Ann Williamson Designs

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Meet the Artist

  • About This Artist

    I start with vintage Japanese silks and kimonos. I remove the stitches, clean and ready them for their new life. My tools are scissors, a needle, and thread. I cut, sew, piece, applique, and bead until the design is right. I know I am finished when the fabrics, shapes, and colors balance and the composition are complete. I believe in the craft of fine sewing. I use classic sewing techniques to sew my clothes. I prefer simple and refined silhouettes to highlight my designs and maximize wearability.

  • Q&A With This Artist

    A: My medium is textiles. I build my designs using classic sewing techniques; piecing, applique and beading. ‘Piecing’ means sewing together pieces of fabric. Every color in a pieced garment is a separate piece of fabric. ‘Applique’ is applying or sewing small pieces of fabric onto the top of another. My applique is all hand-stitched. ‘Beading’ is also hand-stitched. I sew beads, one at a time, onto a piece of fabric. Small beads add sparkle and bits of color. These techniques require a strong and sturdy fabric. If it is too soft and loose, the fabric will pull and droop. If it is too stiff, it will stand away from the body like a piece of cardboard. For years I looked for a fabric that I could use. I wanted something that was sturdy enough but also had softness and drape. Then one day, in a secondhand store, I discovered old kimonos. They were sewn from silk that was not too soft, not too stiff, perfect for my needs. Hand stenciled and painted, tie-dyed and ikat, these gorgeous kimono silks were very expensive when new. But now, as second-hand clothing, they were affordable. With a little digging, I found a source for old, used silk kimonos. Now, I have an impressive collection. Besides the technical aspects of the fabric, its sturdy but soft qualities, kimono silk adds extra depth to my work. Unknown Japanese artisans wove, painted, and dyed these gorgeous fabrics. I start with these beautiful silks, full of their own history, and layer onto them my own story. My designs, colors, and texture choices are made up of fabrics that were created and worn, and used by other people far away. I’ll never meet or know them, but it’s as though we are collaborating and I can feel their presence in each and every piece.

    A: It depends! It's a mix of a lifetime of study and work, plus some sort of inspiration that gets me going. Some of my more intricate pieces involve hours of handwork and take many months. The designs of some pieces seem to drop into my head fully formed and are ready to be created that day. Others take days and weeks for me to envision their finished form and even longer to be sewn and finished.

    A: My next project, whatever that might be, is what keeps me going. Sometimes there will be something in my last piece that I want to investigate and delve into. Or, I'll change a design in one subtle way and see where that takes me. Other times it's as simple as cleaning my desk and finding a forgotten drawing that was never realized. Or I'll see something new in a book, a magazine, or a movie that I'll want to explore. Maybe I'll rearrange a pile of fabric and see a new color combination that is intriguing. Other times it's an idea that I want to pursue; what would a group of pieces look like for a summer wedding in a cold climate? Or what would the clothes for two sisters who are similar but different look like? I look around and find endless inspirations, enough to keep me going for this life and several more.

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