I am a fiber artist, working with dyes, fabric and threads.  I’ve been at this for quite some time having evolved from a traditional quilter to where I am now.  I am always attracted to textures, lines and gradations, so these are the areas that I explore.

I’ve had several teachers who have influenced me.  Ann Johnston introduced me to the medium.  Jane Dunnewold expanded my knowledge through her master classes and this last May a two week intensive class with Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan has pushed me forward.  My sessions with Suzanne Edtminster taught me the value of layering.

Dyeing is a chemical reaction between the color and the fabric.  I use Procion dyes with a soda ash fixer.  Both the soda ash and the dye have to be present.  I apply the dye to the fabric in either a thick, paint like viscosity or in a liquid state.  Then there has to be at least a four hour wait as the chemical reaction takes place.  Afer this I wash out the excess dyes, iron and ponder my next move.  When there is dye in the fabric I can use a discharge medium, a type of bleach, to remove the color.  There will be some kind of ghost color after this process.  This is a lot like water color – I can never get back to white.

For me the exciting part of this process is deciding on how and where to apply the dyes and then seeing the results as I iron out the piece.  Then deciding again and again until the piece says “enough”.

Cathy Shanahan