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Talking textiles: Deann Rubin

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 30, 2011 - Deann Rubin's handwoven tapestry and cast paper designs will be featured in an exhibit at The Gallery at the University City Public Library. The exhibit is part of the 2011 "Innovations in Textiles" series - a biennial collaborative event in St. Louis in which more than 20 private and nonprofit arts organizations look into contemporary textile arts.

Rubin has a bachelor of fine arts in design from the University of Kansas, apprenticed to Muriel Nezhnie and has been a fiber studio artist for more than 30 years. Here she relates how she works.


Creativity is a combination of inside and outside sources. The artist (or any creative person) is stimulated by the world around her. Going to a gallery, museum or art fair exposes the visual person to how different artists, past and present, use materials, color and design popular at the time. Colors and design change with time. Example: How art deco and art nouveau artists treated the same elements. One can get very excited when viewing a fresh approach in handling different elements. Advertising including label design, fashion and architecture also are big stimuli for me.

Most artists have worked within a range of subject matter, such as human imagery, landscape, architecture or abstract subject matter. The individual artist rarely changes these inner interests. So, the focus or vision usually continues in her own pursuits, even if the outside world interrupts change as a radical departure.

Fiber Art Changes

Art forms, go in and out of fashion. The big change right now is the loss of Fiberarts magazine. The medium has lost its own voice.

How You Work

I do not have a typical day. My routine depends on what has to get done that day, week, month. Since January this year, I have been working very hard for the exhibition at the library. Handwoven tapestry is a very labor-intensive, slow process. The small pieces I have been working on take almost two months, working days, nights and weekends to complete. I spend a lot of time (many hours) weaving on the loom or designing/drawing on the computer. Since I am a night owl, I start staying up all night, going to bed at 4, 6 in the morning. Sometimes, I am just going to bed when my husband is going to work.

Work Space

A clean, orderly environment is the best environment for me to work in. I cannot work in an ugly, dirty, things-thrown-around, area. Not that my studio or house is squeaky clean or in showroom or open studio condition, just reasonably organized. I have things around the studio that are visually pleasant, such as bins and baskets of yarn, organized by color, and calendars, objects that I love. On my desk with my computer is a figurine of a clothed rabbit from a children's story book. On the wall is a Delft tile, bought in the Netherlands, of a weaver weaving on a big floor loom.


My favorite materials to work with in tapestry are yarns of perle cotton (which has a silk luminosity to it), wool and silk. Linen is hard material but changes shape with humidity and temperature. I like it mixed with cotton. Rayon material is great. It drapes and does not wrinkle easily. As a yarn, I have used it mixed with another material. Mixed bamboo and silk are wonderful also.

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