Bawden, Carol - Fiber


I am a fiber artist and have worked in textiles since I was a little girl on a tiny Singer sewing machine with a crank. In secondary school I was lucky to have been a student at Kingswood School Cranbrook for five years, and had a great studio art experience with kind, inspiring mentors.  Robert Kidd, (weaving), Pam Stump Walsh  (sculpture) and Jessie Sinclair (dance) were friends and inspirations. 

I guess I have been a clothing designer since I was a little girl... experimenting and making “stuff”.  Later I learned how it was supposed to be done, studying tailoring and dressmaking in high school in a dressmaker’s workshop.  I studied fashion design in my 20's in San Francisco with a lady who taught the “French method” she had learned in Paris in the late 50’s.

I quit my “real job” in 1981 and began making clothing for a living.  I designed a chamois leather sweatshirt and marketed it in San Francisco. It sold well.  I approached the Banana Republic original founders and designed and produced men’s shirts in chamois leather for two catalogs. I investigated native American clothing design, using deer and sheep skins (oil tanned as chamois).  A “3 skin dress” of the plains native tribes’ design made brilliant use of sheep skin; men’s shirts displayed their personal powerful images with which the men would paint on the skins.

I left San Francisco for northern Michigan in 1983, discovering and settling in Leelanau County… a decision I have never regretted.

I became heir to a large floor loom in 1984 and re-learned weaving.  I still make rag rugs and wall hangings using mostly recycled cotton cloth.  A technique I love is “bubbling” - pulling up lots of loops of weft fabric to make a lofty, surface texture.  I dabble in clothing and bags in leather and other fibers, woven wall hangings, rugs and pillows, soft sculpture, wood carving, and experiments in light sculpture and weaving with materials like twigs, saran wrap, leather and feathers. 

In 1987, I started The Painted Bird, a gallery of contemporary crafts in Suttons Bay, MI which I own and manage.  I represent over 100 local and American artists there.  

November,  2023

Artist Gallery