Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cas Holmes Workshop

Unfinished piece - needs lots of stitching
Cas Holmes, UK Textile Artist and Teacher
Paper, Cloth, Text and Image Workshop
April 4-7, 2014 at SEFAA
Fabric collage wet with paste 

Wow. Cloth and Paper. I have wanted to learn about this for such a long time. And I learned so much more than I anticipated.

Day 1 - Introductions to each other and to our media. Preliminary creation of components for our samples. Great creative exploration. Sketching homework. Some pieces left to dry.

Day 2 - Assembly of components to produce samples. Also some deconstruction. Stitching and sketching too. Sketching and stitching homework. Tried a little free motion stitching. Oh my goodness, so much easier that it ever was before when I tried.

Day 3 - Challenges for each of us, based on our particular interests and passions. My challenge - to incorporate one of my samples into a garment.

As it happened, of my many samples, only the one above was composed entirely of fabric. All the others contained paper and so would not be appropriate for a garment. This one sample started out as a collaged 9 patch. In order to actually use it, I tore it into three strips.

Well, actually let me back up. When Cas first suggested that I make a garment on day 3, my reaction was - what? you don't mean now, do you? Sure, she says, you can do it.

So next I suggested that I probably would not have enough fabric. But when I held it up, well, there was no denying that it might be just enough.

It is a soft fabric of unknown fiber content, maybe cotton or linen or a combination, something that has aged in my stash for a while. Almost surely a natural fiber. Lovely to work with, to stitch, to press, to manipulate. The selvage is pretty, I think, with one red and one navy thread running through this wheat colored fabric.

It tears easily so I was able to tear 4 rectangles - the front and the back (torn strategically to place the pretty selvage at the hem), and the two sleeves.

I used Cas's sweater to roughly trace a neckline. She suggested the slit opening to make it easier to slip on and off. Sewing friend and Cas's host, Lucretia, contributed a pretty button.

The sample's base was the same fabric, so I backed it in order to create a frame with denim-like shirting. After assembling the tunic pieces, and while it was still flat (before the side seams), I experimented with placement of the three strips. Finally I pinned it all together and Cas slipped it on.

I did take it home incomplete. Cas gave a lecture to a larger group the very next evening and I bravely (foolishly?) promised her that she could wear it for her lecture. She offered me one of her gorgeous pieces of art in return! Mostly the work at home was finishing the seam edges and securing the collage pieces with more stitch. I could not bear to think that this delightful artist's trade would involve a garment subject to coming apart.
I was so very thrilled with this transaction that nothing could stop me. And, truthfully, it was a blast from start to finish. So energizing. And now I'm ready to do more. 

I am thinking that Cas is a very gifted teacher. Yes, she is definitely the best kind of teacher - the kind that can pull something very unexpected from an old student.

Tea and Friendship by Cas Holmes
Cas models the final tunic!

I am planning to stitch and perhaps disassemble/reassemble my many other samples to create art pieces. And I'm anxious to assemble more samples with just fabric.

I love the idea of using these in garments.

Many, many thanks to Cas Holmes, artist and teacher extraordinaire!

Also thanks to my classmates for offering encouragement, as well as inspiration while sharing your talents and work with me. What a gift.


  1. What a great experience for you! It sounds like Cas really challenged you, and you came through with a very creative garment. I love the ways you used the bands of patches. Very clever. You've inspired me to think outside the box!

  2. Thankyou for the credit Martha. Delighted with the tunic. Your garment making is the true inspiration