The thread that runs through my life is the urge to create, and “thread” is a very appropriate word as I create from fabric and yarn!
I started high school with a summer class, and chose an art course instead of the more “practical” alternative of typing; I taught myself to type at home that summer, useful ever since, but dull!
My college years were spent in pursuing first a biology major, later switching to psychology and a teaching certificate, got a master’s degree in special education which led to doing home-bound tutoring. I mused about becoming an art teacher, but my parents discouraged that direction. But what I kept from my college period are sketch pads, and I never had my own classroom.
When my children were young, I explored 3-D work, making complex geometric shapes which adorned our home for a while. Acquiring a sewing machine, I began making clothing for myself, my three sons, and occasionally for my husband. My grandmother had introduced me to crochet when I was 9, I picked up knitting probably in Girl Scouts, and at some point in my 20’s took up crochet hook and knitting needles to make items like potholders and knitted hats.
As the kids went through high school, I returned to school myself to pick up a degree in computer science. This elevated me from doing temp secretarial jobs to full-time positions in programming, where I eventually specialized in database development. Weekends still saw me at the sewing machine, and knitting during evening TV or at social occasions, but there never seemed time enough to do what I liked doing.
Impetus to Start Fabric Collages
At one point in the 90’s, my husband Curt returned from a conference bringing me some fabric, one piece with dramatic ocean waves in turquoise and white, another of a medley of green leaves. I made a summer top of the first, a shirt with the second, but the scraps insisted they belonged in a picture! The result was a pair of placemats given to my parents after their move to an assisted-living facility in 1996 — but they ended up on their wall, not their table!
While I continued to sew clothing, I began experimenting with things like doll clothes made from the scraps. It was only after both my parents were gone, and the placemats were back in my hands, that I began more collage work. Curt thought the mats could be gifts to a friend; I said absolutely not, and made three pictures for various friends. This started me on a whole new avenue of creating; I began more and more selecting fabrics for shirts, for both of us and the occasional friend, with an eye to using the leftover pieces in collages.
Now we both have more shirts than we need, but fat quarters are readily available to provide me with textures I would not care for in clothing but may quite well fit the current work.
Now, the Right-Brain Life!
In the fall of ’04, I began to reach the burn-out point in the programming world, and with the financial security to take some time off, I left my job to pursue my own business, and so Tobi Collage Etc. began. Another job came along in spring of 2015, a part-time one at Sewfisticated Discount Fabrics, a wonderful source when I need more supplies!