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33 ome ancient fabrics used for ceremonial purposes are carefully preserved and pro-tected in museums around the world. The Paracas textiles, discovered in Peru in the 1920s, are brightly dyed alpaca and llama wool cloths believed to have been made more than 2,000 years ago and used to wrap mummified bodies. Examples are show-cased in museums from England to Brooklyn. Modern techniques have allowed new forms of textile art to emerge. Today’s fabric art is often admired for its bold, graphic style, reflecting contemporary design within ancient methods. Mattison, a member of Wilmington’s Quilters by the Sea Guild, uses modern techniques in her art. She started by taking sewing classes, then moved to quilting after retiring from her career as an anesthesiologist. Her inspira-tion came from working with other quilters who did not follow the traditional quilting methods — quilters who believed that fabric could be a medium, just like paint. “The newest trends in fabric art encompass a wide range of creating surface design with paint, dye, thread painting, and an individual expression instead of a pattern,” Mattison says. “Photography and computer graphic applications are used more often. You can print your images on full-size fabric now.” But her work also employs some of the older techniques. The same quilters who saw textile craft as a way to create art employ the traditional methods of dyeing materials by hand, and use scrap and found materials to complete their vision. Hand dyeing creates a one-of-a-kind color that can be closely matched but rarely duplicated, increasing both the value and also the personal elements of the art itself. By incorporating recycled materials into her work, Mattison is carrying on the legacy of traditional textile arts. “I use all these techniques as well as dye-ing my own fabric, especially silk organza,” Mattison says. “I use this transparent fabric to shade and shadow in layers. This has added subtlety and dimensionality to my work. I can dye a wide range of colors that can’t be found in a store. I also incorporate upholstery and prom dress fabric. Every piece needs a little shine.” Dream Walker, 36 x 24 inches, fabric quilt, by Patricia Mattison. www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com WBM


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