Fabric Art History

Welcome to my blog! Working with fabric has always been something I do just for me, and as a result it has easily been pushed to the wayside by everything else in my life. However, I've recently had some revelations that have given me new inspiration to get back into doing what I love most. I hope this blog will be another outlet for me to talk about my work (which I could honestly do for hours).

Since this is my first blog post, I thought it would be fun (and appropriate!) to talk about how I first got started making fabric art. Before we get into the details, though, I'm going to apologize because the photos I have of my early pictures aren't great. While either I, or my parents, still have these pictures, they're currently packed up in boxes because we've both moved several times in the past few years (I'm sure you all can relate to the never-ending sea of still-packed boxes). Okay, on to story time!

I'm going to date myself a bit here because I started making fabric art back in 2004. I was a Sophomore in High School at the time, which was before I even had my own cell phone (although they did exist at least, haha).

My very first introduction to fabric art was when my mom and I went to a demonstration at the local art league given by an artist who made fish out of fabric. She demonstrated how she made a template, cut out all her pieces, and then used Wonder Under (a heat-sensitive fabric adhesive) to glue everything together. I was absolutely fascinated.

We went home (after a brief detour to JoAnn Fabrics) and I set about trying to copy the demonstration I'd just witnessed. The result was this picture, which is of three birds of paradise and a crazy sun:

Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise

Rather psychadelic, I know, but I've always had a fascination with color and couldn't resist those brilliant hues.

Spurred on by the success of my first piece, I decided to attempt something a bit more complicated. I was obsessed with dragons back then (yea, I was one of those kids), so I ended up making a sea dragon and a mermaid, which I appropriately titled "Best Friends."

Best Friends
Best Friends: The sea dragon and the mermaid

Slight story detour: This picture almost caused me to completely give up on fabric art. Shortly after I created it, I accidentally spilled water over the whole thing. I went to iron it out and it turned into an ugly, wrinkled mess. I was so frustrated that I quite literally broke down in tears, threw it into the trash, and declared I was done with fabric art!

Fortunately, however, Mom came to the rescue. She retrieved my discarded picture from the garbage and assisted me in getting it ironed out correctly. We managed to salvage the entire thing, although there are still a few minor wrinkles to this day (though they aren't visible in the photo). I learned a valuable lesson about how to solve unexpected problems and went on to create dozens more fabric pictures, which I'm still doing today.

There's one more part to tell to my fabric art origin story. I had several friends back in high school who loved watching me draw at our lunch table every day. One of them was in orchestra, and told me I should illustrate "The Idylls of Pegasus" song they were playing in their annual concert. I thought that was a cool idea and contacted the teacher to see if he would let me. He agreed, and I decided to make an image for each of the six main sections of the song out of fabric.

The Idylls of Pegasus
The Idylls of Pegasus

From left to right, I have:

  1. The Birth of Pegasus
  2. Pegasus in Flight
  3. Bellerophon Tames Pegasus
  4. The Chimera
  5. The Fall of Bellerophon
  6. Pegasus Ascends to Olympus

The six sections are each about 8" square. They were projected onto a large screen during the concert, which was pretty cool.

It's been fun for me to look back on these photos of my earliest creations because I can see my learning process as I started to experiment with light, shadow, color, and adapting my artistic process to fabric. I've come a long way since then!