are over. Too bad, it was a nice meditative process. (I do punch needle and knitting now for that instead now! Or drawing.)

  3. memadtwo

    I too am always amazed by both the range of your work and your productivity. Your work clearly connects with people. I never had that gift, and I admire it. (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I think you underestimate your work. I always feel an emotion in your images and they always makes me slow down and immerse myself. I think that is very hard to do and I value that experience. It’s something I want from the art I might surround myself with. I learned one thing in my show years, and that thing was that since my work was so different, I didn’t sell like some of my friends who did more mainstream work; but people who liked my work, they really liked it, and many bought more than one piece. A depth of interest that made me feel heard and seen. That was important to me.

  4. Laura (PA Pict)

    I am not surprised that piece won the show as it is wonderful.

    I remember those knuckle buster machines from when I worked in a supermarket. It was such a pain to use and, if someone had a slight bend or kink in their card, sometimes there were errors or worse – snapped credit cards. So much easier now.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes. Ugh, I forgot those warped card problems. And those receipts were like cash. I wore a belt pack all day in which I kept them safely tucked away – you could not take your eye off them.

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