The woods behind my home are ever-changing. Each season brings new colors and textures as the trees and wildlife adapt to the weather and nature’s cycles.
Consequently, the scene I see from my kitchen window is never the same from day to day. The changing view reminds me that nothing in life is permanent. It reminds me to slow down and appreciate beauty when I see it. I try to apply that credo to my fabric art whenever possible.
One artist I know who embraces the beauty of impermanence is Barbara Schneider. Barbara has an ongoing interest in the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi, an appreciation of things that are imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
“Wabi-sabi is at the core of all of my artwork,” says Barbara. “I like to capture the essence of images made of light and movement, images that are infinitely variable. What does the eye see? What does the camera see? What does the mind see?”
Barbara has taken this concept and created elegant, gallery-worthy textile art in the shape of giant leaves. With fabric, needle felting, photos, and stitch, she creates three-dimensional, sculptural wall art.
Barbara begins by collecting dried leaves and pods. She studies their structure, colors, how they curve and curl, and the patterns made by insects that have eaten a lacy texture into their surface.
In one process, she scans the leaves, enlarges them with photo-imaging software, and prints them out on specialty fabric. After fusing the image to a substrate, Barbara uses tiny, sharp scissors to cut out all the “insect bites,” leaving a lacy pattern.
In another process, Barbara fuses fabrics to her substrate, emulating the natural leaf’s colors. She needle felts fibers onto the fabric from both sides to enhance the color and texture, then free-motion stitches whorls and veins to the piece.
After creating the stem, she applies a sizing mixture and uses everyday objects to curl and shape the leaf as it dries.
Barbara’s techniques are not complicated, but the effects are absolutely elegant. You can learn her fabric art technique step by step on her new Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video, “Three-Dimensional Fiber Art.”
P.S. How does nature inspire your fiber art? Leave a comment below!