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Ahead of our Holiday Artisan Fair 2017we would like to introduce you to one of our local vendors Kathleen Kelley.

Image: Kathleen Kelley


Has your 30 year background as professional interior designer influenced you work, if so, how?

I was drawn to  design at a  early age, I learned to sew and create clothes and my parents encouraged me to change materials and textures in the house where I grew up.  Because of my innate sense of design and attraction to texture, color and materials I pursued interior design in college and went to work in architectural firms.  I recognized early how design brings joy and contentment to being in spaces where we live and work. During my career, the challenge was to learn to know the client, then source and bring several materials and finishes together that were suitable to them, often  under complicated and multiple spatial circumstances.  Creating a palate that brings joy, maybe fascination, maybe peacefulness but always as exquisite as possible was my goal. 

Recently, about 2011, I continued my passion for this tradition except under solo circumstances. Interior design is different from the millinery art form in that it requires a far broader collaboration to make its final product. As a designer,  fashion has been always been an affinity of mine. It is a natural transition to shrink down my focus to smaller scale fashion objects. Now rather than thinking of how a space can bring joy to a person, I bring that same skill to items of apparel, (hats and ties) and other accessories used to grace a room or event (ornaments, napkin rings and candle holders). I especially savor the personal connection and joy I feel in seeing a person love what they see when they put on one of my hats.


Image: Kathleen Kelley

How do you begin when creating one of your unique, one-of-kind hats and headbands?

It’s all about the eyes and where they lead me. I begin by staying open to experimenting and discovering a spark, a nuance in bringing  materials together. I begin by scanning beautiful materials I see, whether I am traveling in a foreign land, walking in a garden, a store, or looking on line. I summon up instances of elegance to get me started. I think of muses like the way Matisse worked with color and textures or my cat’s inherent beauty for that matter… The eyes are where it begins.


What materials are your favorite to work with?

I don’t favor particular materials; I favor the feelings that any material might bring to me and  I also savor the joy of composing materials, textures and colors. While I have been using a lot of materials that are inspired by nature, it is that feeling of connection with something joyful that I favor and I find that my repertoire of materials is always evolving.

Image: Kathleen Kelley

What drives you to create?

That’s easy. It’s the joy in looking, seeing and discovery, pursuing the elusive beauty that life can bring, the joy of working closely with hand and eye and the joy I see in the faces of people wearing or using my craft.