Old World Style at Pike Place Market

There was a time in the not too distant past when all clothing was handmade. Cloth was handwoven, knit or crocheted from handspun thread and yarn, then stitched into garments entirely by hand. Artisans with these valuable skills were esteemed and held positions of economic and political power for centuries until the industrial revolution brought technology allowing for mass production. This lead to a decline in these ancient arts, which today are considered leisure crafts and hobbies by many. At the Pike Place Market textile artists are working to keep the age-old traditions of the professional artisan alive.

PPPSheila_2Weaving is the oldest of the textile crafts; samples of cloth woven from flax have been found in Egypt dating back to 5000 BC. Today’s handweavers have a broader variety of fibers available to create their cloth, but the basic concepts of production on the loom have not changed much since those ancient times.

Pike Place Market master crafter Sheila Mead has been weaving for 45 years. She studied Textiles at the University of Michigan and has been a Market vendor since 1989. Her scarves and shawls are created using cotton and silk chenille yarns in color palettes inspired by art, architecture and nature from a lifetime of traveling. Sheila tells a story with each piece, of a painting by Gustav Klimt or Emily Carr, a view of the sea, a terraced garden or a rolling landscape

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Each is a unique work of wearable art created on a handloom that takes up most of her living room, Sheila says, “It’s not just a job, it’s my life!”

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Visit Sheila’s website http://www.gypsywingstextiles.com to see more examples of her beautiful work.

Early examples of knitted fabrics date back to the 1100’s, when only one single type of stitch was used, knitted on several needles “in the round” to a create tube of finished fabric. Knitting is now the second most popular needlecraft hobby in America, and today’s knitters create intricate lace, textured cable stitches and colorwork pattern techniques which are the result of generations of shared knowledge from artisans around the world.

PPPAnn_2Ann Dunlap Brown has been knitting since she was a teenager, when her innate sense of color drew her to the craft which she studied in college,earning her Masters Degree in Textiles at Iowa State before pursuing her career as an independent fiber artist. “I love the challenge of coming up with something new and different” she says. Ann’s distinctive designs are inspired by the materials she uses, combining luxury yarns, ribbons and lace in unexpected combinations of color and texture.

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Her unique accessories must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. Ann’s work can be found on display at the Joe Desimone Bridge Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

People have worn hats throughout history. A functional accessory intended to provide warmth and protection from the elements, and in the past hats were also worn to indicate rank or social status. The Milliner is a professional artisan who elevates hatmaking to an art form which allows the wearer to express his or her individual style and fashion sense while enhancing natural features.

PPPGoldie_1Goldie Goldenberg has been making hats since 1992. The daughter of a professional seamstress, Goldie learned to sew when she was seven years old. She chose to focus on creating headwear when she realized that because they require so much less fabric than other garments, hats allowed her to afford using higher quality fabrics like velvets, rare silks and fine woolens. Goldie designs hats for both men and women, traveling the country to source fabrics and trim, she finds most of her inspiration in the characters she meets. Visiting New Orleans yearly, her designs reflect the colorful and dynamic culture of her favorite city. goldie

Goldie says, “It’s my job to make you look good!” and shares many wonderful photos of her customers wearing her designs on her FaceBook page https://www.facebook.com/fb.Lidwear

Blog Post by:
Laura Killoran
Croshay Design
Follow Laura on Twitter @croshay

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4 thoughts on “Old World Style at Pike Place Market

  1. Fabulous! This is what I’m always saying to anyone who will listen! We need to emphasize this philosophy in every advertisement about the Market, and all our interactions with the public. If they are made to understand what kind of quality work is being presented to them, they will educate others when they return home and tell their friends and neighbors! This is word of mouth, and the reason everybody who comes to the Market knows about the guys throwing the fish… The crafters need the same type of recognition, and articles like this are a great example of what we should be doing… Thanks for this!

    1. Thank you Rob. The mission of Pike Place Producers is : “To support the crafts producers of the Pike Place Market by offering marketing opportunities using social media and to provide a forum for our customers to learn more about who we are as a community and individuals, how the Market runs, and what products are offered in the district.” We have been doing this behind the scenes for nearly 2 years and are now bringing more understanding as to how we can achieve these goals and support our mission. In other words “We are going for it!” We can all get on board in some way. See you “on the line”

  2. So well written and put together by Laura Killoran. I appreciate it and am honored to have been one of the people she chose to include. This is a great way to highlight our lives as craftspeople and the substance behind what we do. :Love the way Laura included the history of each craft. Bravo to you Laura, bravo to pike place produces for finding a meaningful way to show what we as craftpeople are all about, BRAVO!

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