Quirk Gallery: Hello again! As a refresher for anyone who didn’t see our last blog post with you, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Kate Koconis: Hello! Let me introduce myself, my name is Kate Koconis. I am the sole person responsible for Little Black Sheep Studio. I design and make everything out of my home studio in Providence Forge, VA. As long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in making things. I grew up doing every arts and crafts project you can think of and was especially drawn to the fiber arts. I kept coming back to yarns, fabrics and other very tactile materials. When I discovered weaving, it was a game changer, I fell in love with the craft immediately. I loved every step of the process, I loved the materials, I loved the finished product, I loved everything about it. I’ve now been weaving for over 10 years, and still enjoy it just as much as that first time. My main focus is hand making fiber goods for you and your home. Handmade items are so special. When someone takes the time and effort to make something with passion and love, I think that shows and makes the item so much more than just a whatever it is. It becomes a memory and a feeling. I get such joy from and have such a love for the things I create, and my hope is for that feeling to transfer through the pieces to whomever is interacting with them.
This will be your second workshop at Quirk, the response to your first was amazing. How is this similar and how is this different to that first one? Do you think you’ve responded to the interest level of the community?
I was so thrilled with the response to my last workshop. Who knew there were so many people who were interested in weaving? Since that workshop I have had a lot of people asking me when I was going to do another one, and I’m so glad I can help fulfill the desire for those who want to learn. I had never taught a group of people before and it was a little bit daunting of a task, but I loved it. I had so much fun sharing this wonderful craft with people, and I think they had fun too. This workshop is going to be very similar to the last. I’ll be going over the same basic steps and how to’s of weaving. I did learn a thing or two from the last workshop though. Like anything, the more you do it the better you get. I’m excited for this next workshop since I’ve made a couple minor changes to my lesson, hopefully to make things easier and more streamline. I’m also very excited for the advanced workshop where we’ll be going over shapes, and how to get a little more intricate with your designs.
Recently you’ve been experimenting a lot in the studio with embroidery and new weaving techniques. How do you decide what projects to focus on, when do you know if something new is working and a direction you would like to follow?
This is a tough question, there are so many different factors that go into why I make, and I don’t really have an exact system for the decision. It is partly a creative and partly a business decision. While I love going down a new idea rabbit hole, I also need to consider what things are in demand. For this reason, I usually have multiple things I’m working on at once. I’ll be working on experimental projects at the same time as production pieces. Things get really cool when these two meet. My new embroidery pieces are a good example of that. They started out as me wanting to try something totally new just for fun, and ended up being one of my favorite new pieces. I have a long list of things I want to make and I am checking them oﬀ one by one, it’s just a matter of finding the time. Creatively I get inspiration from all over the place, a lot of the time it has to do with a pattern, a material, or a color. While I’m weaving is when I get most of my new ideas. I’ll be working on a piece with a specific pattern and want to make that pattern with a different material, and vice versa, or I’ll want to blow it up in scale. I am constantly asking myself how I can make things better or more interesting, and that drives me to always be moving forward. I am using very traditional techniques, but I try to keep finding new and exciting directions to take them in. I know I am going in the right direction if I enjoy it so much I want to just make more, and I’m excited to make more. I’ll want to change color schemes and sizes of course, but if I don’t want to change anything involving the materials or process, then I know I’m on to something. It helps if those things sell too, after all this is a business, but me being excited about them is more important. I know if I’m not passionate about a new idea, it’s not going to work out.
I’ve had the pleasure to see you at local farmers markets with Amy's Organic Garden, and you’re always doing something within the community, always creating. What projects and businesses are you currently working with that you’re excited about?
I’m trying to get out there and get involved with as much stuff as I can. Right now I am focusing primarily on holiday markets as it’s that time of year. I’m participating in more this year than ever before. It’s my favorite time of year, I absolutely love going to markets (farmers markets and craft markets). It is so nice getting to meet and talk with people about my work, and also getting to meet other makers. It’s always so uplifting and enjoyable. Richmond really does have so many amazing talented folks and I am thankful to be able to be a part of this community. Also this year you can find LBSS products all around town. You’ve been able to find my hanging planters at Addison Handmade and Vintage and weavings at Quirk Gallery for a couple years now. This year I have added Rosewood Clothing Co. and MADE which is a holiday pop-up store in Carytown, to my list of stockers. I’m always excited to support and partner with small businesses in town. Richmond has such a wonderful community that supports it’s own, and I think that is really cool. I know I don’t exactly live in Richmond, but I have that feeling of belonging to it that is just really nice.
What is next for you? Little Black Sheep Studio?
As for me, well anything is possible, we could potentially be adding a horse to the list of animals we have (update: we have added a horse). That or baby goats, you never know around here. I also have a few home renovation projects I would like to get done this winter. I’ll be still working with Amy’s Organic Garden of course, so you’ll still be able to find me at the Birdhouse Farmers market every Tuesday in Richmond, and in Williamsburg every Saturday. I love working on the farm, and that is not going to change. As for Little Black Sheep Studio, I would love to get more involved in teaching more workshops/classes around town. That is something I never thought I would like to do, but now I know how rewarding it is and want to just keep it up. I’ll also just keep making, following my whims and experimenting. I’ve had some plans for some new wearables, I may have time to test out this winter, fingers crossed. Lots to do, so little time.
To sign up for the workshop give us a call at 8043406036!
$50 per participant per class includes three hours of instruction and your very own hand crafted weaving. Introductory and advanced classes are still available, if you have any questions give us a call or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Introduction Class - SOLD OUT
January 27th, January 28th and February 3rd from 12 pm - 3 pm
February 4th from 12 pm - 3 pm
Look at our event page for more information!