Studio Tour

Studio Tour: Emma Fineman

by Sabrina Smelko

Like many artists, exploration and curiosity run through Emma Fineman‘s veins. Her paintings are hauntingly beautiful, and since graduating from art school just two years ago, Emma’s work has landed her in countless solo and group shows, exhibitions and galleries across North America. But despite her success as a painter, over time, her desire to experiment with other mediums — coupled with her passion for handmade materials — is what led her to launch Weft + Hide.

Utilizing both sides of her creative interests — her love for mark-making and garment design and textiles — Weft + Hide offers handmade leather goods, clothing, and accessories printed in painterly designs, which often start in the form of watercolor. Rather than creating simple clothing, Emma sees Weft + Hide’s pieces as “artwear.” Each image she creates is screen-printed, cut, and sewn by hand from her studio space in Oakland, CA, where she also continues her practice as a painter.

It might be hard to believe, but her studio space is actually located in the garage of her childhood home. After she graduated from art school, Emma traveled abroad for various artist residencies (including Istanbul, Sicily and Iceland), so the decision to convert the garage into a studio was not only a cost-effective one, but a convenient solution, as she’s only home for half the year. But the process of turning a garage into a peaceful, yet functional space wasn’t an easy feat.

As a self-proclaimed tireless creator, Emma ended up constructing nearly every piece of furniture within the space by herself. “My uncle has a super-sweet chop saw,” she explains, “which I would take to my house and employ for all the larger building projects, such as my triangle shelving unit, and tables.” But as someone great with visuals, she’s admittedly terrible at math, so it took a lot of measuring, thinking and planning things out with the help of her boyfriend. Another item of importance for Emma was figuring out how to section the space for both the messiest parts of her artistic process, and the ones that require her to be extremely clean and organized. By keeping integration and her creative flow in mind, the result is a space that doesn’t feel too compartmentalized, thanks in part to the two moveable walls on casters; which allow Emma to customize her space as she switches tasks, from painting, to having friends over comfortably. Function and design aside, when asked what she’s most thankful for about her space, Emma replied: “I am most thankful that I get to share it with people that I love, and that my studio is down the stairs from my bedroom, making getting work done first thing in the morning really easy!” –Sabrina

Photography by Sam Hylton

Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
Emma sitting in her garage-turned-studio at a door-turned-desk. The tabletop is actually an old door that Emma found at a salvation yard which she put atop two of her dad’s old saw horses. Voila, a table is born!
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
A full-room shot of her studio space.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
This is Emma's handmade triangle shelf which she built with her boyfriend using plywood from Home Depot -- inspired by the traditional Danish shelf, Amager Hylde. It always reminds Emma of her friend who lives in Denmark.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
This copper cup and brushes belonged to Emma's Grandmother, acting as a reminder of her love and support for what Emma does. "Before she passed away, she was a brilliant artist," Emma says, "she and I both attended the same school for college, The Maryland Institute College of Art, [and] she was always a major role model for me. We used to share dinner together most every Friday night, and it was always my favorite time to show her any and all new projects/paintings I was working on... I feel her presence in every single [item of hers]. "
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
A favorite corner of Emma's. She repurposed the chair by replacing the fabric on it with some beautiful veg-tan leather. Also pictured is Emma's beloved plant and pot from IKEA.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
"This is one of my favorite watercolor sets... from Case for Making," Emma says. The watercolor piece shown is a pattern that was used on a garment for Weft + Hide. Each of Emma's Weft + Hide pieces starts from (and sometimes is literally made out of) a watercolor or pencil sketch.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
Some of Emma's leather tools, and leather scraps next to a finished clutch. Every piece is handmade from scratch using vegtan hides.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
Some of Emma's garment creations on display hanging from a copper clothing rack that she made with materials from The Home Depot. "It’s a super fast and easy project," Emma says, "but copper adds up price-wise, so that’s important to keep in mind if you plan on making one like this."
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
A close-up of Emma's silk apparel.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
Emma displaying the details of one of her silk garments. The print pattern is actually from the watercolor from the second photo.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
This shelving unit was made by Emma by stacking old cinderblocks and a pair of white shelves she found on the side of the road. The painting is one of her own creations, which she painted using her sister as reference.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
The shelves store various books for when inspiration is needed.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
The table is another creation of Emma's, built from petrified wood that she sourced (or saved) from a row home in Baltimore that Emma lived across from during her last year of school. "The house was a beautiful brownstone probably from the 1920s," she says. "The top floors of the home caught fire and were destroyed, and just before the demo, people came to clear the debris, I went over and saved a handful of the charred wood."
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
This is described as "the most comfortable corner [in her] studio." Emma handmade the pillows using mud cloths that she purchased from Mali.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
Emma's collection of oil paints.
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
One of Emma's palettes after completing a large-format painting. Sometimes the palette can be just as beautiful as the art itself!
Studio Tour: Emma Fineman
A vignette showcasing a few of Emma's paintings and her coveted painting smock.

Suggested For You