Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly am I looking at?
It looks like a painting, but it is actually handmade entirely using fabric and thread, sewn on a 1968 Singer sewing machine. The majority of the composition is made up of different fabrics that I cut into shapes. I use stitching with many colors of thread to create the shading and drawing aspects. See image below for an explanation of "Morning Glory" which is on my home page.
Why not just use paint?
I started off oil painting, but honestly I didn't like to wait for the paint to dry! When I was a kid, my mom used to sew--making our clothes and doing cross-stitch. I always liked fabric for the texture. So after oil painting for about 6 years, I decided on a whim to make a "picture" using fabric instead of paint. It was a very basic idea--a purple corduroy telephone pole sewed onto an orange cotton background, with embroidered electric wires.
That was 14 years ago. I immediately abandoned painting altogether, but now I use what I learned from painting and what I have taught myself through relentless experimentation.
Do you dye your own fabric?
I only use fabrics as found. I incorporate many batik fabrics into my work, but I do not dye them myself. Instead I have a large collection of many different fabrics (at last count over 1,000 though in very small quantities). I mostly use fabric scraps and upcycled/repurposed clothing in my work.
Do you paint on the fabric?
I do not use any paint at all. All of the detail you see is merely a combination of fabric and thread. I use patterned fabrics in many shades, cut into pieces, depending on the effect I want to make. Additionally, I use thread to create more elaborate details like shading and drawing.
Because I cannot actually blend colors together, I use a technique called optical color mixing. Optical color mixing is an illusion based on the way we perceive color. When two small amounts of different colors exist side by side, the two appear to create a different color. You may have seen this technique in impressionism and pointillism paintings
Do you accept fabric donations?
I have a fabric donation exchange program, in which you can donate fabrics in exchange for artwork. I do have some specifications for the quantity, color/print and types of fabrics I can use. See more info on my fabric donations page.
How long does each one take?
I do not keep track of the exact hours and minutes each one takes. Instead my process is done in various different stages over time. Generally speaking, my work takes from 2-6 weeks to create, depending on size and complexity. For example: on any given day I may begin the first step in the process on 2 or 3 different compositions. The next day I may begin 2 more, or I may move on to the second step on 2 of the 3 I started the day before. And so on. Because I regularly sell my work in person on weekends, I make sure I have new finished artwork ready.
Do you sketch it out first?
I do not sketch out my work ahead of time. Instead I plan it in my head for a couple weeks before I even begin the first step. Once I have an idea, I create the composition free-hand on a blank white piece of cotton.
Do you use a pattern?
I do not use a pattern for my work. Everything I make is one of a kind, handmade by me from start to finish.
Do you use photographs?
Sort of but not really. I only directly use photographs for custom artwork (see next question)
My compositions are a combination of memory, imagination and inspiration from the fabric itself. I do take pictures of utility poles and alleyways and sunsets, but I only use them for basic compositional ideas. I do not copy the picture or somehow digitally project the image onto fabric. Usually the finished artwork looks only mildly similar to the original picture.
Do you use a fancy digital sewing machine?
No. I seriously use a 1968 Singer. Using a digital machine would not feel right to me. I want to remain a handcrafter.
Do you do custom work?
Yes, I love creating custom artwork! Each one challenges me in new ways! I can work from your photo or create an original design. I will need to see the photo or hear your idea first before I am able to give you a price estimate. Prices range depending on size and complexity. Custom orders usually take 2-6 weeks to complete.
Do you do portraits?
I only do “portraits” of houses. I do not do portraits of people or animals. Portrait art is a very particular niche. I am a landscape artist. I do not incorporate animals or people into my work, unless you count the bird silhouettes I often use.
How BIG do you make your artwork?
The largest size I have ever made is 24x30 inches. I am currently in the process of experimenting with larger compositions. It is extremely challenging to create very large compositions, because I have to fit the artwork through the sewing machine, which is an opening only 6 inches in width.
Do you make your own clothes?
Surprisingly, I do not make clothes. In fact I have only the most basic idea of how to sew. I am not being modest. In fact I do not even consider myself a sewer, but a painter in fabric and thread.
Do you make quilts?
No I have never made a quilt before. I do not have a particular interest in incorporating my work into quilting. Instead, I chose to stretch my artwork over canvas, because I think of them as paintings. If you are a quilter and would like to incorporate my artwork (unstretched) into your own quilt, contact me.