This week, the studio received a brand new fabric line: Root. Root was designed by artist e bond and is a continuation of her first line, Glyphs, which is made up of simple shapes in black and white and muted tan, yellow, and blue. Each fabric is named after a different black female author – Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Lorraine Hansberry, to name a few. bond said when she designed Glyphs, during the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020, she was thinking about how we communicate with one another and the origins of language.

“I was thinking a lot about how words fail,” bond said. “Language is beautiful and wonderful but there’s so many things that we don’t have words for. I was thinking back to the foundation of the alphabet, just symbols made up of dots and lines. If I were to break the letters apart and rearrange them, what might I come up with?”

The fabrics were given their names because, in a way, those authors were the origin of bond’s language. They were a huge presence in her life growing up, as her, her mom, and her grandmom all read these women's works. 

“[These authors] were some of the benchmarks for what was possible with language for me,” bond said. “Like, oh my gosh, you can build whole worlds with words.”

Toni Morrison, specifically, is an author whose work reminds bond of Freedom. In her designs for the Toni fabric, she tried to capture the feeling of freedom – of flight. The shapes that make up the design of Toni are bond’s depiction of Starling murmurations, which she saw for the first time in the fall of 2020 near her home in Northern California.

“Someone posted a video of murmurations of starlings in the air in California,” bond said. “I remember me and my cousin jumping in the car and going to see these birds doing these amazing patterns in the sky. I tried to take pictures but it’s so hard to capture that. Afterwards, in my head, I kept seeing the motion.”

bond says the curved shapes that make up the pattern of the Toni fabric are her drawings of what the starling’s flight looked like – the shape they made as they swept through the sky. 

“The root of the drawings were just this shape, just this one mark,” bond said. “What would this one mark mean? Would this mean flight? Would this mean freedom, if I got to make it all up again? If I got to make up what shapes meant?”

Thus, the Toni fabric was given its name. bond says when she reads Morrison, she feels free, which is exactly the emotion she wanted to capture in her murmuration drawings. 

bond created Glyphs and Root around the same time, but had wanted to release Glyphs first. To her, Glyphs represents a beginning, and Root, a continuation. Whereas in her mind, the beginning was mostly devoid of color, her continuation is an explosion. Though Root and Glyphs fabrics look great together, they are nearly opposite in appearance. In Root, bond worked with the same simple shapes as in Glyphs, but the designs became more complicated and colorful.

“I was thinking about the words we use to describe the worlds we live in, which I was breaking up into the natural world and the digital world,” bond said. “We spend so much time in the digital world now. I was thinking about how we talk about both of those worlds, the overlaps. Because plants have roots, but there’s roots in math, coding has roots and stems. Code is made up of zeros and ones, and if you make a zero and a one on top of one another it’s like a plant. These things are so close.”

bond loved everything that was sewn and created with her Glyphs collection, and she can’t wait to see what people do with Root now that it’s available for purchase. She’s currently working on a design for her third collection, which will be released early in 2023. She admits she feels a bit like an outsider in the quilting world. She does not quilt herself, and she is not primarily a fabric designer, just an artist. Glyphs and Root were drawings before they were fabrics. But she loves and appreciates all of the art that is created with her designs.

“Every time I see what [quilters] are doing with my fabric, I’m like, oh my god it’s just gorgeous I can’t believe they thought about it that way,” bond said. “It’s like I’m having a conversation with people, like I started a sentence and they finished it. I’m so happy to be in their world.”