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quilts by ria leigh

Ria Leigh textiles

The longer I look at these quilts by Ria Leigh, the more I fall in love with them. Her textile designs are everything I’m loving right now, with a nod to synthetic retro color palettes and a reverence for the tradition of geometric quilt pattern. I don’t think I can put it any more succinctly than she does on her own site:

Her work is situated within a matrilineal succession of makers and is influenced by her research on ancient cultural iconography, esoteric symbolism, pioneer practicality & Bauhaus ideology.

Ria Leigh textiles

With work this bold and a statement so eloquently drafted, I can only presume that she’s been working on this for a lot longer than the ease of her patterns may suggest.

creative makers: bethany putnam of foxboxes

I am so ecstatic to be continuing my Creative Makers and Creative Masters series! I had fallen off track because of how busy I was in the past few months, but I’m on the road again and ready to introduce you to some seriously awesome entrepreneurs. 

Sitting down for coffee with Bethany Putnam reminded me how much I love interviewing other creative individuals; she’s a kindred spirit with a warm heart and a genuine desire to help others connect with their life’s bliss. I felt so comfortable chatting with her that I easily forgot I was supposed to be asking her actual questions! Bethany acts as one half of Foxboxes, bringing vintage-themed flasks to the drinkers of Atlanta and Los Angeles alike. Their sweet and nostalgic creations feature upcycled antique imagery with a cheeky sense of humor and whimsy to match. Having just been voted Best Indie Crafter in Creative Loafing, it’s easy to see that Foxboxes is on a steep trajectory towards indie craft stardom.

Bethany Putnam of Foxboxes | tide & bloom

emily green designs

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I’m totally feelin’ on these psychedelic designs by Melbourne based artist Emily Green. Watercolor patterns are all the rage these days, but hers seem especially fresh, straightforward with a lovely clarity of color and shape. emily-green-print-strength_in_numbers_collage_one

ashley barnes ceramics

One of the best things about being an artist is having other creative people in my life. We all forge our paths differently, but at our hearts we are the same; we have an irrepressible impulse to create beautiful objects and meaningful experiences. My hope is to eventually introduce you to every single one of my amazingly talented friends because their gifts deserve to be shared. They’ll be sprinkled throughout my Creative Masters and Makers series, which I fully intend to continue developing as soon as I get more time to interview!

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Til then here’s a short introduction to my friend, Ashley Barnes. She’s beginning her journey into flourishing as a professional ceramist and her whimsical pieces are sure to put a smile on your face.

sculpted florals by takaya hanayuishi

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There’s really not much I can say about the stunning work of Takaya Hanayuishi that would do it true justice. As you can see from these photographs, his arrangements are a little more than your traditional floral crown. The lush and angular compositions of his headpieces accentuate the natural beauty of the plant as well as the wearer.

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creative makers: rachael riedinger of neva opet

I began my Creative Masters interview series in order to feature creative entrepreneurs who are a shining example of manifesting your goals and dreams. However, I quickly realized that there is just as much inspiration to be found in a newcomer – particularly because their decision to pursue passion over practicality is recent and fresh in their minds and hearts. I now present to you a “sister” series that I will call Creative Makers: a showcase of artisans, performers, and business owners who are new to the game and ready to give it their all. 

Within five minutes of meeting Rachael at Thread Count, I knew we would become fast friends. Her infectious laughter and evident love for all things well-made really made me feel like she was a kindred spirit from a previous lifetime. After only meeting me once, she so graciously opened up her home and studio to show me where the leather magic happens. That’s right people – leather. magic! Rachael Riedinger is the creator of Neva Opet, a line of hand-crafted purses and accessories that exemplify a modern take on the marriage between functionality and form. Her gorgeous array of leather and canvas bags were enough to make me swoon, but after getting to know her over iced lattes (made by Rachael herself) and scrumptious pastries, I knew I wouldn’t go home without one of her beautiful creations. Her work is dripping with passion and can be found via Neva Opet’s website, Etsy, and Facebook. Be sure to keep tabs on this one, ladies. I’m sure in a few years you will have wish you had bought one of her bags today!

Neva Opet: leather working tools | tide & bloom

First things first. Describe the personality or type of woman you make your bags for.

I make my bags for myself and for women like me. I like minimal things done in great materials that will last a lifetime. A woman like me is someone who appreciates art, design, and minimalism – likes things a bit more understated. I think shopping habits have taken a change and people want to purchase things that they will keep forever. I’m hoping people won’t treat my bags preciously or baby them because they are meant to live and mature with their owners. The materials I use only get more awesome with age.

That’s a cool way to look at an accessory – like a lifetime companion. So how did you learn to make what you make? Where did the impulse come from?

Well I started sewing when I was 14 years old. My mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and I started sewing all the vintage silhouettes and patterns I couldn’t find in stores at the time – like peg leg pants (skinny jeans) or just band patches onto my jackets. It just snowballed from there so I’ve been sewing for 11 years now. I just really enjoy making things and after one really awful job, I decided that I wanted to do something that I love. Even if it pays half as much, I’m still so much happier. In regards to the leather work specifically, I’m entirely self-taught. It took a long time to figure out the ins and outs of leather and I still learn something new every time I work. But because of that, each bag I make is better than the one before it.

Neva Opet: Rachael Riedinger | tide & bloom

Neva Opet: Rachael Riedinger | tide & bloom

Which part of the crafting process do you enjoy most?

Hmm. That’s tough. On one hand, I really love the transformation of materials – seeing the fabric or leather become a finished product. But I also really love it when I see that someone else enjoys the bag as much as I enjoyed making it. It’s just such a gratifying thing to see a stranger say “I love this,” and it makes me want to design more. Otherwise, I’d probably just end up with a bunch of bags in a room. 

southeast fiber arts alliance

In the spirit of doing cool and cheap things off the beaten path, Ben and I decided to go to an open house at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. We had both never heard of it before and the term “fiber arts” was all we needed to be interested. He and I share a love of textile, patterns, and tradition.. so why not? Tucked away in an unassuming office building complex, we found a bustling room full of small local non-profit organizations who had some incredibly interesting objects to share.

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From silk painting to lace making, I was amazed by my lack of knowledge on the processes that transform fiber into the beautiful garments we wear every day without a second thought. Take a look at that small strip of white lace in the photo below. That took TWELVE HOURS to craft using those wooden tools. Seeing the blue lace come together was like watching swan lake; the effortless precision used to create this incredible thing of beauty was simply extraordinary. It had never occurred to me that lace was made string by string like this.

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Ben and I learned how to work the loom! Again, what a painstakingly long process to make a seemingly simple piece of fabric. The woman who showed us the steps said she saw it as more of a meditation than an art considering how simple it truly was. I beg to differ though, seeing as how I consider my own art a meditative process as well. Repetition and simplicity does not diminish a craft, but merely emphasizes the importance of the passage of time and dedication utilized to achieve the goal product.

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I want a yarn-bombed tree in my new place or yard pretty badly.

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creative masters: jeanée ledoux of finely crafted

While I enjoy sharing the struggles and triumphs of my own life, I thought it might do everyone well to start exploring the lives of others who are also striving to manifest their dreams. I’ve decided to entitle this interview series “Creative Masters” because all of these individuals have mastered the art of forging their own paths and are a great inspiration to me (and hopefully you too). They listen to their inner selves and are willing their unique visions of grandeur into reality. I’ve had the extraordinary privilege of coming across so many talented creative professionals in the past few years and I’m so excited to be sharing with you how they came to be the amazing pathfinders they are today.

Atlanta is so pleasantly filled to the brim with extraordinary people who make it their life goal to enhance your visual living experience. Jeanée Ledoux, of Finely Crafted, is exactly one of those people. She and I met through the blogosphere and I was immediately enchanted by all the colorful and charming goods her store has to offer. After finally meeting her in person, I knew I had to do this wonder woman justice by sharing her awesome story on T&B. Jeanee is one of those girls you’d love to have in your friend group because even upon first meeting (an impromptu one at that) she is so lovely and easygoing. Not to mention she obviously could decorate your house at the drop of a hat. Jeanée opened Finely Crafted less than a year ago (seriously) and is already making her mark among the ranks of the awesome. If you don’t have a chance to check out Finely Crafted at Paris On Ponce, do not fret. Finely Crafted is officially going online in September of this year!.. Just in time to make our holiday season that much merrier.

Jeanee Ledoux of Finely Crafted

Describe Finely Crafted in three sentences.

Finely Crafted is a cheerful destination for home decor, gifts, and personal accessories inspired by modernism and mid-century kitsch. My boutique supports independent artists and small companies who pour their hearts into their creations, many of which are handmade. The Finely Crafted blog delivers store updates and artist info, but it’s also a source for DIY projects and a community that celebrates the craft movement and modern design.

Finely Crafted in Paris On Ponce, Atlanta GA

It’s a delightfully curated store for sure! Tell me more about your background and how it led you to this.

I’ve been hot and heavy with the craft movement since 1999, when I took my first job as an editorial assistant at Storey Books in North Adams, Mass. We published DIY books on cooking, gardening, sewing, etc., and I’d spend lunch breaks poring over projects and dreaming of writing my own craft book one day. In 2005, after several years of thrifty decorating projects in a few apartments, I wrote “Abode a la Mode: 44 Projects for Hip Home Decor,” published by Sterling. “ReadyMade” magazine was new, and book publishers seemed to be scrambling to find young makers with a fresh point of view on crafts. That same year, my sister Suzanne and I founded Honeydoux jewelry, which featured vintage buttons and stones. We got into several boutiques and sold directly at craft markets, which gave me some merchandising practice. In 2009 I designed the projects for the DVD “Re-Construct: Eco-Friendly Crafts Made Easy,” co-hosted by Garth Johnson of Extreme Craft and produced by Eyekiss Films. All my crafting seemed to hover around hobby status, financially speaking, so I took a break in 2011. I stayed involved in the handmade community by volunteering at craft shows, like ICE, and supporting makers I admire. I began thinking of myself as a craft cheerleader rather than a crafter, but I knew I wouldn’t be content on the sidelines for long. Last summer I felt drawn toward retail, so I made an “If I had a store” Pinterest page. I made a casual inquiry at Paris on Ponce and showed my page to one of the owners, and I had a signed contract for my own mini-boutique just a few days later!

Finely Crafted in Paris On Ponce, Atlanta GA

Wow. You’ve had quite a journey! What gave you the courage to make the leap to begin Finely Crafted?

I’ve never been afraid of starting businesses — Finely Crafted is my third! Renting booth space at Paris on Ponce is a low-risk way to dip my toe into the retail pond and see whether I like it. I do need to give myself lots of pep talks, though, to feel confident about designing the store. I’m not an artist and have very little merchandising experience, so I can spiral into heart-wrenching “who am I to do this . . . ?” thoughts. Having a space that hundreds of people judge every week makes me feel quite vulnerable! I’ve always been a fast learner and hard worker, though, so in the end I trust that I’ll scrape together enough know-how and style to be successful.

I know how you feel about being vulnerable. But your love for the work of the artists you represent obviously shines through. Who’s your current fave among the Finely Crafted artists and why?

I’m crazy about Leah Duncan! Her wall art and home decor (I carry prints, tea towels, and pillows) are inspired by diverse genres — from impressionism to Scandinavian folk art — but the patterns and colors are always distinctly her. There’s a joyful, dynamic movement to her drawings. For example, the paddle cactus on her tea towel looks like it’s dancing. Her oh-so-50s colors are some of my personal favorites, like sea foam, peachy pink, and goldenrod. Leah and I are collaborating on limited-edition prints that will be sold by Finely Crafted only, beginning this fall. I’m so excited and grateful that an established artist I admire is willing to take a risk on a retail rookie!

Finely Crafted in Paris On Ponce, Atlanta GA

I can’t wait to see them! I doubt anyone could call you a rookie of any kind with the life experience you’ve had and the collaboration sounds perfect. The craft and DIY movement is very hip right now. How do you set yourself apart from others like you, yet still remain relevant?