Friday, May 27, 2011

Julie Booth's "Little Sister"

The theme of our current show at the Potomac Fiber Arts Gallery is work inspired by The Crone of Crazy, an art quilt by Pamela Allen. One of the Jurors' Recognitions was awarded to a cloth figure by Julie Booth, "Little Sister," shown here:

I asked Julie about her process for designing and making these figures. She told me that she has been creating cloth figures and fiber sculptures since 1994. In 1996, she started to move away from her more traditional “folk art” style to create more stylized figures based on simple shapes. Julie has always loved the colors and textures of indigenous crafts of many countries, in particular the carved animal sculptures of Oaxaca, Mexico and the fabrics and masks of Africa. As a result, many of her works incorporate both “human” and “animal” characteristics, often blurring the line between the two.

All of Julie’s fabrics are hand printed. She carves many of her print blocks from linoleum-like products, including Speedball Speedy Carve and Speedy Stamp and Staedtler Mastercarve. In addition, she likes to create blocks from recycled materials and materials that can be found in craft stores, including Styrofoam, layered cardboard, hot glue, craft foam, and moldable foam. Julie prints these blocks on solid colored cotton fabrics using Pebeo Setacolor fabric paints. She enjoys printing different block patterns and designs on top of each other for more interesting, layered effects. More recently, Julie has started with white cotton or silk and hand painted her own background fabrics before printing. Julie won the 2010 Potomac Fiber Arts Guild Margaret M. Conant Grant for a project to study the use of ordinary and inexpensive materials found in most homes as resists in art projects. Her new knowledge, which she will present to Guild members, will add even more possibilities to her printed fabrics. Here is a group of Julie's fabrics:

Julie’s figures are made up of combinations of simple stuffed shapes that are sewn together to create an interesting form. Julie’s designs often start as thumbnail sketches which she’s doodled on scraps of paper. When a sketch “speaks” to her, she will first draw a full-scale rough sketch which she then refines and breaks down into the simple shapes that will make up the piece. The next stage is to make a muslin “dummy”, machine sewing and stuffing the shapes, then hand sewing them together.

Once the design is set, Julie will create pattern pieces from quilter’s template plastic. She uses these to trace and cut out the patterns from her block printed fabrics. After the simple shapes are stuffed and sewn together, Julie further hand embellishes them with appliqué, stitching, and bead embroidery. For many of her pieces, Julie creates polymer clay faces using either “faux” stone techniques or an embossing technique which she developed.

Julie used polymer clay faces in "Friends are Angels" and Warrior:

Each of Julie's figures has its own personality. It is always interesting to see what the current show brings.

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