For as long as I have ever known, I have always had an itch to create things with my hands. My entire family tree branches off into different directions of artistic backgrounds. I remember looking at my father’s back as he sat at his easel restoring antique portraits; my mother at her drafting table; and little me—always holding any kind of handiwork project I could get my hands on growing up. Being the only child of two fine artists, the desire to explore new creative outlets was extremely important to me.
Drawing was definitely my first love and strength. I have always enjoyed the process and end results of creating a drawing. It is very meditative for me. While I enjoyed drawing as a childhood hobby, I began taking it much more seriously in high school. My sophomore year of high school was the beginning of an extremely difficult phase in my life, and at that time, I discovered that my love of illustration could not only be about concentration and rendering, but also a tool of communication with my inner self. I believe that was the time when my identity began to come out on paper, and I was in the early stages of developing my own unique style.
I would often turn to my mother’s mother, Buffy, for a great deal of creative inspiration. A true eccentric bohemian, she was very adventurous with her fashion choices, collections and spiritual beliefs. To me, she was always rather mysterious and secretive. My grandmother’s favorite sister, Mary, was a master seamstress and pattern maker. She designed and sewed her own clothing. When Mary had passed, my grandmother preserved her creative belongings as an untouched shrine of sorts, in a very small room within my grandparents sprawling home. As a little girl, when I fi rst discovered this previously unexplored room, I felt instantly transported to another life; another world where I felt I truly belonged. It was a small room brimming with vintage fabric remnants, antique pattern-making tools, sewing equipment and endless other fibrous materials. I immediately fell very deeply in love and wanted a part of this new magic!
Help each other. Love everyone. Every leaf. Every ray of light. Forgive. – Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Over the years leading up to my grandmother’s passing, she slowly donated her sister’s materials and tools to me in little bits at a time until eventually, I inherited everything. I use these tools and materials in my current work daily, in moderation of course. When Buffy began passing these belongings off to me, I began to focus more of my energy onto the vast world of textiles and soft sculpture rather than drawing. I was regularly enchanted by stop-motion and Russian animated films when I was little. The movements and expressions of the characters were inspiring and equally haunting. I longed to create my own characters by learning to sew dolls and learn about textiles. I wanted to learn how three-dimensional patterns were constructed and how to use that information to make fabric sculptures or simple soft toys.
At sixteen, I was lucky enough to find a job at a gorgeous fabric store that had just opened in Montclair. I worked there for seven years until the owner relocated and closed her doors. She carried the most beautiful lines of fabrics, and I gained nearly all of my machine and garment sewing skills from my years working there. During the last couple of years, the owner brought in sewing and embroidery machines for sale. That was where I was introduced to the world of high-tech sewing and embroidery machines and all the endless things they were capable of.
Being introduced to these machines was an amazing milestone for me creatively because I suddenly had access to tools that could combine my love for illustration and fiber arts. I loved the idea of being able to create illustrated characters that could be translated into embroidery. Once I began practicing and familiarizing myself with these machines, I became more comfortable with the idea that this art form I loved so dearly could become a potential business for me.
I love to experiment with my art and try different things. But, my favorite things to make are consistently decorative pieces that have a bit of an ageless quality to them—characters that can be suitable for a nursery or a home office. Prior to purchasing my embroidery machines, I was already practicing the art of free motion embroidery or thread painting as some call it. Some one-off pieces I manually free motion embroider, whereas other designs are programmed into the machines automatically. Working with the embroidery machines can be very satisfying, as well as, frustrating. They require quite a bit of concentration and practice.
When I happen to observe someone light up with curiosity and wonder when looking at my work, I am assured that I am fulfilling my purpose as an artist in life.
I never expected to end up where I am now creatively. But, I am truly overjoyed to say that I am enjoying this phase of my life thoroughly. Creating a routine for myself balanced between my personal work and my job, managing Parcel (a shop on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair), provides me with a huge deal of creative nourishment and assignments that allow me to channel my artistic skill sets every day. I am so grateful for the beauty around me and that my work brings joy and happiness to others. And, I am eternally grateful that my life is structured with endless inspiration, encouragement, and most importantly, real magic.