Hello! I am known to my fellow cohorts as Maggie-Jane O. I was born under the sign of Pisces in the first year of Reagan’s presidency. I am a dreamer of change, an organic farm-ess, a booty shaker, a naturalist, I vote, homesteader, wife, renegade seamstress, but more to the point, I am a Knotty Mama! Knotty Mama is my business, a giant hunk of my life, designing and creating handmade upcycled clothing and accessories out of second hand and orphaned clothing and fabrics.
My artist process is dominated by the material itself. I would not be surprised if most upcycled artists begin the same way. Most of my fabric collection consists of pieces that right away I knew what I would create. A vintage table clothe with a lace border is already a skirt in my minds eye. I have stacks of old clothing made from every conceivable material in a rainbow of colors. I love to go to yardsales, and buy those mismatched sheet sets!
The design of any given piece is determined by what kind and how much of fabric I have. Patchwork is an obvious way to handle any combination of colors and patterns! One of my favorite parts of the creation process is the choosing of the materials and draft up patterns. Makes me glad I listened to my grade school teachers about math being really useful in the real world! I use geometry and algebra and arithmetic everyday. My notebook is full of chicken scratches.
I sew all my garments on my Sears Kenmore from the seventies! My Aunty Caroline is kind enough to temporarily share her sewing room with me. We split the glass windowed porch down the middle, though I must admit my chaos does often flow over to her side. I love my hard core metal beast! I use flat felled and french seams instead of serging. These seams are professional and long lasting!
I love the process of creating, so it is hard to pick a favorite piece. I am constantly in love with the piece I am currently working on, if I don’t like the way it is shaping up it ends up in what I call the crap pile. The most rewarding pieces are the ones that challenge me. I have been honored enough to get to create some amazing wedding dresses. The joy of creating the perfect garment for someone, is only intensified for that very special occasion.
Everything inspires me to create. I have to make art or I will just die. I love growing things, it blows my mind that you can take a tiny seed, add a little love, leave the rest to mother nature and you end up with a giant pumpkin or delicate chard. That’s pretty much my life in a hand bag. The seeds of imagination can culminate into any dimension of the magical.
I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I have been able to make a semi living from sewing my entire adult life. I literally love all of it, except maybe having to seam rip something I have sewn wrong, twice. Nothing beats finding the perfect score at the thrift store. I love designing something challenging and using pure force of will to make the material do what I want with the proper tools. I really like going to show and meeting new people! The most rewarding part of sewing for me, is when I see someone wearing the clothes I have made!
-here is a link to a 2003 article from a local newspaper my old partner and I were interviewed while vending http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Farchives.dailyegyptian.com%2Fimported-20111018203805%2F2003%2F12%2F10%2F25th-annual-craft-sale-draws-large-crowd-of-students-and-com.html
My husband, Ethan, is extremely supportive, in fact he basically set up my etsy half a decade ago. He serenades me while I work and picks up the slack when I am working over time on the sewing machine. No matter the situation, he encourages me to keep creating. My family has always been my biggest supporters. Fortunately, simple living requires little money.
I am busy as a bee, when I am not in the sewing room, I have a wide variety of tasks. My husband and I also run a growing organic farm aptly dubbed, ” Dirty Feet Farm”. From spring to fall I spend a lot of time in our garden, there is always weeding and mulching not to mention the planting and the harvesting. I put in a lot of time in the summer kitchen, canning and pickling produce and jamming. We have a pack of mutt dogs, and chickens that require attention. Sometimes when it feels like it’s too much, I lay in the hammock all day with a good book to recharge my energies.
We are trying to get to the point of 100% off the grid. We currently reside in a military tent, on top of a deck, like the one in Mash. We have solar power for light and for charging our electronic devices. In the summer when the panel is getting good light I can even sew there. This is temporary. We have been scrimping and saving to build our dream docile for several years. We have plans to build an earthbag dome this summer, complete with a studio for my sewing and Ethan’s music.
Growing up, the first live music I was exposed to was around the fire at my parent’s parties. My mother, sisters, and I would compose impromptu operas doing house work or in the car. But, I had little experience with contemporary or popular music, I was only allowed to listen to the oldies radio station until I was in Jr High. My first live concert was George Clinton and the P funk, a free concert at the local university. It was pretty amazing!! I was introduced to the Grateful Dead through some beautiful people, who have become life long friends. The fist time I heard “Fire on the Mountain,” I was instantly addicted!! I had these old boot leg tapes that I would listen to over and over. The first festival I attended was Woodstock in ’99. Three friends and I packed up in my 1987 Monte Carlo and drove to the east coast. It was a life altering experience, especially because when I came back I made my first mama top.
Living a simple free spirited life is my main goal! I truly believe that everyone needs to be the change they want to see in the world! For me, running my eco friendly sewing business fits in perfect with my homesteader bohemian view of the world. I do not have to sacrifice any of my morals, Knotty Mama allows me to make a small living off of other people’s waste. I also really like the fact that I am offering people a different choice, they do not have to buy poorly constructed clothing made by unfair labor practices, sold in earth destroying big box chains. Soon I will be able to do all my sewing with the power of the sun, then I will be really dancing down my path!!
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do”-Rumi
She is also the leader of our DHAA team in charge of the Quilt Team and we’re happy to say that 20 artists and almost a year later we’ve completed something special!
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