A Silky Spring for Fashion in Cleveland

There are certain advantages to living in a four-climate city that our friends residing closer to the equator rarely get to experience.  Like that refreshing feeling we get when we re-open that seasonal drawer or explore that other wing of our closets after a long harsh winter. Temps are rising, the sun is shining, and Cleveland shoppers are transitioning into their spring/summer fashion cycles which means new looks, new layers, new colors, and new textiles!  We recently caught up with three of our feature artists who specialize in silk wearables to learn more about their work.

Krista Tomorowitz

Krista Tomorowitz

Krista Tomorowitz

Krista collaborates with other artists, who paint rusted silk fabric for her to use.  She designs and constructs her signature garments, including soft, flowing caftans and kimonos. Her esthetic takes fashion to a whole new artistic level. Here's what Krista has to say about her work.

"My inspiration comes from my current environment, the beauty and humor of the seemingly mundane. I am also inspired by the other artists I collaborate with to create my textiles. They take my original ideas to interesting places I wouldn't have thought of if I was just working alone.

For the most part I enjoy working with silk, it can be very challenging but worth the extra effort. The fibers take and release dyes in ways other fabrics never can, it's like a living and glowing thing. Sometimes it agrees with you and other times it fights your intentions, causing you to seek out other techniques to get your ideas across. My favorite current technique is something called 'Decolourant Paste'. It's a clear paste applied to black silk that actually removes color when steam and heat are applied. Strange gray and faint blue ghosts are left where the image was painted.

I usually begin with a general idea about where I'd like the series of garments to go silhouette-wise. I try to plan for garments with as few seams as possible, Kimonos, caftans and tunics are favorite shapes of mine for showcasing textiles. The textile is created first, in 3-6 yard increments. I then process it and lay it back out with my pattern and cut out the garment. Then the garment is sewn together."

-Krista Tomorowitz

Donna Marchetti Design

Donna Marchetti Design

Donna Marchetti Design

Donna’s art-to-wear is handmade of the finest materials, from silk and other luxurious fibers to upcycled bits of vintage kimonos and studio scraps.  She hand paints the fabric, creating a unique pattern, and sews a one-of-a-kind garment every time. Her stunning silk scarves are one of the many showstoppers here at Fra Angelica. Here's what inspires Donna and how her one-of-a-kind pieces come together.

"I am very much influenced by two recent trips to Japan and workshops/classes I took there. I incorporate traditional Japanese shibori dyeing techniques into my work and am also inspired by the Japanese tradition of "boro," in which fabric is not discarded but made into something new. 

I hand-dye natural fabrics - silk, cotton, rayon - using various techniques appropriate to the fabrics. For larger, more intricate pieces, I often incorporate repurposed fabric - for jacket linings, for example - and studio scraps like shredded, hand-dyed silk and yarn left over from friends' projects

My jackets and some styles of wraps are my own design (and all dyeing is my own design); I do all of the machine and hand-stitching."

-Donna Marchetti

Barbara Bloom - Images in Bloom

Barbara Bloom

Barbara Bloom

Barbara’s art draws on nature, both figuratively and literally.  She’s inspired by its colors, textures, and organic sensibility for her painted silk garments and by her use of actual shed silk cocoons for her unique earrings. Here's what Barbara has to say about her inspiration, materials, and processes.

"I find inspiration from nature itself with the colors, the textures and the organic sense. Color is of utmost significance to me. I want harmony and yet visual vibrancy. I am also inspired by the Art Noveau era, with stylized lines and a striking color palate. I just did a series of Art Noveau silk scarves of William Morris prints. His work with wallpaper offers dense patterns and rich palate. I am also influenced by the work of Gustav Klimt, devouring his rich metallic geometric patterns against soft portraiture.

I purchase white silk from a supplier in California. The silk is washed and prepared for the surface design. I lay my drawing on the work table and place a piece of silk on top. With tubes of gutta resist I trace, drawing the design on the silk. The resist lines will be a permanent part of the design, as will also act as boundaries to keep colors separated. When the resist is dry the silk is stretched on a frame and painted, border first, then the details. The paint is specifically formulated for natural fiber, so it will work on silk, cotton, rayon. When fully painted and dry, the silk is wrapped in newsprint, and bundled into my silk steamer to set the color and fuse the resist. Finally, the silk is washed, ironed and ready to wear. Colorfast, hand washable. I also work with silk cocoons to create unique earrings that echo beaten silver. This involves sourcing silk cocoons, which are white egg-shaped and at most 3” long by 1 “ diameter. They are dyed in a blend of silk dye that I created to echo sterling silver. The cocoons are microwaved to set the color and when dry I cut them into shapes. With a beading needle, I sew in pearls, Czech glass and vintage beads, as well as the silver findings. I glaze the cocoons with a clear acrylic which makes them waterproof and adds a shine further reinforcing the sheen of silver.

With the silk, I like to design bold patterns with vivid color. I think of the current fashion trends and try to merge my sensibility to the trend and color palate. My fall back is always bold flowers, vibrant colors. With the cocoons, I try to evoke shapes in nature, such as peas in a pod, as well as modern stark geometric s with the pearls softening the design. I am always watching the silversmiths, taking inspiration to echo their work. But because the cocoons have a textured outside and a very smooth inside the overall presentation surprises people who initially think it is just another silversmith. As of today, I appear to be the only one working with cocoons in this fashion in the world."

-Barbara Bloom


Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind Cleveland shopping experience? Fra Angelica Studio proudly carries an extensive collection stunning art-to-wear from dozens of talented designers. If you're searching for a unique gift idea for someone special or bold and beautiful designs for yourself, stop on by to try some on, or have a look.