I grew up in the tiny town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. I’m the oldest of four kids, and I’m lucky to be a part of a really big, super close family. I had one set of grandparents down the street, with my cousins living next door, and my other grandparents were only half an hour away. I remember a lot of “bunking parties” with all the cousins, swimming and playing outside, eating homegrown fruits and veggies, and attempting to sew Barbie clothes.
My family is full of quilters, painters, seamstresses, knitters, bakers, and gardeners. Whatever project you had in mind, there was someone to guide you. I was a big “drawer” when I was little. I remember making up stories with my Mamaw, and she would write down what was said, while I illustrated it. We’d then staple it all together to make a book. I found weaving in my last semester of college. I needed one more class to graduate, and I thought, “Sure, let’s just go with Weaving 101”. I knew nothing about weaving and wasn’t crazy about the very 70’s work the teacher had on display to promote the class, but I had been crocheting for a couple years…I guess I saw the potential. Yarn was familiar to me. By the end of the semester, I had woven way more items than necessary to pass the class, and I had put a down payment on a floor loom.
Today, I create hand-woven fabric in Lexington, Kentucky for my business, West Domestic. After finishing up school, my husband and I moved so he could pursue graduate school. On our first wedding anniversary, we drove seven hours to purchase a second-hand Nilus Leclerc loom, and I’ve been working on bigger projects since. Moving to Lexington held an unexpected surprise as well. The weaving books I’d used in college happened to have sections written by artists in the nearby town of Berea, which I have since visited and love.
I also do a bit of macramé work, but weaving is my favorite. I’ve made scarves and jewelry and tried my hand at making clothes, but I get the most joy from creating useful home goods: kitchen textiles, throws, baby blankets, pillows, baskets, etc. Being able to share and connect with others through my work and hobbies are what feeds my passion. Through textiles, I’m able to provide people something precious for their home that they can keep for generations. To me, it’s the best way to say, “I was thinking about you, and I want to share this with you.”
When I plan a project I think about who could use it, how will they use it, how long will it last? Because of this, I lean towards a style of pretty, but simple. I don’t want it to be complicated, but I don’t want it to be boring. I love color, but sometimes I get too excited and choose too many colors if left to my own devices, so I draw a lot of palette inspiration from block prints and illustrations. Before I discovered weaving, I had thought about pursuing printmaking, and I think that love of line and pattern carry over to my textile work a lot.
I keep several different projects going at once. There’s always something waiting on my knitting needles. If I need to switch it up, I’ll spend a weekend baking too much bread. Sometimes, I’ll just simply take a break. It can feel like everyone else is constantly producing work, which used to leave me feeling discouraged. I’ve learned, however, that if you look closely, most everyone takes time to rest, and you should give yourself permission to do the same.
I’ve dragged my looms to four different apartments over the years, and I finally realized how important a room’s atmosphere and space is to me. I need a place for everything, open shelves to be able to see what I have, lots of windows, quiet walls and of course a place for my cat to sit. This is a place you want to enjoy working in, so try to incorporate some of the things you love about a favorite room in your house. Maybe your living room has a cozy chair or your bedroom has bright natural light. My studio has always been in a spare bedroom so it would have been easy to also make it a “studio/storage room”. Don’t let that happen if you can help it. Make it a priority for your studio to be attractive and comfortable for you.
As an art major, I loved working in a shared studio space. I loved making and chatting and sharing with other creative minds. When we moved to Lexington, we didn’t know anyone, and I especially didn’t know any weavers. It was really through Instagram that I found a weaving community and then from working pop-up markets and art fairs I made connections with other makers and artists locally. I’m definitely an introvert, but I try to keep those connections alive; it’s important for me to be around others in a creative field, as it helps me remember that our work is real and valuable.We have the same struggles and hopes.
Know your worth from the beginning! No one likes to talk about the financial side of a creative pursuit, everyone likes to pretend it’s all about passion and determination—your time and your ideas are valuable. One of my art teachers always told us though, “Don’t ever give a ‘friends and family’ discount. Either give it as a gift or expect what you know your work is worth.”
“Heaven and Earth are threads of one loom.”
My husband regularly introduces me as a weaver, but when people ask me what I do, I say I’m a nanny—which is my day job. Acknowledging that I’m an artist has been my biggest challenge. I think it’s really quite brave to declare yourself an artist. I’m working on it, and when I do, that will be my biggest accomplishment!
West Domestic has allowed me to talk to and connect with so many people from all walks of life. It’s a door opener I never imagined I would have and for that I’m grateful.
I love my plants! I won’t say having a green thumb runs in my family but the love of flora sure does.
Just about every morning I step in my studio to check on my plants. Most days I don’t notice any growth, but every now and then a new leaf will surprise me or I realize that a leaf has been slowly turning in a different direction. It’s actually the same with weaving. Everything in my studio grows slowly but thoughtfully.
My Meemaw gifted me her favorite coffee mug when I got married. I keep it in my studio, full of crochet hooks since Meemaw taught me how to crochet. It reminds me of all the reasons we buy and create and hang on to things: to use, to share and to pass on for another generation to enjoy.