Mr Blue Sky.


As she weaves and com­bines yarn and flo­wers, Ca­li­for­nia- ba­sed Ra­chel Eh­linS­mith in­cor­po­rates the dus­ty tran­quilli­ty of the sur­roun­ding de­sert land­scapes in­to her tex­tile crea­tions. A hy­per­ac­tive ar­tist and crafts­wo­men, she al­so pro­duces her own unique dyes using no­thing but in­gre­dients pro­vi­ded by na­ture and let­ting time work its ma­gic. I crea­ted Mr Blue Skye in 2013. I had a hand dyed silk cape and eve­ry time I wore it people used to ask me where I’d bought it - and so I de­ci­ded to make a few more. Mr Blue Skye is a re­fe­rence to my son Skye and the title of one of my fa­vou­rite songs. The name star­ted off as a bit of a joke, but it’s ac­tual­ly per­fect as the hap­py song is the per­fect­ly em­bo­di­ment of the spi­rit of my crea­tions. What the sto­ry be­hind Mr Blue Skye? Have you al­ways had a pas­sion for crafts­man­ship? I have al­ways been crea­tive. When I was young I wan­ted to be a draughts­wo­man or a map­ma­ker – I was ob­ses­sed with maps and tra­vel­ling. I came across wea­ving by chance when my sis­ter sug­ges­ted I do a class at Sao­ri in New York to help me un­wind. As soon as I tou­ched the loom I felt a connec­tion. I knew I’d found my vo­ca­tion. Af­ter the class, I en­rol­led at San Die­go Uni­ver­si­ty Crafts Cen­ter, where I learnt the ba­sics of wea­ving and how to use a loom. I had al­rea­dy star­ted dyeing fa­brics years be­fore that, so com­bi­ning the two tech­niques was a mat­ter of course. How did you de­ve­lop your unique flo­ral wea­ving tech­nique? I bring back do­zens of plants and flo­wers from eve­ryw­here I go. A few months ago, I had an en­or­mous pile of dried se­same stalks that were ta­king up a lot of room in my stu­dio and so I tried in­cor­po­ra­ting them in­to my wea­ving work. As I ra­ther li­ked the re­sult, I conti­nued with ears of wheat and bo­rage. I like sur­pri­sing mix­tures. My flo­ral weaves are made from wild silk, flo­wers and hor­se­hair, which gives a na­tu­ral and cal­ming co­lour to each piece. Where do you work? I have a stu­dio in Lit­tle Ita­ly, San Die­go. It backs on­to a lit­tle pa­tio where I make my dyes. There is a small kit­chen I use to store things and where I mea­sure and mix. Most of my ideas come when I sim­ply let my mind wan­der. I like get­ting up ear­ly and doing some wea­ving be­fore my son wakes up. It’s like my mor­ning me­dia­tion ses­sion. A lot of ins­pi­ra­tion comes from the de­sert. The de­sert land­scape is en­ti­re­ly com­po­sed of va­ria­tions on the same co­lour and, each eve­ning, a pink or blue tin­ted sun­set turns the sky in­to a giant can­dy floss. I have just bought a plot of land in Won­der Val­ley and I plan to build a small stu­dio there. There’s no­thing but the land, the sky and per­fect calm. Eve­ry time I go there I just want to set up my loom and weave the sun­set in­to my fa­bric.

P. 146

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