From the first moment I entered the Fiber Studio I felt right at home. A large windowed wall allowed daylight into flood the studio. Fresh outside air came in through the open fourth floor windows. Two long padded tables filled the length of the room. Several ironing boards were strategically place near the wall outlets. There was a "kitchen" area with several large stainless steel sinks, a refrigerator to hold the mixed dyes and locked cabinets that contained almost one hundred containers of dye hues for cotton, wools and silks. On the other side of the kitchen was a washer, two clothes dryers and a large area to spray out silk screens. This basic equipment would become my tools for learning to work with Fiber Reactive Dyes, paper making and creating pattern/textures on fabrics. All of the excitement I experienced in kindergarten the first time I saw finger paints came back to me when I entered this studio.
When I was in kindergarten my eyes would dance every time Mrs. Klingensmith brought out finger paints in big mason jars. The jars were filled with red, yellow, blue, black and white thick, rich, smooth color that I joyfully scooped out with a tongue depressor onto special paper. Such a wonderful experience to move the thick, pudding textured, color around the paper to paint with my hands. Even today nothing makes me happier than putting on my apron/artist smock, working with color, getting into my work, walking around the table, getting dots of paints or dye on me as I work, large sinks to wash away the splatter, clean my space, then step back to bask in the joy of my creation.
Little did I know that semester would be the beginning of a six year relationship with the Fiber program. We covered two projects my first Fiber class. Shibori and creating textures using textile ink on fabric with low tech printing techniques.
Thick textile ink is as much fun to work with as the finger paints only now I had a project with guidelines to follow. First I played with what textures could be produced on the cotton muslin. The textures were later developed into a mimicry pattern of an animal in its environment. The class was required to make a Kimono out of the fabric they created.
Oh my goodness, I thought I died and went to heaven ;~)
There was no pattern for the kimono so I volunteered to come in during the College Open House to make the pattern for our class from the dimensions/ drawings in a book. I selected a Tigress for my Mimicry project. Like this mammal I cared for my two babies providing; food, protection and learning experiences to encourage independence for my children. My kimono, made of cotton, is asymmetrical featuring abstracted tiger patterns to represent the tigers journey through the grasslands. The field of design placement facing left and right simulates tigers, although solitary creatures, peacefully meeting then passing by along the hunting trails. My kimono was featured in a student show Spring 2004 Upton Hall Gallery.
Shibori was like instant art to me. Like the Spin Art booth in Kennywood Park where I took a squirt bottle filled with paint then drop different colors onto a piece of paper quicky spinning at the bottom of a gallon size pail. If I added just enough color drops the excess spins off to produce instant art. Shibori is like that to me. If I press the fabric smoothly, follow the fold patterns and tie the blocks securely in place to produce a resist against the liquid dyes more then likely it will produce a pleasing pattern. The results are so interesting that I was captivated by learning the various resist techniques, color application processes and how the different hues reacted when layers together. The only thing more fun than adding color to the cloth with Fiber Reactive Dyes was removing the color in a pattern using the chemical Thiox. My love of color, patterns, creating fabrics for wearable art and sewing grew exponentially in the Fiber program.