Before my design even begins, I start with hand-dyeing tightly woven cotton fabric. To obtain highly saturated colors, I use Procion Fiber Reactive dyes. The dye molecules bond with the fibers of the fabric through a chemical-reactive process, thus creating long-lasting permanent colors. Since my dyeing method is done by hand, I can control how flat or mottled a color is by the mount of manipulation of the fabric.
When it is time to start an artwork, I usually start drawing thumbnail sketches in my sketchbook. Once I have a design I like, I will often enlarge my sketch to create a paper pattern. The pattern helps me put pieces together with precision, making sure lines and shapes meet where I need them to be.
Then, comes the fun part of choosing the colors to use in the artwork. I have a large selection of dyed fabrics in my studio. I pull from what I already have on my shelf. I rarely dye colors for specific works (except for commissioned artworks).
For larger pieces, I construct my pieces using my Pfaff home sewing machine.
In smaller artworks, I will often fuse the pieces together. A fusible webbing is ironed onto the back of the fabric. Then, pieces can be cut and arranged onto a surface. Once complete, all the fabric is ironed. This is like “glueing” the pieces down. In addition, I will periodically make small fused pieces where I do not start with a preconceived idea or sketch.
Fused artworks can be stitched and finished similar to my larger works. Also, they can be mounted on boards or matted like a paper artwork would be. Check my Smaller Artworks page for some examples of fused artworks.
Once an artwork has been pieced, then I will add machine stitching and sometimes hand stitching on top. This adds texture on the work. Again, this is done with my Pfaff machine. Sometimes I will use a free-motion stitching technique. This is like drawing on the fabric with thread. The needle moves up and down and I move the fabric with my hands to create the lines.
When the stitching is complete, I block and trim the edges. The edges are then finished with a facing which is hand-sewn to the back. A hanging sleeve is also hand sewn to the back. Framing, mounting on canvas or mounting on board are other options for hanging the artwork.