For my first post of 2021 I decided to step away from the riveting news of the past week and focus instead on a happier subject, a virtual visit with another artist in the ongoing series of posts I’ve released over the past several months on what they’ve been creating during the pandemic.
Mary Engelbreit’s art is recognizable to many fans around the world, but unless you follow her on Instagram you may not know that, these days, when she isn’t working on a new calendar or children’s book, she’s been crafting in her home studio.
Since the “lock down” began in the St. Louis area in March, Mary’s been participating in staff meetings with her CWE-based creative team via Zoom. So it hasn’t been a problem to be at home, instead “I like to be in my home studio, ” Engelbreit reported, “and I also like to stay busy, so when I’m not working on an ME project, I get out my crafting supplies and start making stuff, listening to podcasts and books while I create.” A recent favorite among the books was The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, and she’s now listening to C.S. Lewis’ trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet. “I read it as a kid,” she explained. “So far it’s holding up.”
Engelbreit’s inimitable style can be seen in Home, above, and the adorable Sailor and Scottie piece below.
Engelbreit said she doesn’t sketch her designs first, she just cuts the shapes out of felt and then embellishes them with perle cotton, buttons, trim, and in the case of the felted Halloween pieces below, a smudge of paint.
“When I was finally cleaning up my studio after the lock down,” Engelbreit said, “I found jewelry-making stuff I had never used, so I decided to re-purpose it for embroidery, above.
The photos above are examples of other projects the artist has completed over the last 9 months.
Engelbreit found a collection of unpainted animals on Etsy and created Lola’s House of Animals for her granddaughter.
She painted a basket of fruit and flowers on a side table.
The piece above was Engelbreit’s interpretation of a kit released by artist and dear friend Charlotte Lyons following the cancellation due to the pandemic of an in-person workshop that was to be held in ME’s CWE studio. Lyons, a former St. Louisan who lived on Pershing Place, has come back to town many times to host workshops with Mary.
One of the bright spots in Mary Engelbreit’s life over the past 18 months has been her granddaughter Lola, for whom she made the doll quilt above. She used a stash of cotton & linen napkins for the quilt blocks, which she quilted with a Kantha stitch, and then appliqued.
“When I’m sewing and have no deadlines.” Engelbreit said, “it’s just a fun, relaxing thing to do. And it takes my mind off all the craziness of 2020 (and I might add, the start of 2021 as well).”
Thank you so much Mary for sharing your inspiring work. Check out the website for information on Mary Engelbreit products.