If there was a single element that distinguishes Ann Schroeder’s work, it’s the colour. From fine art quilts to silk scarves, Schroeder’s use of colour shows a keen eye for how it works and how different shades play with and against each other. Through a series of upcoming workshops in September, Schroeder will be sharing her techniques at her Mabou home, built specifically to accommodate her dying and other artistic endeavours.
While Schroeder’s quilts have a distinct, modern art sensibility with her own hand dyed fabrics and bold fabric collage patterns, her artist’s statement pays tribute to North American quilting traditions. There are references to the Amish and African American innovations in bold the geometric designs and improvisational techniques, while some of the thematic inspiration comes from the natural surroundings in Cape Breton.
Born in Sylvan Lake, a small town near Chicago, Schroeder mentions an early inspiration in seeing a public library display of quilts from Southern Illinois. The experience encouraged her to make her own quilt, which led eventually to her dying her own fabrics. Her techniques give the fabrics a painted effect, and opened up a variety of artistic possibilities. “Quiltmakers who dye their own fabrics can have a complete range of colours,” she explained. “They can create effects that are impossible to get in commercially printed fabrics…it’s something I think is really special.”
One aspect of Schroder’s fabric dying techniques is the element of surprise. “It’s about getting results that are partly expected and under your control and partly unexpected…with dye, you’re often folding or scrunching the fabric and that creates its own rhythm and its own effect. It lets the dyes run and blend together in different ways.” One of the exercises in the introductory classes involves pouring dye onto fabric, introducing a new layers of fabric each having a different colour poured into the stack.“People are sometimes afraid that [the colour] will turn into mud, but it never does,” enthused Schroeder.
Schroeder shares her experience and techniques through offering a series of workshops aimed at both beginners and those wanting more advanced instruction. The classes are limited to six students so that each may get proper attention and feedback. At the end of the day, students will be able to take home a hand-dyed silk scarf and a stack of dyed fabrics.
The workshop dates are August 25, and September 1, 11, 15, 25 and 29, offering choices of Wednesday or Saturday sessions. For one-day workshops, the class runs from 10:00am to 5:00pm. The total cost is $90, which covers $60 tuition and a $30 materials fee. Schroder also offers two-day workshops and is available to arranging private sessions and special events. Registration can be completed online at annschroederstudio.com. The site also contains information about Schroeder’s quilts and other special projects.