Canadian Interiors March/April 2017

Page 44

Textile designer Libs Elliott uses digital technology to transform traditionally handcrafted products into modern-day art.

CANADIAN INTERIORS 3/4 2017

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By Shannon Moore

Growing up with an antique-dealer father, Toronto-based textile designer Libs Elliott learned to appreciate the beauty of the traditional from a young age. Today, she specializes in quilt making, turning timetreasured heirlooms into modern-day crafts. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - After studying photography and woven textiles at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Elliott began working as a project manager in the advertiseing industry. “I was managing teams, so I didn’t have a real outlet for my own creativity,” she says. “Eventually, I decided to take up a hobby to get out my ideas.” Elliott signed up for a quilting class at Toronto’s newly opened Workroom and was instantly hooked. “I’ve been quilting full-time for four years now,” she says. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Exploring the intersection of technology and tradition, Elliott has spearheaded an inventive and entirely unique approach to the quilting practice. In 2012, she collaborated with designer and technologist Joshua Davis, who introduced her to a coding

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process that could generate compositions for her quilts. Today, the process is intrinsic to her work. “I use a programming language called Processing, where I insert a code into the computer and a random geometric pattern is generated on the screen,” she says. “You can control the patterns to a degree, but it’s mostly random. You never know what you’re going to get.” - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Once the pattern is revealed, Elliott manipulates the shapes and colours in Illustrator, pulling inspiration from her photographs of urban settings like Toronto and New York. The resulting quilt — which is typically assembled using a domestic machine — is three layers thick, combining the patterned front with a cotton or bamboo centre and a solid back. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - While unconventional from traditional quilting methods, Elliott’s process delicately balances a love for the old with a passion for the new. “Because I grew up around a lot of antiques, I have an appreciation for old things, including traditional crafts, but I’ve also

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