Diane Savona could be the poster girl for this year’s Fiber College theme: Re-Use, Re-Design, Re-Create. Her work is remarkable, whimsical, and fantastic! Plan to be immediately drawn into her fabulous work and then you’ll want to track down every local yard sale, visit that nearby antique shop, and root through that old trunk in your attic, too! You can’t possibly look at the world in the same way after meeting Diane and seeing her marvelous creations. Diane will be teaching Stitching Under the Surface on Friday, September 8 from 9AM to 4PM. Let’s meet Diane and then you can sign up for her class here.
Fiber College chooses a new theme each year. For 2017, it’s Re-Use, Re-Design, Re-Create. How do you incorporate any part of this theme into an important part of your life?
My art comes from garage sales. At these neighborhood equivalents of archaeological digs, I unearth items that were once common in our homes – pincushions, darning eggs, crochet hooks – but are now almost extinct. The old tablecloths and damask napkins (all cotton and linen!) soak up my dyes. When I sew, I feel like I’m collaborating with a past generation of women.
Tell us how you entered into the world of fiber and the fiber arts.
Long ago, I did stone & wood carving…which you really can’t do around an infant. So when my son was born, I discovered what women have known since prehistoric times: fiber work. Yes, you can sew while he plays, stitch at soccer games, and carry it with you to work on it everywhere. Thanks, kid!
Reusing materials can be great fun, exciting, or perhaps frustrating. How/What have you re-used as an artist?
Computer parts, old telephones, pens, cassettes, typewriter parts, jewelry, used ink cartridges, vacuum tubes, an abacus, parts of small plastic toys, old remote controls, every sort of safety pin, clothes pin, bobbin, button, kitchen tools, electric plugs…if you have a good handsaw to cut items down, you can embed almost anything under cloth!
What’s the best piece of advice a mentor has ever given to you?
When I gave my sister a wooden sculpture that I had carved, she cut it in half, and hung the 2 halves. After my initial shock, I realized: I gave it to her, it belonged to her, and she could do whatever she liked with it. It really liberated my attitude toward my art. She’s also the one who taught me to make stick-and-string sculptures on the beach at low tide. There’s no possibility of permanence, so you have to work in the moment!
Tell us about a time that you developed an exciting idea for your fiber art; where did the idea come from? What inspired you?
In San Francisco, telephone poles are covered with garage sale signs, one on top of another, until they form thick layers of information. I took photos, and then googled ‘telephone poles’ which eventually led me to kiosks – the old rounded structure pasted with flyers – and their history. And I decided I had to make a kiosk of information, a structure that would question what sort of information we make public and which facts we try to keep private. I dug into my stash of old computer parts and plastic lettering (the magnetic ones you have on your fridge for kids) and went to Goodwill to get gray T-shirts and sweaters. Then I spent months handsewing lettering and keyboards under the fabric, until I had enough to cover an 8 ft. tall chicken-wire frame.
If you could re-design your life as a fiber artist, what would that look like?
I get to do my art all day, every day (well, pretty darn close). What else would I want?
What or who has had the greatest impact on your work as an artist?
My husband, Jeff. His name should be next to the word ‘supportive’ in the dictionary. He’s the man who said, “We don’t use the dining room all that often, and you need a studio…” and, he didn’t blink an eye when my studio grew past the dining room and took over half the living room. Jeff understands that I have 3 different irons, but his shirts have to go to the cleaners. He had the attic refinished as a climate controlled storage space for my art. He’s a brave man: he sleeps with a woman who sews in bed. And all he asks in return is that I don’t cut up any of his clothing without asking first.
How does your art recreate YOU? What does that feel like?
My art is an addiction: I love it, I need to do it. Sitting on the porch with a cup of tea and my sewing is paradise!
If you could go back in time, what might you change about your fiber journey?
Hey, it would have been great if I could have dropped the day job sooner….
What’s the most important thing that you want potential students to know about you?
I’m a firm believer in Good Enough. Stitches do NOT have to be tiny or neat – they need to hold the cloth.
K.S.—So, was I right? Aren’t you just itching to find some goodies in your attic or some souvenirs from a special trip so you can create your own fantastic piece? Sign up for Diane’s class here!