Interview by Zoe Allison. Scribed and edited by Nathalie Worthington
Z – How long have you been working with fabric.
A – All my life. I started out making little clothes out of felt for my troll dolls in pre -school. By Junior high I was sewing all my own clothes.
Z – Did you support yourself on your fabric art making?
A – I went to art school in Oakland California, then moved to Oregon and continued my work there and being a poor artist. I eventually moved back to Berkeley and finished school, earning a BFA in Textile Studio Arts. After a while I realized that I wanted a home and a car that ran, and a bit of land, so I took up accounting. That’s how I’ve been supporting this habit ever since. I now have a full time job at UNC.
Z – Do you feel it’s a drive?
A – At times I think maybe I’m done with printing and I’ll go off and do something else, then I circle back and print. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s there for me and it allows my creative juices to flow. I started out spinning, natural dying and weaving. When I went back to college the second time I took up screen printing. I still work with some other techniques, but the screen printing really satisfies me for now.
Z – Between medium or technique, do you have a favorite?
A – I used to love doing constructed pieces. Then I got addicted to silk screening. Since then it’s been mostly surface design.. I especially enjoy making one of kind wearables.
Z – Between your different techniques, the materials involved and the hours spent, along with research and development, how do you price your work?
A – I’m lucky if I cover my materials cost at the end of the year.
Z – In this particular area, are you the only one doing this variety of work?
A – I see some painted and dyed scarves here and there. No-one I know is doing silk screening on yardage. It’s very process oriented and takes a lot of materials and supplies; huge table, sink, lots of screens. .
The department I first worked in at UNC had a DNA Sequencing Facility which at one time used big glass plates. Technology had changed and they didn’t use large plates anymore, but this enormous sink was left over. I kept eyeing it. At that time I was washing out my screens either outside or in my bathtub. My boss finally said, yeah, take it! The sink sat outside for two years and until I built the house and designed the studio with, room to accommodate it.
Z – Where do you get your inspiration?
A – I don’t know where my inspiration keeps coming from. Nature maybe? I have no idea why or where. I just do it, I don’t know. It bubbles out and I’ve always done this creative thing.
Z – When someone buys something, do you ever wish the person would have a certain feeling?
A – Yes, you want somebody to appreciate it and look at it. If it’s clothing you want them to touch it and feel the texture, and I want them to feel good and feel that they look good.
Z – Have you always worked in this area?
A – No, I grew up in New Jersey and started sewing, spinning, natural dying and weaving,(and a little clay work) in my teens. I continued when I went to art school in California. I lived and worked on the West coast for a dozen years, both the Bay area (east bay) and Southern Oregon
Z – Have you noticed changes in the Chatham County Artists Guild?
A – This year we have a whole bunch of new people which is great. It would be nice to see some of the variety of mediums we used to feature on the tour, like iron, metal sculpture, furniture making and weaving. Our current artists are all fantastic, but I would like to see a wider range of mediums represented.
Z – What is your history with the Chatham Artists Guild Studio Tour?
A – I’m an original member, on the first tour. I took a couple years off when I built my house, and one or two other years, but other than that, I’ve been on them all!
Z – Are there parts of Chatham County that inspire you?
A – The woods. Walking around the woods and trees… there’s an incredible diversity of trees that grow around here.
Z – Is there something new and absorbing for you in the studio now?
A – Currently I’m using a different silk fabric and it takes dye and sews a little differently. I like discovering and moving with the fabric’s demands of me. I really enjoy the designing on it. My studio time is precious/ maybe when I retire and can spend more time, maybe I’ll feel differently, but for now I want to do what I want without much consideration of the market.
Z – Do the current political events affect you or your art work?
A – no.
Z – Has the Chatham Artists Guild community impacted your work?
A – The studio tour and the guild is really nice to have. I used to do gallery work but had to phase it out because my production is so low and I couldn’t keep up with both. The studio tour takes everything I have. Since I spend 40 hours a week doing a job for others… my studio time is precious.
Z – Do you think two times a year would work for the studio tour?
A – Maybe something smaller scale, …I’m getting to the point where I could think about that.