Conversations with the Makers

An array of questions to fibre/textile artists and their answers.

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Conversation with ro Bruhn, Australia

Ro Bruhn - Hand Dyed Fabric Journal Artist

Ro’s passion for colour can be seen in her art working with fabrics, paper, mixed media and jewellery. Her journals incorporate recycled fabrics and clothing, found objects and papers. Each journal being a unique piece of art. Her work has been published in a variety of Australian and American magazines as well as in books Plaster Studio and The Mixed Media Artist and Ro was one of six artists featured in Maggie Grey’s book Approaches to Stitch. Ro has been part of many exhibitions and teaches workshops from her home as well as at International Retreats.

 

Conversation with the Makers(CWTM)Did you always envision a life as an artist?

Ro Bruhn (RB) No as a teenager I wanted to be a doctor or an architect, I ended up being an engineering draftswoman then retrained as a graphic designer.

 

CWTM What was your first experience with making art?

RB As a child in England, when I was about six, I remember hand stitching a rag doll and making all of her clothes. I also used to spend hours drawing and collecting ‘found objects’ way before it was the fashion. 

CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?

RB Yes, I’m very lucky, I have quite a large studio which also has a very large workroom off it where I teach some classes.

 

CWTM Can you describe a typical day?

RB Hmm, up around 7.30, most days, in my studio by 8.30 then working on whatever is my latest project. I spend lots of time experimenting with new techniques, especially with paint and papers, they form the backdrop to my paintings and journals. I regularly spend a few days making jewellery to have ready for upcoming exhibitions, I like the variety as it helps me to keep my work fresh and I’m constantly trying to develop new ideas.

CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?

RB I love all parts of the the process, especially if it’s something new that I’ve been

working on, I enjoy seeing the finished piece but am then happy to pass it on.

 

CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing?

RB Definitely, my work regularly changes direction during the making. I very rarely plan ahead, having said that I usually have a rough idea where I’m going with my

jewellery.

 

CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

RB I couldn’t get by without my Bernina sewing machine or my flex shaft drill in my

jewellery making. I also have some very handy riveting tools too that I find

indispensable.

 

CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?

RB Very little of my work is planned, my journals consist of so many layers they just

evolve, sometimes a commission will be to a theme, but the process of evolving is

still the same. My jewellery is the only thing that is vaguely planned, I usually have an idea in my head and go with it.

Most of my paintings start with a very rough sketch but nearly always change

direction in the creating. Very few actually resemble the original sketch.

 

CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?

RB As everyone says this is always the hardest question to answer. I don’t have a problem

knowing when my jewellery is finished as the process doesn’t have options for

change once I’ve started. Paintings and journals are another matter.

I go back to my paintings after a few days and that helps me to determine if they are

close to completion. I also view them through a mirror, that helps see anything that’s

not quite right or balanced.

Time usually determines when my journals are complete, if they have a commission

deadline, I have to work at a steady pace and don’t have time to go back and add

more. If they aren’t a commission, that’s another story. I still have one I’ve been

working on for me for a few years now.

 

 

CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is….

RB I’d have to say colour, that’s the first thing I notice before anything else. 

CWTM Favourite quote?

RB Let the beauty we love be what we do. - Rumi 

CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?

RB Over breakfast in the morning or just before bed, then I spend half the night planning, not a good option. 

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

RB The process and the fact that I work in different mediums. I love variety.

 

CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?

RB Enjoy what you do then it will never seem like work. 

CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?

RB I can’t think of any bad advice I’ve been given, I must have ignored it or I would

remember. 

CWTM Best part of your day?

RB When I first start work in the morning.

 

CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?

RB Van Gogh, Kaffe Fassett, Gaudi, Susan Lennart Kasmer, Audrey Hepburn,

and my husband, he would need to do all of the cooking. - a mixed bunch, some not

with us anymore.

 CWTM What inspires your creativity?

RB Again colour and visiting other artists who create in colour. I get so much inspiration from other artists.

 

CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?

RB Many things from eco dyeing, making new garments from recycled clothing and all of the hand stitching that’s happening everywhere. 

CWTM You’d be lost without…

RB Well apart from my husband, I’d be lost without my studio. 

CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?

RB More art and maybe a touch of gardening.

 

CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?

RB Going into an art shop and buying whatever I like. 

CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?

RB Most definitely, working as a graphic designer, I used a computer everyday.

I also promote my work on my blog and Facebook as well as selling in my Etsy shop

 

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

RB Coming up with new ideas and then developing them. 

CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?

RB Unfortunately most of us can’t just have the luxury of creating for art’s sake. So yes recognition is important. I try to get my work out there via the internet and exhibitions. Having work published also helps too.

 

CWTM What is next for you?

RB I hope to do lots more teaching as I love communicating with like minded people. I love the enthusiasm, inspiration and excitement that teaching brings as well as seeing how students interpret your teaching.