My Textile Obsessions

When I started using textiles, I bought most of my supplies out of the clearance bin. This was great for experimentation and my wallet as I dived into this new medium. I went home with baskets of offcuts in a variety of colours and finishes, and now months later - they sit in a bin in the corner of my apartment. I search through for each new sculpture I work on, and yet there are some fabrics that I never reach for. 


By making study after study, I realized that there is some fabric that I just don’t like. It did not matter if the colour was vibrant, or had a dynamic pattern, those stiff starchy fabrics became a massive turn off. 

No matter the size of the form, or the length of the stitch - they just looked wrong. The fabric limited the flow of the form, it controlled the shape making it rigid, and nonorganic - which was everything I did not want these works to be. 


I needed the forms to feel as if they were growing. That there was some freedom within their oversized floppy form. So they could become disfigured over time, have creases, or slouch against walls if needed. I want the forms to be able to adapt to their environments. At first, I thought the stiffness was due to the size of the form or the type of stuffing I used, but it was the fabric that held the work back. 


After creating my first piece in a new series (you can view it here on my Instagram), I discovered what was missing all this time: thin transparent fabric. It allowed the piece to appear as if it was breathing, even forever growing as the fabric allowed some polyfill to pass through. I became obsessed with how it invites the viewer to look into the piece, to see the excess fabric I forgot to cut off and the clumps of stuffing that I did not spread evenly. The piece began to become organic in shape, to relax within its material, and to call back to the inspiration of the work - menstrual pads. 


This is not to say that stiff fabric or other varieties will never find its way into my future works - they just won’t make up a large portion of it. I learned through experimentation that having tulle, or organza, or any similar fabric as the base of the sculpture creates the needed effect. I want to continue to explore these materials more, so if you have any suggestions on what I should try next let me know! 


I found this wild fabric yesterday (pictured below) at Affordable textiles, and I cannot wait to use it! So go follow me on Instagram to see what it will transform into. 


- Sarah Zanchetta


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