Saturday, October 23, 2010

Material girl ...

I don't think Clare Watters would mind being called a material girl, because fabrics are her passion and her calling. This San Antonio resident artist was lured into the textile arts during an undergrad Fibers Program at the Kansas City Art Institute, where she learned to weave, dye and print fabrics. She also learned a thing or two about antique textiles.

Recognizing the historical value of handmade fiber art, Clare began a life-long process of collecting and transforming fabrics from around the world. This passion and Clare's understanding of the harmony between design, color and execution has led to a thriving business, aptly named  'Material Recovery.'

Clare took her design cue from a brilliant suzani couch she saw in a Soho boutique about nine years ago. It occurred to her that she could be using some of her textile stash to create something geared to the d├ęcor market. Thus, she began marrying East and Central Asian textiles with antique and vintage furniture salvaged from second-hand stores. The result is a blend of art and fabric finesse.

Material Recovery is the 'haute' shop with a vibrant collection of upholstered furnishings along with pillows and wallhangings. Clare's textile art has gained an enthusiastic following of buyers and designers from every corner of the globe.

I'm really thinking that the recycled antique Suzani upholstered chair (above left) needs to come live at my house. Its hand-dyed and handspun soft pink and cream floral design embroidered on black cotton ground is sending my heart reeling. I have no doubt that I would love it as much in the future as I do today.

With a growing demand for ethnic decorator fabrics, Clare has expanded her collections and goods, including many styles of lampshades now offered for sale (like the one shown on left).

Clare noted that she has "been keen on mixing in graphic Japanese ikats and shibori as well as antique Russian florals." With a woven sari from a textile excursion to India, she's certain that it will also "come into play at some point."

What else does the future hold for this material girl? Look for her to create a quietly-elegant line of clothing pieces based on traditional Indian fabrics and shapes.

If, like me, you share an appreciation of handmade items, or want to keep up with what's new in the Material Recovery line, click here to 'friend' this amazing artist on Facebook.

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