It happened three years ago.
I fought it at first. I knew clay. I worked with clay for more than 30 years. I studied glazes and firing processes and different clay bodies and knew what I needed to do to achieve the effects I wanted.
For years, I loved the feeling of holding clay. It’s both alive and calming. I loved the way I could manipulate it to get texture in a piece. I loved the excitement of opening the kiln and seeing how the magic of heat had changed the work inside.
But I was tired of the dust and the glaze chemicals.
Just as clay grabbed me by the throat and filled my dreams and reveries so long ago, the work of textile artists, soft yarns, hand-dyed fabric, silk threads, and gorgeous color began to do the same. It’s like falling in love again - exciting, demanding, and unrelenting.
I started by piecing some fabric together. Ooh, I liked it. I took classes on machine and hand stitch. I built a studio library on hand dying and started the process of learning a new medium. I tried felting and collage and made some labor intensive large pieces of stitch work - all part of an exploration process - trying to find how to make the pieces that would feel like magic to me.
I learned with clay that it is easy to become a “technique junkie,” learning one trick after another but never sticking with it long enough so that it becomes your own. I didn’t want to do that with textiles.
I’ve found some techniques that I can work with again and again to get the kind of results I like. Hand-dyed or painted fabric and rice paper, beads, collage, some simple machine stitch, and some simple hand stitch with gorgeous silk, cotton, and wool threads seem to be where I have landed. I love the lushness, the color, and the sparkle. I love the meditative process of making the pieces. I guess I’ll let the felting and quilting go, at least for now, and stick with these few processes.
It’s been a humbling, renewing, and necessary process to start again. And now, ironically, clay feels exciting again. I suspect I will start making my own beads soon.