About Mary Lynn O'Shea

As a child I was always making things. I took every art class I could but I was discouraged from attending college by my family and teachers. (something about gender roles of the time) No one in my family had gone to college and my teachers and test scores said that I was not college material. However, I was very stubborn and had a strong will. After high school I had several office and clerical jobs and it only took a summer for me to announce to my parents that I was going to college. Without the proper grades and preparation I could only attend a junior college while living at home and working weekends to pay my own tuition.

For my junior year I transferred to Southern Illinois University where by sheer chance they had an excellent art department. I majored in art education and it was only in my senior year that I discovered my true passion. I had to take a weaving and textile class as part of my course requirements and fell instantly in love. I loved everything about the medium, the tactility, the physicality of the process and most of all the sheer volume of color choices and combinations.

 

I decided that I wanted to go to graduate school for weaving and was offered an assistantship, my tuition being paid for assisting in the studio. For the next year and a half I lived in the studio and immersed myself in my medium. Upon graduating, I was offered a one-year teaching job in the art education department. The following year I moved to the east coast and taught basic art at the University of Delaware while continuing to look for a job teaching weaving. During a trip to New York I walked into the office of the American Craft Museum and left my slides with a resume. A few months later, I received a call from Goddard College looking for a new professor to head their growing weaving program. I took the position and moved to Vermont where I have been ever since. I ran the program for three years before moving to Middlebury, where I would eventually set up my own studio and business.

 

Not many people know that I began my career as a tapestry artist. I have always had an appreciation for nature and a love of flowers and gardening. This passion drove me to weave large-scale floral tapestries. Although I was very dedicated to my work in tapestry and showed in galleries throughout the Unites States, it was very hard to make a living once I left my teaching position. It was at this point that I took my first step into the fashion industry with my line of triangular shawls.

 

With the shawls I participated in some of the first craft shows in The United States. Throughout my early career I witnessed and participated in a grand resurgence of craft in America. I was amazingly fortunate to be a part of this period of American craft. From weaving shawls, I progressed to a line of hand woven jackets using primarily chenille yarns. As chenille began to rise in popularity within the commercial fabric industry, I began to incorporate select upholstery fabrics into my line of clothing. Soon after, I decided to approach a small family owned textile mill in Pennsylvania to help me create my own line of unique jacquard fabrics. I combed through the archives and was able to revitalize many turn of the century patterns with my knowledge of weaving and distinctive color sense. The result was the upholstery fabrics you see on this website which are the culmination of forty years of working in weaving and color theory.

 

My career and my success have been founded on experimentation, risk and change. I keep subtly changing my work so that my customers will always find something new.

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