Friday, December 10, 2010

Fiber For the Holidays

Hello, Fiber Friends.

Please excuse my long absence from the SEFAA blog.  I won’t bore you with the details of what I’ve been doing, but a large portion of my time has been taken up with three art shows, one of which lasted two days and was held at my studio (necessitating a Herculean cleaning effort).  I do realize that everyone is probably just as busy as I am.

So now Holiday season is in full swing.  Are you in gift production mode?  Maybe you’re wiser than I am.  I always tell myself that I won’t make gifts this year, and then I always do.  I don’t know if the recipient is ever as excited about the gift as I am, but that’s OK.  It’s really one of those “journey, not destination” things. 

I’ve finally figured out that my making of quilts, clothing, ornaments, or whatever is not only about a gift for a loved one.  It’s also my own little excuse to fit fiber projects into a harried schedule.  Every hour I spend making a fabric project for someone I love is an hour I spend finding my bliss. 

If you want to share that kind of bliss, teach another person to knit, crochet, sew, quilt, weave, embroider, or whatever fiber activity you love.  A bundle of beautiful yarn, floss or fabric and a written promise to teach someone to use it could be a fun and memorable gift.


It looks like a location for SEFAA is about to happen. Congratulations to Suzi and the Board for their vision and hard work to make this happen!  This is a remarkable achievement in such a short time, and one that will benefit all of us as well as the Atlanta Community.  The more people understand about fiber art, the more they will appreciate and support it.  It is part of our mission to educate the wider community about the beauty and value of fiber art, and a home for SEFAA will help us do that.


I’d like to leave you with a revised version of a little something that was circulating among quilters on the internet a while back.  My apologies to the original author for the edits …

Reasons Why I Love Fiber...

* Fiber insulates the closet, dresser, basket or room where it is kept.
* Purchasing fiber helps keep the economy going. It is our patriotic duty to support cotton farmers, sheep farmers, textile mills, and fabric and knit shops.
* It is less expensive and more fun than psychiatric care.
* Fiber keeps without refrigeration.
* You don't have to cook it to enjoy it.
* You never have to feed it, change it, wipe it's nose, or walk it.
* It's not immoral, illegal, or fattening.
* Fiber calms the nerves, gratifies the soul, and makes me happy.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Here and There

October 1st through 10th this year is “American Craft Week.”  If you are going to be in Washington, D.C. this coming weekend, you can participate in the “Crafting A Nation” Conference at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Here is a quote from the American Craft Week website: (
CRAFTING A NATION” will explore how craft practitioners, both professional and self-taught, are a valuable national resource and an integral part of the American economy, running businesses and producing products unique to our nation and important to our economic growth in the twenty-first century. Handcrafted works are core to a healthy society and contribute to a sustainable environment that can be both joyful and profitable. Two words “conversation” and “economy” define this event. Craft has, historically and in contemporary life, been defined by these words. CRAFTING A NATION starts with the individual maker and progresses to the national craft community.”
What an apt description of craft in the U.S.! It’s an important part of our culture and our economy. Just for a moment, take your own work out of the picture and try to imagine a culture devoid of art and craft ... Where would we find the beauty that stirs us, other than in nature? How would we teach our children to appreciate the work of human hands? How gray and dismal would our world look? That’s a vision appropriate only for Halloween. Beautiful objects that speak to the soul are a necessity. Some of them are made of fiber.
The article above also reminds us that like politics, all art and craft is local. It can branch out from right here. SEFAA is a vital tool to make a local fiber community a regional one. And for SEFAA to be advised by the successful entity that is the “Textile Center” in Minneapolis ( is a credible link to a wider world of fiber art.
Next weekend, a national quilt and fiber show comes right here to our local community when the Georgia Quilt Show opens its doors at the Gwinnett Center October 14 – 16 ( SEFAA will have a booth there to sell fabric and fiber and offer membership. (Be sure to send in your donations to sell!) Even if you’re not a big fan of quilts, you will appreciate the fiber art and surface design. And the booths will sell the latest “cool tools” to make you heart flutter. It’s worth a trip there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Down From the Mountain

What’s a great place to live if you’re an artist or fine crafter?  Any guesses?  My answer is Asheville, North Carolina. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was staying in the mountains at Lake Lure, NC, and had a chance to go to Asheville for the day.  Wow!  You can practically smell the art and fine craft when you step out of the car.  I think if you swing a cat in any direction, you’ll hit a gallery.  (Metaphorically only - no animal cruelty intended.)

And judging from the high-production-value free magazines about art there, plus the presence of all those galleries, art is actually a viable part of the economy.  The Biltmore brings in lots of tourists, to be sure, but they must be buying the art as well.  Otherwise, how could all those galleries exist?

As I fiber person, I felt (no pun intended) it was my duty to check out Bellagio, a boutique of fine handmade clothing, much of it handwoven or hand-knitted, as well as hand-dyed.  Beautiful stuff, and priced to actually reflect the time and skill required to produce it.  Their website is

Next to Bellagio is the New Morning Gallery, a fabulous repository of fine crafts beautifully displayed.  Fiber was represented there by some large traditional quilts, pillows, and some fantastic appliquéd and stitched folk-art works in embellished frames and under glass.  Sorry I didn’t get the folk artist’s name, but her work is unforgettable and charming. 

The interesting thing about this well-known shop ( is that I had seen the work of many of the artists there – the last time I attended the American Craft Council show in Atlanta.  This leads me to conjecture that the ACC show is an effective showcase for crafts.  It will be held March 11- 13, 2011 in Atlanta.  Check out the website at

While in Asheville, I naturally had to visit at least one art supply store, and that one was Earth Guild (  I was wowed!  In a fabulous old building sat spinning and weaving supplies, yarn, roving, dyes, paints, tools, books, and more general fiber goodies than I could possibly list.  I even stocked up on something I had never heard of, wheels of bias-cut cotton strips (in yummy colors, of course) called Poppana.  You weavers probably know it – apparently it’s used for the weft in Eastern European rag rugs.  There’s not even much info about it on the web.  But if you need any, I have extra!

Well, it was a great trip, and I was duly rested and duly impressed by the great North Carolina “Art City.”  I just wondered, as I was driving down from the mountain, if Atlanta can’t be a “Fiber Art City.”


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Use It or Lose It

Are you one of those people who can’t look at a woven plastic vegetable bag or a sturdy cardboard garment tag without considering the artistic potential it might contain? I confess that I am one of those. I spend an inordinate amount of time collecting castoff relics that other people just throw in the garbage. But there’s good reason for such behavior.

Since 2003 I have been making a serious effort to add recycled items to most of the quilts I make. These recycled elements might take the form of plastic milk jug stoppers, wine corks, and discarded orange “weedeater” cord. I have even used melted plastic bags to construct quilts. But my favorite junk takes the form of natural fiber.

If you use fabric for anything, you can usually glean some recycled fibers when you handle it. When I buy new fabric to make quilts or garments, the first thing I do is wash it. (You need to remove that possible formaldehyde, you know.) If the fabric was cut from the bolt, especially if the cut was uneven, you will be rewarded with a wonderful little bundle of tangled threads. Cut this off while it’s wet and form it into a small nest until it dries. Instant embellishment!

Wash your new fabric in loads of similar colors. When you take the fabric out of the dryer, check the lint filter for a cool glob of colorful lint. (I even find myself searching out fuzzy fabric to wash.) Lint can be captured under tulle on a fabric surface. Or if you’re into fiber sculpture, the pigment for your sculpture medium is free!

My other favorite recycled fibers come from ripping fabric. I use a lot of evenly woven cotton fabric in my work, and the best way to get a straight line is to rip it. In a quilt with a lot of strips, you will find an amazing amount of threads result from ripping the fabric. I save them all, unless the color is muddy. And if the fabric is some that I have hand dyed, you can bet that I’m not going to let one speck of that gloriously colored thread go to waste. These threads are also wonderful for embellishment and for making fiber vessels.

Other crazy recycled artist types are out there. The Atlanta art show “Not Biodegradable” is on display at whitespace gallery through September 4th. One of the artists is Mireille Vautier, who creates her artwork by embroidering on plastic bags. It sounds wonderful! Stop by and see the show if you can.

Whitespace is located at 814 Edgewood Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307. The phone number is 404.688.1892. Gallery hours are Wed. – Sat.11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  You can see some of the work on these websites: and
If you want to see ingenious ways to recycle garments, check out the fun at

Happy recycling!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Energy in Motion

I recently wrenched my knee and have been going to my chiropractor. He’s working on my spine a little each day to restore the proper flow of energy in my body. Now, you may or may not believe that particular theory, but it’s undeniable that energy is of huge significance in the world and in ourselves. This made me think about different types of energy and how they affect us as artists.

I remember as a teenager helping to build a float for a school parade. We had a short time to accomplish this, and it seemed an insurmountable task, stuffing crepe paper into thousands of tiny holes in a wire armature to create the huge, looming figure of a bear. But my classmates and I kept the flow of energy going by laughing and joking until the task was miraculously completed.

As the chairman of an arts group putting on our first art show in our town, I worked with my small committee until we were so exhausted that we didn't know if we could keep going and get everything done in time. But we relied on each other’s energy and support to keep going, and we did. The energy that we got back from the 300 or so guests who attended the opening kept us going long after the event.

In a wonderful youtube video, Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love gives a speech about the perception of artistic inspiration as a sort of disembodied divine energy that comes to a person endeavoring to do creative work. Here’s the link - It’s definitely worth viewing. This energy comes to different people in different forms; you may find yourself identifying with some of them. It’s something fun to think about.

If you’ve been watching “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” on Bravo TV the last few weeks, you will have seen all manner of creative energy at work – from the most positive to the ugliest and most negative. There was a true showing of “artistic temperament.” It was gratifying to see that the person who seemed to radiate the most caring and loving energy toward every other person was also the artist who won.

As artists, most of us work in a solitary manner. But the energy we need to keep creating often comes from others who are making art, too. Getting together with friends who share our art is imperative. Doing a sort of cross-training exercise by viewing types of art that are outside our own discipline is also a great way to be inspired. That’s why it is such a good thing for SEFAA to have a booth at the Georgia Quilt Show in October. Not only will the quiltmakers gain from it, but so will the knitters, weavers and silk painters. It should be a wonderful sharing of artistic energy!

If you would like to share in a more concrete way, please donate some spare “fat quarters” of fabric (cut 18” x 22”) to sell at the SEFAA booth. Our Fiber Arts Alliance is itself a wonderful sharing of creative energy. Remember to share SEFAA with everyone you know!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Connecting Threads

The past few weeks, I was busy chairing a free art camp for the children in my little town of Senoia. My friends and I managed to get two days of teaching fiber into the mix. I predict some future fiber artists or fiber art patrons in the group.

It took lots of individual volunteers, two organizations, the city, and a several businesses to pull it off. It was a clear example of the connections needed to accomplish a large project. Indeed, most projects outside of our individual creations take a certain connectedness to succeed.

That connectedness was in full view last Sunday at the color class taught by Rebecca Ewing and sponsored by SEFAA. Nancy Williams did a wonderful job chairing and setting it all up. The class was excellent and Rebecca was creative and engaging in her teaching. But the most interesting thing about it for me was the diverse group of fiber art people in the room.

I have taken numerous quilting and sewing classes over the years, but they have all been niche learning, with every participant being a quilter or “sewist” (the word coined in recent years to distinguish people who sew from a waste disposal system). The SEFAA classroom was different – full of fiber art people pursuing all sorts of different fiber tracks. There were knitters, weavers, quilters, crocheters and more. The connecting thread here was a love of fiber and a desire to learn. It worked really well.

Another opportunity for connectedness comes on August 22nd, when three talented teachers will combine their expertise in one fiber project for the SEFAA class, “A Taste of Fiber (Arts).” Students will learn fabric dyeing with Inko dyes, free-motion machine stitching and hand embroidery.

It’s unusual for three fiber professionals (Ray Pierotti, Leisa Rich and Jane Timmers) to teach collectively. I have seen the project example in person, and it is stunning! The cost for the all-day class (really three classes) is extremely reasonable. I hope we can post some of the resulting projects on the website or blog late next month. There is still time to sign up and make this connection. If you go back to “classes and workshops” on the website, you can download an application.

It is thrilling to see new groups joining SEFAA each month. We are establishing connections – connecting threads!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Berry Picking

I was picking blueberries last week at a peach and blueberry farm in rural Pike County, and I suddenly thought about SEFAA.  This may seem odd, but there’s a “thread” here.

First of all, I’m not an outdoor person. I’d rather spend my time indoors sewing, quilting, dyeing fabric, or pursuing any number of other fiber activities. So doing anything in the blazing sun is not really my idea of fun. But it was a beautiful day, and my kind husband, who puts up with lots of "fiber field trips," invited me to go.

The last time I had picked blueberries was in my college days on a family farm in Maine. The blueberries were that luscious, intense indigo color and they all seemed to be equally ripe. The biggest challenge was finding enough buckets to rake them into. Fast forward a number of years to the Georgia scene.

Rows of blueberry bushes covered a grassy field, but the berries were (eek!) all different colors. Some were magenta, some gold, some cream, some spring green, and some were indigo. Apparently, a number of other people had been picking before us, so the berries were in all different stages of ripeness, and each ripe berry had to be discovered and picked ONE AT A TIME!

After my initial irritation subsided, I really looked at the berries and noticed how beautiful the bushes were with the symphony of colors they displayed. Really, they were much more beautiful in their diversity than if they had all been the same lovely navy.

Here’s where SEFAA comes in … I think it’s wonderful that we have an organization that encompasses all the different fiber arts. I am primarily a quiltmaker, but I greatly admire spinning, weaving, knitting and other fiber disciplines I don’t pursue. When we work together to support each other and learn from each other's strengths, an uplifting sort of cross-pollination can occur.

We can also learn from, as well as teach, those fiber artists who are at different stages of “ripeness” from our own. This can be another benefit of SEFAA, and it’s the reason I am so excited that we’re talking about having a conference, maybe next winter, to bring us all together, face to face. What color blueberry will you be?


Friday, July 2, 2010

Future Fiber

The role of fiber may be more vital in our future than most of us realize. Now through August 14th, an exhibit at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is showcasing the future of fiber in its exhibit “On You 2.” This is the second show at MODA featuring wearable technology, using conductive thread and fabric manipulation. 

In her article in the AJC today, Catherine Fox noted that old world fabric techniques, such as smocking, quilting, pleating, and embroidery actually lend themselves to this new technology. How's that for relevance?

Imagine being able to wear your computer screen. I can't wait ...  For show hours and directions, visit the website at

A Search for Artisans

If your love of fiber tends toward mixed media, you may want to enter the “Artisan Search 2011” held by Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. They are looking for five fabulous artists/craftsmen in the areas of Mixed-media Stitch, Art Journal and Book Making, Printmaking and Silk Screening, Mixed-media Jewelry, and Collage and Assemblage. For more details, go to and follow the link to “Artisan Search 2011.” The deadline for receipt is September 13th.

I hope all you fiber friends have a wonderful Fourth of July.  Maybe some gorgeous fireworks will inspire a new woven, dyed, sewn, quilted, knitted, crocheted, knotted, or embroidered work of art!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Feeling Empowered

All of us probably are feeling a little bit helpless right now as we watch the ugly, oozing oil coat the South's gorgeous beaches, kill precious wildlife and wreck delicate ecosystems. However, as fiber people, we might be able to do something to help. 

A website called is putting out a call for clean, natural fiber of almost any description. Thanks to to a hairstylist and inventor named Phil McRory, the fiber can be used to make oil-absorbing booms to soak up and divert some of the oil spilled in the Gulf. What a wonderful idea! 

If you have any fiber that you think might qualify, or even if it just sounds like an interesting idea, check out the website for details on how to help. 

This information is courtesy of Handwoven Magazine's e-newsletter, Weaving Today. I have checked out the website and it seems quite sincere and positive. Please pass the info on to others. Gotta go - I'm sorting through my fiber now ...


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Marvelous Moments in Fiber

Hello SEFAA members, fiber artists and friends. Every life is filled with lots of everyday, ordinary happenings and then those rare, defining moments when the clouds part, angel choirs sing, and you know you will never forget what happened. Sometimes those special moments involve fiber …

I can’t ever remember not knowing how to sew. My mother grew up in the Great Depression, and she could make anything out of fabric - except shoes, as our family joke goes. I watched my mother sew curtains and dresses and decided to make ball gowns for my Barbies, then jumpers for myself. I was officially in love with fabric! Good thing, since folds and bolts, thread and notions covered most of the horizontal surfaces, plus all the nooks and crannies, of the upstairs of our home.

When I was 10 years old, my sister was studying interior design, and she came home from college with a piece of white cotton that she had silk-screened with green and blue. (Cue the angel choirs above.) Something about that glimpse of surface design turned on a light in my eyes, and lo, these many years later, it hasn’t dimmed. I realized at that moment the potential for fabric beyond clothing, and I knew that I wanted to “design” fabric, whatever that meant, when I grew up.

When I was a young mother, Jean Ray Laury was my hero. I admired her creations while I managed to amass quite a collection of fiber art books, magazines and supplies. It was a golden age of art and craft, and I sewed, painted fabric and taught myself batik. Then I had to get a “real” job!

Years later, I landed a dream job with a Birmingham publishing company designing and writing about cross stitch and sewing. When the company added a quilting magazine, I found my bliss again. I have been designing and making folk-art and abstract art quilts ever since. There’s something about the quilt format (Could it be fiber, over fiber, over fiber?) that calls to me every day with its siren song.

I also love fiber collage, thread painting, wet felting, needle felting, fiber-reactive dyeing, painting and stamping fabric, photo transfer, hand embroidery, and using almost any recycled object I can tack to a quilt. Add some jewelry making, purse making, teaching (Which I love!), volunteering for the arts in my little town of Senoia, and you have a picture of my art life. Three years ago I helped start an art quilt group, The Southside Irregulars, to aid and abet me in my fiber adventures.

These are my “marvelous moments in fiber.” This blog is for all of us, and I would love to know the fiber beginnings of each and every SEFAA member. If you are willing to share something about yourself, please e-mail it to me so I can put it in the blog. We would also love to know of any shows, sources for fiber goodies, and cool techniques you can share. Really, anything fiber-related is fair game. Please be sure to include any sources and credit where it is due.

I hope to see everyone this Friday at the monthly SEFAA meeting, and I look forward to meeting you!

Claudia Wood 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Alphabet of Fiber Arts Techniques

Here is an alphabetical list of fiber techniques.  This is a work in progress, so please suggest additions (especially for G, J, X, and Y!).

Alphabet of Fiber Arts Techniques

A - Appliqué, Amigurumi
B - Beading, Basketry, Batik, Braiding, Bobbin Lace, Blackwork
C - Crochet, Cross Stitching, Couching, Canvas Work, Cord Making, Combing, Carding, Coiling
D - Dyeing, Devore, Damask Weaving, Drawloom Weaving
E - Embroidery
F - Felting, Fulling, Free-Motion Stitching, Fabric Printing, Flocking, Finger Weaving, Fabric Origami
G - Ghiordes Knots
H - Hardanger, Heirloom Embroidery, Hackling
I - Indigo Dyeing, Ikat, Inkle Weaving
J - Japanese Shibori and Shashiko
K - Knitting, Kumihimo, Knotting
L - Lace Making, Lucet, Looping
M - Macramé, Millinery
N - Nalbinding, Needle Felting, Needle Punching, Needlepoint, Needleweaving, Netting, Needle Lace
O - Off-Loom Weaving, Openwork
P - Papermaking, Passementare, Ply-split Braiding, Patchwork, Plying, Pillow Lace, Pleating, Printing
Q - Quilting, Qalamkari, Quillwork
R - Rug Hooking, Ribbon Embroidery, Reverse Appliqué, Rope Making
S - Sewing, Spinning, Surface Design, Smocking, Soft Sculpture, Silk Painting, Silk Screening, Stenciling, Stumpwork, Sprang, Serging
T - Tatting, Tapestry, Trapunto, Tie Dyeing, Temari Balls, Twining, Taaniko, Tufting, Tassle Making
U - Union Dyeing
V - Velvet Embossing, Vantsöm
W - Weaving, Wrapping
X - X-Stitch
Y - (Art) Yarn
Z - Zaanland Stitchery, Zig Zag Twining