Archives for November 2014

A Movement: Textile Art vs. Fiber Art

What is the difference between TEXTILE ART  and FIBER ART? Is there any difference at all? These terms are debatable. Today I decided to change my title from TEXTILE ARTIST to FIBER ARTIST.  Why is this important to me?

Festival Triptych

Fiber Art by Deborah Babin
Title: Festival

I do not relate to the term Quilt Art. I rarely if ever, say the word quilt. I do however, include the act of quilting in my work. I am not making a quilt or a blanket. I am making art. What I make is actually rooted in the history of quilts. This I acknowledge to myself. I have decided to not include this term when discussing and describing my work. Why is that? The main reason is to distinguish between those that make art with cloth and sometimes quilt it.  I explain what I do with respect to the traditional quilt world and qualify that I make contemporary art. When describe what Fiber Art is the terminology has to be specific; however, many times I am looking at an expression of confusion. The progression from traditional quilts (blankets) to current day contemporary (fiber) art is at a snails pace.

I researched this topic and found a detailed report on the difference of these two terms: TEXTILE ART and FIBER ART

What I was not aware of until I read it was the regional definitions. In the UK artists that make art with fabric or cloth refer to this as: art textiles

In an article titled Defining a Movement by textile writer Jessica Hemmings 

Fiber art is seen as an American term; art textiles a British one. Are these terms useful? Dated? This snapshot reveals some of the deeper issues surrounding perceptions and directions within the field.

When Fiberarts asked me to investigate the use of fiber art and art textiles I was, at first glance, tempted to assume that fiber art is simply the American equivalent for what the British, and some Australians, call art textiles. But as I found when I began to question various individuals whose disciplines help define the terms—art historians, curators, educators, and makers—things are in fact far more complicated than a quibble between British and American language preferences.

Continue reading the complete article here

I agree with Jessica, Fiber Art is a movement.

Further research led me to a rather in-depth twenty page report titled: The Descriptive Challenges of Fiber Art by Lois F. Lunin


Fiber art is both a new and an old art form. “The use of fibrous

materials as a medium for art works is not new; woven, knitted,

printed, and otherwise treated materials have long appeared in the

history of mankind” (Henning, 1977). Traditionally, however, they

appeared as functional objects. The term fiber art, sometimes called

art fabric, was introduced after World War I1 to characterize new

art developments in textiles. This article deals only with the fiber

art developments since World War I1 and the challenges presented

in describing that art for inclusion in text and image databases.

A movement…..I like knowing this. Next time I am asked what it is that I do, what kind of art I make, what kind of an artist I am I will include and emphasize that I am a part of a movement, one that is on the move and moving forward.

Are you part of this movement? Do you relate to this?






Paper Shibori-Indigo with a Twist


Memory On Cloth by Yoshika Wada


I took a workshop with Joan Morris in August. She is an expert on natural dying and various resist methods. She developed the fabrics for all of the costumes in the Broadway production Lion King. Miles and miles of gorgeous fabrics! This accomplishment is covered in a book titled: Memory on Cloth-Shibori Now by: Yoshiko Wada. It is a beautiful book to have in your library.

Photos along with a presentation of how the costumes evolved for specific characters of Lion King are included. Joan conducts a very efficient course. She is specific and intent on the execution. She has very high standards for herself as an instructor as well as artist. She delivers more than one could possibly absorb. I truly respect that. You can see her amazing work on her website.

I chose to focus on the resist methods in the workshop; how to arrange fabric to create unique and beautiful patterning from the planned resists. Resist dying is when sections of the fabric are constricted so those areas will not absorb dye. This can be done with any dye. Methods for resist dying are ancient and were developed in multiple areas of the world. I learned a lot in this course; however, I did not come away with successfully completed examples. The natural dyes that we used call for certain steps some of which I didn’t get right thus, the results I have are too pale. Resist methods can only show up with high contrast.

I’m glad I took the course and I did learn what NOT to do when it comes to natural dyes.  I doubt I will ever use them except maybe indigo, someday. I prefer procion mx dyes and I am not up for another learning curve.

I enjoy working with paper  as much as cloth. After the course I decided to try some of the resist methods with paint and paper. The paint I like to use often is actually a dye paint: Adirondack Color Wash/Denim. This product is in a spray bottle and is concentrated. The color: Denim is very close to indigo.  I tried several kinds of paper: Lotka, Rice and Mulberry. These papers are hand made from very strong fibers. I am quite pleased with the results.

The steps I used:

1. The paper was scrunched up into a wad and then opened several times. This breaks the fibers and makes the paper soft almost like fabric.

2. The paper was dampened slightly and then wrapped, folded or clamped. Stencils and wood shapes (blocking) were used on some pieces.

3. Color Wash: Denim was sprayed on mainly to the edges on the surface.

I applied the paint sparingly to observe the absorbency of each type of paper; more color was applied as needed.

The papers were left to dry with a fan circulating the air; they dry fairly quickly. It is always a surprise when a bundle is opened…and I love this part.


Wrapping around a pole-The paper is wrapped and tightly scrunched on the pole to set up creases that act as channels. Minimal paint will seep into the creases thereby creating a resist. Depending on how the paper is wrapped the design will differ; no two are alike. Often the fabric and in this case paper, continue to hold the creases.

Arashi Shibori

Step 1-The paper is damp and will be rolled onto the PVC pole on the diagonal.


Arashi Shibori

Step 2-The paper has been scrunched up tight. Twine is wrapped around to hold it in place.

Arashi Shibori

Step 3-A minimal amount of paint is sprayed on at first.

Arashi Shibori

Step 4-The paper is completely covered with paint.


If the result is not satisfactory (not enough paint, not enough design) the same process is repeated.

Arashi Shibori

Arashi Shibori



A spot on the paper is selected, pinched and shaped to make a point. Starting at the point, thread is wrapped tightly around and down (as far as you choose) and then back up to the point; secure with a knot.. The longer the length of the wrapped point the larger the design (spider web). The dampened paper was pliable similar to fabric. I decided to make various sized webs on this piece.


Step 1-The thread has been wrapped securely around the point and knotted.


Step 2-Five points of various lengths are secured.


Step 3-The first application of paint is light.


Step 4-More paint is applied both on the front and the back.

The results are good.

The results are good.

Collectively, the various methods proved to work well on the papers.


Five successful results.

Top left: Itajime-Clamping, Top right: Itajime and wood template, Center: Folded Accordion style, Bottom left: Kumo, Bottom right: Arashi  (two applications).

Adirondack Color Wash Denim

Stencil Designs with Denim color wash.

Alternatively, stencils are effective with color wash paint. I used two stencils here. The top design with a circle is once. First the paint is sprayed over the stencil, second, the stencil is flipped to utilize the paint on the surface of the stencil. The design on the bottom was done the same way.