Jill E. Gibbons - Fiber Artist & Printmaker
While printmaking is my first love, I enjoy a variety of creative endeavors, including quilt-making, basketry, beading, knitting, and weaving. I participate in shows with The 14th Colony artists group in northwest Connecticut. I was involved in the Connecticut Quilt Search Project to document and preserve historic quilts, and I designed and created part of the State of Connecticut Quilt featuring historic landmarks along the Freedom Trail.
I earned a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute, and I lead independent fine arts workshops for adults and children, teaching printmaking, quilting, basketry, weaving, and knitting. I love to make things with my own hands, and I enjoy showing others how they can be successful making things themselves. With a background in family services and counseling, I recognize the tremendous opportunity for personal development and emotional healing through creative expression, and I offer therapeutic art programs for individuals and groups. The feel of the materials between your fingers, the textures, the wonderful colors... sorting out and arranging what pleases the eye or speaks to you in some way... the creative process is good for the soul!
Much of my recent fiber work involves printing botanicals on silk, wool, cotton, linen and other fibers. Botanical printing is a contemporary application of the ancient tradition of natural dyeing.
To create botanical prints, plants are layered with textiles, wound into tight bundles around rods, and then steamed or simmered to extract pigments. The plant materials produce a ‘print’ on the fabric from the natural dyes in the plants. Direct and close contact between the plant and the fabric is essential. Leaves, stems, flowers, buds, seeds and roots may all be used; also bark and wood. Depending on the season of the year, different pigments will concentrate in parts of the plants, so variability of color and intensity is possible.
Every botanicial printed piece is unique!
My latest prints on paper are primarily monotypes using water-based Akua inks printed on Rives acid-free cotton printmaking papers. I prefer to create original drawings ‘out in the field’ where I can get a good feel for the space… the light, colors, scents, and resonance. In the printmaking studio, these drawings are painted onto a plastic plate then run through the printing press to transfer the inks onto paper, resulting in what is called a ‘monotype’ print. Like a painting, there is only one. Sometimes, a second impression can be taken from the plate, which is called a “ghost” print, but since there is less ink remaining, the second print will be much lighter in color.
In 2015, I had the very good fortune to work in the studio with master printer Anthony Kirk, whose help and advice has been immeasurable. I was one of seven artists in residency at Cill Rialaig on the southwest coast of Ireland, creating prints with Tony in the printmaking studio at Baile an Sceilg. While in Ireland I was able to spend long hours focusing on my artwork and immersing myself in the stunning beauty and serenity of the surroundings. I walked, sought out ancient stones, sat with them, and studied them. A strong connection with my own ancestral roots emerged during this residency. As one artist commented, “Ireland gets inside of you.”