Patricia Bettis Littlefield
Pat Littlefield grew up in the foothills of the
Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina. She attended Florida State
University where she studied music and art. After two years she
transferred to the University of South Carolina from which she
graduated with a B.A. in Art, cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa.
While attending graduate school at East Carolina University she
began to study weaving. This was the beginning of her interest
In 1975 she turned her efforts entirely to her
fiber work and developed a line of fantasy soft sculpture. Further
study and experimenting led to papermaking.†
The result has been the intricate collage/constructions
which reflect both her painting and fiber background
Papermaking is an art that traces its roots to
China. Any type of vegetable matter can be used to make paper.
Patís work is made primarily from abaca, a plant similar to the
banana plant. The abaca is purchased as semi-processed linters.
These are hydrated and beaten into a pulp. The pulp is dyed and
placed into small containers. Each paper piece is formed by placing
layers of the colored pulp over each other until the piece is
finished. Flax is also used in the process. Twigs, reeds, tampico
grass, muslin and other materials are sandwiched between the layers
of pulp. The images start out as digital photographs. They are
downloaded into the computer and combined and changed in various
ways to coordinate with the paper.
Most of the colors and compositions in the work
are derived from observation of the immediate environment Ė mountains
and sky, buttes and adobe architecture, flowers of the garden
and field, forests in shadow and light.††† What is the best way to frame these artworks? The piece should
be hinge mounted on an acid free matboard or other backing. Protect
the piece by using a glass or plexiglas facing unless you arenít
worried about dust accumulation. The facing should be separated
from the artwork so that it doesnít press tightly against it.
This can be accomplished with the use of mats or spacers(wood
or plastic are the most common). As a general rule you should
treat a piece of handmade paper artwork similar to other art works
on paper such as watercolors and prints.
"When I was born I must have clutched the
first fiber object around because I have been a 'fiber person'
all my life. When I was a kid I used to collect old curtains and
fabric scraps from friends and family and pin or tie them together
to make costumes. Especially cherished were the old pattern books
and wall paper sample books that stores saved for me. I first
learned to draw by copying different clothing styles and textures
of fabric to draw my own clothes. My mother showed me how to cut,
bend and glue the wall paper to make interior settings and later
how to sew both by hand and machine. Although I studied painting
in school it was never quite enough-just too flat. When I discovered
weaving and then papermaking a whole new world opened up for me.
Lately I have been working on some felted pieces and find it very
†" My hope is that each piece gives you a lifetime
of pleasure and thought provoking observation."