Rustbelt Fiberwerks

Mixing ink, sewing, printing, ripping down fabric, stacking yardage on the shelf... I appreciate and enjoy the range of tasks involved with producing a body of work. I relish the feel, texture, depth of color, even the smell of textiles and the ability to lose myself in the buzz of the sewing machine. Using cloth slows what could be a hectic process, which gives me time to make decisions about what to do next. Fibers provide a unique vehicle for interpretation with their tactile nature, vibrant color and endless variety. I select a mix of fabrics and other fibers to get the desired effect on any given piece. The unexpected accidents of working in this medium give results that can be challenging and pleasingly unpredictable. Besides textiles, threads, inks or dyes; whatever materials that fit the situation are used, including photos and miscellaneous findings from the thrift store, nature or the city at large.

I print my own editions. I don’t enjoy relinquishing control to someone else. It is during the printing process that the images evolve and grow. Using dye, screen-printing, mono-printing and stencils, I build up layers of opaque and transparent ink. Most layers are a variety of colors fading into and out of each other. The most successful of my prints have a surface quality which I find hard to match in any other medium, a richness and depth that comes from overlapping layers.

The nicest thing about screen-printing is the way it enables me to easily produce multiples. It is a quick way to work through the process with little commitment and plenty of time to problem solve.  Additionally, it’s a simple way of working with planes of color that, when overlaid, can create a much richer sense of space. The unknown aspect of burning a screen and mixing a dye bath excites me. Whether in a controlled environment like a dark room or under the sun at high noon, either way I give up control. I can stretch the same muslin weave, coat and expose the same mesh screen over and over and never know exactly what I am going to get each time I print. The unpredictable outcome of the printed surface is addictive. It’s that serendipity that keeps me coming back.  

Leah has exhibited at Milwaukee's Mercy Hill Gallery, Walker's Point Center for the Arts and IN:SITE. She has participated in juried arts and crafts fairs such as Art Vs. Craft (Milwaukee), Renegade Craft Fair (Chicago, San Francisco & Brooklyn), ICE (Atlanta), Crafty Wonderland (Portland) , INDIEana Handicraft Exchange (Indianapolis), Crafty Feast (Columbia), Craft Saturday (Des Moines) and Strange Folk Fair (St. Louis), as well as numerous local markets, galleries and boutiques. She holds a fine arts degree  as well as an art history degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.