Behind the Scenes with Leo's Dry Goods, Spring Market Featured Artisan
Leo's Dry Goods maker, Shari Moraga, is inspired by nostalgia and fun with a whole lotta talent!
FF: How did you begin your handmade journey?
LDG: I have a BFA, Bachelor of Fine Arts, degree from The Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. After college I moved to New York City. I started my career as a decorative painter, working for myself, building clientele in NY, NJ and CT, specializing in trompe l'oeil and decorative wall finishes.
FF: What lead you to your current line of goods?
LDG: When I imagined that the fountain at Lincoln Center was a creek I knew it was time to head west. In Boulder I immediately began painting, building up an extensive clientele in Boulder, Denver and the High Country... then got married and the family grew...a son, dogs, chickens and ducks. From painting with brushes I began experimenting with drawing with thread. I started making small items as gifts and one day a friend said, “You should apply to Firefly Handmade." It was my first market and I sold almost everything in my booth. I haven't looked back.
FF: What materials do you work with & why?
LDG: My process is referred to as free motion embroidery, drawing with thread, or thread sketching, I call it illustrations in thread. The materials I use are all natural 100% cotton canvas, 100% linen and 100% cotton flour sack towel, as well the thread I use for embroidery is 100% cotton. All materials are sourced and made in the US. Pieces are made from beginning to end by me in my studio in Boulder, CO. Pillow inserts, made in the US, are cotton lining, with a hypoallergenic stuffing made from recycled plastic bottles, very cozy yet sustainable. Because my work is so different, people tend to think it is screen printed, but on closer inspection see that it is all unique one of a kind art on home goods.
FF: Inspiration comes from where?
LDG: My work has evolved and I try to change up a lot of my designs through the seasons. I love textiles and I love using thread as "ink." The work I do lends itself to all sorts of styles, whether it be modern, bohemian, casual or sophisticated. I love working from nature and botanicals, but try to add my own personal feel to each piece.
FF: Anything else you'd like to tell us?
LDG: Leo was my grandfather. He had an amazing old store in Newark, NJ. He opened after a long journey from Prague to Spain to South America. Picking up languages along the way, he ended up in NYC, then NJ. He married Lilly Rand and opened a dry goods store, classic awning with the words "Leo's Dry Goods." Some Saturdays I would go down and sit on a big, worn wooden stool and help out. Once in a while a customer would give me quarter. Back then nothing was made with anything but natural materials, and it was made well. Hopefully I am making a difference in supplying people with handmade goods, yet similar in feel, modern with a nod to vintage. Made with love and nostalgia. Designs are "drawn by hand" using my sewing machines.
Shop and visit with Leo's Dry Goods at Firefly Handmade Spring Market, this weekend, May 21-22, 10-4, Twenty Ninth Street shopping district , 1710 29th St. (between Canyon & Walnut), Boulder, CO.