At the studio we’re celebrating spring with a new line called Curio by designer Melody Miller of Ruby Star Society. Curio mixes and matches perfectly with other Ruby Star fabric lines like Floradora and Reverie. Curio is available for purchase by the yard and in fat quarter bundles at www.mctavishquilting.com and at the McTavish Quilting Studio and Fabrics in Duluth, MN.
Curio, as the name suggests, is a collection made up of curious designs – Melody drew vintage perfume bottles, rainbow moths, and metallic goldfish, and brought it all together with a familiar floral theme in bright colors and soft textures.
“[The vintage look] is kind of my thing,” Melody said. “When I’m looking for inspiration I go to graphic design from the seventies. It’s a space that gives me energy. We all have things we find inspiring, sometimes you see something and you feel a rush in your body. When I can hit that sweet spot of nostalgia, that's when people feel the most connection with my work.”
(Melody’s work does tend to inspire nostalgia; when the studio received Reverie several months ago, a customer said the fabric reminded her of the little girl dresses her mom made for her in the sixties.)
Melody has been an artist her whole life. She went to college for fine art when she was young. She wanted to be a painter, but it didn’t immediately work out that way. She worked a job in a real estate office for a few years where she taught herself Photoshop and InDesign, and also learned about a concept – new at the time – called branding.
“I had never heard the word before, no one was talking about that,” Melody said. “[Branding is] about psychology and storytelling, it’s so interesting to me. I ordered books on Amazon about branding. I would wake up before work and read these books.”
Melody was so inspired by the concept of branding that she asked her boss at the real estate office if she could help real estate agents brand themselves.
“They were all competing against each other, and I could help them stand out,” Melody said. “I helped them design logos. What a great exercise for me, every single day helping people tell their story in a way that's interesting and impactful. At the time I felt like a failure, I was a fine artist hanging out in a real estate office. But those skills have served me well. To this day storytelling is important [to my work]. Where can we find another place to connect? How do we remain authentic? How do we tell our story? It’s wonderful to watch people connect to the experience I’m trying to portray. It’s so satisfying, it feels like what I’m here to do.”
Fabric design is something Melody stumbled into about fifteen years ago, when she was pregnant with her son. As a new mom, she didn’t want to go back to her corporate job, and set out to make a plan to work from home.
“I had big ideas. I didn’t know how to execute them,” Melody said. “I had a friend who described it as ‘stuffing the pipe.’ You’re gonna stuff and stuff and stuff, and eventually something is gonna come out the other end. And for a long time I was like, ‘I don’t think my pipe is working,’ but I kept trying different things.”
Melody gravitated towards textile work because, with a new baby on the way, baby bedding was useful to her at the time. She was unsure, however, if she could legally use and sell fabric designed by other people to make her baby bedding, so Melody avoided the issue altogether and designed her own fabric.
Melody put her work out there, and was discovered by a fabric company, and then another, and then another. Melody designed fabrics for a few different companies, with her first line coming out in 2010. She switched companies three times before arriving at Moda, where she founded Ruby Star Society with four of her friends and fellow fabric designers in 2018.
“[At Ruby Star], there’s an emphasis on storytelling,” Melody said. “My stories are visual rather than narrative. With Curio, I was in a vintage dressing room – a space I could see in my mind. I kept referring to anything that belonged in that space. That was the thread in my mind that helped pull all my designs together. Flowers hanging, perfume bottles, goldfish.”
There are five women who design for Ruby Star, and none of their styles overlap; rather, their art fills a spectrum of modern designs. They intentionally design all of their lines so there’s continuity between them. All of their fabric is meant to be mixed and matched. At McTavish Quilting Studio and Fabrics, we carry six Ruby Star Society collections. Though it was a long road to finding herself at Ruby Star, Melody loves the way her career worked out.
“There’s so many ways to [achieve your goals]. If you just look at what you think is the path, you never think you’re on it. If you ignore that and try to carve out your own path, there’s so many ways to do it,” Melody said. “It’s so specific to an industry like this to see people working with my work. If I were a fine artist then you would just hang my art on your wall, but I’m making something that’s like a puzzle piece for someone else's creation.”
McTavish Quilting Studio and fabrics carries Curio, Reverie, Floradora, Linear, Stay Gold, and Darlings 2 by Ruby Star, available for purchase by the yard and in fat quarter bundles, averaging $12 per yard.
Glyphs and Root
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