FOLKWEAR – A Poignant Farewell

Before I took up jewelry design I had been an illustrator – fashion, advertising, children’s books and TV. It was a long and successful career.  But I finally outgrew that life and went on to play with beads and pearls, becoming GRETCHEN SCHIELDS JEWELRY.  My enduring favorite client over those illustrator years however was, and remains FOLKWEAR, PATTERNS WITH TIMELESS STYLE.  Here are some of my favorite Folkwear illustrations:

Folkwear re-creates ethnic and antique garments and all their associated hand crafting for the home fabricator and sewer, a treasure trove of design and technique.  I had worked with them for over 40 years and created the packaging cover art for designs as diverse as the exotic belly dance outfits of the Turkish Dancer to the glorious confection of tucked batiste and lace that is the Edwardian Bridal Gown.  What I learned about fashion and ethnic handicrafts through the ages was incomparable.  I kept Folkwear as my only client even after I left the rest of the illustration world.  But when they recently asked me to do the next pattern cover I had to demur.

Dear Folkwear,

I suffered a broken back this last season as well as temporary paralysis of my right arm.  All of my work projects came to a halt.  I’ve recovered from both injuries more or less, but I find I enjoy this alternative period of quiet reflection and feel it’s time to retire from Folkwear too.

My Folkwear art remains the body of my work of which I am most proud, beloved Folkwear. I developed the unique style of the illustrations with Japanese block prints as my strongest influence – the meaning of the line, the composition of the black & white blocks was paramount.  My love of ethnic costume and decoration found full expression in the Folkwear art and I thank them deeply for giving me the chance to be their face to the world.  The catalog of our illustrations probably numbers over 200 by now.  I started illustrating for Folkwear in my 20’s and now, as I approach 70 I feel it’s time for me to pass the baton to another artist.  I hope that person will love Folkwear as I do, for the love was the secret element in my Folkwear style, giving it that singular quality that it so deserves.