Fabric has “history”. Paint does not.

High Peaks Camp, Estes Park, CO

During this past weekend, I got to attend an Art workshop at the High Peaks Camp in Estes Park.  15 other textile artists and I spent 3 days learning from Leslie Gabrielse, a fabulous fiber artist from The Netherlands.

I have admired Leslie’s work from the first time I saw it, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to take this workshop.  Leslie creates his fabric art quilts 100% by hand, constructing each work by layering pieces of fabric on top of a backing/batting foundation, stenciling in places with acrylic paint, and then hand stitching the fabric pieces in place using perle cotton and large doll needles.

Leslie holding up one of the many demo pieces he created during our workshop.

Leslie’s work is so refreshing – really original and wonderful.  His amazing drawing skills are evident in every piece.  Each one is so inviting and fun, in part because of the strong compositions and colors he uses, and because of  his imagery and technique – the use of chunks of interesting fabrics combined with stenciling, the hand stitching techniques, and  juxtaposition of collaged imagery.

Leslie describes why he prefers working with fiber rather than paint, “Fabric has history, while paint does not.”  He often re-uses his own, or friends’ clothing in his pieces, so each piece has a very personal history to it.  And it seems that every piece of fabric he works with has a story unto itself, again bringing such a personal edge to each work.

A weekend workshop is just enough time to get a small sampling of an artist’s oeuvre, and we did our best to glean as much as possible.  Leslie shared so much, giving us demos throughout the days and presentations in the evenings as well.

My paper stencil composition from the workshop.

The primary goal was to learn about Leslie’s way of making a fabric piece and then get a start on 1 or 2 small pieces of our own.  We began by playing with stenciling on paper, with a goal of creating an interesting composition.  Above is my paper stenciled piece.

I was able to get just 1 small fabric piece started in the workshop – these hand processes do take a bit of effort to pick up (especially for me since I’ve never really done any hand embroidery before).  Below is a photo of my small fabric piece:

"Wall Drawing#3" (in progress) ©2010 Ayn Hanna, 18"x18", Textile Painting (fabric, cotton batting, acrylic paint, cotton thread)

Notice the many many pins that are holding all the small fabric pieces in place. Right now they are the only thing holding this all together.  There is quite a bit of stenciling with acrylic paint included in this piece as well.

The next step is to add the hand embroidery with perle cotton, to both hold the fabric pieces in place and also add some more definition and line variation in the piece.  Here’s another photo I took as I was selecting various thread colors that I’m going to add to the piece:

"Wall Drawing #3" with perle cotton threads that will be added to it

I’ll post another photo of this piece once I finish it.  I am very excited to incorporate these new techniques I learned from Leslie this weekend into other future pieces I make as I really enjoy the hand techniques and the “human” presence these bring to the work.  I have also started a larger piece (another one in my Triathlon series) using these techniques and will post images of that as it progresses as well.

Navy Quilt Update

No new progress on the 2 Navy Quilt pieces this past week, since I was attending the workshop.  I now have 8 days left until the due date for those so I’ll be busy at night and this weekend working to finish those up and will post pictures of those over the next week.

Big Printmaking Show at Art Lab Fort Collins

Reminder for those in the Fort Collins area, my prints are on display until 9/25 at the Art Lab on Linden St. in old town.  The gallery will be open Friday 9/24 from 6-9pm and Saturday, 9/25 from 1-8pm.  There will also be live printmaking demos and workshops at the gallery on Saturday.

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2 Responses to “Fabric has “history”. Paint does not.”

  1. Nora Says:

    Aynie, Sorry to have missed you at Art Lab on Saturday afternoon. Great to see your pieces and Barbara’s together.

    It looks like you are getting a lot of depth and texture with your new pieces. Leslie was quite inspirational, it seems. Hope to see your new textile work in person soon.

    • Ayn Hanna Says:

      Thanks Nora, glad you were able to get down to the Art Lab and see the show on Saturday. Leslie’s workshop was really excellent and I love learning the hand-embroidery stitches. I really like the different line quality that can be achieved with hand-stitching so hopefully, with practice, I can get faster with the stitching. If I can get it done in time, I’ll bring this to the next guild meeting 🙂

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