Leo's Dry Goods - Firefly Handmade Featured Artisan
Holiday gifts are a thoughtful way we show our families and friends that we care. Shari Moraga of Leo's Dry Goods makes our holiday gift shopping extremely easy with her wide variety of organic hand-crafted aprons, kitchen towels, napkins, pillows, and other passionately crafted items. Shari deems her work as “illustrations in thread” which is a perfect description of the inventive technique she employs to make her products. The illustrations are so intricate and detailed that often customers approach her booth asking if the designs have been screen printed on the cloth. After further inspection they are delighted to discover this artisan has developed a skill all her own - a combination of her love for painting and sewing.
We’re delighted to have Leo’s Dry Goods join us for Firefly Handmade Holiday Market. She’ll have tons of new items including extremely cute holiday and winter themed wares.
Your work is beautiful! Do you have any formal training?
I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. After college I moved to New York. 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. When I imagined that the fountain at Lincoln Center was a creek I knew it was time to head west.
How did you choose this medium? How did your brand evolve?
In Boulder, I immediately began painting, 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. 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 botanical, but try to add my own personal feel to each piece.
Could you tell us more about your technique?
Designs are "drawn by hand" using my sewing machines. My machines are not the programmable kind. The embroidery is not a machine-looking satin stitch, like on a commercial item, rather they are all one-of-a-kind. This process is referred to as free motion embroidery, drawing with thread, or thread sketching. I like to call it “illustrations in thread."
What types of materials do you use in your work?
The materials I use are all natural 100% cotton canvas, 100% linen and 100% cotton flour sack towel. Even the thread I use for embroidery is 100% cotton. All materials are sourced and made in the US which is important to me as all of my work is handmade from beginning to end in my studio in Boulder, CO. In addition to handmade and locally sourced, I like to stay environmentally conscious. My pillows are filled with hypoallergenic stuffing made from recycled plastic bottles, very cozy and sustainable.
Who is Leo?
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 New Jersey. He 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 awhile a customer would give me a 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, similar in feel, modern with a nod to vintage.
Do you do any custom work?
I do! Unfortunately I don’t have any availability for any more custom orders at the moment as I’m in the midst of my holiday preparations, but normally I love working on custom items. I’ve made wedding gifts, an apron for an art teacher and a tool belt for a jeweler. Recently I completed a half apron covered in pasta for an avid chef!
Why are you proud to be an artisan at Firefly Handmade Holiday Market?
I absolutely love Firefly as I got my start here! Beth has been extremely supportive and I love how well organized the markets have been. We always get a ton of traffic and it’s help put my brand on the map. Additionally, I love the sense of comraderie with the all the other artists. It’s such a talented and warm community and I feel honored to be involved.
Leo's Dry Goods joins us at the Firefly Handmade Holiday Market, Saturday, December 18 and Sunday, December 19 from 10am-5pm at the NEW Embassy Suites Hotel Boulder, 6201 Canyon Blvc. (26th Street and Canyon Boulevard). In the meantime you can connect with Shari here: