Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Instant Heirloom: Indiana Blue

I'm so happy to share this Instant Heirloom with you today! Indiana Blue has been book marked in my Etsy favorites for months (literally) but somehow I never got around to actually emailing her. Barbara, the genius behind these embroidered bound books is as sweet as she is talented and to be honest, I'm completely in awe. Here's a bit from her about her work, her process and where she finds her inspiration.

Where do you live? Though I lived in several states (Indiana, Minnesota, Florida, Georgia), I currently live in the small town of Morgantown, West Virginia, where my fiancé is attending medical school.

Tell me a little bit about what you make. I make paintings, hand bound books, and embroideries.

How did you decide to start the line? I had several paintings that I had created for a competition and decided to open a shop on Etsy to sell them. After setting up my online shop, I realized the paintings didn’t give a full representation of what I wanted my work to be. I began to really think about the things that I liked, and started recycling materials from existing projects and recreating them into fresh pieces that better expressed the sensibility that I wanted in my own work.

How did you learn the technical process of what you make? I have been drawing, painting, and sewing since I was a little girl, though I did learn the basics of bookmaking while I was in art school. Process has always been very important to me. A lot of the work that I do has been learned through trial and error. If something isn’t working, then I’ll take it apart and work to reconstruct it until I get it right. There is a lot of experimentation with materials involved, as I am always striving to create a more tactile sensibility in my books and embroideries.

Where do you find your inspiration? Everywhere! I get ideas from pictures, magazines, movies, design blogs, and all kinds of found ephemera. I used to just do a quick sketch and then start a project, but I realized that it is more helpful for me to get the ideas out of my head. I now keep a sketchbook full of the imagery and colors that I am thinking about, and seeing them down on paper together often leads me to develop the idea further.

What’s a favorite item that you’ve made? I was asked to make a piece for part of a job application process for a display coordinator position. The idea of the piece was to create something that embodied the spirit and look of the company.

I made a small multimedia book that was about a girl and her dog. The book became a story about the girl dreaming of visiting her grandmother, who lives far away. I used a theme that was relevant in my life, and embellished it within the parameters of the assignment. I loved the project because I was really pushed in a small amount of time (2 or 3 days) to create something that was both unique in vision and specific to a brand. The book is a small treasure that I still enjoy.

Is this your full-time work? No, at the moment I work full-time in a bookstore. Whatever time I’m not there I can usually be found at home with headphones on, stitching or painting.

Why do you enjoy doing this type of craft, which takes a lot of time and manual effort? Craftsmanship is very important to me. I think one of the things I enjoy is gaining more technical skills. I’ve learned a whole lot while working on various projects (and still have much more to learn!). There is something special in knowing where you started and seeing how much you have learned over time.

What’s the best part of your day? I think the best part is when I’m really lost in a project and the piece is starting to take shape, that’s when it feels like the magic is happening.


  1. Beautiful items!

  2. Wow! Those are all so beautiful. What talent!