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Sylvia Naylor combines her love of the natural world and her sense of design as a fibre artist to create a tiny universe of threads as deft as a painter's brush. Her landscapes are inspired from sketches, observations and photographs taken from her
enjoyment of the outdoors while walking, cycling, canoeing and gardening.
The ideas she gathers are then roughly sketched on paper, or a paper collage. "I never draw on the fabric because that would mean that I would have to keep to the drawn
line. I prefer my work to evolve."
The fabric is dyed and/or painted before any thread touches the fabric. Different types of fabrics are used depending on what types of effects she wants to obtain, such as silk, cotton or
Before starting the free machine embroidery, the feed dogs are lowered and the foot is removed so that the fabric can no longer be moved by the machine. The background fabric is stretched in an embroidery hoop, which enables the
work to move in any direction, this freedom of movement requires great control. The intensely coloured, exquisite renderings of nature are obtained by using a large palette of threads. These are constantly being changed both through the needle and the
bobbin. The stitch tension is also frequently manipulated in order to make loopy, textured stitches. Embellishment with hand embroidery sometimes completes the artwork.
Free motion machine embroidery can be compared to drawing, where a pencil
is held in one position while the paper is moved.
Free motion machine embroidery is an art form that is based on techniques developed in Britain in the 1920's. At that time women in Singer workshops would work at sewing machines with fabric in
embroidery hoops and very precisely make motifs for clothing, and ecclesiastical regalia.
Sylvia Naylor began developing her art form in 1979 when she returned to school in England to study concurrently Textiles and Embroidery, City & Guilds.
In 1983 she received the Silver medal for embroidery awarded to the highest ranking student in the UK by City and Guilds of London.
Since 1983 she was worked full time at her art. She has exhibited in many juried and invitational shows
receiving the Embroidery Award in Ontario Crafts 89, Best Fibreart Award at the Toronto Outdoor Show in 1990, and in 1996 Quilt Canada's Award of Excellence in Wearable art.
Sylvia shares her creativity and knowledge on free motion machine
embroidery by teaching courses throughout Canada. Students develop their own skills and knowledge by learning how machine embroidery can be used with other surface design techniques.
Sylvia has lectured extensively on free motion machine
embroidery as well as on historical textiles especially bags and purses.
"Making art is an essential part of me. I love the challenge of expressing the world around me with dye, paint and stitch. I find inspiration for my
artwork everywhere but my love of the natural world predominates. In the winter I ski and snow shoe and in warmer weather I hike, paddle my canoe and work in my garden. It is on these outing that I make drawings and notes as well as spending much time
observing. Photographs also add to my visual memories.
In the cities I find inspiration in neglected and ruined buildings revealing fragments of previous histories. In the studio my thoughts and ideas take form through experimentation. When I
am ready to begin a piece of work I work out my ideas in a sketch book or in a paper collage. I often dye my background fabrics before adding paints. All of my work uses free motion machine embroidery.
I often manipulate the stitch tension to
make loopy stitches. Sometimes embellished papers and hand embroidery will be part of the work. I am sometimes asked why I don’t paint instead of stitching. The answer is that I have always loved working with fabrics and threads since my school days in
England. I love the feel of fibres, their textures, versatility and challenges.
I hope that though my eyes people will look more closely at the natural world appreciate its beauty and therefore do their best to protect it."
2010 Ontario Arts Council Project Grant
1996 CQA "Award of Excellence" for Wearable Art
1990 Best Fibre Art Award, Toronto Outdoor Art Show
1989 Mary Diamond Butt's Award for Ontario Crafts
1983 Merchant Taylor Award, City and Guilds of London Institute
1983 Silver Medal for top student in City and Guilds Award
1976 Ontario Craft Council Grant
2010-08 Synthesis, juried show, SAQA Canada
2010 "Eye Dazzlers", Handweavers Guild of America, international juried, Albuquerque, NM
2010 Dynamic Demo Day, Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB
2010 Mayor's Clebration of the Arts, juried, Cambridge, ON
2010 "Passages", Rails End Gallery, Haliburton, ON
2009-10 "Oh Canada", juried, International Quilt Market, Houston, TX
2009 "Common Thread", international juried, Oakville, ON
2008-10 Kingston Fibre Artists, Kingston, Guelph, and Belleville, ON
2008-09 Threadworks, juried, traveling in Ontario
2008 Kindred Spaces Textiles Showcase, juried, presented by Tourism PEI
2008 Quilting Arts, juried, Portland, OR, Chicago, IL, Houston, TX
2008 Quilt Canada, juried, Newfoundland
2007-09 Kingston Fibre Artists, Kingston, Guelph and Belleville, ON
2007-09 "Oh Canada", juried, International Quilt Festival, Long Beach, CA
2007 Hand & Spirit, juried, Eliot Lake, ON
2007 Ontario Crafts 07, juried, OCC
2007 Threadworks, juried, traveling in Ontario
2006-09 "Synthesis" juried SASQ Canada, Cumberland Gallery, Ottawa, ON
2006-09 Algonquin Arts Centre, juried, Algonquin Park, ON
2006 Dynamic Demo Day, Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB
2002 "Art Blooms", Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB
1999 Invitational Group Show, Harbinger Gallery, Waterloo, ON
1999 Show of Hands Gallery, juried, Toronto, ON
1999 Canada House Gallery, Banff, AB
1998 Quilt Canada, juried, Vancouver, BC
1996 Art Gallery of Mississauga, juried, Missisauga, ON
1996 Quilt Canada, juried, Saskatoon, SK
1994 "Artistry on Cloth", OCC, Toronto, ON
1993 Rails End Gallery, Haliburton, ON
1992 Creative Sewing and Needlework, Toronto, ON
1991 Fibre Fireworks, juried, London, ON
1990 Ontario Crafts '89, treveling exhibition
1989 Baas Gallery, Toronto, ON
1989 Quilts-Art-Quilts, juried, Schweinfurth Art Centre, Auburn, NY
1989 Homer Watson Gallery, Kingston, ON
1989 Belleville Quilt Show, juried, Belleville, ON
1989 National Miniature Art Exhibition, Roth Gallery, London, ON
1987-89 Annual Miniature Art Exhibition, juried, Del Bello Gallery, Toronto, ON
The Framing Place and Gallery, Huntsville, ON
Sable V Fine Art Gallery, Wimberly, TX
Crafthouse, Vancouver, BC
The Feminine Mystique, Arizona, USA
Frogtown Gallery, Wisconsin, USA
Cornerstone Gallery, Kingston, ON
2008 Quilting Art Calendar for year 2009
2008 Quliting Arts
2008 Inspriation, Bernina Magazine, Switzerland
1996 Beyond the Horizon by Valeria Hearder
1995 Bernina Calendar
1994 Profile Magazine, Kinston, ON
1988 Bernina Magazine, Switzerland
2010 Workshops for several groups in Ontario
2009-93 Summer School, Haliburton, ON
2009 St Clair College, Windsor, ON
2008-10 Algonquin College, Ottawa, ON
2008-09 Algonquin College, Haliburton, ON
2007 Summer School, Algonquin College, Ottawa, ON
2006 Tallahassee, FL
2005-06 St Lawrence College, Kingston, ON
2000 Canadian Embroiderer's Guild, London, ON
1999-01 Thousand Island Summer School of the Arts, Brockville, ON
1999 Lecturer, Prescott Quilters Guild
1998 Fibreworks, Kingston, ON
1998 Quilt Conference, Edmonton, AB
1998 Lecturer, Limestone Quilters Guild
1997 Lecturer, Belleville Spinners and Weavers
1997 Lecturer, Kingston Quilters and Weavers
1996 Quilt Canada, Saskatoon, SK
1993-94 Bernina University, ON
1993-07 Summer School of the Arts, Haliburton, ON
1992 Thousand Islands Summer School of the Arts, Brockville, ON
1991 Rouge Valley Quilters
1991 York Heritage Quilters, Toronto, ON
1990 Fibreworks Weekend, St. Lawrence College, Kingston, ON
1989-90 Fibreworks Weekend, St Lawrence College, Kingston, ON
All images copyrighted by the artists.