In the Artist's Studio with Joyce Brown Textile Artist

By way of introductions I will let the artist tell you about herself - I lifted this off the Fibre Art Network "About" page - "I am a fibre artist with a passion for learning new techniques and utilizing them in my art. Art quilts and landscape quilts have allowed me to use mixed media to design wall hangings, which reflect my joy of life. The opportunity to travel the world has enabled me to integrate the culture and heritage of different nationalities into my work."

I guess we all do it... have an expectation of what you are going to see when visiting somewhere new. I kind of had an idea of what I would see when I entered Joyce Brown's studio but it was more - much more!

I had no idea that after the flood, which devastated so much of her collection of materials and creations, she "took over" the master bedroom for a studio on the main floor. After all who needs all that room, you only sleep in there.

Meet Joyce Brown - fibre artist, teacher & adventurer.
I expected light

Light is always important when working with colour and detail but there was great light! Not only daylight and "true" light fluorescence, there was also camera lighting. She finds it useful when recording teaching segments. Definitely exceeded my expectations.

i expected fabric
Yes indeed - she has a little bit of fabric available

I've visited other quilters and I understand - it's an addiction, they can't help themselves they hoard fabric. No scrap to small to keep, you never can tell when it will be the exact colour you need in a project. Joyce's stash includes more than mere fabric she's got ribbons and batting, baubles and beads, bits and pieces from her travels all that will be worked into her creations sooner or later.

I expected inspiration
There was a wall full

Most of one entire wall was dedicated to thoughts, ideas, samples and possibilities. I asked Joyce if her travels were a big influence on her creations, duh, silly question. What, in the life of any creative, is not influenced by their experiences? She has had some amazing experiences. After our chat I knew I needed to add adventurer to her list of descriptors. Because truly she is one of the most adventurous people I've met.

She explained to me that her underwater creations are directly influenced by the fact that she's a scuba diver and loves the world under the sea. Her time spent backpacking around Africa - yes, I said backpacking around Africa, finds it's way into many pieces she creates.

Can you find the giraffe?

Sometimes she brings home items from her travels because what better way to remember the experience than with a story about where and when this or that was bought.

I expected a teacher

I've known Joyce for awhile now and I knew she had been a school teacher and currently taught quilting classes. What used to be live and in person is now done online via Google Classroom but being a lifelong learner she was not deterred by having to learn to deal with the technology involved and has mastered the art of Covid teaching.

She started early in life, when her mom and aunts taught her sewing, she started making her own clothes while in junior high. After high school she headed to Olds College to study Fashion Design but found herself called away to university to become a teacher and she hasn't stopped. While she still enjoys taking courses the teacher in her prefers to research, plan and prepare to share this classic skill to future generations of quilters and fabric artists.

She creates her own patterns putting her original designs together with traditional quilt patterns. I suspect that takes a mathematical mind, good thing she has that, having been a math teacher in her past life. So I was not surprised by the bookshelf full of reference material, patterns and, of course, more inspiration.

And a few projects hanging around to be finished - did I mention she also weaves?
I expected colour

I understand Joyce's love of fabrics. I love them too and I use to have a hard time in a fabric shop because I wanted them all, but I've learned that I love the colours and designs of the fabric but all the cutting, piecing and sewing is best left to others.

I was not disappointed when it came to colour. Especially when she opened her thread drawers. All I can say is OMG!

Drawers and drawers filled with every colour of the rainbow.

I honestly have never seen such a collection of thread
I expected quilts

Now finally, I didn't see what I expected. I saw bit's and pieces that could become a quilt and I know she makes them (she made her first while in university) but with everything that's going on in her studio there just isn't room to hang a full quilt. That's okay because much as she loves teaching quilting and everything that goes into it, that little something that really fires her up is creating unique pieces of fibre arts. Smaller wall pieces that would not be out of place in any art gallery.

What i didn't expect

Besides the drawers full of beautiful threads I was surprised by her collection of buttons and beads!

Thin strips of paper wrapped around a skewer then glazed for protections - a memory from her adventure in africa
more from africa
and about 100,000 or so buttons
Beads add a touch of light to this design
A family keepsake also full of buttons

From batik on cotton or silk, wet felting and, machine quilting samplers to sashiko - the Japanese art of extending the life of fabric by mending with beautiful stitches, if there is a fibre technique and Joyce learns of it she will try to incorporate it into her creations.

This pentagon house contains Joyce's story and is certainly a testament to the creativity of the artist.

One other thing that Joyce is known for is the vast collection of scarves, toques, aprons, tea towels, book covers, clothesline bowls, face masks, and up-cycled mittens she makes for sale in the Highwood Gallery & Gifts. Before they were made famous by Bernie Sanders our Joyce Brown was providing these fun and funky - stay warm and cuddly - mittens to the residents of High River.

What was old is new again
in conclusion

Whether an artist uses paints on paper, granite and a power chisel, wood and knives, glass and cutters, clay and kiln, camera and computer or, fabric and sewing machine - the medium needs the creativity of the artist, using whatever tools needed to change it's form from what was to what is.

Tools of the trade

To view more works by Joyce Brown - Fibre Artist visit her website at www.joycelbrown.com

She can also be followed on Facebook at Joyce Brown Fibre Creations and on Instagram @joycebrown5109

And of course by visiting Highwood Gallery & Gifts in downtown High River, AB.

Created By
Cathy Bennington


C. J. Bennington Fine Art Photography