Meet the Maker: textile artist Sheila Barrow

26th February, 2020 | 0 comments

In this regular feature we speak to one of the members of the Wessex Guild to find out a bit more about them and their craft, techniques and inspirations.

How did you start doing your craft? What inspired you?

A textile artist called Alison Holt was my inspiration for taking up textile work. I met her briefly at a craft fair in Farnham. She had the same sewing machine as me, so I watched her working, using a darning foot to create beautiful, free machine embroideries on silk. After that I decided to give it a try.

What relevant experience or qualifications do you have?

I began with silk painting using free machine embroidery to enhance the work. Then, with some persuasion from a friend, I decided to embark on a four-year City and Guilds course in stitched textiles, followed by a two year diploma.

What do you do and where do you do it? Do you have an interesting workspace or location?

I now use many of the techniques gained through my qualifications to produce unique textural pictures. Fabric, paper, paint, dyes and free machine embroidery are all employed in various ways to produce large and small pictures.

I work in a room overlooking the garden at one end of a large rectangular table. My sewing machine is a very basic Bernina. I only ever use a zig-zag or straight stitching in my work.

What is unique about your work? Do you use special methods or make unusual products?

I sometimes use old dressmaking patterns and tea bags; both of these papers can make a lovely background for paint and stitch when bonded onto fabric. I like to create atmosphere and depth to my work, so often many layers are needed to create the desired affect. Each piece is a journey of discovery and is unique.

Have you exhibited somewhere prestigious or sold internationally?

I find it really satisfying to sell my work to people who enjoy looking at pieces of stitched art. Many pieces are hanging in places around the globe, from Russia to America, in Europe  and the UK, so I feel very privileged and honoured that so many people like my work.

Can you tell us the story behind a special artwork you made?

I have created many pieces for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays, each one giving me a new and exciting challenge.

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