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Gardner grows art out of silk

Joan Gardner's art is vibrant, innovative and best of all - wearable.

More than 10 years ago, Gardner was intrigued by fiber art and she started out as a weaver.

"I just loved working with fabric and doing things with my hands and so I started weaving," she said.

But then she started working with silk, and she was hooked.

The fabric can be painted, stamped, silk- screened and dyed to make all sorts of patterns.

Silk feels sinfully luxurious; if it were a food, it would have lots of butter and cream in it.

Gardner leans towards abstract when she creates, although a bit of nature may creep in.

"I tend to work in the abstract, but I really like leaves. I like silk because it can be easily manipulated. I use the shibori technique," she said.

Shibori is a Japanese technique similar to tie-dying, but more complex. Artists bind, stitch, fold and twist the fabric and dye it.

"You can fold it, pleat it and clamp it to make areas where the dye doesn't go," Gardner said.

"You can layer the dye for different effects, and sometimes," she said with a smile, "you get something you really like - or something you don't like and you can just dye over it. I like the complexity of layering."

Shibori teaches artists to layer and create using the characteristics of the fiber to get a desired result.

There are several types of shibori. Kanoko shibori involves binding cloth by tying it off.

This technique more closely resembles what is called tie-dying in America only here, typically, rubber bands are used to close off parts of the cloth to make a circular pattern.

Gardner also enjoys working in arashi shibori. Cloth is scrunched or pleated on a pole after it is wrapped with thread.

The pattern that results is a uniform design, but the edges of the design are soft and muted.

Arashi comes from the Japanese word for storm. Patterns of arashi shibori are thought to suggest the driving rain from a storm.

Gardner's arashi shibori creations are lovely, ethereal things.

"I like the idea of emphasizing femininity and making a woman feel more feminine and good about herself," Gardner said.

She's also done wall hangings and fiber collages, but she likes the draped silk clothing creations the best. She also makes accessories, necklaces of dyed silk in irregular shapes, to compliment her clothing.


Story published Friday, July 3, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 4 )

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