I make textile wall pieces and banners using dyes and surface design techniques. In addition, I create wearable art accessories that, in collaboration with the human body, transform cloth into sculptural art. My pieces start as pure white natural fiber cloth – a blank canvas. The finished pieces feature up to three elements: unusual color combinations, repeating patterns and sculptural elements. To achieve the colors, I apply dyes in layers, often alternating with dye removal. To make the patterns and textures, I use shibori (Japanese resist dyeing) and other surface design techniques such as dye painting, and screen printing. Sometimes I integrate wool fiber with cloth using felt-making techniques.
I began working with dyes and textiles during the tie-dye era of the late sixties. The dyes I used in the beginning came from the grocery store, the same dyes used by my mother to change the color of the curtains or bedspread to get a fresh new look. Soon I learned about the professional fiber reactive dyes used by batik artists. I began making simple three and four color tie-dyed wall hangings using rubber bands and over-dye techniques to make mandala patterns. A life changing moment came when I saw the musical “Hair”. The stage sets, designed and made by artist Marian Clayden, were the size of a room and featured complex colors and designs. At that moment, I began to grasp the potential of what one could do with dyes and cloth. But how did she get such intricate colors and patterns? I found some of the answers in Jack Lenor Larson’s book “The Dyers Art, Ikat, Batik, Plangi”, which introduced me to worldwide textile and dye traditions. Thus began my creative journey.
Always curious about the natural world, I pursued a science education that led to a professional career in environmental chemistry. The chemistry training happened to fit very well with my interest in dyes and gave me a deeper understanding of dye processes. I also studied dyeing and surface design techniques at every opportunity during my career in the environmental field. I was introduced to shibori by D’Arcie Beytebiere in the late nineteen eighties. In the years since I have been privileged to study with many world-renowned artists, dyers and textile designers including Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Kerr Grabowksi, Joan Morris, Elin Noble, Polly Stirling, Yoshiko Wada, and Michele Wipplinger.
I am fascinated by color, especially color interactions. I draw from a lifetime of color memories for inspiration. From early childhood, I was immersed in fields of flowers at my family’s Dutch bulb farm. It must have been there in the tulip and gladiola fields where I first learned to distinguish and recall color nuances. Today, I spend many hours designing and tending the gardens my husband and I built as a labor of love. I continue to refine my color acuity and memory by auditioning and refining color compositions in the borders and cutting gardens. This color obsession follows me into the studio where my fascination with the creative process remains as strong as when the journey began decades ago.