Inspiration: Textiles

I am very inspired by my materials. I see my materials and I'm instantly struck with things to create with them. Do other artists work this way too? When I'm in an art drought I always make a trip to an art supply or craft store and touch everything. I could spend an hour in there and never buy anything, much to the chagrin of the employees I'm sure. As a maker of small things it's a dichotomy; there's many resources out there that provide 1:12th scale objects, textiles, and scenery. What draws me to making small things is the innovation and challenge that creating every day things entails. How do you take something meant to create objects in our world and apply it to the small world? It's fascinating and it's why I do what I do.

I'm in my final stages of development for my book and in the first stages of construction. I've been sourcing all sorts of textiles for furniture, creatures, clothing, and the landscape and I've found a few creative ways to get the pieces I need. Since I usually only use a small bit of something that means I can stretch a buck and my materials pretty well. I hardly ever buy more than a fat quarter of fabric, I'll never go through it all! This is especially good for small bits of treasured vintage textiles. It's easier to pick up the scissors and make the first cut if you're only cutting a 2 inch square.

Most furniture and upholstery websites as well as online fabric stores offer free swatches of their materials and I've totally taken advantage of them. Every bit of fabric in these photos I got as swatches. Not every website offers free swatches but those that don't are usually about a dollar or two otherwise depending on the fabric. While not all upholstery fabrics are not usually suitable for miniature clothing and outfits because of their thickness their broad weaves can be perfect for many decor textiles such as rugs, furniture, heavy curtains, tapestries, or as a part of a landscape.

Nubbly green fabrics offer a very small scale low pile grass as seen from the air, such as with vast farmland. Towels work well for this too! Additionally, faux fur is the perfect long grass and it comes in so many different lengths and shades. It's easily manipulated to depict wind rustling though it or can be snipped to seem more wild. Use caramel or straw colored fur for a field of wheat or white fur for snow covered grass. I'll be using plenty of this for my book as most of it takes place outside.

Here's a small list of a few websites that I've received free swatches from. A quick internet search for "free fabric swatches" or "free fabric samples" will bring up many results. Keep in mind that not every website lists the size of swatch you're getting so you've either got to cross your fingers or only intend on using a small amount. But hey, it's free!

  • Distinctive Fabric will offer 5 free swatches for a first time visitor and they're about a dollar after that. The swatches themselves are very large (5"x3.5") and they've got an awesome selection of faux fur in wonderful colors.
  • has a US and UK website and they provide free swatches for furniture such as sofas and chairs. Their swatches are about 4"x5 1/2" and they've got a wonderful variety.
  • Mendel's is another fabric store with great faux fur. Their swatches are about 2"x2" so if you need just a tuft then it's perfect.
A question, would anyone be interested in seeing more supply posts? I have a few ideas like adhesives, blades and scissors, etc, and I wanted to know if anyone would be keen on that.