Typography (the style and appearance of printed matter) has always held a fascination for me as I know it does for many artists so when it was selected as one of the themes for our sixteenth exchange, I was thrilled. It is amazing how many countless ways a letter can be designed — add artist elements and you can truly have a work of art. I kept thinking of different ways I could play with typography in an interesting and fun way within the 4″ x 6″ format. Since I love to write, words kept popping into my mind until finally the idea of doing a ransom note created from cut up letters from magazines popped into my head. You would have thought this would be an easy task. Alas, it took nearly six hours and many magazines for me to complete my ransom note. I was happy. Next step was to scan it, reverse the image and use TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) to create the five postcards I needed for the trade. I decided to use a tone-on-tone white fabric to give them a little more interest. I am looking forward to the chocolate!
Maureen Egan lives in Westfield, Massachusetts, with her husband, Glen Ebisch.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I enjoy fashion sewing, machine embroidery, making quilts and wearable art, knitting, silk painting, and of course, creating fiber postcards. I also enjoy teaching occasional classes in local quilt shops, and I have published numerous articles in FiberArts, Designs in Machine Embroidery, and The Quilter magazines.
Why did you join Postmark’d Art?
I joined Postmark’d Art at the encouragement of Franki Kohler. I had learned about and been a member of Art2Mail a few years earlier when researching an article for FiberArts magazine. I quickly discovered the fun and creativity of postcard exchanges. It never fails to brighten my day when the mail contains a fabric postcard!
When did you start making postcards?
I made and mailed my first fabric postcard in 2007. “Fiber Art in the Mail” (2006), the article I wrote for FiberArts magazine, is viewable on the Interweave Press website. Although, regrettably, the magazine ceased publication in 2011, an archive of selected FiberArts articles is maintained. I feel honored that my article is among them, in the Genres and Markets category. I also published a how-to article on using embroidery software to create machine embroidered postcards (“Say It With Thread”, Designs in Machine Embroidery, Jan/Feb, 2007).
How do you display your postcards?
I keep a selection of postcards in photo frames, as a sort of “ongoing exhibit” and change them periodically.
What have been some of your favorite themes?
It’s very hard for me to choose favorites, because each theme has offered its own creative opportunities, and I have enjoyed them all. In “Doors” and “Photo to Fabric,” I experimented with photo editing software, and for “Fruits,” I made original artwork on my iPod Touch. I combined fabric painting and machine embroidery for “Flowers,” had fun with fusible appliqué for “Picasso,” and brought watercolor and silk painting to “Paul Klee.” I digitized my own machine embroidery designs for “Sight” and “Fish.” Each and every theme has been a delight to try.
Tell me about your other interests.
Although I very much enjoy working in small scale to make fabric postcards, my interests extend to many other media and sizes of projects, too. I like working large scale, too, as in my “Millennium Triptych” of three 2,000-piece quilts. Fashion sewing was my earliest fabric interest, and I still like to make clothing. The “little black dress” is a recent project. Painting on silk is a very rewarding medium for making scarves or creating small works for framing. “Sunset on Cape Cod” translates a vacation photograph into fabric for the very first fiber art postcard I ever mailed. I sent it to my husband, who keeps it in a little frame on his desk to this day.
You can usually find me in Massachusetts, my home state. It was not the most accommodating shape to incorporate in a postcard, but I had fun with it nevertheless! Of course including our islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. I live right near the tiny “notch” that reaches down into Connecticut.
This month we travel to the Netherlands to visit with Meta Heemskerk. Meta gives us some insight into working in a very small space.
Do you call it a studio or sewing room? To yourself, to friends and family? Why do you think this is so? Difference in starting point between quilting and art? Thinking of this as a business rather than a hobby?
I call my workplace ‘my corner’ as it’s part of our living room, not a separate room. I started out using just the dining table and gradually my corner got filled up. I got more storage space in the form of cupboards and a room divider. We put another dining table behind this room divider, so our living room got a little smaller, but it’s still big enough. My corner of the room measures four by four meters. Far too small for all my stuff, but I manage. I have boxes underneath the tables, in which I store fabrics and other supplies.
I’ve never done any traditional quilting. I made an attempt three years ago, but I soon found out that it wasn’t for me, working so precisely. I then discovered art quilting and other forms of fiber art. It started out as a hobby but I spend so much time on it, that I could think of it as work now.
What do you have in the room? machines, supplies, fabrics, paints, etc. Anything that might surprise the rest of us?
In my work corner I have a large table and a smaller one. On the large one I do the cutting, designing and sewing. On the smaller table I do my ‘wet work’. I have a Bernina sewing machine, which I love, and an embellisher, which I use occasionally. My computer is also in my work corner; when I’m working at my table and I hear an email come in, all I have to do is turn my chair and I can answer it straight away.
Do you have anything, supplies, more machines, etc. tucked away in any other rooms of the house ? How many other rooms? (My husband likes to talk about that one.) Has a family member or significant other ever accused you of “taking over” the entire house?
I keep all the ‘messy materials’ in the kitchen and scullery and we recently had an extension roof built, so, weather permitting, I can do the messy work outside, which is great.
We are three of us in our house, my husband, our nineteen year old son and myself. We all have equal amounts of space.
How much horizontal surface do you have, and is it ever enough?
I do have two fairly large tables to work on, but it’s never enough. I must admit I do use the new dining room table now and again, but just for ‘clean’ work. (And the room divider has gradually moved a few inches!)
I never have enough space. I would love to have a separate studio, which isn’t part of the living room and could even be a separate building. On the other hand, having part of the living room as my workspace means I can still be in the same room as my family and do some work at the same time.
Do you straighten/organize as you go, putting each fabric away as you cut, or do you clean up after a project? How many projects do you work on at a time and how do you keep them organized?
I usually work on one project at a time, but this one project usually means that I need my entire work space. I’m not a very organized person and when I’m working it’s quite a mess around me. Whenever this mess becomes too much, even for me, I clean up and sort out all my materials. But it usually isn’t very tidy in my corner.
One of my friends came to visit my house for the first time. She said it was quite an advantage entering our living room via my work corner, as the living area itself looked so tidy, compared to my work corner, which was a nice way to put it!
Anything more you want to add about your studio, organization, working methods, etc., please do.
I usually don’t worry what other people think. It’s my house and as long as my husband and son are happy with my ‘mess’ it’s okay! For me being creative and being tidy don’t go together. (I’m always a little jealous, though, when I see those immaculate studios, shown by some of our members). But I always make sure that, whenever someone is coming round, I do make my corner look ‘presentable’.