By Jackie Marsal
I have been “dyeing” to have Candy as our guest for over a year! I recently had my opportunity and I spoke with Candy about her career, her love of color and what inspires her. If you are new to “Candied Fabrics” and creations you are in for a treat! Candy is such a fascinating artist and I am honored to debut her artwork. Enjoy!
How long have you been an art quilter, and what is your favorite part?
I started dyeing fabric 15 years ago. My ability to create fabric that was uniquely my own propelled me from the world of traditional quilting to creating art quilts. This took time, but I’ll say I’ve been working in a style that is uniquely my own for about 8 years now. You know, I think my favorite part is when I get an idea for a new direction to take on future pieces while creating. Although I’ve read so many artists saying “you’ve got to do the work”, only when I finally started getting in a “zone” that leads me from one artistic idea to another did I truly appreciate this fact myself!
Your talent for combining colors is amazing! Is that something we can all learn or is it more on a “cellular” level?
LOL, you are too funny! Although I certainly have studied color theory, and understand the concepts behind it, I don’t necessarily use that information while choosing a set of colors to work with as much as my “gut”. I latch on to a certain color, sometimes becoming quite obsessed with it, and first perfect my ability to dye that color. Then I dye both single and multicolor fabrics that work well with it – this is where some of the color theory gets put into practice. I think the most helpful point I can give someone is to choose colors that you love and THEN pay attention to VALUE, and make adjustments when the value scheme doesn’t support the feel you’re going for in that piece. (Note: I’ve been obsessed with Chartreuse for quite awhile – you’ll see I use that color in every piece pictured in this interview!)
Was there an artist that inspired you in the beginning of your career?
Yes! Melody Johnson! Her art quilts were some of the earliest examples of art quilts that I saw, and they were by far my favorite. I was lucky enough to learn free motion quilting from her at a weekend QSDS class back about 14 years ago now. Later on, her open sharing about how she worked on her blog, Fibermania, provided me with the pieces of the “how do I become an artist?” puzzle I had struggled for years to find.
Apart from creating art, what else do you do within the industry?
I’ve had a wonderful relationship with the folks at Interweave for a few years now. I’ve published over 15 different articles in several of their magazines (like Quilting Arts Gifts and Quilt Scene) and interactive e-mags (In Stitches). I’ve also filmed four episodes of Quilting Arts TV, and I also have a DVD (Dyeing to Stitch: A Comprehensive Guide to Creating Colorful Fabric Art) that I taped for them last summer. I found out just the other day that my “Holiday Row Houses” are featured on the cover of Quilting Arts Gifts 2012/13! I was so excited!
Has biology influenced your art quilting?
The most significant influence my scientific training has had on my art is my approach to fabric dyeing; I measure dyes accurately and have created several charts of fabric swatches that allows me to know how I can repeatedly dye a particular hue. Dye is unlike paint, the color you see in your dye pot or on your wet fabric is not always what you see on the washed and dry fabric. When I become obsessed with a particular color that has to be JUST SO, I will often design an experiment so that I can narrow in on a very specific hue/intensity/texture, and because I’ve recorded how that happened, I can dye that same fabric again and again!
What’s the best advice you could give someone who wants to try dying fabric art for the first time? (Your online classes, of course!!!)
Dyeing fabric (with fiber reactive dyes) is fun, easy, and immensely rewarding! Being able to work with fabrics made by my hands allow my work to be unique, something I find very important! And indeed, I have a series of self-paced online courses (2 are complete, 3 are still in the building state) that have been very well received. I make controlling the process very accessible, breaking down the steps of dyeing into easy understandable segments, and I share all my “secrets” that I’ve learned through the years.
Thanks for having me as your guest! These were fantastic questions, and they brought out a lot of insightful answers, some of which surprised me a bit! Feel free to drop by my blog for a visit sometime, it’s my colorful home on the web! J
To see additional artwork or take a class with Candy go to Candied Fabrics.
We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on Candy and her work!