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SPM News Extra: Volunteers bring needle know-how and good humor to a sewing day to create the Razzle Dazzle project at the Sioux City Art Center

Volunteers create bright swaths of color the Razzle Dazzle project, which will cover parts of the Sioux City Art Center
Volunteers create bright swaths of color the Razzle Dazzle project, which will cover parts of the Sioux City Art Center

The Sioux City Art Center has announced the return of artist Amanda Browder, the creator of Razzle Dazzle, a huge textile sculpture. It will be suspended from the Art Center’s buildings in August.

She is holding Sewing Days, where volunteers sew and bring fabric for the project.

Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett spoke with Amanda and some of her volunteers Tuesday at the Siouxland Center for Active Generations for this SPM News Extra.

At the center, Amanda Browder encourages five volunteer seamstresses hard at work on well used sewing machines.

Artist Amanda Browder
Artist Amanda Browder

“If you sew it here, it will bounce less. I’m here for you.”

Since last summer and fall, hundreds of volunteers have arrived with brightly colored fabrics to sew into a large swath to help cover an area of the Sioux City Art Center.

“So is this usually the number of people you have at these things? Yah, today, we’ve got a good crew of people. Usually its between about five-to-twenty people show up. Every session is different.”

And most of those that show up to sew come with fabric and a story.

“And we have one story of a woman coming in, she brought in her grandmother’s fabric, and her grandmother had made her costume as a kid, and she donated it at one point. And then she came to the sewing day later, and all of a sudden, she’s like oh my gosh, my fabric. And then shared a picture of herself wearing that fabric, twenty years ago, that her grandmother had the outcut, so those stories are pretty common. It’s really sweet.”

Amanda Browder has done previous fabric installations that are meant to cover large areas of buildings, so it is easy for her to estimate how much fabric she will need and how much progress she has made.

“So I measured how many feet, if you took all the strips that we are building, and we are using the tables to build these and it is about four thousand feet of fabric. So if you did tip to tail, every single piece. So that’s how much we are sewing for this project. So that’s a lot of fabric. How long do you think it will take to get there? Oh we’re on track by far. We always need more fabric, So even those we are almost towards the end of this month, we always need more textiles for donations, so please feel free to bring fabric, cotton, saturated colors, we need reds, blues, purples, bring them on in and we will put it in a piece.”

Artist Amanda Browder examines a swath of fabric at Tuesday's sewing day at The Siouxland Center for Active Generations
Artist Amanda Browder examines a swath of fabric at Tuesday's sewing day at The Siouxland Center for Active Generations

At this event in Sioux city, some of the sewers are experienced seamstresses, like Norma Peterson. She wanted to be part of community-wide event.

“I mean this is going to be up for the whole community to see. And to be a part of that is good, you know. I can look at that and say Hey I helped with that. Look up there and say that’s my fabric, that’s my fabric. And it’s just a community thing that I wanted to get involved with.”

Norma is working with a long swath of fabric made of many different hues of purple.

“You’ve got like a purple kind of thing going on here. It’s my favorite color too. I want to take the fabric home. That’s what I want to do. You can see all the different colors.”

Lynn Doxtad is also came to volunteer for the sewing day at the Siouxland Center for Active Generations. Doxtad says she has been handy with a needle and thread for many years, but she did most of her sewing when she was young.

“I hadn’t sewed in 20 years until I started sewing on this. But I used to sew in my younger years. Yes, I used to sew all my clothes. Prom dresses, the whole thing. What made you want to take part in this project? Um, I;m a member of the Sioux City Art Center, and I found out about it last year at ArtSplash. And I was volunteering at ArtSplash and Amanda was down there working on this project. So that’s what got me interested.”

Lynn says has donated some fabric for the Razzle Dazzle project and some of it is quite unusual.

“That’s now being put to good use. I even had some material that was an elvis postage stamp pattern. I am anxious to see it on the art center.

Amanda returns to do more work on the project, and the next sewing day is Friday, March 22, 2024 from 10am - 2pm at Coffee King - 1301 3rd Street. No experience is necessary.)There is also sewing day on Thursday, March 28th at the Gilchrist Learning center from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m..

All the fabric gathered and sewn will be suspended from the Art Center and Learning Center buildings shortly before ArtSplash. ArtSplash is one Labor Day weekend every year. For more information you can go to siouxcityartcenter.org.

For Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.

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