Meet Tessa: Textile Artist

This is the first in a new series I’m starting – interviews with bold and mindful women, posted every other week. I’m so happy to have Tessa as our first! Sign up for our weekly newsletter for future interviews with artists, makers, founders, movers and shakers.
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I met Tessa at a Creative Mornings event, after nervously giving a talk about Seamly.co and my creative journey. We talked briefly, and I remember hoping our paths would cross again. Luckily, they did.

Months later, I embarked on a dye project for our maxi dresses, and was able to work with Tessa to make it happen. She designed the pattern, tested the fabric, and worked with Annie to bring the project to life. We hosted a dye party with about ten friends, and she taught everyone the process of folding and binding.

I knew Tessa was crazy-good at textile art, but it wasn’t until I visited her at home that I realized how much art is a part of her life. She had paints, dyes, metal work, you name it – and all kinds of gorgeous projects going on.

Tessa works a 9-5 (in the UX/tech industry) and is in that place we’re all familiar with: what’s next?

I caught her on a Saturday morning at her home in Boulder, Colorado, and we talked about how she got interested in textiles, why art matters, and how she deals with the age-old question of being “good enough.”

Meet Tessa, in photos + words below.

Wearing the Hand-Dyed Maxi Dress she helped us create!

 

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KG: How did you get involved in textiles and dyes? And what’s your favorite process?  

TR: I started experimenting with textiles in middle school when my Grandma Jo taught me how to sew. She had an amazing fabric closet full of vintage patterns that were just sitting there collecting dust, not to mention every color of zipper you could imagine. I started making coin purses out of the zippers and bracelets from free paint samples that I got at the hardware store. I was fascinated with how easy it seemed to create something functional that cost me nothing at all.
 
In high school I discovered a process called batik, a technique of wax resist dyeing applied to cloth, that’s when I became really interested in dyes and surface design. I used to bring home my batik’s to work on at home because the process was very repetitive; I would have never been able to finish otherwise. I would hang them in the kitchen overnight allowing the dye to dry so I could apply wax the following day. If you asked my Mom, I think she would agree that it got a little annoying having my art projects spread all over the house.
 
Batik is still one of my favorite processes, although I haven’t done much of it since high school.

 

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KG: I know that art therapy is something you’re considering getting into. How do you see art therapy as a healing/coping tool? And how has it helped you?

TR: I’ve always been a believer that creativity encourages healing. Any creative outlet can be therapeutic, but you really have to trust the process and think about what’s happening in the now and not the future. Art therapy can be used in so many different ways: rehabilitation, treatment, healing, psychotherapy, counseling; The list goes on and on but the cool thing is that it does different things for different people. 
 
I had a first hand experience using art therapy to help me rehabilitate after a bad car accident in 2005. It was a great stress release and self esteem booster for me. Art has been a part of my life ever since.
 

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KG: So many people don’t dig into creative endeavors because they’re afraid that they won’t be “good enough.” As a mixed-media artist who seems to always be trying new things, what would you say to them?

TR: Don’t have any expectations when you begin. Half the time projects turn out different than what you had originally envisioned and that’s the beauty of art. The experience of creating something should be gratifying enough. Those interested in pursuing the arts should remember that you don’t have to be the next Rembrandt express yourself.
 

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Huge thank you to Tess for her help in creating one of my favorite pieces thus far, and for sharing her home, art, and thoughts!

Here’s a video of our dye process. You can shop the Hand-Dyed Maxi here, and see more photos from our dye party here.

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Kristin Glenn

Hi! I'm Kristin, the founder / designer at Seamly.co. A few years ago, I became obsessed with sustainable fashion, co-founding {r}evolution apparel and Kickstarting "the Versalette" -- without knowing how to sew industrially or draft a pattern. Now, I'm going back to the basics, and learning how this big fashion machine works...

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