Wednesday, 5 September 2012

                              Featured Artist: Kathy Tidswell

                                                                                           Interviewed by Joan Beswick

Kathy Tidswell takes her own photographs. Trained as a biologist, she has closely observed nature in its many forms and her nature photos are the subject matter for both wearable and decorative fibre art. However, she doesn’t take photos of herself, so when asked for a current photo, Kathy offered one taken by her husband on a recent trip.

This picture was taken at the end of a day spent exploring the wonders of Costa Rica – it shows Kathy relaxing with a glass of wine, enjoying ‘the best nachos ever’, and taking a break from a busy and creative life. Kathy is an accomplished fibre artist with a long list of accolades and awards including the 2005 ‘Teacher of the Year Award’ from the Canadian Quilters’ Association (CQA/ACC).  

Kathy’s website reports that she combines ‘painting on fabric with free motion embroidery to produce works of art’(  She didn’t start out as an artist. Prior to staying home to raise a family, she worked for Environment Canada as a fish health technician and a forest genetics technician. In 1989, she began to explore traditional quilting, but her creative juices were really stirred in 1991 when Ann Boyce, an American teacher, introduced members of her quilting guild to the creative potential of using sewing machines. To hone her creative skills, Kathy followed up with courses on drawing, quilting, embroidery, and painting. She found inspiration in books such as Liz Hubbard’s “Thread Painting”, discerned the link between art and fibre, and developed her own unique techniques. The result has been a new career as a fibre artist. Kathy uses her own photographs as inspiration and employs various techniques, including painting on fabric, machine-based free motion embroidery, and quilting, all of which are reflected in the photos below.


 In addition to creating fibre art, Kathy has, since 1993, been teaching and sharing her skills with others. She will be teaching a course in Luxembourg this fall, and then moving on to Amherst to teach a “Free Motion Embroidery” workshop at the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival. Participants will be asked to bring a photo of a favourite pet and a sewing machine. Over the two days of the workshop, they will learn to “use the machine needle like a paint brush” and create a portrait similar to those pictured here.
Kathy encourages those who are interested but uncertain “not to be intimidated”. Although “not everyone will be a Rembrandt”, they can come, “have fun” and “feel their way”, while learning new skills and creating unique portraits of their special pets.

Kathy’s ‘Free Motion Embroidery’ workshop will begin on Thursday, October 11, and will run for two days from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It will be held in the second floor ‘heated room’ at the Amherst Stadium, 185 Church Street. To inquire about further details, and/or to register, contact Kathy by phone at 506-363-3560, or by e-mail at

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