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1. When did you first get into crafts, and have you always been into recycled/upcycled crafts?
I think the first time I really set out to make something was for my Barbie Doll. I was 8 years old. I remember hand stitching a wedding dress for her, sort of Jackie O. style. I also made a set of bed pillow for her, complete with striped pillow cases:) From then on, the sky was the limit! Perusing every craft book I could get my hands on, I learned how to make doll house furniture from recycled items, how to make French knot pillows, and on and on. By the time I was11, my mom taught me how to use her Singer sewing machine. The very first thing I did was make a set of “jams”, the 80s style tropical print shorts, and used leftover fabric to sew a fabric panel on a Hanes white tee for a matching outfit. Within 6 months I literally blew up the motor on my mom’s machine. No joke!
2. What is the story and inspiration behind your work? What do you do when you get a creative block, how do you get inspired again?
I’ve always loved taking discarded clothing and making them new again. Hand me downs were a regular thing growing up. And my dad’s famous motto “don’t spend all your money in one place” made me want to get more bang for my buck. Creating my own designs and upcycling were perfect ways to do this!!
My love of fabrics is never-ending, with a big infatuation with plaids, florals, and stripes, so I’m always inspired by boho prints and pairing unexpected patterns together. Somehow they just mesh. I love thrift shopping a finding things that I can work my magic on! Everything country, rustic, worn, shabby chic, tough but not too sweet appeals to me.
3. When you make your art do you typically listen to music, watch movies, listen to podcasts etc.?
I LOVE listening to music when I work. I honestly don’t think I can get into a creative flow without it!! I have a playlist called “Walking in the Woods” that includes a lot of Alt Rock, Soul, R&B, and bluegrass. I lean toward My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Aretha Franklin, Alison Kraus, Amy Winehouse, Susan Tedeschi, and The Black Keys.
4. What project are you most proud of ever making?
Ahhhhhh!!! There are too many to list!! Top 3 would be my wedding dress, a wedding dress for a RevivaL photo shoot, and a set of curtains for my baby’s nursery.
My husband and I were married on the beach in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, in 2008. My dress was mermaid style, creamy beige silk shantung with organza overlay and a full hem skirt of ruffled organza with an overlay of chiffon with beading and lace embroidery. It was absolutely gorgeous!! (pic included)
The wedding dress I made for the Revival photo shoot was made entirely from recycled tshirts. I even made a matching “bridesmaid” dress from tshirts too!! (pic included)
We’re expecting a baby girl in August of this year, so I got the jump on getting her nursery all set up and ready early on. I wanted the theme to be soft colors, with a shabby chic and vintage flair. I made a set of curtains from dainty floral cotton with a double ruffle hem of creamy beige muslin. I had about 5 yards of pom pom trim on hand, purchased for only $1.00 years ago, and finally put it to good use as trim for the curtains. They turned out exactly how I dreamed of (pic included).
5. What do you like to do for fun when your not making art? What is the one things people would be shocked to know about you?
Gardening and cooking are both big favorites. I used to have a HUGE love for magazines, but now that I have discovered Pinterest, I hardly ever look at magazines anymore.
Hmmmmmmm…what would people be shocked to know about me?? Most people know that I love to do karaoke, but most have never really heard me sing. I feel like I actually have a good singing voice, or so I’ve been told, but I could just be kidding myself…LOL!!
6. Who are some artists, bloggers or designers you look up to in the Eco Friendly community?
I’ve always admired Natalie Chanin from Project Alabama. Her work is just beyond amazing!! I also really dig Julia Grieve of Preloved in Toronto, Canada. She has really transformed upcycling into a legitimate business. When I first moved to NY in 2000, I found out about Preloved and knew I just HAD to visit their Toronto store. I visited on my birthday in 2001 and I was in heaven!! It inspired me to pursue my dreams.
7. Why do you think the Eco-Friendly, Recycled, Upcycled Movment is so important? What is your one best tip for a small change anyone can make in their life to be kinder to the environment?
Everything is so disposable these days. You have plastic containers for just about everything. I sometimes get really anxious when I think about just how much plastic is out there and where does it all go? Convenience is the root of it all, and sadly, the things that make life easier and products more accessible will be the ruin of us all.
Something as simple as recycling cans and bottles can help tremendously. It still amazes me that some states don’t even have a recycling program in place. Shop local and support business owner who specialize in hand made goods.
Be sure to follow Tonya!
facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Revival/244196442323440