Santa Claus could use a person like Kathy Snow on his staff, and not just because her last name fits well into his company theme.
Nor is it because the Dayton sewist (a recently coined term that combines the words “sew” and “artist”) creates doll clothes to fill the dream wardrobe of every child who owns and loves an 18-inch American Girl style doll.
Snow’s prowess with the sewing machine, and her ability to transform fabric, notions, lace, and buttons into intricately sewn items of art, approaches a proficiency that borders on wizardry, a level of achievement in line with what St. Nicholas demands at his North Pole shop.
Appropriate for the correlation, Snow discovered the magic of hand sewing as a 9-year-old child, fully launching into the craft in 7th grade, when she took a sewing class and decided to never stop.
The Sewist in the Studio
“I have made LOTS of things in my lifetime,” Snow says. “Dresses for myself, dresses for my daughter when she was growing up, costumes for her and my grandchildren. I have made many many things through the years that I have given away to family and friends.”
Snow’s present passion focuses on dresses, coats, nightgowns, jackets, slacks, skirts, and blouses for those 18-inch dolls, which she purchases on sale at box stores and decks out in fashion for every season. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have time to create a multiplicity of items from fabric, ranging from kitchen tea-towels that look like old fashioned aprons (and fit, incidentally, an 18-inch doll, should you happen to have one on hand) to quilts, from full-sized 1930s style aprons for full-sized humans to Christmas stockings.
“I get involved in making other things that steer me away from the doll clothes,” Snow says. “I tend to start too many things at the same time, but I do manage to get things done, just not as quickly as I once did.”
Business Is Sew Good
After all, she does this for fun, although like many endeavors we start, fall in love with, and get really proficient at doing, Snow has turned a lifetime love into a business, and operates a regular booth at the Village Shoppes in Dayton. After retiring four years ago from her position as a pharmacy technician, she finds time to spend in her basement sewing studio, complete with the ironing board that is supposed to easily fold away, but never does; a wall peg board loaded with thread and other notions; and a prominent sign that announces, MY HAPPY PLACE.
“And of course, I have cupboards of fabric and lots of totes full of fabric — Imagine that! Sometimes I wonder if I will get all of this sewed up into something.”
And while Snow has been sewing pretty much all of her life, she’s managed to tuck in a few unexpected experiences between the seams, so to speak, offhandedly mentioning that she used to sing professionally, notably in California with the Doodletown Pipers, an easy listening group of the 1960s and early 1970s, as well as The Kids Next Door group at Walt Disney World in Florida, in 1972. After her daughter was born, she left the music business, but that’s when she discovered the County Fair:
“I entered several items I had made and won several First Place, Second Place, and Third Place ribbons.” If she wasn’t hooked on sewing before, she was now.
But actually, it’s all about the sewing, whether the work sells (it does) or whether it wins ribbons (how can it not?). The items Snow creates in her Happy Place spread a message of joy to whoever buys or receives the final work, and in these glad tidings, Santa would be pleased as well, because Snow’s mission statement closely parallels his own.
“This is something that I choose to do for fun, and hopefully if I sell some things that make others happy, that makes me happy.
“That’s what I want to do: make others happy with the things I create.”
Kathy Snow is the featured Pacific Northwest artist at Wenaha Gallery from Monday, December 4 through Saturday, December 30, 2017.
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail email@example.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.