Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I’m Lissa, and I founded Barncale Bags. I grew up on Lopez, a small island off the coast off Washington State. It was a magical place to grow up, and most of my favorite memories involve the waters surrounding my home. When I moved away, I traveled and lived in different cities but eventually realized how unique Lopez really was. Two years ago, I decided to move back. My boyfriend Alex and I bought a piece of raw land from an old farming family on the south end of the island last fall. After a long winter of work, we hope to be able to move in next month. I’ve been working out of the loft above my father’s boat shop, but soon I will have my own studio. Most of my time is spent running and making handmade organic canvas and wax canvas totes and rucksacks for Barnacle Bags, which has turned into a full-time job.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Though most of my time is spent inside sewing and cutting, I try and spend time outside every day roaming the shoreline and forest trails of Lopez. I love going on adventures, exploring the other islands on boats, relaxing in our garden, weeding and watering, and sharing a meal with a good friend. I really am a homebody, so staying on the property all day is a dream day for me. I love taking photos and often share them and other bits of inspiration on my blog.
What would be the title of your memoir?
Slow Down, You Are Moving Too Fast. I tend to get a little too excited or ahead of myself. I love thinking about the future, but since moving back to Lopez, I have really been trying to think more in the present.
Where does your inspiration come from?
It comes from all the endless pretty colors and textures of fabrics, colors of the natural world, creative friends, my travels in other countries, and people watching. Most my best ideas are formed while taking a walk with our dog, Finn, or when lying in bed about to fall asleep.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means a thing is made with love. It tells a story, has imperfections and gives off a feeling of uniqueness.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My family, friends, and everyone who has ever loved my work. This community has helped me believe that my goal of supporting myself by selling my handmade goods could actually be a reality. They all push me to keep going, and having that amazing group of people in my life has really kept me motivated.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
As a child, I loved creative projects. I knew I was a hands-on learner as soon as I entered middle school. I went to a school that taught with an alternative approach: lots of time outdoors, creative classes, independence, travel abroad.
Upon graduating, I was stuck trying to figure out what was next. I traveled down to South America and decided to head off to college when I returned, but it was not for me. The following winter, I traveled to Nicaragua. There, I stated having dreams of my own sewing business. We visited fabric shops and open air markets in Granada that were full of lace, ribbons, buttons and colorful fabrics. I fell in love with it all! At that time, I never could have imagined myself making things for a living, but now it really makes sense.
How would you describe your creative process?
It is quite organic. I do not use any patterns – I just remember the measurements in my head. I have a notebook with all the designs and measurements written down and kept safe in case I ever forget. I hate wasting fabric, so I try to use up all my scraps. If I have a piece of fabric that is too small, I will create a new design to use it. If I think of a design or see a person wearing a bag I like, I quickly sketch it down and then made adjustments from there.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Rebecca Burgess. I would love to see her collection of local and organic fibers, and the creations she and her community have made. She inspires me – I love her view on clothing and how she is bringing to light how resource-intensive clothing is to make. One day, I would love to wear only clothing handmade with fibers grown in the States and not shipped across the world.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A wonderfully creative and talented friend who cards, dyes, spins and knits by hand made a lovely pair of gloves that keep my hands so toasty warm on winter walks. They are made with island wool and I love wearing them so much. The perfect Northwest accessory.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Long walks, going for an adventure, a trip off the island, visiting a friend, drinking a cup of coffee or organizing my studio. Taking time away from my studio space is so important, but it’s hard to pull myself away.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
This year so much has changed. I couldn’t possibly tell you where I will be in ten years. I dream of having my own studio on my property, with big glass windows so you look out at the pond and a little wood stove to keep me warm on winter mornings. I hope to still be fully supporting myself with my creations. I would love to develop a simple clothing line with organic cottons that I hand dye from plants in my garden. I hope to still be surround by my beautiful friends, family, my wonderful boyfriend Alex and our sweet pup Finn. Hopefully by then our property will be full of gardens, orchards, chickens and goats.