Fabric artist takes Picasso-esque view

Carrie Hinds, of Funky Fabric Art in Grand Junction, holds one of her latest creations, “Flowers! For Me?” It sells for $195. You can see more of Hinds’ art on her website, carriehinds.com or contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Dogs are artist Carrie Hinds’ favorite subject, and they are her best-sellers, too, she says. This piece titled “Peace, Love and Dog Cookies” is displayed at Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade. Photo special to the Sentinel

“Brown-Eyed Girl” sells for $325 and is on display at Interiors in downtown Grand Junction.

Hinds used watercolor pencils to shade the sky and accent the darker edges of the sign in “Goldcrest Motel,” at left, which sells for 
$449 at Interiors.

“Buffalo Bison” is one of Carrie Hinds’ larger pieces of fabric art. Its price is listed at $558. You can see it at Interiors in Grand Junction.

Carrie Hinds looks at life through a fun-house mirror.

“I don’t like things to be symmetrical,” she says of her Funky Fabric Art designs, a fledging but promising business this Grand Junction resident started three years ago.

From a Fibers class at what was then Mesa State College under instructor Deborah Snider, Hinds discovered a new outlet for expression. With a distorted style not unlike Pablo Picasso’s cubism (Hinds admits she is influenced by his work), she blends lightheartedness with bright-colored cloth, finishing her portraits, animals and flowers with beads and buttons.

Dogs are her favorite subject, and they tend to be her best-sellers. Ravens have been popular with buyers, as well. Hinds’ funky art pieces, all professionally framed, are available at the Blue Pig Gallery in Palisade, at Interiors in downtown Grand Junction and at the KAFM Radio Room. She also works on commission and has a cat piece in progress now.

Last winter, Hinds was featured as an “emerging artist” in Grand Valley magazine, and her art, “Wired,” recently appeared in the April/May issue of the national Quilting Arts magazine. Her 8-inch by 10-inch entry in the Quilting Arts’ Reader Challenge, “Coffee or Tea,” was highlighted along with her quote about a definite preference for beans over leaves:

“I am ‘wired’ after having my coffee in the morning. I feel like my hair is on fire, my brain is coming up with a bazillion great ideas a minute, and I can complete all of them today.”

Hinds’ ideas for art do seem endless, as she plans future subjects — a Great Dane, roosters, women wearing big hats, the backs of red Adirondack chairs by a white sandy beach.

Always she watches for an offbeat style, particularly drawn to asymmetry. People joke that everything in her house sets at an angle, “the bed, the couch, chairs and the TV,” Hinds says.

Bold color figures prominently in her decorating scheme, too. As she describes a blue and green living room, orange and red bedrooms and a yellow kitchen, I envision her being happy living in a box of Crayolas.

Her technique is called blind contour drawing ­— sketching the outline of a subject, usually from a photograph she has taken herself, in a steady, continuous line without lifting her pencil or looking at the paper. Whatever the outcome, Hinds then manipulates her sketch or “plays with it.”

“I always want to tweak it, try to see the image in a different way,” she explains.

Next, Hinds enlarges the sketch and draws her design on muslin with a black Elmer’s Painters Opaque Paint marker, which also doubles as the outline for each finished element. Batiks, shiny fabrics, scraps, even a green linen background snipped from recycled pants purchased at Heirlooms for Hospice becomes part of her quilts. Assembling the parts with fusible paper-backed webbing called Wonder-Under, she separately cuts out each piece and fits it around the one before, so that her finished design consists of only one layer of fabric.

True to her unconventional style, Hinds developed a method for borders that wraps the excess backing fabric to the front, rolls it over, irons it and stitches down the jagged edges, usually with a zigzag.

She says she is still perfecting her quilting stitches, but that aspect improved considerably once Hinds advanced from “my mom’s old sewing machine” to a modern new Janome.

The difference in the two machines, she says, “is like you were driving a Mac truck, and then started driving a Porsche.”

With her machine, Hinds creates different surfaces and texture with satin stitches, likes leaving some areas open to add dimension and attaches the various pieces of her designs with raw-edge appliqué.

“I love the (raw-edge) look,” she says, pointing to a frayed yellow edge against a darker portion. “Raveled fabrics create texture and tension.”

Tension in her art? That’s desirable.

But tension in the workplace? Not so much.

Creating art is relegated to evenings and weekends, Hinds says.

By day, her profession is social work, specifically as care coordinator at Primary Care Partners.

Her past education includes graphic design at the Colorado Institute of Art. When she enrolled in the Fibers class at the college, she hoped it would relieve stress.

But the doors it has opened since, from expressing her off-kilter creativity to discovering a paying audience, have been “a great experience,” Hinds says.

I had previously admired her Funky Fabric Art at the Blue Pig, and after spending some time with Hinds, I’m feeling less restricted in my own quilt art.

Nowhere is it written in stone, for instance, that bindings must be perfectly straight, uniformly filled with exactly the precise amount of batting, and all four corners identically mitered.

How refreshing.

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