fiber and art

Generally I try to keep things beautiful and upbeat here. But lately I have found myself increasingly disgruntled about the art world and the role fiber art plays in it.

While on vacation, I visited my favorite modern art museum Louisiana, beautifully situated on the waters edge north of Copenhagen in Denmark. It is a large museum, with a vast collection of contemporary art. When we were there in July, there were no fiber art on display, with the exception of a piece by Pia Arke that was included in the main theme exhibit about Scandinavian architecture.

Pia Arke's work Soil for Scorebysund, consists of a collection of coffee filter bags from her native Greenland. One of the few fiber art pieces at Louisina museum of modern art.

Recently the amazing exhibit Disintegration and Repair, at Warm Springs Gallery, which included several nationally and internationally renown fiber artists, was received warmly by the public, but generated few sales and little attention or reviews from local press and art establishments.

Work by Barbara Wisnoski and Kathryn Clark at Warm Springs Gallery.

I am just using these examples to illustrate how fiber art is met with hesitation, if it is included at all, in more traditional art venues. I think there is an ingrained suspicion towards fiber among art curators, art critics, and art audiences in general. Somehow textile art is considered fragile, fleeting, and flimsy. Then there is the debate whether it is really art, or fine craft. Where do you draw the line? Do you have to draw a line?

Work by Karen Henderson at Warm Springs Gallery.

My wish is to garner a greater respect for the medium itself. Fiber art is no more precious, or insubstantial, or folksy, than any other medium. It is what the artist does with the medium that gives it meaning. Textile art can be good and bad, just as any other art form. I think great fiber art deserve a place alongside great paintings, prints, and video art.

In general (of curse there are exceptions) fiber art is most successful in venues where buyers, curators, collectors, and gallery owners have an interest because of the medium. Most of us probably fall in this category. Our love of fiber, makes us seek out good fiber art via specialty galleries, online venues, and exclusive fiber shows.

But my passion for the art form wants me to promote it in a wider sense. Not just to advance my own work, but because I truly think that fiber art belongs on the big stage. I would love to hear your thoughts about this. Do you have ideas about how to make this happen? How to further the understanding about fiber art and its qualities? I suggest that you visit these amazing artists, who all deserve a place in the most prestigious galleries and museums; Barbara Wisnoski, Karen Henderson, India Flint, Judy Martin, Roz Hawker, Dorothy Caldwell, and Beverly Ayling-Smith. The list could go on...

the pinkyberries and company

Meet the pinkyberries, one of several delightful discoveries at Röhsska museet in Gothenburg, Sweden. A group of talented students from Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk, are currently showing their final work at the renowned design and craft museum. I love to explore student exhibitions – the work is often fresh, unhibited, and pared down. Here are some glimpses of beautiful fiber related art from the show, which runs through September 4.

the pinkyberries by Pernilla Eskilsson

time will tell by Ellen Jacobsen Holvik

one thousand pieces by Jane Yang

chroma projects

This past week was spent  cleaning, painting, and furnishing my new studio/gallery space at Chroma Projects downtown Charlottesville. I am proud and excited to be part of this vibrant art gallery and its community of artists. Initially I will primarily use this space to show my current work and to meet prospective customers. Eventually I am hoping to create a working studio or at least a sacred place where I can quietly think up new ideas, away from the demands and distractions of my home studio.

I will be in place for First Friday, Charlottesville's gallery opening night, on May 6 from 5 - 8, and I would love to see you! The main gallery will show beautiful drawings by Beverly Ress,  paintings by Paula Christman, and the black box will feature the film The Alexander Veil by Lydia Moyer.

On a different note, my friend Lily pruned her Japanese maple tree this weekend. Guess who received the trimmings? I see a big dye pot brewing in the near future...

self promotion

Maketing, publicity, and pr are concepts that I struggle with. I am just not good at beating my own drum or tooting my own horn. But I do like to present myself and my work in a way that reflect who I am and what I create. Recently I decided to make some larger format cards instead of standard buisness cards. They were printed at my favorite local press in black ink on recycled card stock, and each of them will be adorned with a leaf print on the front. Even though more time consuming, it feels important to leave behind a small sample of my work for prospective customers to look at and consider.

Speaking of promotion... I recently listed a new piece in the etsy shop that I really like. It is a textile collage of eco printed linen and silk, hand stitched and mounted on a small stretched canvas. I call it whisper, because the imagery is barely there, it seems to be floating under the fabric surface.

Lastly, my garden blog is revived. The garden is such a huge inspiration in my life and my work, and I am glad I finally got back to documenting the exciting things that always happens there. Happy spring!


My heart aches. The devastation from the earthquake in Japan is beyond comprehension. Sending thoughts of compassion and monetary aid is one way to cope. Taking a deep breath to cherish our own uneventful, safe existence is another. Sharing a glimpse of amazing Japanese art is one more way to celebrate this country of beauty and inspiration.

Japanese asa boro. Photo courtesy of  Sri Threads.

Vessel by Mihara Ken 

Kan, winter kimono by Itchiku Kubota

looking up

During our morning dog walk it struck me what a beautiful place we live in. Charlottesville, Virginia is a small, but bustling city. It is steeped in tradition which is evident in its grand architecture as well as in its friendly citizens. Charlottesville is home to an amazing university and an array of businesses, shops, restaurants, and art venues. Our public schools are fantastic, and our local government is run responsibly, while striving to care for our environment and people in need. Here you will find imposing columns, arched windows, craftsmanship, solar panels, sky blue porch ceilings, chicken coops, public art, trees, birds, street vendors, and southern hospitality, all in an appealing jumble.

Lots of pondering going on at the moment, about my work and life in general. Trying to come up with a specific plan to fulfill some of my new years wishes. More to come... Thank you Ayana from Indie Simphoni for the interview posted this past week!

natural beauty

February Visit, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper with chine collè. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

Every once in a while you come across art that just simply takes your breath away. These beautiful prints from 88editions are solar plate etchings where the artist's photographic images, pressed plants, and other items are positioned on the plate which is exposed in the sun. The artist's handmade paper adds another dimension to the prints. I find the result hauntingly beautiful. I love the texture, the layered effects, and the muted colors. These prints are all available, along with several others, in the 88editions etsy shop

Winter Walk: Lyric, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

Moonrise Charmed Medow at Dusk, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper with monotyping. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

Branch Silhouette, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

Seed Head: Dill, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

in place

My commissioned work is finally finished and installed in the waiting area of Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services, at the University of Virginia. The main piece is the first in my new swirl series, where viburnum leaves are printed in different color shades on vintage linen, and then pieced together and hand stitched. I love the effect of the similar leaf prints presented in different positions and colorations. The companion pieces are similar prints mounted on pre-stretched canvases. I also did a Queen Anne's Lace piece which is nature printed on pieced linen, and quilted with gently curved sweeping horizontal lines. The bottom panel has tucks and pleats that give the piece an added dimension. I am grateful for this assignment and I am proud that my art now is part of this beautifully designed, brand new building.

barbara wisnoski

white rag quilt
photos courtesy of Barbara Wisnoski. all rights reserved.

 A small single piece of fabric, slightly worn, ends up next to a similar yet different piece of fabric. Some are tarnished, some torn. All with a history to tell. By the hands of Canadian textile artist Barbara Wisnoski, they become part of a much larger picture. With frayed edges and lose threads proudly exposed, she pieces together amazing wall quilts that beckons to be examined and admired. Barbara calls her art 2.5 D textile installations, made from recycled fabric and clothing. The exposed seams, and layered patches gives the quilts a wonderful depth and weight. From afar the wall pieces have clean simple motifs like lines in a landscape, shapes of rectangles, and the contour of a roof, but when viewed up close the true magic of her composition is revealed.

2d-3d house
photos courtesy of Barbara Wisnoski. all rights reserved.

I love everything about Barbara's work, from the innovative reuse of materials, to the subtle flow of color, and the simplicity and texture of the large finished pieces. If you are interested in seeing her quilts in person, two of them are currently on display at Fiberart International 2010, at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA. The show will subsequently travel to Rochester, NY, and San Francisco, CA. Thank you Barbara for letting me share your beautiful art!

grey rain sea
photos courtesy of Barbara Wisnoski. all rights reserved.

platonic target
photo courtesy of Barbara Wisnoski. all rights reserved.

photo courtesy of Barbara Wisnoski. all rights reserved.

endearing collaboration

My successful endeavor with textiles and fiber art came to be thanks to my mother. When I was young she taught my how to sew doll clothes, how to knit, and make my own clothes. Much later she was the co-conspirator in the creation of inleaf. She knew I wanted my life to take a more artistic path, and during one of her visits we explored leaf printing for the first time. She has ben my most loyal supporter ever since, always encouraging, inspiring, and pushing me along.

She is still an amazing fiber artist in her own right, and when she was here earlier this summer she suggested a mother-daughter collaboration. She brought a bag filled with my fabric scraps back to Sweden, with the idea of using them for a traditional quilt pattern. Here is the initial result. I love her color selections and how she mixed pieces from my collection with ones from her own stacks. One of the hexagons even feature a paw print from my late cat, who accidentally walked across my printing table at the time...

We don't know what final shape this project will take. It will evolve over time, and we will work on it together when we next meet up. Thank you mamma, for the wisdom and creative inspiration you continue to provide.

blurring the lines

My dubious- stenciling-turned-into-art-project is finished. It is messy, cluttered, random, un-colorful, and without focus. All things an art quilt should not be. But I love it. I love the way it hangs, the paint splattered binding, the layered shapes. And I truly loved all the hand stitching involved. I am still insecure about my "art", unsure of my voice. This piece is most likely not representative of where I am heading, but it made me appreciate the possibilities within imperfection and encouraged me to try something new. I am not sure where it will end up. Blurring the lines may stay here with me in a happy spot in our house, since its error-filled origins may not be as endearing to the uninitiated eye. To me it is a reminder of awakening.

starting point

I have two show openings this week with my art quilt group Fiber Transformed. We do themed collaborative shows whenever possible. The most recent one is called starting point, celebrating the fact that all artistic endeavors start with a small seed of inspiration, a black dot of sorts. The pieces shown at Art Works in Richmond, Virginia, all incorporates spots; tiny, simple, big, plentiful, or provocative. The second show is called wish you where here, and is on display at Radford University, Radford, Virginia. It is a collection of artworks created in response to vacation photos taken by group members during their travels. I am honored and delighted to be part of this fun and talented group of women!

rumination and dreams, part 2

This morning I sent out a short email to the storeowners I have worked with over the past years, telling them that I will no longer do wholesale. It was a rational decision, made after much consideration, and I know it is the best choice for me personally. But it was a hard thing to do. Many of them have become friends, some are disappointed, and I feel like I am letting them down...

Giving up the wholesale accounts is just one of several small changes I am making this year. From now on I will sell my work almost exclusively in the etsy shop. Etsy has been a wonderful experience for me and the artists and customers I have met there have enriched my life. I will be able to concentrate all my production and marketing in one place, instead of stocking and promoting several sites. The etsy shop also allows me to offer one-of-a-kind objects, like the big heart pillow above, while maintaining my original line.

Which leads me to the main reason for all this reshuffling and reorganizing. What I really want to focus on are my larger art pieces, quilts, and textile collages. I love using fabric as my canvas, incorporating printing, dyeing, stitching, and vintage into the mix. I am still learning, and I am not sure if my work is that good yet. But it is evolving and it makes my heart sing... My main web site is now devoted to the art quilts, and I hope that will help attract interest from gallery owners, buyers and collectors.

Only time will tell if my strategy will work. If not there is always room for more change, and new dreams and aspirations...


Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.
Karle Wilson Baker

I am definitely a tree hugger at heart. We have a few majestic ones in our garden, and during stormy night I lay awake worrying that they may get hurt or felled. I can't imagine our life without them. They are especially impressive in wintertide, without their lush summer clothing. Tall and ever reaching as they grace the sky.

I am working on an art quilt that incorporates a grove of trees. The imagery started out as a photo from a fall walk, which was transformed into a screen, which then was used for printing. I love the effect and the fact that this tiny reflection of nature now is part of my art.

The photo, burnt onto a screen, printed on linen...

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments to my last post! Your friendship and willingness to join me on my bumpy journey warms my heart.

craft talent

Meeting other artists and discussing their work was one of the highlights for me at the Craft + Design show in Richmond. I was impressed with the high quality of craftsmanship represented overall, but a few of the makers truly stood out in the crowd, starting with Dan Mirer, a young glass artist living and working in Corning, New York. I love the simplicity of his designs and the subtle but still radiant colors he use.

Eric Burris, is a metalsmith who's jewelry is created with an old Japanese technique called Mokume Gane. He often incorporates pieces of wood into his sparse but elegant pieces. I am enthralled with his work, admiring the intricate details and clean lines.

Korean born fiber artist Jeung-Hwa Park creates incredible soft and alluring knitted and felted shawls. Each piece is complex in detail and color, yet simple and utilitarian. This is wearable art at its finest.

craft + design

The car is unpacked, and I am catching my breath after this weekends craft + design show in Richmond, Virginia. I did have a wonderful time, despite the stress, long hours, and tidious preparations. My booth came together nicely, and my sales exceeded expectations, but most importantly I made numerous new connections with visitors, craft and art supporters, and other artists (some of them produce amazing work which I will feature in another post later this week). A few lesson's learned - bring more inventory, lighting is super important, and not accepting credit card payments at your booth can be an issue. Will do better on all fronts next time. I am grateful for my fun and helpful booth neighbors Robyn and Marc from iron design company and potter Robert Hessler. My lovely husband deserves big thanks (he already got plenty of hugs and kisses) for his patience with me while designing and constructing the displays, and I am also indebted to my fantastic friends Julie, Virginia, and Lauren who's sales skills far surpasses mine. Thank you! Now it is time to reclaim my house and my family, and gear up for the upcoming turkey feast. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I wish you a relaxing time with friends, relatives, and loved ones.

joining the tour

Frantic preparations are underway as I am getting ready for the annual Artisans Studio Tour this weekend. 15 studios in the Charlottesville area will open their doors and a total of 30 artists will showcase their work and craft. I will be at The Barn Swallow along with potters Janice Arone and Mary Ann Burk, and textile artist Enid Adams. I'll bring a stack of fresh leaves to demonstrate my leaf printing technique and I am introducing new bags, art quilts, and pillows. The fun fig market totes are also available in the shop. The studios are open from 10 - 5 both days. For more information, directions, and other details visit the tour website. The weather is supposed to be glorious and I hope you will join us if you are in the area!

show time

I just returned from hanging my upcoming show at The Barn Swallow. Many long days have been spent in preparation and I still feel rushed, not quite done, and nervous. The show is called leaves and layers, and features art quilts, textile collages, and other wall hangings (some samples shown here). It will be up throughout the month of October and is in my favorite venue – an old barn just west of Charlottesville that is converted into a beautiful store and gallery. There is an artist reception on October 10, from 2 - 4 pm. I hope you will join me if you are in the area. I wish that all of you who live far, far away could share the fun as well...


This week, my mom and I traveled by car to Österlen, the southern most part of Sweden, known for its rolling landscape, small farms, artist studios, and gourmet food. It was nice for the two of us to spend a whole day together, with no set schedule or distractions. First stop was Skåne Tranås where we discovered the gourmet chocolate maker Österlenchoklad and Ann-Louise Månsson's beautiful felted wool creations called tovade ting. Next we continued to kaos, an artisan group in Södra Mellby. Lunch followed at Buhre's Fisk located by the water's edge in Kivik harbor. We stopped at Gröna Butiken in Orelund to stock up on organic veggies and fresh berries, before continuing along the cost to Simrishamn where I was born, many years ago. We finished up with a visit to Apotekarns Trädgård, a garden with an almost tropical climate located in the center of town. A perfect ending to a perfect day!

paper work

I printed these small card stock pieces a long time ago, always knowing that I wanted to present them in a three dimensional way somehow. I finally decided to mount them using small brass tacks on foam core. What amazes me the most about leaf printing is the variations you get from each impression, even when you use the same leaf for each print. I think it is really emphasized when grouped together this way.

We are getting ready for some exciting travels this summer. First a quick trip to the beach and then we are off to Sweden. I can't wait to see my family and friends again. I will keep up the blog throughout the summer, hopefully introducing you to some fun Scandinavian finds, but the inleaf shop as well as the etsy store will be closed while I am gone. So if there is anything you fancy, now would be a good time to buy...