The beautiful and contemplative designs that are created from handmade shibori have always fascinated me. The art of using Japanese tie-dying to create beautiful contemporary handmade goods is an incredible example of how ancient techniques can find a place in our modern world. There is no better example of this than Leonard and Co. Designed and produced by Brooke Holtz, the handmade shibori textiles on display are sure to bring a touch of beautiful design into your daily life. I’m especially fond of the wall hangings. They look like they could absorb the stresses of modern life and reflect back a soothing sense of calm. Who doesn’t need that?
Brooke is the latest artists to support the LAB and I’m thrilled to share her insights with LAB readers. Be sure to visit her handmade shibori shop and let me know which item is your favorite. A special shout out to Matt Burt for the lovely images.
What inspired you to begin your handmade shibori collection?
At the end of 2014, I made a new year’s resolution to make every gift I gave rather than to buy them. I was taking ceramic classes at the time, so I figured everyone would be receiving a set of mugs for their birthdays that year! However, a close friend of mine was expecting a baby and mugs just wouldn’t quite do the trick. That’s when I began researching fabric dying and fell in love with the art of shibori.
Describe your creative process. Where do you start?
It basically begins on the living room floor of my tiny apartment, surrounded by white linen and endless resources I have gathered around my home that I use to bind, tie and manipulate the fabric. I always have an idea in my head of the result I wish to get, so with the knowledge of various techniques and some logical thinking, it’s a really beautiful process of trying to create what I am envisioning. In saying that, my favourite thing about shibori is that every piece is unique and you rarely get exactly what you would have hoped for: it’s a magical experience of trial and surprise.
Professionally, my background has been in all things digital marketing, content creation and events. Creatively and on-the-side, I take pottery class, I craft every chance I get, I assist my photographer-boyfriend, I write and I cook. Life is busy and colourful and very, very wonderful.
Leonard and Co. is the manifesto of all the things I care about most. It’s about creating with our hands and with natural resources , learning about new perspectives and it’s about sharing important stories in order to come together as a community.
Ultimately, I hope to make many new friends, make many things that people enjoy and tell many stories of individuals and business that are doing good to do good.
About The Maker, Brooke Holtz for Leonard and Co.
How do you maintain your creative drive?
Maintaining my creative drive hasn’t been something that has challenged me yet, as I have only just recently dived into making full-time after letting go of my professional work. So, currently you can find me manipulating, dying, and sewing fabric all day, everyday. I am someone who is always trying new things and teaching myself new things, so keeping up with that variety also keeps me very creatively driven.
What materials do you love to use?
This is an easy question: I love to use anything that is natural, recycled, rescued from waste and organic. From the leather I use for my labelling, to the blueberries, onions and avocado I use to veggie-dye, I always endeavour to make conscious decisions of where I am sourcing my materials and to make my crafts as low impact on the environment as possible.
Every product has a story, is there a story behind one of your pieces that stands out to you?
My bags are most meaningful to me! Through my handmade bags, I have attempted to create something that is three things: 1/ Aesthetically pleasing, useful and strong, 2/ Ethically and sustainably made, and 3/ A bag that people can use and want to use in their everyday lives and assist in the battle against plastic or one-use bags.
My new year’s resolution this year was to completely rid my life of disposable items and if I can create a product that inspires the same in others, than that is a dream come true.
Do you have a dream collaborator?
Absolutely! Aesop without a doubt. I regularly daydream about custom making their lovely pouches that you receive upon purchase of their product. *Begins daydreaming instantly*
What are some of the challenges you face as a maker?
Confidence first and foremost. Having only just started truly putting my work out there, it’s working out to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The fear is definitely what people might think – will they like the work, won’t they like the work. However, one tenth of my manifesto for Leonard and Co. this year is to confidently stick true to core values, ethics and purpose and keeping that in mind as I start each new day is certainly helping.
How do you use social media and blogging to promote your work?
I’m really only just beginning to build up my various social platforms. Instagram being my priority, with Facebook and Pinterest coming in second. My strategy moving forward is to tell the story of my processes in depth and to try to align with other businesses on the same path. I’m very lucky to be dating an incredible photographer that helps with keeping on top of quality imagery too!
Where do you see your shop/project going?
I have quite big dreams for Leonard and Co. Mostly in extending my product line into clothing as I’d love to design a hand-dyed, sustainable clothing line. I also really hope to collaborate as much as possible as working creatively with others is where I thrive.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on getting my bedding products up on the online store – which isn’t too far off! Outside of making, I’m working on filling my website with helpful content to tell stories of my making process, and other exciting bits and pieces. Stay tuned!
Leonard and Co.:
handmade shibori textiles