Artisit Profile: Leesa Chandler

Describe your background in design. How did you get started? Was there someone in particular who motivated you?
I don’t have any formal training in design, however I started designing my own stitcheries and craftwork from an early age, with lots of trial and error, and I’ve never been very good at following other peoples patterns to the letter!

Have you always been an designer? What else have you done?
The desire to design for textiles has come from working in the patchwork industry for over 10 years now, and being so inspired by other designers such as Peggy Toole - I’m a big fan! After running a shop and designing quilt and handbag designs for a few years now, I started to look for particular fabrics to use, including those for Australian flowers and couldn’t find them, and so the designing obsession began!

I’ve done lots of designing before now, but not with fabric! I am a Food Scientist and Technologist by trade, so I’ve designed things like dairy desserts and manufacturing lines. These skills may not seem relevant, but trust me they help immensely in the studio when we are packing block of the month kits and bag and quilt kits!

What is your favorite part of design process?
While I probably jumped around the most when I first saw my name on a selvedge, I would honestly have to say I have two favourite parts of the design process. Right at the start, when there is literally a promise of things to come. For example, sitting in a beautiful Australian bush garden near my home, I breathed in the smell of the Eucalyptus leaves, heard the bees buzzing around the Grevilleas and saw the sun hitting the huge red Waratahs, took a deep breath, and started to draw. The other favourite part of the design process is still ongoing for me with my new range. Seeing a quilter's response to the designs, and helping select from the range to make a wedding quilt or a quilt to sleep under themselves, is especially rewarding. I too, am still designing quilts and handbags that use my fabrics. I just need to time to make them!

How do you become inspired and how does that translate that into your designs?
My little business has always specialised in Fabrics and Designs with a Cultural Influence, and this is flowing on into my inspiration for design. I love being able to take quilters on a journey around the world with inspiration from cultures, architecture and natural wonders from different countries. The Under the Australian Sun range has had a patriotic response of course in Australia, but it will also be interesting for people in other countries to see what our native flora is like and perhaps learn a little more about the land Downunder!

Would you like to give some sneak peek information on what you have coming up in your designs?
Needless to say, all drawings currently sitting on the studio floor have been inspired by my love of different cultures, architecture and flora. I’m currently into Russian textiles, Ming Dynasty porcelain and more Australian flora that didn’t make it into Under the Australian Sun.

Who or what keeps you focussed on what’s important?
That’s easy:  
Who - A super duper Hubby called Robert, two gorgeous boys Philip (13) and Steven (8), a demanding cat called Shadow, and my mentors, Mum and Dad.

What – my gorgeous customers,who constantly remind me: "It’s just a piece of fabric!" I never forget it’s the journey we take when using it that counts the most.

When are you coming back to America?
I’m excited to say I will be in Houston this year for market. I will have a little display on the Superior threads stand who sell my patterns in the States for me, but it’s really just an excuse to see my mates at Robert Kaufman again!