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Harmony Art Thursday, March 29 2018


When did you know you wanted to become a fabric designer?

In the fall of 1997, I attended a birthday party for my great aunt's 2nd husband. I almost didn't go to the party, but that day changed my life. My second cousin, Susan Adame, whom I hadn't seen in years, was there. I asked her what she was up to. She described the school she was attending: The California School of Professional Fabric Design, in Berkeley, CA. I had never even heard of textile design before. Immediately, a light bulb went on in my head, and I decided right then and there that (textile design) was what I wanted to do with my life. 


How did you start?

The 1st day after the party (and the conversation with my cousin) I called the school, signed up for next available class and after 18 months of working full time and going to school nights and weekends I finished the program! My life changed when I discovered the world of textile and surface design. Design and pattern had always surrounded me, but I was oblivious to it. I can vividly remember coming home from my first class and looking in the closet for the first time and seeing (actually noticing) the patterns on my clothes. From then on, it was all over. Life is full of pattern, and it is now impossible for me not to notice all of the design that surrounds me. 

Where does your inspiration come from?
When I worked for big box design firms (creating for WalMart, Target, Costco, Bed, Bath and Beyond) I was sent out to go “trend shopping” to get inspired. Basically I was paid to go shopping and find cute things and then come back and create our own spin on what was already in stores. Now that I am my own boss, I go “trend hiking”. Most of my designs are inspired by the natural world that surrounds me. Take the design “Stornetta” for example. The flowers on the fabric were found while hiking on the Stornetta public lands- https://www.visitmendocino.com/point-arena-stornetta-public-lands/ . I love being outside. I live in a remote and beautiful place. To give you a sense of how remote - the closest stoplight is over an hour away. . .  being away from stores and close to nature suits me and my design research just fine.  
"My goal is to have designs that aren’t trendy
so much as timeless".

Check out what some of our bloggers made with Harmony's fabric here and here!

When did your relationship with Organic Cotton Plus begin?
Truthfully, Harmony Art (http://www.harmonyart.com) probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Organic Cotton Plus. While at The Green Business Conference in SF in the fall of 2004 I was waiting to speak with Julia Butterfly Hill and give her a copy of my environmental art piece, Trees Talk (wisdom from a Redwood tree). Kate Scott was also waiting to talk with Julia. We struck up a conversation as we waited our turn and immediately hit it off. Kate is an amazing apparel designer who uses organic and sustainable fabrics. We had such a good time talking that Julia Butterfly Hill didn't want to interrupt us! I asked Kate why she didn't use many prints in her line and she explained how limited her choices of organic prints were. She told me about Organic Cotton Plus where she purchased most of her organic fabric. The idea of creating my own line of organic prints was born in that moment. 
I remember making a phone call to Organic Cotton Plus the following week and asking them - “IF I were to create a line of organic cotton printed fabrics, would they sell them?” Without hesitation - and without knowing me or seeing my work, Barbara answered, “YES!” I vividly remember hanging up the phone and thinking - I can do this. There is a need, there is an outlet - now I just need to find someone who can produce them. THAT was not so simple - it took more than 8 months to get our first line - a whopping 3 designs printed - we shipped the first rolls to Organic Cotton Plus in August of 2005 and we have been selling our fabrics through Organic Cotton Plus ever since. The prints pictured below were the first 3 to be printed!  

What is your favorite part about creating and designing?

Two things…

The first is the way the world and time disappears when I am designing. I can get lost in the colors and layout for hours. Playing with colors, scale and layout I find exciting and joyful. 

The second part is the co-creating process. I love being given a challenge and then being set free to figure it out. This year I am on a year long voyage to try to bring more co-creating back to my life. Working for yourself is a wonderful thing but I have missed that co-creating process so I am working on re-energizing that part of my life. Earlier this year I worked with a company, Herbal Animals https://www.herbal-animals.com/ , that wanted a Giraffe print for their product. That is in production now and we should have it available for them (and others!) in a few months. I am also working with artist/friend Suzan Friedland - https://suzanfriedland.weebly.com/ - to bring her artwork to printed fabrics. She is having a retrospective show of her work in October and we plan to offer her new by-the-yard at that time (if not before!). 

What has been the best part of the Harmony Art adventure?
Definitely connecting with thoughtful likeminded people. The friendships I have made over the last 13+ years have been wonderful, meaningful and inspiring.  

Can you tell us about one of those?
Well, there have been many lovely people I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. It is hard to pick just one! I read about Teresa VanHattan-Granath’s, aka The Green Bag Lady (http://greenbaglady.blogspot.com/) eco-art project in August of 2008 in an article in Plenty Magazine.  Immediately I thought - I love this project and want to support it! 
Green Bag Lady is an eco-friendly art project started by artist Teresa VanHatten-Granath in 2008. Teresa and her international teams of volunteer “Bagettes” make bags out of donated fabric and give them away for FREE in exchange for the promise to refuse paper + plastic when shopping.
I contacted Teresa and offered to send her fabric for her bags. We hit it off immediately! At that time she had given away over 1,700 bags. As of today, the count is up to over 45,206!  Even though we live in different states, Teresa I consider one of my best friends. She is a constant source of strength and inspiration for me.

You can make one of these bags yourself with this free pattern and tutorial!


    April 02, 2018 Ann MacDonald says:

    Thank you so much for the pattern and tutorial for the bag. I am going to make a couple of bags and this looks like a great one to make.

    April 02, 2018 Marsha says:

    Loved reading this and can’t wait to make my own green bag!! Thank you!!

    April 03, 2018 Annie Brayer says:

    Harmony, so fun to “Read all about it” Such amazing happenings just commmicating with people you run across.

    April 03, 2018 Judie Ricciardi says:

    I love your fabrics Harmony, and still have whispering grass bedding that I had made for my bedroom. That was in 2005!! One of your first fabrics you made.
    I made organic bean bags for children out of so many of your fabrics filling them with a combination of Organic buckwheat hulls and organic wool.
    I have had similar encounters with people that led me to become interested in Environmental Interior Design. So many people have been helped with healthier choices for their homes and families. It’s very rewarding and thank you for being there.

    April 05, 2018 Green Bag Lady Teresa says:

    It looks like some of you are going to make bags from the tutorial. Awesome! Let me know if you would like to set up a chapter of Green Bag Lady in your area. Currently, we have 20 USA chapters and 12 international ones. It is super easy to set up a chapter and there are no minimums on bag making. It’s lots of fun, I promise! :)


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