me, hanging out the house gnome laundry, Vermont, 1973
My father is a writer, my mother a painter, so its not surprising to me that I am just as fascinated by the story that a drawing tells as the art itself. We always lived in the country, in northern Vermont, and our house was always filled with art and handmade things. We rarely had a television or telephone, so my sister and I turned to making things and drawing as a way to keep ourselves busy during the long winters. I learned to sew and to knit before I turned six, and began designing clothing for myself and others when I was 8 or 9. Summers would find us outside, roaming horse meadows in search of wild strawberries or jumping off rock ledges into a nearby swimming hole. The memories of these days continue to shape much of my work.
After college I found work as a naturalist and wilderness guide. As a teacher and leader, I spent long summer months in the Sierra Mountains and Cascade Range and winters on the northern California coast. I was fascinated and inspired by the lives of the tiny creatures that I would come across, and by the way they interacted with one another and with the world around them. In my mind, wilderness was a secret garden of sorts, holding mysteries, societies, and dramas that could hardly be imagined. This was the world that I tried to introduce to my students and clients.
I began to use textiles and artwork to capture this world, and soon became interested in printing fabric with my own illustrations. In 1996, when I was 26 years old, I founded the brand Munki Munki. Largely Inspired by the print designers of my childhood, Lily Pulitzer, Marimekko, and Vera Neuman, I wanted to make very basic and simple clothing sewn from fabric printed with my own illustrations. The collection was an instant hit, and the brand enjoyed several years of success and growth. Within only two years, my designs appeared in hundreds of stores nationwide, and graced the covers of magazines. There was, however, less time for art and much more time spent running a company and managing a brand. In 2003, I introduced a women's pajama line under the Munki Munki label. In 2004, I sold the brand, which today exists as a women's sleepwear line and is sold in department stores and boutiques.
In 2005 I also introduced my first line of printed fabrics, again focussing on themes of childhood. Home sewing was now a growing trend among American women, especially young mothers and homemakers. The line was well recieved and led to several more collections with both Westminster and Kokka of Japan, and finally to Windham Fabrics, who is currently the sole manufacturer of my fabric designs.
To compliment my lines of printed fabrics I wrote the how-to book “Weekend Sewing” (Abrams/STC Craft, 2009), which is meant as a guide to integrating sewing into ones home and lifestyle in a stylish and modern way. I have continued that theme on my blog, where I am building a collection of projects, recipes, resources, artwork, and essays meant to inspire and empower young women (the first generation of American women for whom home EC was not a requirement) to live creatively. I also began to teach and lead weekend retreats, which has evolved into some of most favorite and satisfying work.
In 2010 I began to illustrate children’s picture books, and then began to write in earnest, publishing a book of essays about my upbringing, titled How To Catch a Frog (Abrams). Today I continue to work both as an illustrator and author, with clients in publishing and manufacturing. I thoroughly enjoy small collaborations with companies and causes that I feel passionate about.
I live in New York City and the Catskill Mountains now, with my husband, daughter, and dog.