Growing up in a household full of treasures and creative activity, I learned to sew as a child and have been playing with a needle and thread ever since. At home, there were always art supplies close at hand and a sense that time was available for creative pursuit. Drawing with crayons was never enough for me and I remember feeling that my pictures were not finished until something real was glued, stapled or sewn to it.
Today, my fabric relief artwork is an outgrowth of my childhood fascination with handwork. I’ve been a working artist for over 35 years and have illustrated many children’s books using a unique blend of materials, found objects and sewing techniques. My 2003 craft how-to book, Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects, continues to inspire creativity in all ages. My newest picture book, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes won the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the 2011 Golden Kite Award. The original fabric relief artwork from the book is touring the country through 2013.
I have had a life-long fascination with little things and needlework. Toward the end of art school, I rediscovered my childhood delight in sewing and creating miniature scenes. Leaving traditional illustration mediums behind, but still interested in narrative work, I taught myself stitching and fiber art techniques.
For me, manipulating materials with my hands with a needle and thread was so much more satisfying than rendering with a pencil or brush. I found that I could communicate my ideas more clearly this way and that my hands would direct me in a compelling way. My early pieces were soft sculpture, and then turned flatter, with raised figures and objects on a fabric background.
I came up with the term “fabric relief” in 1982 to better describe my evolving technique. My 3-dimentional pictures resemble miniature, shallow stage sets, with scenery, props and characters telling a story. I embroider, wrap, appliqué and paint different materials and found objects to create scenes in relief, with figures imposed on an embellished fabric background.
My work is decorative and detailed, full of patterns from nature, all stitched by hand. For the past 20 years, I’ve been working in the field of illustration, making artwork which is then photographed and printed in children’s books. The original fabric relief pictures have a second life when they are mounted and framed under glass in shadow boxes, ready to display as individual pieces.