Last week I visited the home studio of Leopold Designs (Kim Kirchstein) for the first time, and the experience left me wishing I had one ounce of the artistic talent that runs through Kim's veins. As I walked through the doorway, my eyes were immediately drawn to the wall hanging below. Its glow drew me to it, and I was instantly reminded of the first time I met Kim.
Kim and I met at a local market, and from the moment I laid my eyes on her scarves I knew I wanted to see more of that on the runway. I didn't care that Kim had never sewn before, and I definitely didn't care that it was her first fashion show. All I wanted was to see her beautiful flowing fabrics float down the runway! As I walked around her house, I noticed a collection of indoor plants -- and this beautiful universe caught in a bottle stole my heart away.
We grabbed a delicious natural cola drink and sat down to flip through magazine clippings and pictures of her parents. I learned that both of Kim's parents were handicapped, and that she was their primary care-giver. Kim said you'd never be able to tell they were handicapped -- they were full of energy and a love for life. I can only imagine that they burst with vibrant colors much like Kim's hand-dyed, batiked silks.
After learning about Kim's parents and looking through some magazine clippings she's collected, we were off to see the studio! I could smell that wonderful wax as I entered the room and looked around at all the brushes, bottles of dye, and new scarves waiting to be steamed.
We talked about the properties of the wax and how Kim learned to love many of the perfectly imperfect design elements that find their way into her pieces. Drawing with hot wax is tricky... and then you always risk the chance of colors bleeding through the lines... the layers of colors... and the waiting -- woah! There's nothing quick about batiking silks!
Watching wax melt is fantastic -- it's amazing how quickly it melts once it get going.
I learned all about how to prep the silk to be steamed to melt off the wax! Roll it up real tight in newsprint and then steam for 45 minutes and watch the wax melt right off of the silk -- so cool!
That night I came home smelling like wax with a giant smile on my face, happy to have spent time in the studio with a phenomenal artist who continues to push herself to the limits with colors, lines, and movements. If you haven't had a chance to see one of Kim's works in person, I recommend you check out her calendar of appearances and make a point to pay her a visit!