Creative threads fill studio
Threads, both real and invisible, run through Ruth Ann Feild’s 970West Studio space.
Her sewing machine is set up so she can watch the people and cars passing on Fifth Street. Nearby is a white quilt with Grand Junction’s streets drawn out and landmarks noted. There are spools of thread in a variety of colors, stacks of folded fabric and a wooden ironing board for visitors to sign.
And then there are the unseen creative-idea threads, and it’s nearly impossible to not get tangled up in those while talking with Feild.
“This is such a cool program,” Feild says. “I’m inspired! My creative level has gone sky high.”
Coming from Feild, that is significant because visiting with Feild is to find yourself spun around and saturated in ideas and projects, which are likely linked to the fiber arts, but could also be about books or one of her “finds” — a giant Smokey Bear poster or heavy antique bar complete with a mysterious bullet hole and discovered in some mountain town — or buttons. She loves buttons.
Feild is the current Mesa County Libraries’ 970West Studio artist in residence. Her art quilts can be found locally on the walls of St. Mary’s Hospital and the Mesa County Justice Center, and there’s also one hanging in Sen. Michael Bennet’s office in Washington, D.C. It is quilt of Colorado, and “I beaded all the 14ers,” she says.
While her residency involves art quilting, it goes beyond to include fiber art projects for both adults and children.
Last week, she led a Wefty fabric-weaving class for adults in which fabric strips were used to create a tumbling block pattern.
Next week, she’ll be doing flower pounding with kids. That’s a project she did more than 15 years ago when her children were younger and she was a “professional room mother” at their school.
You tape a thin flower or leaves to a square of fabric that is specially prepared for dye. You flip the fabric over and use a smooth river rock to tap or “pound” on the areas where the flower or leaves are taped.
As you pound, the pattern and colors of the flower or leaves transfer to the fabric.
“It’s interesting what colors you get,” she says.
A deep pink flower or green leaf often transfers pretty true to the original color, but light pink often shows up as a brown.
When the pounding is complete, Feild usually sets the colors by running a hot iron over the fabric, “but maybe they can do that at home,” Feild says. “The heat will set the dye.”
From this project Feild will move on to showing kids how to design a quilt block in July and making pompoms and tassels for bookmarks in August.
Between events, Feild will work on a couple bigger art quilt projects.
The first one, the aforementioned white quilt with Grand Junction’s streets drawn out, can already be seen taking shape in a corner of the studio.
She plans to take the quilt to her library events so members of the community can mark their favorite spot in Grand Junction with their initials or a button.
One red button already is on the map. It’s the “you are here” button locating the Central Library, she says.
Feild’s other bigger project will be a quilt highlighting the national parks in Colorado. “I’m doing my sketching now,” she says.
“I love the cross-section of a tree,” she says, so the quilt will likely have a design spinning off of that.
She also wants to incorporate a timeline made from a navy blue ribbon speckled with white stars and buckles as the tick marks.
She picked the theme because the National Park Service centennial year technically isn’t over until late August and to encourage interest in the outdoors.
“There is a lot to explore right around you,” she says.
As Feild works on these projects, members of the community are welcome to visit her at 970West Studio. Her studio hours are from 9 a.m. to noon each Monday through Aug. 14 (except for July 3, when the library is closed).
She has a craft for kids to do — it involves felt, a golf tee and a spool of thread, of course — and all are welcome to sign her wooden ironing board.
Feild will explain what she’s up to, and no doubt you’ll find your own creative threads.