|Stephanie Carter of Lily Ashbury|
Neon signs are about the last thing that springs to mind when you see High Street, the latest of the scrumptious Lily Ashbury fabrics. But Stephanie Carter, the designer of those fabrics, says her grandfather, who was a designer of neon signs and an oil painter, was especially important in encouraging her penchant for drawing, painting, and making things.
“I spent my childhood summers at my grandparent’s house on Bowen Island, a lovely, short ferry ride from Vancouver [where Stephanie grew up and still lives], and my grandfather helped nurture my love of all things creative from a very young age,” says Stephanie. “I eventually became an illustrator, starting out by creating drawings for the local newspaper, then went on to work with many advertising agencies and corporate clients. I was even lucky enough to design a Canadian stamp a few years ago.”
In order to prevent confusion amongst her clients, she chose the name Lily Ashbury when she started designing fabric, because she feels it invokes the lively and feminine qualities in her designs. Stephanie agreed to share a few more insights into her inspirations and day-to-day life with Cutting Table readers.
Tell us a little about your studio.
I think I may well work in the best location on earth, Granville Island. Visitors to Vancouver flock by the thousands to this little man-made island in the heart of the city. The public market is unmatched for fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and yummy baked goods. Outside there is always an interesting musician to entertain you as you wander the local craft shops and galleries. I know I sound like a travel writer, I can’t help it, the island is truly fantastic!
My family has just moved into a larger house and I finally have a home studio dedicated to creating. Although I love the island I am hoping to spend a bit more time working from home as I have an 8-year-old daughter who I adore and want to be with as much as possible. And a wonderful husband, cute miniature schnauzer, and a fluffy white guinea pig, I should add!
Wow! You’ve got lots going on around you. Is that what inspires your creations?
I draw inspiration from many areas of my life and it’s hard to really pin down specifics. However, I must admit the immediacy of the Internet and the ability to research anything and everything has truly changed my life. I know it doesn’t sound particularly romantic but I think having the world at one’s fingertips really does fuel creativity.
Tell us about your sewing and pattern design.
I used to sew a lot when I was younger but my career took me in different creative directions. I am very much enjoying exploring sewing again. I have designed and written basic tutorials for three patterns recently [including the Blooming Pincushion, below. Visit Steph’s blog for a free PDF]. This was a great way to brush up on some of the basics and get re-immersed in sewing. Quilting, however, is very new to me and I consulted with a great gal from the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild when designing the High Street quilt.
When you’re not working, how do you spend your time?
Since last fall a large portion of my free time has been spent working on a house in Palm Springs. My husband and I decided to brave the short sale market and make our dreams of a sunny destination a reality. We don’t plan to move there, but when the Pacific Northwest rain kicks in during the fall and winter it’s nice to know we have options.
We will be running the house as a vacation rental business when we are not there as Palm Springs is regaining its popularity amongst the LA hipsters. The Coachella music festival and Palm Spring international film fest have gone a long way towards this.
I am also very passionate about collecting, whether it’s vintage buttons, antique inkwells, or portrait miniatures—the list goes on. There is something about the hunt for the perfect specimen that thrills me. I am decorating our Palm Springs pad in a very eclectic retro-modern style and have been having great fun hunting for treasures.
For more, visit Stephanie’s blog and Facebook page. And don’t forget her free tutorial, the Blooming Pincushion.