Shira Singer is passionate about color and design. She creates stunning fabric with a wide variety of techniques including dyeing, resist and layering techniques, block printing, marbling, quilting, and more. Shira travels to meet artisans in other countries, and loves to learn from them. We are thrilled to have Shira join us at Fiber College this year. We can’t wait to see Shira’s students’ spectacular, unique fabrics that are sure to wow us! Let’s meet Shira.
Who are you? Tell us about your fiber journey.
As a child I always loved making things, whether it was creating a collage with colorful bits of tissue paper, glueing crushed stones to wood to make a mosaic, or fashioning clothing and accessories for dolls and stuffed animals from scraps of fabric and sheets of kleenex. It was a batik class that I attended not long after graduating from college that kindled a passion for putting color on cloth that has endured for more than 30 years.
I am particularly drawn to textile traditions from around the world and seeing fabrics from different cultures has often been the inspiration for my desire to explore a specific technique or medium. I am captivated by resist dyeing methods and block printing from Africa, Japan, India, as well as marbling on fabric, which was a particular passion for a number of years.
I enjoy using multiple surface design methods in my work, building up layers of pattern and color. I primarily work on silk and cotton and all the cloth I use starts out white. A recent six month stay in India was a marvelous feast for the eye as I was surrounded by exquisite pattern and riotous color on cloth every single day.
What’s integral to your work as an artist?
What I find integral to my work as an artist is quite simply making time for it, which is often not that simple to do. I find that allowing time to experiment and explore with no expectation of a final product is essential to my creative process and is something I have to value and recognize as important.
What’s your favorite piece of work that you have created?
One of my favorite pieces is a product of valuing the time spent in exploration and experimentation and also contains autobiographical elements. “Phases of Time” includes a variety of screen printing processes as well as block printing, drawing, and painting. It also includes photos (transferred to fabric) of me and my middle school friends taken in those old drugstore photo booths. It captures both the “faces” and “phases” of time passing.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
If I had to choose a tool or tools that I would always want with me, it would be needle and embroidery floss. I use floss for embroidery and embellishment, for book binding, for stitching on fabric and paper. It is something I always travel with, whether by car, bus, or plane. If I have those tools and fabric or paper I can always create.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
A piece of advice that has always remained with me was given by the late Master Metalsmith, Fred Woell, with whom I took a workshop for art educators at Haystack School of Crafts a number of years ago. He said that when you take time to clean your studio, organize your art supplies and tools, and prepare your space, you are in fact working in your studio. I had always considered those aspects as separate from, rather than a part of the creative process. His words totally reframed the way I looked at “getting ready” to make art and “making art,” connecting them for me as part of the same continuum. Now when I clean my studio I see myself as engaged in the beginning of the artistic process.
What inspired you to become a fiber artist?
I have been fortunate to experience a wide variety of fabric and fiber mediums, both through experimentation on my own and through classes or workshops. All of these things—from admiring the work of artisans from around the world to striving to learn some of the processes of fabric dyeing, quilting, silk painting, embroidery, marbling—have led me down the path of becoming a fiber artist and pursuing a passion that continues to ever evolve and grow.
Shira, we look forward to traveling with you during our Fiber College journey!