A love and yen for yarn-based art

Labour of love: Wong carefully placing tiny pieces of fabric cut up in various shapes as part of her process in creating a piece of artwork that could take up to three months to complete.

JOHOR BARU: An artist’s yen for dyed-yarn fabrics, which are colourful fabrics made using pre-dyed yarn, has led to intricate works of art using pieces of textile that have been cut up into tiny pieces.

Wong Swee Fen, 49, said she started collecting these pieces of cloth on her travels to Japan more than eight years ago as she was attracted to the earth-tone colours and patterns on them.

“Initially I collected them for their beauty and when I returned home, I realised that I could turn them into another type of art rather than just keep them in a cupboard.

“I started experimenting by cutting up the fabric into very thin strips and arranging them according to their colour tones to achieve my desired designs.

“At first it was tough because the edges of the strips would fray and look messy, which was not what I wanted. Through trial and error, I found a solution by painting a layer of fabric glue on the fabric to achieve cleaner lines,” she said when interviewed by The Star.

Wong, who also has 22 years’ experience teaching children’s art classes, added that she mostly gets her inspiration from nature where she sought to recreate scenery using pieces of cut-up fabric.

After years of practice, she now cuts the fabrics into tiny triangles, squares and even asymmetrical shapes before assembling them to recreate sceneries and animals such as sunflowers, sunsets, eagles and children playing on a vast field.

On average, she spends one to three months to painstakingly piece the thousands of fabric bits together to complete an artwork.

Wong, who holds a degree in applied art, also clinched the semi-honourable mention award from the biennial Art Olympia International Open Art Competition that was held in Tokyo, Japan in 2019.

She hosted her first solo exhibition at an art gallery in Jalan Tan Hiok Nee here, where she also managed to sell a few pieces of her intricate artwork.

“Despite having to work with thousands of bits and pieces of fabric, I find calm and serenity in my work and I hope to spread this technique to others, especially the younger generation, to find peace amidst the chaos.

“Besides the Japanese yarn-dyed fabrics, I have expanded my collection to use textiles from South Korea and Indonesian batik for my creations.

“I also hope to learn more new techniques to improve myself and create fresh perspectives through my artwork in future,” said Wong.

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