Feature / Nov 6

The American-made magic of Maura Grace Ambrose


Maura Grace Ambrose (B.F.A., fibers, 2006) started her business hand-dyeing fabrics and making quilts in 2011. Her exquisitely crafted work, made entirely from natural fibers and dyed from what she can organically grow, harvest and forage around her home in Austin, Texas, has garnered international attention.

In October, Maura’s brand, Folk Fibers, was designated a 2013 honoree Taste Maker for the Martha Stewart American Made project. The program aims to “spotlight the maker, support the local and celebrate the handmade,” and Martha Stewart Living hit the mark in honoring Maura. 

From planting the seeds that grow into plants she can use as “substantive dyes” — things like indigo, cochineal, walnut hulls and onion skins that achieve color-fast fabrics without the aid of chemical additives — to machine piecing, hand stitching and hand binding her quilts right at home, Maura’s work is the definition of American made.

She told Martha Stewart Living that a SCAD class called “The Art of Quilts” initially propelled her toward this career. “[That class] changed my life,” Maura said. “That’s why I do what I do today.”

Earlier this year, SCAD named Maura its Emerging Alumna for 2013. She returned to Savannah to deliver a lecture geared toward fibers students and conduct an intimate Q-and-A session where she interacted directly with students.

The breathtaking, instant heirlooms Maura creates for Folk Fibers are sought after around the world. In addition to her feature on Martha Stewart Living, Maura has been highlighted on the award-winning blog Design*Sponge.

Fellow SCAD alumna and Design*Sponge columnist Ginny Branch interviewed Maura, and recalled a time when she knew Maura in the SCAD fibers department.

“She was a radiant soul and an inspired artist then,” Ginny wrote, “and she has continued to evolve into a master quilter.”

Refueled Magazine featured the Folk Fibers brand, and a stunning photo and first-person essay by Maura detailed the time she spent working in Urban Outfitters’ creative corporate offices, apprenticed on a farm, supervised a greenhouse and embarked on a cross-country road trip with her husband in their VW bus.

It was “no coincidence” to find herself “in the pages of a magazine with a mantra to ‘Explore America’,” Maura admitted.

Jeans giant Levi’s also turned the spotlight on Maura’s work, commissioning Folk Fibers in collaboration with fashion, art and design magazine Hypebeast. The result is a one-of-a-kind addition to Levi’s Denim Canvas Project that will be on display at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, California. She has also created quilts from recycled Levi’s jeans in another collaboration for the company.

Home décor treasure trove Terrain has commissioned work from Maura as well, including a batch of five quilts created exclusively for the brand. Inspired by traditional pioneer quilt blocks and featuring 100 percent natural dyes and rich, timeless hues, Maura honors the hardworking women whose needlework came before hers.

“Wrapping up in a quilt was a home when there was no house,” Maura said, reflecting on the pioneers who inspired these works of art.
Surrounded by her craft and underpinned by her education and career preparation at SCAD, it’s clear that a quilt can become more, even, than that.

Connect with Maura Grace Ambrose and Folk Fibers

 


About the SCAD fibers program

Fibers designers conceive the fabrics, patterns, coverings, textures and textiles other designers use to construct garments and rooms. They give beauty and function to the surfaces we see and touch every day.

Learn more about the fibers program today.

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