All Articles
All Patterns
All Quilts
Free Quilt Patterns
Quilting Tips
Block of the Month
On the Road
In the Studio
In the News
Quilt Exhibits
Fun Extras
The Whimsical Fiber Art of Susan Sorrell posted: 6/8/2003
by Bonnie Ouellette Printable Page
Category: General Method: All Series: In the Studio
<-- Go to Article Listing

Susan R. Sorrell of Greenville, South Carolina creates whimsical designs with cloth and surface design that are like eye-candy to her audience. Susan has a background in painting and fine arts and has only begun working with textiles in the past few years. While working as an elementary school art teacher and doing watercolors part-time, she took a painting class from an artist who also does quilting. She soon became intrigued by the idea of making art out of fabric.

Putting aside her doubts about sewing, Sorrell bought a used machine and signed up for a quilting course. She hated it. "I couldn't get my points to match up," she says. "After a couple of lessons, I quit". Fortunately, she had picked up enough of the basics to begin. Today, she owns a fancy sewing machine that does "squiggles" and other intricate stitches, and most of her present work is completely by hand, since she likes the look of hand sewn designs and stitches. Susan has thrown most of the rules of quilting out the window and creates her pieces by thinking out of the box. ("My sewing machine is sitting in my closet and hasn't been used in 2 years.") These wonderful works of art are nearly completely covered with surface design of paint, printing, found objects, embroidery, beading and even Russian punch needlework.

Susan likes to add color to her beginning cloth with anything she can find. She is always searching for buttons, trim, unusual beads, old jewelry, rubber stamps, paint and any other items to make her art quilts unique. She spends her spare time searching second-hand stores and flea markets for unique, decorative items. Learning to sew and quilt has presented a fun challenge for her. Being a painter and fine artist, her art quilts have become a great way to express herself. Art quilts manage to combine the contemporary with the traditional in a playful way.

The selection process of fabrics, threads and embellishments is a time consuming endeavor. Care must be given to every element as the color and design of the fabric can make or break the finished piece. Each quilt is a one to two-month labor of love, requiring four or five hours a day of painstaking work. Some embellishment has taken more than 400 hours of labor-intensive effort. Although her finished works sell for several thousand dollars, it hardly compensates her for the hours involved.

The subject matter in Susan's art quilts is not the usual traditional quilt designs and sometimes is satirical. Many have objects dangling from the bottom or are composed of many small pieces creatively joined together. "The more outrageous it is, the more people are going to look at it" Sorrell believes. Having completed nearly 50 works in the last several years, since she has started working in the medium about 5 years ago, her work has been exhibited across the country and sold to museums, collectors and galleries worldwide.

Keep your eye out for Susan's work in the professional art quilt circuit. Until this time, her work has only been exhibited in mixed media art shows but will soon be shown in the art quilt arena. Workshop and lecture arrangements can be made using any of the following contact information.

2003 Bonnie Ouellette

Also By Susan Sorrell:

Susan R. Sorrell
601 Cleveland Street, Apt. 12-F
Greenville, SC 29601
(864) 233-8934

<-- Go to Article Listing
Similar Articles
Category: General
"Days of the Week" Fabric Designs
You Can Make a Reproduction Family Tree Quilt!
Quilters of South Carolina Exhibit 2004

Author: Bonnie Ouellette
Maxine Farkas, Wonder Woman of Art Quilting
"Mary's Favorite '30s Quilts" Book Review
King's Quilting Studio, a Paducah Treasure Trove
Method: All
"A Few of My Favorite Antique Quilts" Book Review
"Days of the Week" Fabric Designs
You Can Make a Reproduction Family Tree Quilt!

 Contact Us