About Natalie

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I am a process-driven artist. Drawing on diverse textile and bookbinding techniques I create unique objects, utilitarian or purely artistic. In my exploration of historical fiber arts, I seek to refresh half-forgotten methods such as embroidery, fabric marbling, mordant patterning, and the fermentation of natural dyes. This approach brings a complex, ever-evolving vocabulary of texture and surface patterning to the work I create.

My freelance studio is based in Manhattan, but I also spend time in upstate New York growing and foraging natural dyes. I teach workshops on a variety of textile and book techniques at the Textile Arts Center and other regional continuing education centers.

The studio

natalie stopka: marbling

Marbling is the centuries-old craft of making monoprints on paper or fabric using floating pigments. The pigments, water-based acrylic in this case, are dropped onto the surface of water thickened with carrageenan moss. The colors are manipulated into patterns, and when prepared paper or fabric is draped across the water's surface it picks up the pigments in their lively patterns, looking as if they are still dancing on water.

With a strong focus and craftsmanship, I explore color and form through extemporaneous pattern-making. These patterns are hand printed in limited editions on paper, cotton, linen, and silk.

natalie stopka: suminagashi

Suminagashi is the Japanese art of marbling dating to the 12th century. To make each monoprint, sumi ink floating on water is manipulated into patterns through the action of natural forces such a wind or vibration, or by drawing. Each image is the imprint of a precise moment in time when the swirling, morphing pattern is transferred to fabric or paper. Because of this, as well as the cultural history informing suminagashi, the abstract images have a strong visual connection to natural phenomena.

I follow traditional suminagashi techniques to pattern paper and fabric, often over a naturally dyed base tone. In recent years the art form has evolved with the increasing use of experimental methods and additives, which I love to explore in my personal work.

natalie stopka: natural dyes

The natural dyes used in my studio are responsibly foraged in upstate New York or sourced from ecologically conscientious vendors. A priority is placed on energy and water efficiency in dyeing, and no heavy metals are used. Because each dye plant contains several different natural colorants, the resulting shades have a beautiful depth and resonance with one another. Drawing from historical dye recipes - but open to the serendipitous discoveries which arrive when working with natural materials - I fix these fleeting botanical colors to fabric and paper.The shades change with each season, the availability of plant matter, and my mood in the studio.

natalie stopka: bookbinding

My surface patterning, design, and collection of historical processes are brought together in limited edition and artist books. Hand bound using traditional methods and inventive structures, these books feature the naturally dyed fabrics, marbled papers, and hand embroidery I love.