Ivy Jensen’s Artistry Inspires

World of Color

Nickole Kerner Bobley

Nov 05, 2018

It was at Foley’s where she honed her eye for color and design, working with Houston’s top models, pulling clothes and accessories from the store’s most intriguing designers for about 8 fashion shows a week.

Meet 82-year-old fiber artist Ivy Jensen as she wrangles a 6 foot tall, 50 pound bolt of Tyvek in her 3-room studio in her wildly colorful home in Carlton Woods. Tyvek is a synthetic material used for many things like construction wrap and water resistent mailing envelopes. It looks like paper, but is actually made of high density polyethylene fibers. Lately, Tyvek is Jensen’s go-to material for all her quilting needs. Yes, you read that right – she uses Tyvek in some of her quilts.  

Recently, Jensen asked friend and artist Rita Joseck to collaborate with her on a new Tyvek, paint and fabric quilting project. First, Joseck painted a swath of the material in different colors to represent the 4 seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall). Beneath the painted piece, Jensen layered-in 5 fabrics. On top of the painted Tyvek, Jensen placed a black chiffon fabric and echo-quilted (a style of quilting that creates a rippling effect) all the layers together. Finally, the two artists melted the top layers with an embossing gun so the various fabrics and paint would reveal their rich colors.

The result is “Saturated Seasons,” a remarkable quilt that will exhibit in the “Season after Season” show opening January 3, 2019 at The Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, Texas. 

“With its brilliant hues, “Saturated Seasons” epitomizes Jensen’s artistic expertise with colored fabric,” explains Dr. Sandra Sider, Curator for the Texas Quilt Museum.  

Celebrated Artistry

In the past decade, Jensen has shown her work at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California, the Arrowmont School of Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the Highland Craft Center in Asheville, North Carolina, the Craft Texas Show at the Houston Center of Contemporary Craft, Materials Hard and Soft, in Denton, Texas and at the Texas Museum of Fiber Arts in Austin, Texas and several other galleries in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. She also showed textile work at the River Oaks Center in Alexandrea, Louisiana and art quilts and garments at the Houston International Quilt Festival. When time permitted, Jensen taught classes in creativity, marbling, needlelace and alcohol ink techniques.

Early Artistic Influences

Born into a self-reliant and creative family, Jensen’s love of color was born during childhood watching her talented mother, Wilda (known as “Wilda the Wild One”), sew all of her clothing. In the high school band, Jensen played the eye-catching, colorful musical instrument, the glockenspiel. During her college years at The University of Houston, she applied for an assistant fashion coordinator’s job at Foley’s. But after one look and one conversation with the eloquent, smart and stylish young Jensen, she was instead awarded the fashion coordinator position. It was here that she honed her eye for color and design, working with Houston’s top models, pulling clothes and accessories from the store’s most intriguing designers for about 8 fashion shows a week. 

Working With Her Hands

In her 20s, Jensen married and had 3 children. While living in Tulsa, Oklahoma she enrolled in a creative stitchery class at the Philbrook Art Museum. This was during the early hippie days when everyone was embroidering their clothing. It was the first time she was making things with her own hands and it was very satisfying. Around this time she also took a sewing class from an Italian seamstress and began making elaborate lace dresses for her daughter and exciting wearable art for herself. 

“Creativity is contagious. You can catch it from other creative people,” laughs Ivy. “I believe this to be true, very true.”

Jensen expanded her artistic repertoire to include Japanese flower arranging, surface design, marbling, machine quilting, creating art to wear and jewelry—all while using techniques and materials in new and different ways. 

Art as a Catapult for Travel

One of Jensen’s favorite show memories was traveling to Turkey to see her piece “Ah Ha Herringbone,” which was on exhibit at a Sultan's Palace in Istanbul. The piece featured 3-dimensional marbeling and lucite that Jensen had a vision for one night while visiting New York City about a year prior. While in Turkey, Jensen toured marbeling museums and libraries which deepened her understanding and techniques of this Japanese-born art.

Congratulations to arist Ivy Jensen for her upcoming participation in “Season After Season” at The Texas Quilt Museum, an incredible body of work, inspiration and bold use of materials! The Woodlander can’t wait to learn what she is up to next!