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Artist Interview – Natalie Mason

Getting kicked in the face with color is exactly what accessories and homeware designer Natalie Mason of The Tangled Path does to you. I know this because her studio space is next to mine and I’m always in awe of her bold use of color. Natalie’s work is steeped in traditional techniques but she brings a modern sensibility to her pieces using eclectic designs and hue pushing dying processes. I asked Natalie a few questions to find out more about her background and where she is going with her work.

The Tangled Path Shibori Pillows

Tell us a little about yourself:

I like to make things that are beautiful, colorful and functional. Most of my creations utilize fabrics, whether screen printed, block printed, or hand dyed. I also enjoy painting and drawing from time to time, and my original passion in life is soccer. Born and raised in the Southeast, I took a four year detour to San Diego before landing in Bend, Oregon two years ago.

Natalie's Singer Sewing Machine

How did you come to be an accessories and homeware designer?

This career path arose out of a desperate need for curtains. We had just moved into a large house with a ton of windows, and I could not afford to buy the curtains that I wanted. So I made them instead, using my husband’s grandmother’s old sewing machine (which is still my primary machine!). I had so much fun with that process that I decided, “Hey! I’d like to do that for a job.” So here we are.

What are your major influences?

As a beach bum and sun worshiper, I am inspired by beachy daydreams and bright, tropical hues. Many of my designs feature screen printed waves as well as more loose, organic, watery shapes created from shibori techniques. Flamingos are the best animal in the world -fact- so I will sometimes throw one or two into a design.

The Tangled Path, Shibori Technique

You use shibori in some of your work. What is this technique and how did you discover it?

This is an ancient Japanese dye-resist technique of binding the fabric a certain way to produce a specific pattern when dyed. There are many different methods utilizing a variety of objects including, but not limited to, wood planks, rocks, and string. Though they typically used indigo dyes for coloring, I like to use a variety of colors.

The Tangled Path Napkins

What is your favorite part of the design process?

The mistakes and the occasional unpredictability of it all. This is particularly prevalent in the hand dyed pieces, which are a bit different every time, no matter how consistent the process is. By that same token, it feels really good to be able to harness the dye and recreate something again and again.

The Tangle Path Quilt

In addition to creating your accessories and houseware collections you make an effort to utilize the materials left over in your production process. Is this an easy process for you or do you find it difficult to find a way to utilize those materials? Have you learned anything from that process you wouldn’t have discovered if you just threw those materials away?

I have a bit of a hoarding problem and hate to see anything go to waste, so it is quite easy for me to figure out ways to use tiny scraps. My shibori patchwork pillows are an excellent example of utilizing my leftovers. I also enjoy making quilts, which is something I might not have discovered if I had simply gotten rid of those tiny leftovers. Luckily, it seems that I have landed in the quilting capital of the world, so there is no shortage of inspiration. Finally, I am in the process of collecting all of my REALLY teeny tiny leftovers, leftovers that are too small to make a quilt with, as well as my thread remnants. Once I have enough of these I’ll use them as filling for a Moroccan-style pouf.

What are you working on or thinking about now?

Right now, I am thinking about who will win the World Cup. ;) In other news, my fabric remnants pile has grown out of control again, so I am working on reeling in the scraps to make some quilts. I currently have three quilts in the making- two that will follow a pink-yellow-purple color scheme, and one that I am REALLY exited about, which will be all pieces of indigo blue hand dyed fabrics. When I am not in the studio, I am at home painting. I recently painted a flamingo that I am super excited about; prints coming soon to Etsy, my website and Lumin Art Studios.

The Tangled Path

Where can you find Natalie’s work?

The Tangled Path
The Tangle Path on Etsy

In Oregon:
The Workhouse – 50 SE Scott St, Bend, OR 97701
The Feather’s Edge Finery – 113 NW Minnesota Ave, Bend, OR 97701
Eclectic NW – 365 Ferry Street SE, Salem, OR 97301
The Workhouse – 50 SE Scott St #6, Bend Oregon, 97702

In North Carolina:
Furbish Studio – 312 W. Johnson Street, Raleigh, NC 27603

Photo of the artist courtesy of Photography in Bend.

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