Tag Archives: Fabric and Fabric Collage

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

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…