Meet September Artist of Month: SilkDenim

September’s featured artist of the month is actually two artists! Louise Silk and Sarah Silk are the mother/daughter duo behind SilkDenim. Together, Louise and Sarah give well-loved denim garments a new life by creatively transforming them into a variety of one-of-a-kind items, from quilts to bags to placemats and napkins.

Check out the interview below to learn more about their creative practice and what inspires them in their work!

What is your artistic background? 

Louise: I’m the mom; I’ve been a fiber artist for over fifty years.
Sarah: I’m the daughter; I’ve been learning craft (sewing, knitting and embroidery) from my Mom, since I was a kid.

The things we did before SilkDenim we still do.
Louise: I make quilts for exhibition and by commission, and I write and blog.
Sarah: I’m a Feldenkrais practitioner (movement teacher) and theater actor.
 

What are your favorite materials to work with?

Our favorite material to work with is well-loved/worn clothing that has a history, especially cotton or denim. Denim is particularly attractive to us because of its casual / comfortable/ down-to-earth attitude, its durability, its character through wear & tear, its weight & weave, and its revolutionary representation in American history & culture.

From where do you draw your inspiration?

Saving the environment of excess materials, Japanese wabi-sabi, African American Gees Bend, memory in textiles, making the useful beautiful and vice versa, the layered notion of slow fashion…

What is your creative process like?

We often start with a need or a desire for a kind of item, like a durable but cool bag for groceries, or a zero-waste goal, like what do we do with all these back seams?, and then we begin to make and refine the piece, creating it over and over again until we have a finished product that works for us. Part of that process is using the item ourselves to test out its practical use. 

What is the most rewarding thing about your practice?

Deepening our relationship as mother and daughter.

And what challenges do you face as an artist?

Balancing art and craft, function and aesthetics, time and goals, business and pleasure, principals and practicality…

Outside of your practice, do you do any other creative activities/what are your interests?

 Yes – many – yoga, walking, meditation, Feldenkrais, Kabbalah, traveling, hiking, cooking  …

What role does the artist have in society?

Our nature is to challenge the norms and find ways to influence positive change. 

What is art/craft to you?

 It’s a practice.

Tell us about your favorite artist or artists that inspires you.

We love the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers. They made use of what was on hand and put their souls into their process.

You can find Silk Denim at silkdenim.us, on Instagram @silkdenimpgh and on Pinterest @silkdenim.

You can find a selection of Louise and Sarah’s work in our Store at 5645 Butler Street.