Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Valley Fiber Life Magazine on Alix Joyal "Compelled to Creativity: The Couture Quilts of Mamaka Mills"

Compelled to Creativity: The Couture Quilts of Mamaka Mills

I recently met someone whose work and story piqued my interest. Alix Dworkin is a trained fiber artist, having graduated with a BS in Textile Development and Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
She grew up in Dover, New Hampshire, has traveled around the world, stopped to live in Oregon for five years, and has now come full circle. What brought her back? She returned home to establish Mamaka Mills, a studio and business that upcycles old and vintage textiles, transforming them into unique quilts.
Alix’s love for quilting started in childhood, when she sewed together squares from an old skirt and a pair of corduroy pants to make a lap quilt. Alix’s sentiments echo those of many fiber artists: "I began to see quilts in everything made of fabric. Curtains, pants, shirts, scarves, etc. This is how it all began for me."
Isn’t that how it all begins for many of us? How did you begin doing metal work or wood turning? Trying out tools in your dad’s shop? How about knitting? Did you start by helping your aunt wind her yarn? This redolence is one of the features that distinguishes fiber artists from artists who work in other media.
Alix embodies that innate quality by her enthusiasm for using most any fabric, in one capacity or another. She bravely incorporates multiple types of fabric in one piece. She even embraces (notoriously difficult to work with) antique and vintage velvets, transforming them into gorgeous, tactile delicacies.
In Alix’s words, "The first time I worked with velvet I remember cursing the fabric because it would slide when I would attempt to sew it and the cutting process creates a velvet "dust" which is made up of tiny fibers released when let free.
It was the most painful quilt to create but the end result was amazing. To this day, I still collect any and every piece of velvet that crosses my path, to sew into a quilt and give it a larger purpose."
Alix let’s her creativity drive the creation of her quilts. “I am inspired by textures and colors and I "free form" quilt without patterns or pins. I decide what the quilt will look like when I first pick my fabrics. Then I just get a feel of the way I want them to all come together and then it just sort of happens. Many traditional quilters would never presume to quilt without a pattern but I enjoy improvisational quilting and I believe some of the best creations come from little to no pre-planning."
Mamaka Mills is a vibrant project, and is off to a strong start. Stop by the Mamaka Mills web site or blog to learn more, and watch this new endeavor take off. We'll be keeping our eye out for your success, Alix!