TRAVEL//TEXTURE WITH MANDY BERNARD

WORDS & IMAGES: MANDY BERNARD

Loam is so excited to be collaborating with the rad Mandy Bernard of Homesteading Roasters in the coming month. A passionate conservationist and artist (her gorgeous paper and textile work will nourish your heart!) Mandy is especially gifted at capturing the exquisite small wonders alive in our surroundings. Herewith, Mandy digs into her creative process. 

I've always been good with details. I won't remember your name the first time we meet, but in the meantime I'll think about how you kept using your hands to tell a story about your sister, the color of your coffee mug, and what the weather was like. Being detail-oriented is a favored resume trait, and it's a skill that has always served me well at work: logging accurate records of microorganisms in a Petri dish, scanning state statutes and city codes for a particular regulation, reviewing land title reports for potential risks, drafting nonprofit policy and procedures. This is where my Type A behaviors really shine. 

But the devil, as they say, may very well be in the details. And after about a decade of this attention, I needed a break. After implementing a careful transition plan, I have been enjoying the varied rhythms of a freelance/part-time life for almost a year now. Getting to this liberated stage was a personal sea change, and I've never been happier with the decision to spend more time on creative pursuits. My days are more open, my head is quieter, I'm able to focus on the things that really matter to me. 

All this introspective time has been incredibly nurturing for new project work and ideas. I understand that as a printmaker and textile artist, I've already chosen a medium that lends itself to precision. But this break from my detailed conservation career work has divulged the surprising realization that in my artwork, I am still focusing on the little things. I live in Alaska, a state full of sweeping mountain vistas, ancient glaciers, and vast wilderness. And as much as the unparalleled scenery still takes my breath away, I've found myself ignoring the forest for the trees—or in this case, the trees for the lichen and mollusks.

When seeking inspiration for my textile work, I tend to focus on the macro details within a larger landscape: the color of dried flower stalks against a snowy white backdrop, the tiny cup-like saucers growing out of a patch of moss, or the shape of a densely packed cluster of bivalves on a rock at low tide. These colors, shapes, and textures progress from photographs to illustrations to abstract silkscreen and embroidery surface designs.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to unearth these natural details to a broader context through this cross-country collaboration. As an honorary guest poster on Loam's Instagram account, I'll be sharing some miniature landscape photography, hand-drawn designs, and detail-inspired stitching tutorials. Whether you regularly find yourself in the weeds or taking the 30,000-foot approach, I hope these posts will provide some small-scale inspiration in your own life, however it may be structured.