I’ve been searching all my life for a way to move my art off the walls and into everyday life. Since childhood I’ve had a love relationship with fabric, but after college I gave full rein to common sense and developed a marketing consulting practice to support myself.
My new line of cotton throw pillows is the culmination of a long journey with lots of twists and turns. It brings together a love of gardening and colorful fabric designed for everyday use. Art made practical. Practical made special.
Sewing was a natural part of growing up with six sisters and a mother who created activities that taught skills and incited the imagination. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t sewing. We’d walk two blocks to the 10- cent store to pick out carefully measured supplies: 1/4 yard of velvet; 1/8 yard of gathered lace (the white not cream); and thread to match. Clothes were designed for cloth dolls we’d made. Many of the ideas came from our incessant reading of fairy tales. We also learned practical skills like darning socks and making our own clothes that stood me in good stead when sewing Easter dresses for my daughter.
I studied sculpture in Florence, Italy after high school but changed to painting in college to get into COLOR. Quickly, I learned that painting was not a practical way to earn a living. I had started a family too. When my kids were little, I turned again to fabric. I began to make appliqué on wall hangings followed by clothing. Buy a coat; modify it. Could that sell? Still, too much effort and too little return.
I had an opportunity to create costumes for a production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. (I volunteered) We dressed a cast of over 50 with a bevy of seamstresses camped in the basement and donated sewing machines. It was a riot- I’d just had my third baby and was working fulltime in a graphic design studio. I reveled in the assignment- putting together the role, the actor and an entire cast with another’s vision. My fairytales stood me in good stead as the director had a penchant for 18th century style including fitted tops with plunging necklines and plenty of lace. The men wore them too- minus the plunging necklines. We went into NYC and scoured the aisles of TDF Costume Collection for practical things like chain mail.
It was an inspiring trip after which I went wild with crazy fabrics and extravagant do-dads. I’d never fitted men before…we learned quickly that they were generally larger and a completely different fit. The fun part was dressing men in pink brocade and getting away with it.
Soon, my own business took off and my concentration was focused exclusively on clients (and children). There was no way to continue to indulge in fabric. It was the makeover of our new home in Litchfield that once again brought me back to color and fabric. To be continued…