I was first introduced to Keiley Stewart's work in May of this year, when Sheridan College had its textile grad show during the James North Art Crawl, and I was able to pop over and check it out. I even wrote about it here. Keiley's work was a total showstopper - giant felted animal heads that you could try on yourself. We were thrilled when we received her application for the show, and instantly fell in love with her penchant for foxes! Consider me super impressed when I checked out her portfolio, fell in love with her whimsical Honey Do hats and saw her long list of talents, from felting and silkscreening to embroidery and cooking pretty good bacon. We're all pretty proud over here to be showcasing new craft talent.
Hollie Pocsai: Tell us about yourself.
Keiley Stewart: My name is Keiley (kee-lee) Many people confuse my name with Kylie, Kelly or Kiwi (yes, like the fruit.) I grew up in Burlington, ON and I just graduated Sheridan College from their wonderful Textile program. In 2009, I began Leikey Designs (lee-kee) where I design and make textile accessories for people to wear and share. My adorable cousin gave the nickname Leikey to me when she was just a 1yr old and is a jumbled-up version on my actual name. Since then, it’s just stuck with me.
H.P.: Where/when did you become acquainted with your craft?
Keiley: I have fond memories as a kid, knitting and sewing along side my Nanna. I was always impressed with the things she could make and also terribly disappointed that I wasn't very coordinated, but I was happy making anything. Going to school for textiles gave me a chance to hone those skills and learn some new ones too.
H.P.: Where do you draw creative inspiration from?
Keiley: A lot of my work incorporates animals and one of my favourites being foxes. It’s sort of an unconscious thing, not something I aim for but I don’t avoid it either. For the most part, I generate inspiration from colours and textures. I’m in a constant search for new ideas through the things I see and touch.
H.P.: What do you love most about your craft?
Keiley: Textiles is crazy versatile. There are so many applications for textiles. You can wear it or hang it and it can be durable or delicate. Also the portability. Although silk-screening isn’t terribly portable, knitting, embroidery even needle felting – you can take it anywhere and pick it up right where you leave off.
H.P.: Do you have a favourite place/spot/time of day/etc. to work?
Keiley: I am a night owl. I like to do most of my planning and set up during the day and then quietly work into the night. For smaller projects I like to work at my desk or in a comfy spot, listening to music or watching a movie. For the most part, I like to be comfortable with alittle bit of white noise in the background so I can gauge how long my work takes or should take me -like a movie egg timer!
Keiley: One of my favourite materials is wool. Raw or spun, I love it. I enjoy felting a great deal too. It’s also super versatile: sculpted or flat, the applications are unlimited. Another favourite is thread. It is infinitely useful. I’ve recently starting a collection of small crochet and tatted pieces done with just regular thread. I really enjoy the look and delicate nature of crocheted thread.
H.P.: Is there another craftsperson/designer/artist that you admire?
Keiley: Everyone that makes or designs has my respect. It’s cheesy and true. Anyone that has the drive and vision to make something out of nothing amazes me. Suzanne Carlsen is a Textile/Jewelry Artist I admire. Her work is incredibly creative and innovative. Cushioned fabrics with teeny tiny hand embroidery, fitted into intricate hand-cut metalwork. Amazing! Pin Pals is another one of my favourites. I just bought a pair of their heart button earrings from White Elephant. Their paper work and cross-stitching is so lovable and the imagery I could just eat with a spoon!