an interview with Kelly Neistat
Wild Columbine was born out of a passion for design, textiles, the natural environment, and the handmade. Kelly's philosophy is to create beautiful textiles that are kind to the environment and use quality natural fibers. She draws inspiration from her natural surroundings, botanical studies, traditional folk crafts, and many cross-country travels.
CORDELLA MAGAZINE: Your weavings are so unique and delightful! Each one seems to tell a story. What inspires you, what guides you, when you are creating a new weaving?
KELLY NEISTAT: Thank you! I am constantly inspired by nature, travel, the changes of seasons, and finding new materials to work with. Whether a trip to the high desert of New Mexico, or a week in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, many of my pieces draw inspiration from my experiences interpreted into woven form.
CM: Your work seems to be deeply rooted in family traditions. Could you tell us a bit about your family, and what you learned about creativity from the hands of your elders?
KN: Throughout my childhood, I can remember big family meals full of traditional Lebanese foods and weekly craft nights where the women would gather to share their projects with one another. My grandmother is a second generation Lebanese - American woman who has held strong to the traditions of her parents and her heritage. There were always creative projects happening around her house, from my grandmother's pottery to my grandfather's woodworking. Though I didn't necessarily understand the impact it had on me as a child, as I got older I really began to appreciate creative work and the time & attention that went into craftsmanship.
CM: What drew you to weaving originally? What excites you about creating with this medium?
KN: I have always been drawn to fiber as a medium. The softness and the utility of fiber has always captivated me. I've dabbled in other fiber arts - embroidery, sewing, quilting, knitting, etc, but it really wasn't until I started weaving that something clicked for me. I find weaving to be full of creative possibilities that are endlessly inspiring and challenging me to go further.
CM: Is there something innate in the medium which speaks to you directly as a woman?
KN: I don't want to get caught putting us in a box, but there is something perhaps innate about the joy that we [women] get from attention to details, and then the achievement of a project that rewards that detail and works in harmony with weaving. I think women also have a more intrinsic nature to fill their homes with beautiful things. For me, the woven form, from beginning to end, is about creating beauty which can be admired and shared.
CM: What does a typical work day in the studio look like for you?
KN: I wake up with the sunrise and make myself a french press of coffee. I then head into the studio and either begin drafting for new pieces or filling orders. Some days I sit at the loom for hours at a time, while others are broken up by trips to the post office, responding to emails, marketing, or lately I have been dabbling in jewelry-making.
CM: Weavers often take part in guilds or societies. It seems to be such a social art! What is your experience with the social aspect of weaving?
KN: It is a very social art! I have yet to join a weaver's guild, however, the community built around weaving and the internet has been immensely inspiring. There is so much support and feedback around weaving that it makes you feel like you are definitely part of a bigger whole. In any moment of self-doubt, there is someone always there cheering you on.
CM: Along with the beauty of your artwork, your business is totally inspiring! Could you tell us a bit about the challenges of creating your own business from the ground up?
KN: There are so many things to learn about running a small, craft based business! From product photos, social media, wholesale pricing, to actually making the work. There are so many little details. It is all a process, though, and always satisfying when I feel like I've finally crossed the hurdles.
CM: If you could give advice to a woman who is just starting a creative business of her own, what would it be?
KN: Trust in yourself, keep experimenting and keep making work! Starting a creative business will not happen overnight, and there will be many phases of growth along the way. Also, the business side of art is just as important and filled with opportunities for creativity as the actual making. Finding a balance between the two has helped me to grow my business more quickly and continue enjoying the process. Persevere! Everything will eventually begin to fall into place.
Kelly's work can be found at www.wildcolumbine.com.