Unconventional: Fiber Artist Linda V. Hubbard
It started as an experiment, explains fiber artist Linda Hubbard, as she describes making her first quilt a few years after graduating from college. “I saw these amazing photos of a New York quilt exhibition in the Smithsonian Magazine in the early ‘70s where the people lined up around the block to get in. I thought, ‘I can sew. How hard is it to make a quilt?’ I didn’t have any background in it, so I didn’t copy any traditional patterns. I designed my own.” Although she didn’t return to quilting for several years, that first project launched a lifelong exploration of the possibilities of fiber arts.
“My parents were unconventional people,” says Linda, who grew up in Redwood City, later moving to Los Altos in her early teens.
“My family was art-centric. My mom painted and my dad’s hobby was to raise three professional, classically trained musicians.” Linda played the flute and, like her siblings, studied with a teacher from the San Francisco Symphony. With the support of her parents, she dropped out of high school three classes shy of a diploma and won a position studying flute at the Paris Conservatory. “Back in those days, high schools didn’t allow for early graduation.” But after a year of study, she decided against a performing career. “It’s a competitive world in music performance, and I thought maybe this isn’t for me. So, I came home.” Hubbard enrolled at Foothill College as a music major and happened to take an elective in ceramics. “It blew my mind!” she recalls. “Here I could create, rather than perform, and I could have something in my hands when I was finished. Music is ephemeral and if you’re not playing, there’s no music.” She graduated from San Jose State in 1969, where she majored in ceramics.
After college, Linda sold real estate and later worked as a recruiter for positions in finance and IT.
She lived in San Francisco, Oakland, and Woodside before moving to Benicia in 1996. “I was a long drive from everywhere,” she recalls of her few years in Woodside. She didn’t want to commute so she built a small business with her sewing skills, making quilts, cushions, vests, and a variety of other items that she sold at art festivals held throughout the Bay Area. “I was doing mostly traditional quilting, but I found it restrictive. I started doing things that were untraditional, which really appealed to me. I learned that in the fiber arts, there really aren’t any rules.”
Hubbard enjoys the challenge of doing something different and has won recognition for her unconventional and innovative fiber artworks in regional and national competitions. “One of my first experiments involved inserting fabric pieces into a seam to create a dimensional quilt where some fabric stands out from the background rather than being sewn down. Many of my works now feature dimensional components.”
She has developed techniques for manipulating, printing, and dyeing fabric, and incorporates various embellishment methods to achieve unusual effects.
“I’m pretty much self-taught. I learned a lot by watching PBS programs and searching the internet. I sewed many of my clothes as a kid and was always interested in design and color elements. My creations are the result of experiments with surface treatments like rust dyeing, eco printing and the discharge or “bleach” dyeing process. Fabric is made up of several layers of color. By applying bleach to a fabric, you can reveal the underlying colors through a time-controlled process.”
Linda’s designs include both abstract motifs and representational imagery such as landscapes.
She has been showing her artworks as well as quilted purses and other accessories for the past five years at The Little Art Shop, located at 129 First Street, in Benicia. She helps staff the shop two days per month. “It’s a wonderful place to display my work.”
To see more of Linda Hubbard’s fiber artworks, visit The Little Art Shop, open seven days per week from 11 am to 5 pm, and lindavhubbard.com.