Conversations with the Makers

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

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Conversation with Diane Savona: USA

Diane Savona presents domestic artifacts in an archaeological context. As she honors previous generations of women, she is creating art that changes viewer perception of our textile heritage. Born in 1949, Savona lives in Passaic, NJ. Her work has been shown in galleries and museums, and on the cover of Fiberarts Magazine. She was a fellow at the Center for Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia, and a winner of a 2008 NJ Council on the Arts Fellowship Award. Her website is 

CONVERSTATION WITH THE MAKERS(CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist?

DIANE SAVONA(DS) I have been an artist since birth.


CWTM What was your first experience with making art?

As a child, I would construct tiny houses with branches, make people with clay, & draw constantly.


CWTM  Do you have a dedicated studio?

DS We live in the studio. Several years back, the dining room became a workroom (we eat at the coffee table) then it expanded into the living room. The basement became my dye studio, the attic is for storage. And I sew in bed.

My studio. I started in the (former) dining room, which is visible through the arched doorway, and spread into the living room. 

CWTM Can you describe a typical day?

DS If I’m not careful, I would jump right into my art and still not be dressed or have eaten at 3pm. So I make sure to have coffee & food, try to maintain a little order in the kitchen, answer urgent emails…then I can do my art. I attack the in-progress art that’s hanging on my living room wall, cut, pin, dye, whatever, until I reheat leftovers for supper. After dinner, I sit and do the ‘mindless sewing’ while watching TV. Eventually, my husband will suggest that maybe it’s time to stop for the day…..


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

DS Oh, yes: I love going from the original idea through the mental variations, then tossing it into Photoshop to actually see my idea. Cutting, pinning, re-doing endlessly, then sewing and more sewing, until I have in front of me what I originally imagined. At that point, the finishing can wait for months.


artifact: blanket (Turkey) has, from back to front :1. a backing, 2. a white woolen batting, 3. crochet covered with 4. old embroidery (that has been tightly stitched around the crochet), 5 & 6 a layer of tan wool and another layer of white wool, cut to outline the blanket, 7.the original blanket segment on top (with embedded sections on top of that).


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

DS yes


CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

DS Good scissors, needles, thread – it’s pretty minimal.


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

DS I compare my art to growing a plant: I know if it’s going to be an oak tree or a rose bush, but not where each branch will be.


Making "Never Enough" I only sewed a small section of the zipper-and-snap backing; then I used photoshop to copy it into a full backing. I photographed the pieces I wanted to use in Never Enough (and harvested other images online), then combined them on the image of a brown paper tracing of me.

Never Enough, in progress, pinned to my work wall

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

DS I stop when what’s in front of me is what I originally imagined; it’s finished (backing, sleeve, hanging rod, etc) after it’s accepted in a show and has to go out the door

 Never Enough....finished

CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is…

DS. I’m addicted to this. I always have 10 more pieces ready in my mind


CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?

DS On the way home after a visit to a museum or show – while I’m driving, a part of my brain is moving sideways and mixing parts together.


CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

DS I love all the creative parts. Even the finishing is OK. But the business part…..the paperwork, making contacts: I always want to be back in the studio.


Generational Fossil adds photoshopped images and the images of items that have been pressed into wet leather.


CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received?

DS Language matters. If you call yourself an artist, you give yourself permission to create. If you call your home a studio, you don’t feel required to vacuum.


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

DS People willing to bring the food with them.


CWTM You’d be lost without…

DS I’m very lucky to have an amazingly supportive husband. He loves my art, and understands my need to be so obsessive about it. Having an absolutely encouraging partner is unbelievably important.


this early piece shows how crochet can be embedded under the cloth, sewn on, or pressed into clay. I use all 3 methods in my art.


CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?

DS Time to make art. And chocolate.


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

DS Photoshop is an amazing tool: it allows me to move parts, change elements, and visualize everything. I love it! And having a website allows me to share my art with people all over the world.


I used photoshop to visualize this. The image on the right is the costume of a Russian shaman - the white circles represent her backbone. In my pieces, I used scissors covered in damask linen for the backbones

 Witness to the Past, #1, #2 and #3 Constructed on frames of metal rods, upholstered with old blankets, then covered using

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

DS I sometimes joke that when I die, my son will throw all my art in a dumpster. The truth is, I’ll never be world famous, and I have no control over what happens to my art when it leaves my studio. But I’m making art, GOOD art, now, and I love doing it. What could be better?


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

DS Oh, that’s a whole long discussion…


CWTM What is next for you?

DS Not sure. I’ve spent the past 4 years working on developing contacts, marketing myself, being part of FiberPhiladelphia 2012. Now I’m back in my studio and reassessingold quilts.Security, and the plan for her

Diane Savona will be teaching in Australia in 2014... email for more information