Melanie Testa asks on her blog, every-single-day:
My questions to those of you who also make cloth:
Do you use your cloth as soon as it is finished?
And I answer:
Sometimes, it depends on how the cloth turns out, and if I was making it with a certain use in mind. I'd say 75% of the time I'm just dyeing or painting to fill out my color palette. The rest of the time, when I'm doing additional processes over the dyeing, it is either just for fun, to see if I can do it, or in the spirit of curiosity "what will happen if I do this?".
Do you make cloth as art and not "use" it?
Yes. I do that intentionally sometimes. Also there are some pieces that come out so great that I can't imagine not just stopping there and calling it art. I guess I was greatly influenced by Complex Cloth by Jane Dunnewold, one of the early advocates of "art cloth." Most of the time though, I'm aiming to use the cloth as a major part of my art.
Do you hoard it?
Definitely! I have several plastic storage boxes of cloth that I can't get over just having and keeping all to myself. Which would be the definition of hoarding I think! I find them inspiring to go back and look through, like a scrapbook of where I've been, what I've learned.
Is it difficult to cut into?
Sometimes. But if I find myself hesitating to use a piece, I'll make sure I take a picture of it before I cut into it, document how I made it (including a small sample). That way I'm reasonably reassured that I'll be able to if not duplicate, at least come close to replacing it.
If you use your cloth, do you feature it in your work or does it become another color in your palette?
I'd say the majority of the time I consider the cloth as just another color in my working palette. A lot of my recent work is made entirely with fabric that I've colored myself, and I find those to be the most satisfying to me as an artist. It feels good to me to be able to say (to myself), yes I made this from start to finish (Except for growing the cotton, processing it and weaving the fabric, I'm not going overboard here!)
But there are several pieces that I've made with the intention to feature the cloth itself or the cloth has demanded a certain design, etc. Listen to your fabric is my advice.
Good questions Melanie, thanks, they got me thinking!