A Day In The Life by 29

A Day In The Life of Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers

Photo of Maura Ambrose by Josh Goleman
Maura Ambrose was something of a legend to me long before I became familiar with her work. To my friends from the Savannah College of Art and Design, she was one of the most promising graduates they’d ever seen. Talk of her beautiful work in SCAD’s Fibers department was spreading and just about every writer and artist I knew living in the South was recommending I check out her work. And boy am I glad I did. Maura is truly committed to her craft from start to finish. From growing her own cotton and dyeing fibers at home with natural materials to hand-quilting each design and including handwritten letters about each quilt’s origin with orders, Maura is truly the sort of artist I not only admire and appreciate, but feel honored to be able to write about here.

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Maura and her husband Chapman were driving home from a cross-country VW Bus trip when she decided to pursue quilt-making full time. She knew it was what made her truly happy and through serious hard work, dedication and the sort of creative vision that has now inspired other younger artists to rediscover quilting, Maura created a business, Folk Fibers, that has earned a devoted following. I’ve always wanted to peek inside Maura’s day-to-day life and see what her work process was like, so I was thrilled when she agreed to join us for A Day In The Life post. Maura and Chapman have a baby due soon, so I truly appreciate them opening their home and life to us at such a busy time. I hope you’ll enjoy be as inspired by a peek inside Maura’s life as I am. xo, grace

Photo above by Josh Goleman

Click through for the full post after the jump!

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Maura: When our fridge is full of groceries my husband Chapman and I split a giant omelet. Surprisingly it’s Chap who has influenced the salad greens on our breakfast plate.

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Maura: I’m currently working on a commission quilt for a special group of friends. The barn raising quilt design is traditional and symbolic of the region and history that surrounds the recipients.

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Maura: A collection of inspiration I keep on my desk.

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Maura: All my quilts are sold with a custom cedar box hand build by my dear friend and neighbor Kelly DeWitt. Chap laser etches the logo onto the box lids. The logo was designed by Renee Fernandez and Ryan Rhodes under the name L A N D

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Maura: I like to play with color even when it comes to my food. Kale is my favorite green.

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Maura: Greeting us at the front door to our home are succulents and a hand painted house warming gift made by our friend Adam Smith.

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Maura: Our neighbors breed longhorns and this spring two babies joined the herd, it’s fun to see them on the way into town.

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Maura: The wildflowers are in full swing here in central Texas, and solar dye jars are a great way to sample colors from nature collected on my evening walk.

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Maura: I always have a few dye pots going that I check every day or so.

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Maura: Cataloging fabric swatches after each dye bath is an ongoing project I keep for my personal records. Each quilt comes with fabric swatches that shares details on the origin of color.

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Maura: Shelves in my studio hold stacks of naturally dyed fabrics for future projects.

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Maura: My two pet rabbits, Grey and Timmy, are my favorite distraction.

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Maura: It’s a good day when friends come over to enjoy the sunset around the fire pit. I love days I can help other makers, this image was taken by Nicole Mlakar for my friend Kelly DeWitt‘s new product line.

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Maura: The Montana Quilt is my latest creation.

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Maura: I love catching the evening light in our bedroom, it’s a magical way to end the day.

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A Day In The Life

29 Comments

Candi

I am totally in awe of the Maura’s work….it’s simply beautiful! In fact, the whole process of producing each quilt along with the packaging is a work of art in itself. Her dedication to her work is very inspiring!

Thanks for sharing!

Pam J

Maura was my daughters (favorite) preschool teacher quite a few years ago. She made such an impact on Zoe, so loving and patient. I am so happy to see and hear of her success. It is such a pleasure to be able to follow her beautiful work.

Kirstin

what is solar dye and how can I start creating lovely things with it?! love love love maura’s work, totally inspiring!

Susan

Thank you for introducing us to Maura; this has been my favorite Design Sponge post to date. And I love to see what SCAD students are doing after SCAD.

Verena

I love Maura’s work! Thanks for a peek into her day, I am always so inspired seeing her beautiful natural dye baths and stunning quilts.

ginny branch

Yay Maura! So proud of this girl and her beautiful work!

Christine

I’ve been following Folk Fibers for awhile and just love Maura’s work. It was so much fun to see her featured in Design Sponge!

Barbara

Wow this work of art is impressive. It is obvious that Maura is an artist. Even the packaging is special. Her art is noteworthy and her quilts are sure to become family heirlooms…what a great wedding gift a quilt would make. ..a true American treasure.

Rita

Her work is very reminiscent of The Quilts of Gees Bend – done by the very poor women of Gees Bend, Alabama in the 30′s and 40′s. Beautiful.

JLM

this is excellent! this is the first time i’ve seen maura’s work, and it’s truly incredible.
i love being introduced to new artists/makers/creators who, like maura, have such an effortless creative spirit that infiltrates all areas of their life. the raw energy and authenticity of folk fibres is palpable.

sorry to get all negative in the last part, but this is something that i didn’t enjoy about last weeks ‘day in the life’. designsponge, for me, has always been honest and realistic about the life that occurs between instagram posts and/or perfectly manicured scenes, and i lost a little hope for that last week. i know this was just one post of many, and overwhelmingly this was out of step with the tone of your usual content, but i did want to mention it, as it’s clearly still on my mind. love maura’s work, and love the blog, grace.

Grace Bonney

JLM

I’m sorry you felt that way. Could you clarify what was upsetting about the last one? Last week as Vitrified Studio and Maryann Moodie- I didn’t see either of those as too perfect or manicured. They both presented real life shots and neither was professionally styled, etc. If you could share some details that would be great, and it will help me understand how we can better steer people if you’re feeling their shots are too manicured.

Grace

JLM

Thanks for taking the time to reply Grace, and so quickly too!
I was referring to the Maryanne Moodie post. I just found it extremely difficult to relate to the stylized presentation of a day of baking/weaving/cooking/yoga, all with a very small child. It just seemed to be jarringly devoid of grit. Life is gritty!
I realise that this series doesn’t set out to create a biographical study, and is a snippet of details in much larger life, however I felt compelled to share this, as you’re always so honest on this blog. It’s a fabulous site, and I don’t wish to interrupt the flow of discussion about Folk Fibres any more than I already have… sorry Maura.

nadine

Maura’s work is so inspiring from the hand dying to the beautiful quilting. A marvelous, inspiring life. Would so love to take a workshop…

Grace Bonney

Hi JLM

I understand what you’re saying, though I don’t think I got quite that same feel from Maryanne’s piece. That said, I understand what your overall point is and will make sure we continue to encourage people to show us as much of their day as possible, not just the prettiest parts.

I do want to point out that I think the word “honest” is tough to use when critiquing someone else’s life. For Maryanne, that is her honest life. She may have profiled a day that contained less of what you see as “gritty” work, but sometimes people have figured out a work/life situation that allows for less “grit”. I think we see more of the “tough work” shown in newer businesses, but often when people are a bit more established, they sometimes have more help or a more efficient work system that allows them to take a bit of time to relax or do other activities you may not expect to see in their day.

I think all business owners should try to make time for some sort of break during the day, whether it’s yoga or cooking. It’s absolutely a necessity to create as much balance in your working life as possible so you can stay energized and focused on everything. So I don’t see a yoga break (weaving is Maryanne’s job, so that’s not a glossy break for her) or cooking as a false luxury- I think it’s a very real and attainable break. I think I would understand your comment a bit more if she was flanked by a team of nannies and personal trainers, but I think a break for baking or at-home yoga isn’t so far off from a lot of people’s realities.

Grace

JLM

Hi Grace
I used the word ‘honest’ in reference to you – in that you always take the time to have discussions with your audience (as you are now), and in your personal reflections in other blog posts. I’m not at all suggesting that the piece Maryanne shared was dishonest, it’s just that I see this series as an opportunity to delve a little deeper into that unedited life we rarely see. That is what attracted me to your blog initially, why I keep reading, and will continue to.

Celia

Perhaps it is part of the work of Folk Fibers to hold space for honest exchanges about what we choose to allow into our daily lives. How we choose to live, what we choose to act and react on. I deeply resonate with the life that Folk Fibers has chosen, I’m in admiration. I sift through my everyday life in Houston stripping away unnecessary interactions and so called demands. Folk Fibers work is a true treasure in our world today and I thank you for preserving the traditional art of dying and quilting.

Grace Bonney

JLM

I’m not sure I still understand- are you saying that I’m being dishonest in the way we’re presenting people’s lives? These posts are submitted by the artists themselves in their words, so I’m not editing the way they’re being presented. Perhaps I’m missing what you’re saying?

Grace

JLM

Hi Grace
Yes – I think you’ve misunderstood me. I was just saying that I felt I could be honest in raising the points above, as you are always so honest here, personally, with your readers.
I hold Design Sponge in high regard, so I guess when I read something that I felt fell a little short (of that high standard), it’s prompted me to be open about it. It all feels as though it’s been blown out of proportion now, and I’m sorry for my part in that. Celia (above) raises some valid points about being mindful in life and making a choice on what we focus our attentions on, and I’ll take that away with me. Thanks for having the discussion, Grace.

Grace Bonney

JLM

I’m sorry I misunderstood your comment- I’m always happy to chat if you want to talk about anything else or have any other concerns.

Grace

Jacqueline

Love Maura’s way of life and work – we need more people/creatives/business-owners like her in this world. :)

Linda

It is always encouraging to see young people continue traditional processes in new artistic ways.

Lisa Schramek

So happy to see Maura’s stunning work described. I love quilting as a hobby- and can only begin to imagine the hours that go into her work from the beginning! Solar dyeing is inspiring and I’d love to see a related DIY post.

Maura has a new fan. Thanks for introducing me!

Natasha

These pieces are amazing. It is such an inspiration for my hopeful future in quilting. Maura’s naturally dyed fabric is brilliant!

Erin

I want to thank everyone who buys her work. So much is focus on this blog about the creative hustle and it’s wonderful to see that there are people out there buying these beautiful pieces so that the process can go on!

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