Our students, customers and, shoot, even the Thimble staff, are always amazed at the color choices Sharon puts together in her handmade pieces. Whether it’s a wet felted wallhanging or a handmade dress, the woman curates beautiful color palettes. Our beginning students are especially intrigued and often ask her “How did you know to put those together?” We’ve heard the question asked enough that we decided to sit the fiber artist down and ask her about her creative process and how she decides to put together such gorgeous color combinations.
Tell me about how you find color to use.
Whenever I get stuck on a project and don’t know what color to use, I go to our fabric. Looking at my favorite prints helps me find new combinations to work with. I think everyone has their own palate that they like to work in, but since I make my pieces for other people, I have to work outside my own.
I’m fortunate that I work with color every day. I’m always exposed to it. In fact, all of that exposure means I don’t have a favorite color anymore.
I’ve heard you say you’re influenced by nature.
I draw a lot of inspiration from nature. There is always a new color combination to be found there.
You were inspired by a photo of a grey squash recently, weren’t you?
I was. They’re called Hubbard squashes, and I had never seen a grey squash before. I thought it was so strange and beautiful that I made a new vessel based off of it. On my own, I may never have mixed those greys with those blues, or would have given it a green top. Working from a photo lets me pick out the colors that I might not have put there myself.
How do you start a project?
I think a lot of people have ideas for projects in their heads, and then they go pick out their colors and materials based off of a plan. But I have to find my materials first, then lay everything out in front of me. Then I can decide what I want to do. My work comes from what’s in front of me. I don’t usually have a plan.
When you help a student pick out colors for a class, do you think you tend to lead them toward colors you prefer?
No, I really don’t. When I’m helping a student and they’re stuck on color, I just look at what they’re wearing. 90% of the time, if I find wool that matches their outfit, they’re going to love the combination.
Do you ever force yourself to use colors you don’t like?
I have to. I’m making for strangers, so I have to use a variety of colors. That’s when I go to fabric for inspiration.
She goes over to the fabric area and shows me one of Hannah’s aprons.
Look at this. I love this print, but I would have never put those individual colors together. I don’t even like all of them. But they work together into something beautiful. If you don’t look too carefully, you may not even notice that there’s coral here. But the coral helps bring it all together and make it beautiful.
You said you don’t have a favorite color. But do you have a favorite end of the spectrum?
Well…yes and no. I do so much botanical dyeing that those muted greens, browns, and reds have become some of my favorites. I’ve always found those kinds of natural colors calming. But I also love bright colors. So I can’t really pick one group of colors.
So there you have it, folks. We know that everybody’s creative process is different and we’d love to hear where you find inspiration! Is it in nature like Sharon? Do you have a favorite magazine or publication that sparks your creativity? How about a favorite artist? Share your thoughts with us and thank you for reading!