When people look at my work, they often ask "how did you think of that"?
The short answer is that the kitchen garden series is an accumulation of my life experience influenced by my ancestral history.
The long answer is that the land, textiles and design have always been central in my life.
My family tree includes farmers, nurserymen, landscape architects and architects. I have roots in Pennsylvania where my maternal grandparents farmed and my paternal great grandfather was a nurseryman. I grew up in Eugene, Oregon and inherited my design sense from my architect father. My family taught me that hard work leads to success, that food you grow yourself tastes better, and that if you buy nice things and care for them you’ll have them forever. These were and continue to be the spirits that support and uphold my work.
Protecting the natural environment was an important part of my growing up in Eugene, Oregon, where the early environmental movement took root. Our landlord neighbor used to come home from a work day at the paper mill and do garden chores in his bare feet well past sunset. Eugene instilled in me the value of connecting deeply to the land just as my farmer ancestry inspired me to appreciate farm-fresh food and bountiful landscapes. I was thrilled to dig around in the woods learning from an inspired high school art teacher about natural dyes, batik, spinning and weaving, and I began to recognize my own pull towards artistic endeavors. The Pacific Northwest environment nurtured my early training as a dancer and expanded my creative spirit.
My life in Eugene also introduced me to the sewing machine. I first fell in love with sewing as a young child sitting by the side of a neighbor who sewed monograms the old-fashioned way onto people's heirlooms and clothes for a living. After my dance career was cut short by injury, I turned my stitching experience into my business and began a successful career in costuming for the performing arts. As a costume designer, I became acutely aware of the waste created by my work. After fifteen years in costumes, I took a hard look at how clothing - both in fashion and in costumes - generates a relentless feedback loop where there is a constant need for something new to be purchased, worn, and often used only once. Most of the costumes I created were made from synthetic fabrics, appeared only for a brief moment on stage, and ultimately awaited their turn in storage before going to the landfill.
During this time of questioning the sustainability of my work in costume design, I became a working shareholder at my local urban farm, Henry Got Crops, as part of the community supported agriculture movement. I saw some modest needs going unmet on the farm and imagined a way I could help. I began making napkins out of the backs of second-hand men’s shirts and selling them to support the farm. I volunteered at community events, started to sell my wares at local farm markets, and connected with artisans, activists, and other like-minded folks trying to make a difference. I could feel the spirits of my life commingling all at once: the farmers, nurserymen, landscape architects, architects, the gardeners, the environmentalists, the spinners and weavers, even the dancer/performer I started out to be. All my experiences in life came together and formed a single idea: a line of kitchen textiles made with natural and reclaimed materials sold to support urban agriculture. My love for the environment, fabric, and sewing all dancing around each other in varying degrees over time that have coalesced into my current business.