I think it’s so exciting to talk with other artists about what they make and why. I always assume another artist has an artistic trajectory similar to mine, but I’m never right. Art is diverse because artists are diverse. So I thought it would be interesting to talk with my friend Carolina Grant about her vida arte. Carolina is a stay-at-home mom and we met each other through our children, probably while sitting on a bench by the playground. She is a dear friend and a terribly gifted (and prolific!) artist. Meet Carolina Grant.
Anne Potter: Where are you from originally?
Carolina Grant: I’m from Rancagua, Chile, country of poets, writers, soccer and good wine. Rancagua is a colonial city just 45 minutes south of Santiago, the city is surrounded by beautiful mountains, Alamos and Eucalyptus trees, and a lot of people that I love.
AP: I’m sure Rancagua isn’t Spanish for Rank Water, is it? Probably not. I bet it’s just beautiful there!
So Carolina, what do you make and what do you sell in your etsy shop, Pavalu?
CG: I make one-of-a-kind hand-woven shawls, organic purses, knitted clothes and so much more. I use the best yarn that I can find; most of it comes from Chile and Peru.
AP: I love the yarn that you use – the colors are electric! And they work so beautifully with your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
CG: I think it is very simple, but elegant, with a lot of attention given to the texture and color of my pieces.
AP: When did you learn to knit?
CG: I learned when I was about 11 years old.
AP: And who taught you?
CG: I think I had the greatest teachers: my mom (an amazing artist), my grandmother, and a friend also taught me how to weave.
AP: Don’t you love how a simple thing like knitting can connect people across oceans and generations? OK, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time: you knit South American style and I knit continental; whose method is better?
CG: I think that South American style is just easier for me, I do have to say that my grandmother is part Swiss, and that is how she learned and taught my mom (who then taught me). You do a fabulous job knitting and I think any method is fantastic if it works.
AP: Well, that settles it: Continental is best.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
CG: I think as a designer I get inspiration from a lot of things, a lot of inspiration comes when I’m talking to another artist, but if have to pick one, I would say the yarn itself: the texture, the color gives me an idea right away. It is very important for me to touch and feel the texture, and think, “what would I wear if I make something with this?” And yarns can be so different, too! For example, I found out that one woven shawl is different from another when woven with a different yarn; the drape changes tremendously.
AP: I agree! Do you have the fantasy of being locked in a yarn store overnight? Maybe that’s just me. So you’re inspired very much by yarn, but do you ever have Designer’s Block? How do you pull yourself out of a design rut?
CG: I pull out my oil paints, good music and a glass of red wine, and it helps me every time, (I do this when my wonderful husband is home watching a war movie and the girls are asleep), and if everybody is around me I surrender and don’t think about it until one of my three girls want to play “fashion” – then it comes slowly.
AP: Oh, I love to combine red wine with design! And Keats loved his red wine, too. Maybe red wine is an artistic catalyst …?
Now, besides opening a gorgeous boutique with me, where do you see your brand in five years?
CG: Well, besides having a super-successful boutique with you, I would be happy if my brand was very well-known and I could see people in cafes and little chic restaurants wearing my purses and my pieces :).
AP: I wear the shawl you made for me all the time! And my mom gets compliments on hers all the time, too – your pieces are amazing – so chic and the colors are arresting! So last question, (and there is a right answer): what is your favorite fiber this season?
CG: I have to say Alpaca is my all time favorite, but right know I’m obsessed with this flame wool/silk blend that I brought back from Chile, and this season I’m also ready for organic cotton.
AP: Oh, I’m sorry! The right answer was “single-ply wool/mohair!” Oh, shucks. But thanks for playing, Carolina. But seriously, I’m so glad you took the time to visit with me and thank you for giving us a peek into your artistic world. Your work is incredible and I’m so inspired by gifted artists like you! And I always love “talking shop” with you. Blessings on you and your work.