Wordplay & Puns with a Whimsical Streak


November 9 until February 24 2024. On display in conjunction  with  Elissa Steeves exhibit: “Bag Lady”


Karin Tauber: The Fairy HouseWhat is the difference between fiber art and a quilt?  A quilt can be washed.  Fiber art pieces are meant to be hung on the wall and often have embellishments like beads or fragile fabrics that could fray.  They are technically quilts in that they have three layers, a decorative top, a backing, and a filler in between.  The quilting can be done either by machine or by hand, and some artists mix the two in the same piece.  The machine lends itself to more complex designs, so don’t make the mistake of thinking it takes away from the artistry.

Textile Artists of Virginia (TAVA) has an exhibit of fiber art at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History entitled, “Wordplay and Puns with a Whimsical Streak.”  The title comes from two separate themes the group of about 30 artists pursued.  The Wordplay and Puns series features fabrics that were color altered by the artists, and the word “dye” appears in the title of each piece such as “Dyeverse Marine Life” or “Dyeing to Escape Covid.”  The Whimsical Streak pieces all have a humorous side that could take the form of goddesses, mermaids, playful goats, bugs, a grandchild steering a boat, or a still life that isn’t still.

Gloria Smith: Beauty is in the Dye of the Beholder

The TAVA group of artists often get together and explore new (or old) techniques such as dyeing with indigo.  Indigo produces beautiful blue colors that change as the dye solution becomes oxygenated.  In another session the artists tried ice dyeing.  Ice cubes are laid on fabric, and dye powder is sprinkled over the top.  As the ice melts, some of the dye filters down to stain the fabric.  Sometimes dye is not added but taken away.  Discharged pieces are made by using bleach to remove part of the dye from fabric resulting in interesting patterns and shades.  Some artists paint directly on the fabric or use stamps to add new images.  Natural materials like leaves can be rolled up in fabric and steamed to transfer the pigments.  Painting with rust involves rolling rusty objects in fabric and adding an acid like vinegar to make them rust even more.  After a few days, the fabric is washed to remove debris and stop the process before it destroys the fabric.

Fiber art has a lot of texture, and much of it comes from embellishments, which might take the form of beads, additional gauzy fabrics, buttons, almost anything.  Sometimes embroidery is applied to a piece.  A heat gun was used to attack a piece of embroidery, partially melt it, and turn it into something that looks like coral.  The creativity involved in these fiber art pieces is amazing.

Additional examples from TAVA can be found on their website textileartistsofva.com.


Meryl Ann Butler : See Peace…Find Bliss…Live Joy! Love, Myla

Dee Ann Mims : Random Thoughts

Carol Monti : Nice Dye

Participating artists:

Blackburn Arlene Karin Tauber
Adrienne Linda Carol Kathy Sevebeck
Anne Panella Laura Post
Barbara Zubler Linda Black
Carol Monti Martha Mabry
Dee Ann Mims Meryl Ann Butler
Gail Billingsley Paula Golden
Gloria Smith Sue Davis
Gwen Goepel Tina Freudenberger
Judy Madigan