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.