Artist Series - Sewphisticate

Sewphisticate has been such a wonderful resource in the forums for everyone who has questions. She was also recently featured in a Storque article on Etsy discussing the trials and tribulations of making one of the most important dresses in a woman's life, her wedding dress! Look at the range of creations that Genevieve makes, business card holders, her own creative origami take out box bag, beautiful chain mail, hammered copper...and don't you just love those berets?

1. When did you become interested in art and did you choose art, or did it choose you?

I have always worked with my hands in some way, but never considered myself an artist. When I was in early grade school, my Mom put me in this great summer camp that had a ton of activities planned. I went to music classes and acting classes and even got to be a runway model for Winnie the Pooh clothes by Sears. It was a lot of fun. But I dreaded and hated the art classes. My work never looked like everyone else's and the teacher was constantly correcting my technique and criticizing my results.

My older brother is a wonderful artist and I could never ever compete with his skill or vision. When I was six, I was given a package of Origami papers and a little basic book. I loved it and spent many happy hours folding paper. I discovered yarn when I was about eight or so and taught myself to finger weave, loom weave, crochet and knit. I tried cross stitch, needlepoint, plastic canvas and latch hook. It was not until I was about 12 or so that I discovered my Mom's sewing machine and fabric stash. I discovered a pre-printed pillow panel that was exactly the same as the pillow my older brother had had on his bed for as long as I could remember. His pillow was literally falling apart, so I cut out and stitched up a new pillow for him and stuffed it with his old pillow. I gave it to him for his birthday and he said it was the nicest thing I had ever done for him.

But for me, the sound and smell of that old sewing machine, the magical way it worked and the rhythm of needle going up and down wove a spell on me that has lingered throughout the rest of my life. I love fabric, color, texture and sewing. I can't imagine not being surrounded by my tools and bins of fabrics. When I am sad, I go to the fabric store. When I am stressed out, I pull out a new project. When I am depressed, I look through pattern books and get inspiration to design my wardrobe. I still don't think of myself as an artist, but rather an artisan. My Dad is an engineer and I find that I approach my work much the same way he does. I have an idea and then I try to figure out how to make it happen. It's not about beauty or artistic expression, but rather how to manipulate my materials in such a way that I get the result I want. The beauty is there simply because my materials are beautiful, not because of my talent or skill.

2. You get to spend one weekend each with three historical figures, an artist, a writer and one of your choice. Who are they and what will you talk about or do?

Wow! That's a pretty tough question. There are just so many to choose from.
Artist - Mozart! I would love to spend a weekend with Mozart and just listen to his music the way he wrote it. He was so crazy that I have no idea what we would talk about. But, I woud love to ask him what he thinks about when he isn't writing music. I listen to Mozart when I am struggling through design elements. He
got me through all of my math and science classes and I just think better when I listen to his music. Writer - Anne McCaffrey. I guess technically she's not an historical figure, but I don't really enjoy reading the classics. The worlds she created in the books of Pern and her Crystal Singer series were my refuge when my own life was too difficult to handle. High school was a terror for me and I could often be found curled up in a corner somewhere reading the adventures of Lessa or Menolly. Other - Jesus. I would love the opportunity to just ask all the questions and get the answers directly from Him.

3. Do any of these choices influence your work? and why?

Well, I am not sure. I do know that every ounce of talent I have is a gift from God, so in that light, yes, everything I do is directly influenced by Him. Mozart is a genius and his music has the ability to help me process through difficult problems. It's as if my mind is a train and his music is the track. Without it, I wander aimlessly and often crash. As for Ms. McCaffrey, her heroines are brave, spunky and overcome tremendous odds just because they persevere. No matter how terrible the circumstances of my life, I know that if I keep trying and maintain my own sense of honor and integrity, then I, too, will persevere.

4. How has the popularity of the internet affected your work?

The ability to research techniques, tools, ideas, inspirations, supplies, etc. is completely invaluable to me. I have tried things I never would have known of without the internet. And of course, there is the addiction of Etsy. My Hubby is threatening to take my wireless connection away from me if I don't come to dinner soon.

5. Have you discovered any new technique to creating your work that you can share?

As a self-taught seamstress, most of my favorite techniques are my own
ideas. The most recent discovery I have made has me so thr
illed I cannot adequately express my joy and excitement. It involves putting a bias binding on an odd shaped item. The bias is made from special occasion fabrics, like satin, taffeta, crepe, etc. which does not hold its shape as well as cotton. I like very clean, uncluttered lines in my work and get extremely frustrated when I cannot achieve this. After many frustrating hours and several ruined projects, I finally came up with this solution:

cut the b
ias 4 times the finished width. these fabrics stretch quite a bit, so you really need the extra width.

b. sew the binding in place by aligning a single raw edge of the binding with the edge of the project, right side of the binding against the back side of the project

fold binding over the edge and press into place

stitch in the ditch from the back side of the project. this will secure
the binding in place on the front

e. trim the excess raw edge on the front side of the project close to the
stitching line from the previous step

place a narrow decorative ribbon or trim along the stitching line and
stitch into place. The result is a nice clean finished project on both sides. Beautiful!

. How do you overcome artist block?

I change my materials/techniques frequently. I sew, coppersmith, chainmaille, bead, crochet, knit, tat, Origami. When I hit a dead end with one of these, I just pick up a different material and work with it for a while. When I am really stuck, bored, or uninspired, I go to the library or bookstore and hang out in the crafting section reading books. Even books that I have already read can provide new inspiration. I also go shopping in stores that carry work that I stores, fabric stores, small boutiques, etc. Just touching finely made items can spark my own creativity.

7. If I walked into your studio this moment what would you show me first? What would you want to hide?

LOL! The
first thing I would show you are the pictures of my children which hang directly behind my sewing machine. I would want to hide my mess...LOL! As for my work...I would want to show you everything.

8. Describe something that comes up in your work because of a life experience.

My wire work has evolved over the years. But I started working with wire because my Dad is an electrical engineer and I used to go work with him. He had these huge spools of colored wire that he would let me play with and I made rings, woven bracelets and necklaces and hairbands. My Husband is a blacksmith and I have started hammering heavy gauge wire, using black smithing techniques to get the results I want.

9. Describe what you do, or who you are in a haiku.

crap...haiku...uh...i actually do write poetry and song lyrics, but haikus
are my personal bane....

fragile bud blossoms
exposing hidden beauty

life begins anew

10. Is there anything else that you would like to share?

I would like to offer a little piece of advice to any young people who are
unsure of who they are or what they are supposed to be doing in their life. I grew up in a family that was highly educated and professional. My Mom is an RN, CNM, PhD and my Dad is an EE with a masters. I never had any interest in regular college, nor did I want a desk job...ever! I loved to work w
ith my hands and I was told my whole life that I would have to grow up at some point and 'do something' with my life. It has taken me until now (I will be 40 this year) to realize that working with my hands is not just is everything! If I had the opportunity to do my early adult years over again, I would attend some of the specialized folk art schools, like John C Campbell in North Carolina and learn from masters in all the fields I am interested in. Art is not just music or dance or painting or is life and it exists in metal, fiber, wood, fabric, color, texture. If you love to work with your hands, then DO IT!

15 reviews:

Anonymous said...

Great, great feature!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great interview! I particularly like her pearl of wisdom on choosing one's career. Wish I were "young" and could have taken advantage of it!

picciolo said...

great article and wonderful items
: )

Rosebud Collection said...

Wow, great interview..and what work.

Merka said...

What a fabulous interview. Awesome questions and it was so great learning more about Sew. Thanks for sharing :)

ThePeachTree said...

Fantastic advice there at the end. I just may have to send that to my mother :) I think she would love that.

SEWphisticate said...

Thank you so much! I am really honored to be featured here. I love Water Rose's work.

Carey Lynn said...

I enjoyed this introduction! very friendly

ArtsyChaos said...

Great feature. Very well written ! Love the photos included.

M.KATE said...

very interesting reading :)

TotusMel said...

What a lovely in depth feature, thanks for sharing with us!

Elizabeth said...

I just stumbled upon your blod. This is a nice interview; good questions. "Sewphisticate" seems to have a good grip on her career - where it came from and where it is going. I hope it takes off like a rocket! Her items are varied and very pretty. I even ended up purchasing something truly unique, and her follow-up is really good. Now I'm eyeing some of your things, Water Rose! Hmm, this "Etsy" phenomenon is addictive!

woolies said...

great feature, really awesome.

Jackie said...

Thank you for the wonderful and interesting interview and thanks for stopping by to leave a comment on my blog.

I never learnt how to sew as both my Mother and I were career women but now I am retired I am trying at least to develop my creative side with beading jewelery and decoupage.

Bejeweled said...

This is just a splendid interview! Wonderful questions and just such fabulous candid answers. Thank you for such a wonderful feature to read!

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