ARTIST INTERVIEW: Caroline Jurovic of Tumbleweed Tienda
Company: Tumbleweed Tienda
Artist: Caroline Jurovic
Tumbleweed Tienda is a space to share handmade textiles, clothing and housewares found at marketplaces near and far by Caroline Jurovic. I explore local markets in search of one to one connections with artisans, traditional and sustainable processes, and the possibility of small batch, handmade production. A few years ago, my sister, Tina, invited me on a trip to the Basque region, and we began to unravel the story of our family’s migration from Spain to France to Peru. We followed in family footsteps to ancestral towns and marketplaces where the same products have been produced for ages. Tumbleweed Tienda is a traveling bazaar of these found objects.
Do you have any artists or creative people in the family? How did they influence?
My mother, Tricia, is an inspiration! She is a talented painter, interior designer, seamstress extraordinaire who worked for many years at Herman Miller. Most influential, however, were my grandparents who worked for Raymond Loewy in NYC. My grandmother Bond was the rare woman among male engineers and architects. She was also a meticulous seamstress who blindfolded me before fitting my dresses, hands fluttering, making adjustments while I waited in suspense. Bond’s materials were my intro to textiles: immaculate white picots, Liberty of London florals, an heirloom lace petticoat transformed into my kindergarten graduation dress. My reverence for process is from watching her attention to detail; pins in mouth, hunched over the sewing machine, fussing over an 1/8 th of an inch. She sewed, smocked, embroidered, knitted, tatted; and each and every stitch was impeccable. Bond’s dresses are still perfect heirlooms.
When my grandparents moved west from NYC in 1955, my grandfather found a tumbleweed and laced it with lights. Every Thanksgiving our family sat for dinner at an elegant table set with linen and silver; above us, suspended, was the whimsical tumbleweed. This found object, its raw, wild beauty elevated, fixed itself in my mind as a surreal talisman – and ultimately, inspiration for Tumbleweed Tienda.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now.
My daughter, Madeleine, will always be my muse. When I was expecting, I found the layette pattern my mother had sewn for me and stitched a cotton flannel nightgown on my grandmother’s featherweight Singer. My seams were not perfect, but I felt a deep connection to tradition and kept it as an heirloom. Out of the blue, Fred Segal saw bloomers and a hat Madeleine wore and placed an order; suddenly a friend and I were making patterns, cutting, sewing, selling, shipping for our own children’s clothing line. Later, inspired by Ruth Asawa who visited Madeleine’s preschool regularly to teach about plants and whose sculptures reminded me of the tumbleweed suspended above my grandparents’ dining table, I enrolled in my first weaving class. I felt lulled into contentment by the repetition of the work, the rhythm of the loom, the conversation of women and the knowledge that I was participating in an ancient practice. Click! I wanted to work with my hands and fiber and create textiles in community. I dreamed of working with artisans, documenting and supporting traditions! For 25 years, I worked in various capacities for designers, weaving and knitting on the side. Now I am exploring my own dreams, always with my daughter in mind. In April we will be traveling to a large family reunion in Peru and collecting more textiles!
What would you say is the driving force behind your creative work?
Textiles. I am a textile junkie. Knitting, weaving, stitching, dyeing, draping – all these haptic processes inspire me. Sustainability.
What is a new idea you have been working with lately?
I am applying what I learn from dancing with Anna Halprin to other creative work. Focusing on the present. Listening with my whole body. Making connection. Not knowing what is next. Feeling my way. When I slow down and listen, I find my own natural rhythm and tempo. Whatever process I am engaged in becomes fluid, like a dance; the rhythm of the shuttle when I am weaving; the clicking of the needles when I am knitting. Play and exploration lead me in unexpected directions; discovery becomes a vital part of the creative process.
How important is community?
One can work creatively alone, but a community inspires, nourishes, supports and expands creative endeavors exponentially. Until EPCF, the most potent creative community has been the weaving class at Barnsdall Art Park. Beatrice Valenzuela told me about the class the first time I met her. Every Saturday a small group of weavers met to learn, explore, connect, share and support one another’s ideas. Many made a decision to take a leap and pursue their own creative work and are now independent designers. Some are featured at the Echo Park Craft Fair: EPCF co-founder Beatrice Valenzuela, Cathy Callahan, Agnes Baddoo, Heather Taylor. So much happens when a community of creative women unites in the spirit of camaraderie! Thank you all!