WORDS: KATE WEINER
IMAGES: LINDSEY ZINNO
Made by hand in her Cincinnati studio, Lindsey Zinno's multifunctional fiber art is a minimalist study in infusing everyday objects—market totes, baskets, trivets, and bowls—with a sense of peace and purpose. I first was drawn to The Northern Market for its succulent simplicity. Her woven work reminded me of woodcut prints and tree rings. So I was especially excited to learn that her products—many made from a single piece of rope—are locally sourced, naturally dyed, and crafted from scrap materials. It's always so inspiring to me to meet with makers who are taking stuff that's already in circulation and transforming it into functional works of art.
I recently connected with Lindsey to talk shop. Tune in for an energizing conversation on sustainable consumption and heart-filled craft (and check out her upcoming episode for PBS on contemporary sewing and rope craft!)
What inspired you to create The Northern Market? How do you integrate sustainable practices into your work?
I have always been driven toward making, and I always knew that I wanted a career that is creative, different, and ever-changing. I began The Northern Market when I was in high school. After gifting many of my baskets [to friends and family] I realized that it was time to start gearing my work toward building a business. I study Environmental Sciences at the University of Cincinnati and I use my studies [to shape] my business everyday. The rope that I use is actually sourced from my state of Ohio (purchasing locally is very important to me). The cotton rope is spun using leftover fiber from cotton fabric production and I have my labels made from organic cotton in Massachusetts. Nothing ever goes to waste in my studio. I reuse, recycle, and repurpose everything that I can. I also enjoy working with natural dyes such as Hibiscus or Turmeric.
Many of the gorgeous goods from The Northern Market are made to order and some are crafted with natural dyes. What's your creative process like when you're dreaming up a piece?
You will always find my sketchbook, notepad, and graphite pencils in my bag. I find inspiration everywhere. I find many of my ideas just being at home where I like to wonder: What's a new purpose for a vessel? How can I make it different? I'm also very centered around continuity, as almost all of my pieces are made with one continuous piece of rope. There are instances where I cut the rope to add a new dyed rope color, but everything is made in a continuous form. That is something that requires a lot more creativity, trying to dream up a design, but also making it continuous. I don’t make or design for a certain target market, but rather, for myself, and what I would like to see in my line.
How do you envision growing The Northern Market in the coming year?
Because I am about to enter my final year of school, I will be transitioning into what my vision for The Northern Market will be when I graduate. I believe that I will open a store one day, soon. I have so many ideas, so many designs that are not just centered around rope, but around recycled fibers too. I will be expanding my circle a bit, looking for more help around my studio, and expanding my studio space as well.
At Loam, we celebrate the importance of embodying hope. This means grounding our dream for a better world in concrete actions. How do you embody hope in your every day?
I am very conscious about buying sustainably. I believe that a sustainable purchase is not just one that is created with eco-friendly materials, but also something that will last. The Northern Market creates sustainable and functional art with great longevity. My focus is to provide hope to consumers so they can trust handmade work and know that they do not need to buy mass-produced, environmentally unfriendly pieces. Every purchase, every dollar spent in an unsustainable way is [giving] more support to [environmentally unsound] companies and therefore more support to a tragic future. In my everyday, I am quite conscious of my spending decisions so I support local, handmade businesses.