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{Mid Century Dream} Hand Printed Fabric

Hannah’s Room- KLT Hand Printed Fabric

I have embarked on a dream job- an on-going custom project to be exact. My love of collaboration, art, hand printed textiles, mid century design, research, full circle connections and friendship have all collided- and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

I have a friend from high school that moved back to Mount Vernon with his family a few years ago. He has an appreciation for art, architecture, local artists, small business, and friendship- his name is Andy. When Andy was in grade school he had a friend that lived in a very cool house and he remembers falling in love with that house during the many birthday parties and playdates that he attended there. That house is the Brotherton House designed by the well-known artist, Tony Smith in 1944. Tony Smith has an artistic background that is as vast as it is eclectic. From his early days studying at the Arts Student League, immersing himself in the Abstract Expressionist art scene and hanging out with the likes of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, he then decided to pursue his love of architecture and found himself working for Frank Lloyd Wright. Smith went on to become an architect designer & completed the Brotherton House in 1944. As a complete side note: artist Kiki Smith is Tony’s daughter (but that is a different blog post).

Back to my friend, Andy. He and his family just recently bought the Brotherton house! The minute Andy learned it was going on the market, he & his wife, Bonnie snatched it up. Understanding the rich artistic history of this house, and the fact that it has tons of windows, they commissioned me to hand print fabric for window coverings throughout. The KLT mod shapes pattern in yellow was chosen by their daughter, Hannah, who is currently in NYC (& graduated from college today). Juliana, their other daughter who is also away at college, chose the KLT raven pattern for their guest house doors.

Juliana’s Guest House – KLT Hand Printed Fabric- Door 1
Juliana’s Guest House- KLT Hand Printed Fabric – Interior Door 2
KLT Raven Fabric

This project has been a labor of love for all involved. I feel so lucky to be able to contribute a bit of my artistic vision to this iconic house – Andy’s childhood dream house. I can’t wait to see what KLT patterns they choose for other rooms.

Vivian in her KLT neck scarf.

But wait, I didn’t introduce Vivian. I’m pretty smitten with her & felt she needed a scarf out of the extra fabric leftover from Hannah’s yellow room. I think it’s safe to say that she’ll be overseeing all of the future house projects.

{Hand-Printed Textiles} Getting Resourceful

When we were first told to “Stay Home and Stay Safe” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I spent a lot of time organizing & cleaning out my studio spaces. As I was digging through stacks of fabric that I printed years ago, I was continuously asked if I was going to make masks. So, I thought utilizing all of my new found stacks of printed fabric might be a good idea. I started making masks with a tutorial that my doctor’s office recommended- one that has a pocket for a filter and has adjustable elastic that go over the ears. I made 25 and gave them away to local nurses, front line workers, and vulnerable folks in the valley. I saw it as a way of giving a hug or a little extra kindness. However, the demand was so big that I found myself making more and having to get creative when sourcing elastic. It slowly became all I was doing.

Chris and I came up with a system- he cuts, & I sew. I offer up curbside pick-up and found that it was my favorite part of the process. I get a little hop in my step when I know people are going to come pick up their masks. I love all of the conversations that I’ve had with people and it fills me up that my masks are making people smile & feel a little safer. The social worker, bleeding heart part of me eats this project up. It’s nice to feel like I’m helping just a little bit- it’s been giving me a new purpose.

However, I ran out of fabric.

I decided to start printing fabric for more masks, which means I’ve committed to doing this as long as there is a demand. As I print, I’m coming up with more projects and ideas – ebbing and flowing in that creative bubble. I’m so grateful to be able to do this – it’s filling me up at a time that is a bit deflating. I printed a little variety of fabric on one yard, randomly. It was just a way to save time, but I liked how it looked before I cut it up. It made my wheels turn…

I decided to list a these in my shop for those of you that aren’t local – I’m having a difficult time organizing all of the requests from my various social media outlets & texts so maybe this will help. If you have questions, could you email me (kltworks@icloud.com) rather than message me on IG or FB?I’m afraid I’m losing track- which stresses me out. I’m also putting a limit of two masks at a time so that I can get to more people.

*I have to update this post.

I had an accident – it was a dumb mistake- I was rushing. If you are a chef, maker, seamstress, or just a go getter, you may have done this too. I cut off the tip of my finger with a rotary cutter. While I don’t care that I won’t ever be asked to be a hand model in my lifetime, I do care that it will slow me down for a little bit. It’s affecting my ability to print fabric & sew quickly. I’m doing the best I can and appreciate your interest. I does make me happy to offer these to you but I can’t accommodate special orders right now.

I hope all of you are doing well and finding new creative projects to keep you happy. Be safe out there… (& beware of the rotary cutter).

{Hand Printed Textiles} Strange Times

We are living through a very strange time right now. The COVID-19 pandemic is not showing any signs of slowing down & has changed life as we know it. We live in WA which has been listed in the top 10 areas of concern in the US since March. We have been on a Stay Home/Stay Safe order for a few weeks that has now been extended until May 4th. My son will be finishing his 7th grade year at home while Chris will be teaching a full load of online classes for the art department at SVC, Spring Quarter -starting tomorrow. As far as KLT:works is concerned, I’m trying to go with the flow. All of the events that we were scheduled to participate in this Spring were canceled along with all the art workshops & after school art programs. However, I’m maintaining the shop while continuing to make & design. Admittedly, I’ve been moving at a sloth like pace, but hope to get a creative kick soon. There will be free US shipping in the shop here until the end of May as a thank you for your support. Stay tuned for event & workshop updates, there should be many once things get back to a relatively normal state.

It really warms my heart when friends & customers send me pictures of all the creative ways that they utilize & enjoy their KLT:textiles. Seriously, it makes my day. A friend of mine recently shared with me that her printed dinner napkins made great masks using a no-sew tutorial. Another friend, has been posting the many ways his KLT:scarves can keep him safe & stylish during this crazy time. Eddie owns Gordon Skagit Farms & he owns a scarf from every October that I’ve had a pop-up shop at his farm- which is a lot. Needless to say, he has many cool COVID-19 safety options.

If you are reading this, thank you! I appreciate your interest and support. Feel free to send me pictures of how you use what I make. It will guarantee that I do a happy dance that day.

In the meantime, be safe – we’ll get through this together.

{Inspiration} Studio 2020

The last thing that I made in 2019 was a friend inspired tea towel that planted a creative seed for 2020. My creative pal loves to go through my pile of misprinted fabric & ink experiments whenever she visits the studio. Her eyes light up when she sees my heavily printed, ink covered studio towels- one tea towel in particular brings a consistent smile. I thought for a Christmas gift, I’d study these colorful wonders to try to tap into what brings her joy. I started printing in a intuitive manner, pulling screens out, mixing colors & overlapping patterns to see if I could recreate some magic. This process was challenging & rewarding all at the same time & at the end, I had a special tea towel to gift my encouraging muse.

I posted the finished product (which I fondly call the, “Liz” tea towel) on IG & received some incredible feedback. While I usually have confidence when I print & create, I often have a wave of vulnerable insecurity hit me right after I finish. It’s sometimes difficult to be a creative maker in the age of social media- particularly if you work from your heart & soul. However, knowing the process is just as important as the finished product, I embrace the uncertainty of knowing if anyone will like what I make, & post with my fingers crossed- after all, doesn’t everyone want to make work that resonates with someone other than themselves?

2020 brings more experiments & intuitive artistic process in my work. The “Liz” tea towel inspired the “Artist Collection” of collage inspired tea towels and printed fabric that I’m really excited about. I just finished the “Skagit Flats” tea towel that reminds me of the farmland that I drive through daily.

The concept of the “Artist Collection” is really the utilitarian, design version of what I do when I make my paper collages– it’s the same mindset that requires the same confidence and decision making. I hope to hone my skills & maintain both directions as 2020 progresses- it certainly is nice living in that creative bubble as we enter the dark & grey days of winter.

Happy 2020, everyone!

{Inspiration} Fisher Price Toys & Chris Theiss

{Chris in his studio – 2012 }
There has been so much inspiration that I’ve wanted to share in the last few months but deadlines, mom responsibilities, and studio time have been my top priority. However, the art making of my studio neighbor is a constant, creative wonder that I’m lucky enough to witness daily. There is so much work that needs to be seen and today seemed like a good day to post. Chris Theiss is one of those artists that is dedicated, talented, hard working, disciplined, knowledgable, and completely underexposed. He teaches ceramics at Western Washington University and at Skagit Valley College while holding a design job (designing toys no less) as well. Juggling three jobs and a family hasn’t stopped him from finding time to make his work, although it isn’t easy. He hunkers down and works even on those days when I’m sure he’d rather be sleeping. He’s the real deal…
{Oh No Pinky & Perky Loves to Spoon – whiteware, vitreous slip, sgraffito}
{Devil Dog – whiteware, vitreous slip, sgraffito}
{Puffy Takes a Bad Turn- whiteware, vitreous slip, sgraffito}
As you may know from past posts, I love Vintage Fisher price toys. They hit a nostalgic chord with me and before I knew it, I had a little collection of toys lining up on my studio shelves. It wasn’t long before I noticed toys missing from their spot in my studio – only to find them in Chris’ studio. Chris started working with vintage toy imagery in his work – which not only am I excited about on an aesthetic level, but in my mind, it justifies my crazy need to collect and search out these vintage toy gems.
{Doctor Doodle – whiteware, vitreous slip, sgraffito}
{Work Play – whiteware, vitreous slip, sgraffito}
Along with his love of vintage toys, Chris’ ceramic pieces incorporate his interest in interior
spaces, drawing, and story telling as well by utilizing a technique called sgraffito. Sayer’s room is a favorite space in the house and you can see glimpses of it pop up often in Chris’ work. 
Last year, Chris was a part of a show at Red Star Studios called He Said, She Said with ceramic artist Kathy King. The show is reviewed in June’s issue of Ceramics Art and Perception Magazine and as if that wasn’t cool enough, Chris’ work is on the front page!  Nice work Chris – I’m so glad to let the creative energy that you exude wash over me.

{Glimpses} At the right place at the right time…

My bird obsession has really hit an all time high. When driving the back roads, I will pull over every time  I see birds, but when I see a whole field of birds I get extra excited. Today when I was driving home, I saw a bunch of people pulled over on the side of the road. To the right, there was a field completely full of snow geese and behind that, a field of daffodils in full bloom. In February, the daffodils started blooming and in March we’ve been experiencing spring weather and the promise of tulips on the way – which is all a bit out of character and much earlier than normal. The snow geese and trumpeter swans have been around for awhile, but they are getting ready to leave soon and the blooming of the fields doesn’t always cross over with the birds still being around. Seeing the moving blanket of white next to the solid blanket of yellow is reason to pause and soak in the splendor.

I pulled over at just the right time and I was so grateful that I had my camera with me in the car. The sound was incredible and all of a sudden, the birds took flight. They were swirling overhead and honking, shimmering in the sun – TONS of them as far as the eye could see. I think one of the coolest things that I witnessed was all of the people in total awe on the side of the road looking up into the sky, and not down at their phones. Some had cameras because they had come out to the flats to see the daffodils but many were just watching. Afterwards, everyone got into their cars to drive away, all with smiles on their faces.

I found this little video of a the snow geese in Skagit Valley, filmed not too far from where I was today and I wanted share so you can sort of see/hear what I mean. 

I love how simple things like this can totally make my day.  Nothing like the beginning of spring time to help put a pep in your step. 

What makes you pull the car over or stop in your tracks?

{Art Show} The Lincoln Theatre

The Lincoln Theatre is one of my favorite places in our valley. My history with this theatre goes way back.It was one of the original movies theaters in downtown Mount Vernon. I remember vividly going to see, On Golden Pond, Flash Dance, and Tootsie there back in the ’80’s.Now the Lincoln is a place to see plays, music, and indie films – it’s been restored and didn’t lose any of it’s original charm. There is still an organ player that plays before the films start.

A really nice feature at the Lincoln is the Art Bar. It’s here that artists get a chance to show their work and people can hang out and enjoy a beverage before and after the events that they attend. I’m lucky enough to be the featured artist for the month of February and we just had a reception for the exhibit this last weekend. The first image is a serigraph that I just made that was inspired by the Lincoln.It’s my interpretation of the view from the stage of a seated crowd. I thought it would be nice to post some of the work that is in the show right now for those of you that can’t attend. Most of the pieces are serigraphs that I’ve been working on within the last year. I’ll walk you through the show… 

The imagery that you see in my work is originally drawn with thread on canvas using free-motion sewing and I included some of my first thread drawing portraits in the exhibit for reference. I really love the continuous line quality that I can get from the thread. When I am happy with an image, I then scan it and make a screen from it to use in the screen printing process. You can view my thread drawing process and more of my thread drawings here and here

I know I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again many times, but I’m really lucky to know, let alone be married to, Chris. We make a good creative team. He’s a master at hanging shows and figuring out how to hang this whole show by utilizing picture molding on the uneven walls of an old building was a trick. He also proved to be a great bartender at the opening. The little details like the wine bottles and cans of flowers from our yard being covered by my prints – and my printed scarf used as a table cloth, was all him. I also like his signature look- a skinny tie with a hoodie. Chris is the whole package. 

Thanks for walking through the show with me. Have you seen anything noteworthy lately?

{Textile Tuesday} Anticipating Spring

Back when I was in college, I took my first serigraphy class (screen printing). I was completely hooked & took three more serigraphy classes before I graduated. I really love all printmaking, but there is something about the aesthetic of screen printing that I gravitate towards. Two summers ago, Chris helped me set up a little screen printing studio and I’ve been honing my craft ever since. I’ve been getting more proficient at printing textiles and last spring printed my first collection of scarves at the nudging of the ladies of a great design shop in Bellingham called Ideal. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying making a new line of scarves for this spring/summer that are heavily influenced by my surroundings. 

We live among the beautiful tulip fields in the Skagit Valley and I wanted to create a mid century inspired tulip textile. I was playing with fuchsia and yellow in the anticipation of warmer weather and the fields of color that on the way. 

After printing this weekend, my guys indulged me in heading out to take some photos of my scarves among some of the landscape that currently inspires me. The river is a bit high right now due to all of the rain and I love the reflections and bare trees on the river’s edge. 
I’m pretty lucky that my family indulges my creative whims. I think deep down they enjoy the adventures that we find ourselves on in the pursuit of a that perfect photo that I’m always seeking. 

This is one of the things I’ve been up to lately. How about you? What is keeping you creatively interested?

{Music Monday} Raven’s Song

I’m one of those people who stay at the end of the movie and wait for the credits. I hone in on the music when I watch a movie and usually want to know more about an unrecognizable song that piques my interest. I discovered the music of Aaron Embry by exactly that method – while watching Wish I Was Here. Raven’s Song was a stand out for me and I immediately looked it up and discovered even more to love – the music of Aaron Embry. He got his start playing and recording with musicians like Elliot Smith and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – so it’s no surprise that I was attracted to his music. 

The album Tiny Prayers has been on constant repeat in the screen printing studio lately. I use the imagery of birds, particularly ravens in my work. That, coupled with the gorgeous piano, makes it a nice studio fit.  

What are you listening to lately?

{Glimpses} Vintage Finds

I started visiting thrift shops and antique stores for studio inspiration back in college. I was an art major in a very small town before cruising the world wide web for imagery was even an option. Seeking out vintage typography, colors, textures, and patterns is still one of my favorite things to do. Old packaging and mid century treasures fill my studio shelves for constant reminders of things that once caught my eye and often serves as a way to stir my imagination. Here are my glimpses this week.

Glimpse 1:  Color combinations of yellow, red, and turquoise seems to be a constant favorite of mine. Pair it with cool packaging and unique typography and the chances of those items coming home to my studio is pretty great.

Glimpse 2:  Oh boy do I love all shades of green and mid century textiles and cups!

Glimpse 3: Yellow, mustard, orange, and tomato is another fun, “go to” nostalgic color combination. Vintage fisher price toys, Vera textiles, random buttons, and vintage books are things that I tend to always gravitate towards. 

Glimpse 4: I love the packaging for old games – they often include really fun illustrations. These faces make me smile. 

Glimpse 5:  When I first discovered King Penguin books, I went completely bonkers. Not only are they interesting, but the patterns are always so lovely. Unfortunately they are really hard to find here in the US – particularly the northwest. They are rare gems. 

Is there a particular item you seek out at a thrift or antique shop?