Started as a curiosity and bloomed into a passion, Kelly Neistat began Wild Columbine to further explore her new found love of weaving and to perfect the traditional textile techniques. Heavily inspired by the outdoors, each piece begins with a certain material or palette, and intuitively transforms itself weft by weft.
Hi Kelly, please introduce yourself.
I was born and raised in Saint Louis, MO and moved to Philadelphia to study Horticulture at Temple University. A year after college, seeking more natural beauty and less urban grit, I decided to work on an organic farm in a small rural town near Olympia, Washington. Roughly 30 miles from the nearest "city," I spent much of my time exploring the Northwest and beginning to take my work in textiles more seriously. I began researching the area's local dye plants and using the foggy early mornings for learning my craft. In the next year, what began as a curiosity bloomed into a passion, as I progressed from sewing to weaving and bought myself a small loom.
Where do you live and work now, and how does this environment inform your creative process?
After Washington State I spent some months traveling the country and landed in Nashville, TN. I had heard there were a lot of young and creative people flocking to the area and I've found this to be overwhelmingly true. In addition to the crowd of creatives, there are also beautiful waterfalls and mountains only a short drive away. I'm drawn to these areas to rejuvenate.
Can you elaborate on your particular design process? What is your workspace like? What materials do you prefer?
I work on a large floor tapestry loom and a small tabletop loom. Each piece begins with a certain material or palette, and intuitively transforms itself weft by weft. I may begin with a loose sketch, but the final piece often only vaguely resembles the drawing. I work with mostly natural fibers - wools, linens, silks, and cottons. I find they feel better and have more life to them.
Explain the story behind the name; how and why you chose it?
Wild Columbine is one of my favorite native woodland wildflowers.
Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
I am heavily inspired by a good road trip, leaving town for the day and finding somewhere new, hikes in the woods, the changes of seasons, and finding new materials to work with, allowing them to inspire me toward new ideas.
How do you stay grounded and relaxed? What are your more personal pursuits and hobbies when given the time?
I love spending time outdoors. I find it to be a much needed change of pace from sitting at a loom. I work part-time in Nashville's botanical garden which allows me the balance I need for movement. I also love day trips and exploring old small towns and their quirks as often as I can.
What are some of your struggles/obstacles so far?
I'm constantly challenged by learning all of the roles involved in running and growing a craft-based business. From product photos, social media, wholesale pricing, to actually making the work. There are so many little details! It is all a process, though, and always satisfying when I feel like I've finally crossed the hurdles.
What is one question you wish people asked you more often?
Would you like to have a creative meet-up? Sometimes the process of making and growing a business can feel isolating when you aren't surrounded by people of similar kin.
Favorite spot to get inspired?
Currently, the Smoky Mountains.
Lastly, we love meeting over coffee at Young & Able. What's your favorite local café?
I think Crema has one of the coziest atmospheres in Nashville.
Image by @KellyPurkey