(image from Violet Craft's blog)
A while back we received some of Portlander Violet Craft’s fabric line, Peacock Lane. Violet was kind enough to answer some questions for us to be able to learn more about her and her design process. We also asked Violet to choose a group of fat quarters for a locals’ giveaway. Not only did she pick out a way cute combo, she put together a tutorial over on her blog today for some adorable pillows made with the fat pack! Yay for Violet!
Alright, there’s a lot going on here, so let’s make it real easy:
1) read her interview here and learn lots about Violet
2) leave us a comment telling us your latest source of inspiration and be entered into the drawing
3) head over to Violet’s blog and check out her tutorial for adorable pillows!
The chosen commenter will receive both a fat pack of the Peacock Lane pieces we have at the store as well as a pack of the prints Violet chose. You’ll need to be able to pick up the prize at the store. Comments will stay open through next Monday, October 24th, and we’ll announce a winner after that. Enjoy and thanks for playing!
BN:Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere for me. I have a really short attention span and my poor husband will be talking to me and suddenly I'll comment on the color of a house we passed or the detail in the molding along the roofline. I stop at a moment's notice to snap photos of anything and everything. Window displays, weeds growing along the highway, dishes at the thrift store, my girls' drawings or the outfit my tween daughter put together. My mind soaks it all in. Part of the time it is something specific like a shape or a pattern, but more often it is a feeling evoked by a particular scene. A warmth or a coolness or a feeling of festivity. Sometimes I don't know exactly what it is, I just know I have to capture it because it's a scene that's evoked emotion in me.
Peacock Lane really started with the fence photographed in our Portland, OR neighborhood, Laurelhurst. The fence is used literally in Parade Day, although the literal fence wasn't added in until the final round of editing. I had the fence in my head, had drawn it multiple times and was using the feeling of it to create various other parts of the collection. Elements of the fence are in Ticking Stripe, Menagerie, Bouquet, Wallpaper and of course Parade Day. The feeling of that fence... a laboriously created Victorian era garden fence... was with me all the time, but there were other substantial influences as well.
The exotic animals of the Wildlife Safari in Winston, OR have been a family favorite for my children since they were tiny munchkins. My husband's family has a long history of working there and my children's early years included many trips to the Wildlife Safari. It's only a bizarre coincidence that a peacock has taken up part-time residence at the same in-laws' home garden, much to their dismay. I've always had a bit of a love-affair with peacocks as my own hometown park always had peacocks roaming free. Some of my earliest and favorite memories are of collecting feathers from around the park with my dad.
Somewhere in my head an exotic, private animal sanctuary began to form. On the grounds a large, stately home with gorgeous Wallpaper, Ticking Stripe pillows and mattresses, ornate, framed silhouettes of the animals along the hallway walls (Menagerie), beautiful hand-crafted fences, Meadows of birds eating wildflowers and on Parade Day, the animals don their best blankets and strut proudly of their own accord all around the grounds for an audience of only each other.
And always with this collection I knew I wanted to modernize my Victorian sanctuary. The colors needed to be bold, fun and modern; the backgrounds modern and yet subtle.
BN: How did you find yourself designing fabric?
Let's take it WAY back, I have always been creative. I was a computer science/business major throughout college (except for those two stray pre-med years in the middle). During and out of college I worked for software companies doing software development, QA, support, Server Administration; if it has a geeky technical title, I did it. I ended my corporate career with Enron. I guess you could say we went down together. For me though, I tumbled right down the corporate ladder into a glimmering pool of fabric and thread and creativity.
I started Kung Fu Bambini within the next year. Kung Fu Bambini was my own children's clothing line that I distributed internationally through boutiques. It was all hand sewn here in Portland, OR. I won't lie and say it was all rainbows and kitty cats. It was HARD WORK. I cried frequently (constantly?) through those first years. It was a bitter learning experience figuring out how to balance my family, my creativity and my business ambition. I loved Kung Fu Bambini with all of my heart, but it was mainly a hard knocks learning experience for me. I made HUGE mistakes and learned equally huge lessons from them.
At one point I was sewing upwards of 600 garments a month with only one intern helping me. Yes, do that math for a minute and you'll see why I was crying so much. As we started to grow I began thinking of manufacturing overseas and therefore also creating my own prints to be used exclusively for my own line. The concept was appealing for sure. I created a collection of prints and was "this close" to going forward with the whole process when I had one of those monumental realizations that I was about to go against everything I believed in for my business. I had started this entire line to be made locally, by hand. I showed the prints to my sales representative that I was buying fabric from at the time. She said I should round it out into a full collection and show it to her again. I was completely immersed in Kung Fu Bambini at the time so I wasn't able to do anything with it then, but the idea was sitting with me for years waiting for the right time. I stopped producing Kung Fu Bambini in 2009 and the timing was right for me to move forward in a new direction. I dedicated myself to working on a portfolio and finally approached companies in May 2010.
It's all an elaborate story for me. Something I create in my head bit by bit. As I'm gathering photos and memories and things, I always know they are a part of a story... I'm just not always sure what story they are a part of just yet.
(check out the tutorial on Violet's blog for these fab pillows!)
BN: When /how did you learn to sew?
As a child I lived with my grandparents. My grandmother used to sew all of my Halloween costumes and Barbie clothes when I was a little girl. It always seemed she didn't have the patience to teach me... but I now think it is more likely that I didn't have the patience to learn from her. But I would watch. I've always been that way - too stubborn to take instruction, but silently soaking it all in. When I graduated from High School I used my graduation money to buy a sewing machine. I then began to take apart furniture and recover it, make curtains for our college apartments, duvets, quilts, skirts.... I just taught myself as I went. I would take something apart, see how it was made and then copy the process making my own changes as I went. I don't think I've ever made anything exactly the way it came apart. And patterns.... patterns are for inspiration :) I OWN lots of patterns. I think I've actually cut into a handful of them... in my whole life.
BN: Why do you like fabric as a medium for your creativity?
Fabric is currently my favorite medium. That "feeling" I get from scenes, displays, houses... I get that feeling from fabric constantly. The colors, textures, patterns... it's like visual and textural candy for me. I love the way you can put together a stack of fabrics to create your own "feeling" in a pillow or a quilt or a skirt. The way you can evoke that excited flutter feeling in something you create and then you get that feeling every time you see it. You created that! You brought that awesome feeling into your own life with your own hands. Who doesn't want to do that for themselves? When I pull out my pajama pants that I made with my own hands with fabrics I chose... I get to have that feeling every single night that I wear them. And every time I plop down on a pillow in my living room. And every time I pack my makeup bag for a trip. And every time I pull a hot pan out of the oven. I am surrounding myself or my family or my friends with warm fuzzies every time I create something.... okay, except for those projects that don't quite turn out that we hide deep in a bin or scrap pile somewhere. ha!
BN: What are you doing when you’re not sewing/designing fabric?
I have never been good at editing myself. I want to know and do it all. I make jewelry. I refinish and reupholster furniture. I watch really bad reality television and obscure documentaries (Flip Flotsam is one of my very favorites). I volunteer at my daughters' school. I run. I drink and brew craft beer with my husband. I'm a pdxbeergeek. I go to rock shows of my friends' bands. I play video games. I thrift. I sew with my Sweet Hot Yams and the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. I try just about anything and everything. I go through phases of cooking, baking, crocheting, wood working and bowling. I am a MAKEr. I believe in taking apart and fixing or modifying anything from the $1 flashlight to my laptop. I can field strip a laptop or build a dining room table. Occasionally I still find myself staying up all night reading technical documents if a topic intrigues me. I read. I play a lot of Forty Thieves solitaire on my phone.
Most of the time I am a work at home mom loving on my family and juggling all that organizing a household and a family entails while dreaming of sewing and all of the other things I just listed.