Clothing art

San Diego Community News Group

Take a close look at the three-dimensional collar and oversized flower of the spectacular yo-yo dress.


Create DIY was a textile art festival presented by QuiltFest from January 13-16. This was the first online DIY event, which included workshops and lectures on quilting, rug hooking, fabric weaving, macrame, knitting, doll making, bead embroidery, dyeing of fabrics, crochet and weaving of tapestries.

One of the attendees was local fiber artist Marty Ornish, who creates dramatic clothing, artistic quilts and assemblages. She loves to use discarded quilts, scuffed vintage sheets and throwing away materials. She deconstructs to rebuild by upcycling vintage materials.

Ornish, known as Marty-O, was invited to give a talk on “Inspiration and Creativity” at this textile arts festival. She shared her techniques for finding inspiration as well as her wealth of knowledge in the field of textiles. Starting her presentation she said you should think like a child. Look through their eyes and their amazing curiosity. Travel and go to museums to find ideas.

Ornish said: “I revolve around artist Paul Klee, which doesn’t make sense because I don’t do abstract art and don’t use bright colors. I use old textiles to make my finished work look like faded colors. When I go to museums I look at things that are not on my list like how they used light and sometimes the setting is as good as the art. Picasso is great to watch for composition and the use of color.

Other inspirations she spoke about were graffiti and street art, as well as Japanese fashion, style and art. These are wonderful ways to stimulate your imagination.

Saving your time and limiting daily distractions are additional methods she spoke of for inspiration and creativity. She learns throughout her life and experiments even if it is messy. While working, she watches fashion shows and art documentaries for more creativity.

One of his favorite inspiring exhibits was Guo Pei at the Bowers Museum. This Chinese fashion designer creates the most intricate details in her work. Guo Pei is truly exceptional. Marty-o also loves Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, known for his cutting edge stitching. Every month, she spends hours looking for ideas in magazines. She said to let the story inspire you and ended by mentioning that you should always push yourself.

Ornish adores Yo-Yo’s, which are called the Suffolk Puffs in England. She received two yo-yo quilts, which were made by three generations during WWII. Take a quilt and transform it into a yo-yo dress, then place the second yo-yo quilt with a header behind the pattern. The dress has a three-dimensional collar and was accented with an oversized flower.

She received the Best of Show for this “Form Not Function” piece at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana, 2020. She has an additional list of awards for her unique work and also received the Best of Show at Mid -Atlantic Quilt Festival, Wearable art, Hampton, Virginia, 2019.

Mancuso Show Management is a company that promotes national and international events in the genre of quilting arts, clothing and textiles. MSM was started by two brothers David and Peter Mancuso with offices in New Hope, Pennsylvania. For the next QuiltFest, visit To contact Marty-O, visit

Events to come

March 6 – Soroptimist International in San Diego will present “Women With Vision”. This is a live virtual fashion show produced by Gretchen Productions. The afternoon also features the “Live Your Dream” awards. For more information, call 619-670-9880.

Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned seamstress based in San Diego. Learn more about our hat maker, teacher and blogger at