Alison of Grace Design recently wrote in about her new line of beautiful bags, clutches and home wares using found obi’s and kimono’s from Japan. I love the originality in her work and use of vibrant textiles. She graciously agreed to do a mini interview and a giveaway!

Tell us about yourself.

I am a girl livin’ in Toronto Canada. I’ve been making stuff as long as I can remember and the entrepreneurial urge has always been a natural inclination for me. I went to school for graphic design but strangely, sewing and working with textiles has always been a way more natural medium for me. One of my favourite pastimes is rifling through thrift stores and that is really how Grace Design began. I used to come home with bags of interesting found textiles and just started making stuff and selling it at local consignment shops. Eventually I went on a big adventure to India at the ripe age of 19 and came back with a backpack full of sari silk. I later went to Japan and discovered the gorgeousness of Japanese textiles and I haven’t looked back since.

What inspires you to create?

I am constantly looking at blogs, design books, magazines and flickr and it never ceases to amaze me the creativity that is out there. I need that constant nourishment to keep excited about making new things and coming up with fresh ideas. I keep images that inspire me on a big wall in my work area and I have various sketchbooks and journals that are full of yet more images. I love to see what others are doing and what is possible with different materials and then get new ideas from that. I am mainly excited by colour and pattern; searching for fabrics is very exciting and the process of mixing them with other fabrics in new and unexpected combinations. I love nature, I grew up on the west coast of Canada so the ocean and forests are a big art of who I am and what keeps me going. I love to write in my journal, collect my thoughts, morning coffee time is my favourite time of the day and, of course, my weekly trips to my local thrift stores!

Inspiration from Alison’s flickr stream

What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome as an artist?

I am always trying to find ways to work around the many restrictions of using found textiles. (eg stains, weird dimensions, fraying, making things last etc etc). Many of my counterparts have degrees in fashion design and I do not so I am always trying to become a better sewer and keep things looking polished and professional. I still have a full time job so finding time to run a business and keep my job is a struggle. Staying positive and inspired when sales aren’t always what you had hoped or anticipated. Being a home based business and the CLUTTER. Oh my god, the clutter.

Tell us something random about yourself!

I collect a lot of different things ranging from vintage Chinese tea tins to 1950’s angora and beaded sweaters. My home is about as crowded as you would imagine.

The giveaway: This is a little bag made from vintage metallic Japanese obi fabric. The backing is made from a solid red micro fibre ultra suede and it is lined with unbleached cotton.

To enter: Simply visit Alison’s etsy shop and leave a comment below with your favorite item in her shop. I will randomly draw a winner a week from now on Tuesday the 21st. Good luck!