Artists' Open House Weekend-Studio Tours in Susquehanna County PA

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Karen Farmer says that she “makes art quilts for the joy of working with textiles and experiencing the magic of dyeing cloth.” Creating quilts enables her to communicate “who I am” and nourishes her with a sense of achievement. Awed by the beauty of the natural world--the trees, and grasses wildflowers and seed pods, ponds lakes and streams, with their seasonal changes, are endless sources of inspiration. By making quilts, Karen hopes to connect with others who also look in wonder at the splendour surrounding us in our daily lives. Sometimes, it is enough just to experiment with color in an abstract form.

Her work always begins with white fabric, choosing natural fibers, such as cotton, linen and silk. In addition to dye, Karen will use discharge (colour removal) agents and screen inks. Application processes to generate colour, line, shape or texture include immersion dyeing, painting, screen printing, stencilling, stamping brushing and scraping. Shibori dyeing, an ancient Japanese technique whereby the cloth is folded and wrapped around sticks of varying sizes to produce a distinctive and natural style is one of her common processes. Eco printing with leaves is also an important new addition to her work, and most recently she has added natural dye processes as well.

More than one process is often used on a single piece of cloth to create an illusion of depth. A ‘palette’ of cloth is then selected, and cut it into pieces. The pieces of cloth are then reconstructed into an improvisational, abstract composition.

The composition is then layered on to wadding and a backing fabric before being machine or hand stitched. It is then, when this dimensional texture is added, that the work finds its spirit, according to Karen and because of that, most of the work is heavily stitched. Each quilt is then carefully trimmed and hand finished.

Karen remains strongly influenced by the tradition of pieced and quilted textiles, especially by the Amish. She has collected quilts since her college days at Penn Sate. “I love the texture and warmth of feeling the cloth under my fingers. It is one of the great joys of owning a quilt.”

This year, Karen concentrated on making baskets, particularly using the twining method. She believes that it is a natural progression of her love of textiles. There will be a number of small pieces on display in her studio



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