We just got in the beautiful new collection Wish from one of our favorite Free Spirit designers, Valori Wells!! If you've ever been over to her website, you might actually pass out from all the beautiful color and design just blooming from your screen! As soon as I laid eyes on her new collection Wish, I immediately thought it is one of her prettiest collections to date and I think its my new fave! So we decided to ask this seemingly infinite WELL of inspiration a few questions about designing, her new line and how to stay inspired!
Cabbage Rose: Designing fabric and quilts, writing books, photography and co-owning a store, your life seems quite full of creativity! How did you get started in the wonderful world of fabric?
Valori Wells: It seems like it was a natural transition for me….. even though I studied Photography in college I always had a love of fabric. I am a self taught fabric designer. The hard way, trial and error, I am always pushing myself to be better at what I do. When I got out of art school I found myself following a boy to North Carolina and ended up working at a Quilt Shop. Go figure since I grew up in one! My mom and I were working on our second book and I realized how much fabric was apart of my life and so I went to Quilter’s Only – it was a small division of Springs Industries – and I submitted my ideas and photography. They took me on and I worked with them for 3 years before a good friend, Donna Wilder, started Free Spirit. I knew that was where I should be. Donna really nurtured me as a designer. Free Spirit was where I started really pushing myself to do all the drawings and repeats and paintings of my designs. And I haven’t stopped pushing my creativity for fabric since. I have been designing for 15 years….
CR: Tell us a little about your design process and what inspires you!
VW: I am always inspired by nature and now that I have a family they are constant inspiration for me. I always carry a sketchbook with me and draw all the time. Those drawings and my photography start the creative process of making a collection of fabric. From the drawings I create repeats by hand then take bits and pieces of the drawing in repeat and ink them in black and white and scan them into my computer. Pull them up into Illustrator and put them back together into repeat and then color them. It is a long transition from idea to fabric and I think long and hard about my designs where they come, the story behind them, from the color to the projects I make.
VW: My family and friends and my love of trees….. I really wanted to create a tree print and with that idea I started thinking about my wishes.. which lead to my family and friends wishes. I sent out requests to my friends and family to write their wishes on paper I provided. I received wishes from people ranging in ages of 2 to 70. I then took the wishes and turned them into branches. From there the rest of the collection just grew. (You can read even more about the specific designs from this collection on her blog here!)
CR: I love the names that you gave the color ways, Patience, Strength and Courage...is naming your prints part of the story for a collection or a fun finishing touch?
VW: It is part of the collection…especially this collection. It represents my friends and family and their wishes. Sounds funny but the older I get the more sappy and sentimental I am….so names and stories are more important to me than they were in the beginning.
VW: I love to take photos, paint, silk screen, block print and combine them, sometimes in quilts and other times on paper. I just LOVE to create not matter what it is and try new things, get better at what I already do and push myself to grow.
CR: Even though your portfolio might suggest otherwise, surely you're human and go through creative dry spells like the rest of us! Any tips for getting the wheels turning again if you've been in an un-creative rut?
VW: I do go through those times that’s when I will look at art, go to galleries, look at Pinterest, my books and just sketch. By looking at other peoples work I forget my own issues and that seems to help open my mind. When I was in art school I would worry so much when I didn’t have an idea, with age and experience I have mellowed out and found ways to help me stay inspired. I also have some go to magazines that I love, Sweet Paul, Anthology, UpperCase, Mingle, Darling, they are filled with inspiring photographs as well and great recipes and articles.
CR: What’s your favorite go-to handmade project for gifts? We’re always looking for new ideas to add to that arsenal!
VW: My Wish Bird is my favorite handmade gift….. they are stuffed birds with a pocket in the back for wishes or little gifts. They make me smile…
CR: Besides releasing new fabric collections, is anything else exciting happening for you this year?
VW: I am working on a book that will release October of 2014. 2014 is going to be a very exciting year for me….(stay tuned) Other than that same busy life with the shop, fabric and family….and hopefully some painting in there somewhere!
I adore getting to peek into the lives of designers, its always so encouraging and inspiring to hear about how others create and get out of ruts especially! Thanks again Valori!! We LOVE WISH!
And if YOU LOVE WISH, tell us what you're going to make in the comments section! If you can't quite figure it out, you can always make this fab FREE QUILT PATTERN above that Valori designed specifically for this collection! DOWNLOAD IT HERE!