Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Jenna and my middle name is Rose. I am the mind and maker behind the textile line Jenna Rose. I live with my husband and dog in Hamilton, Ontario, only a short walk to my downtown studio and minutes from the forested trails of the Niagara Escarpment.
I studied textiles at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and have been producing my line of textile housewares and accessories full time since graduating almost six years ago. I work in a community filled with creative, passionate people, and I am thankful that I get to spend my time doing what I love, with my dog Beau by my side.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I spend a lot of time in the woods, walking with my dog or mountain biking over roots and rocks. Whether on foot or bike, being on a trail in the forest is an important part of my life.
I am part of a craft collective called the Beehive, which is a group of creative makers and entrepreneurs who share a love for crafting and homesteading. We skill-share and put on events and workshops in our community.
When I am not creating things in the studio, I spend the majority of my spare time creating things at home. Whether it is crocheting a blanket, refinishing an old cabinet, learning to play the ukulele, planting a garden or canning my own preserves, self-sufficiency and creating are a big part of my life — at least when I’m not tearing through the forest on a bike.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I am constantly drawing, collecting and photographing things that I find intriguing.
I have a personal connection with everything I draw, and to each of my patterns. I love hearing the many reasons why other people relate and connect with my illustrations. The fact that others can find their own connection to my patterns is so important to me. I am inspired by the seemingly simple things in life that actually contain so much meaning — not only for me, but for others too.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
The people who have influenced me most are those who’ve provided me with endless encouragement and support. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have that kind of support from my family and friends.
When did you know you were an artist / maker?
I have been making things for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a family where creativity — and more specifically, textile arts — were a part of life. My grandmother was a quilter, my mother is a quilter and painter, and so I think it was natural for me to work with textiles too. I don’t know if there was an exact moment, I think I just always knew that creating is an important part of who I am.
How would you describe your creative process?
My sketchbook is always nearby and full of all my inspirational findings. When it is time to make patterns for a new season, I look back at the ideas I have accumulated and develop the ones that really stuck with me.
I hand-draw everything. My work rarely touches a computer. A sketchbook illustration will develop into a pattern on tracing paper, and that original will be directly exposed onto a screen for printing.
Although it can sometimes feel physically exhausting, printing has always been the part of my process I love most. Turning an illustration into a piece of cloth is satisfying for so many reasons. It’s where my love for drawing and textiles meet, and it’s the point where a drawing can then be made into something functional that can be worn or lived with by someone else.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Although I am surrounded by many handmade items that are special to me, I would have to say that I cherish the hand-stitched quilts made by my mother and grandmother the most. They not only keep us warm, but they are a constant reminder of the love and time that was put into their creation.
The quilt that I cherish most of all is one that my mother made for me. I worked full time in my mom’s quilt shop for a year before leaving for school. One day, the two of us sat on the floor with fabric swatch samples of Kaffe Fassett‘s beautiful shot cottons, checks and stripes scattered around us. I said that one day, when the swatches weren’t needed as samples, it would be great to make a quilt with them. Years later, while I was at school in Nova Scotia and my parents were living in Shanghai, my mom made that quilt for me in a diamond pattern. The label on the back read, “remembering those diamond days.”
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
While I am producing my designs, I always have to be thinking about new ones for the following season. Sometimes this comes easily, and sometimes it doesn’t. I can’t force new ideas, so I find if I just keep producing and experimenting they will eventually come. One season I felt drained from production and I didn’t design any new prints for the following season, which actually freed up time to build creative energy. It’s important to notice when you are in a rut and to accept it. You never know when and where new ideas may spark, and you have to allow yourself the freedom of time to let them come.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
This year will mark 10 years since I went to Halifax to study textiles; if you had asked me this question then, I would have said exactly where I am now. I am thankful for that everyday. The next 10 years aren’t as clear to me; the simple answer would be that I want to keep doing what I am doing, but perhaps on a larger scale, and if that’s what happens, I will be so blessed. In the end, the only place I want to be in 10 years is a happy place, where I am able to have the freedom to create and people to appreciate my work.