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Using Fabric To Create Works Of Art

Onanole, Manitoba resident, Bev Crowston, creates works of art out of fabric. Having sewn since she was a child, Crowston remembers ordering fabric from the Eaton’s catalogue, and as a young woman, when she left home, one of the first things she bought for herself was a sewing machine.

In 2006, when Crowston was covering a sabbatical for a colleague in the Yukon, she reconnected with Debbie Verhalle, who helped her to become a quilter. Two evenings a week Verhalle shared her knowledge with Crowston and she completed her first wall hanging, quilt and jacket.

Now that Crowston has retired from her human resources position at Riding Mountain National Park, she has more time to pursue her passion, and she can easily spend 10 hours at a stretch in her fabric-filled studio.

Crowston is drawn to fabric, not only to the colour, but also to the texture, weight, and pattern. She often works with cotton, but loves to include fabric like velvets or silks and can happily spend an entire afternoon in her favourite fabric emporium, the KickAss Country Store in Plumas.

For Crowston, quilting and fabric art are all about the journey and she enjoys the whole process, from pattern and fabric selection, to the sewing and special finishing touches. Sometimes she paints her own fabric with a product from France called Setacolor Paints. Sometimes she does “sun printing,” which is a process that involves the use of a transparent, light-sensitive paint. She paints the fabric and then lays various flat materials, such as leaves, over the wet paint. When the fabric dries under very bright light and because the paints are photosensitive, the object’s image is left behind.

When you are passionate and enthusiastic about something, learning is never over. Crowston has participated in the Minnedosa Quilt Guild, that meets twice a month and a weekend-long Quilters’ Getaway in Gimli.

Does Crowston ever get tired or frustrated with a project?

“Yes, of course,” she said. “When I die I hope I have a huge stack of unfinished projects, because what that means is that I set them aside and went on to something much more fun! If you’re not happy with a project, why spend time on it? Where’s the joy in that?”

Crowston likes to know who the piece she’s working on is going to, and thinks about that person while she’s sewing. That’s why she prefers commission work.

Bev Crowston can be contacted at 204-848-7354. – Candy Irwin writes from Lake Audy, Manitoba

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