Last week the Textile Retreats Company spoke with me about my inspiration and work…

I will lead a Draping and Upcycling Retreat in Brighton for the Textile Retreats Company in 2021.

What inspired you to become an artist and what influenced you as you started your journey?
During my childhood in Germany, I played with my sister and cousins at our grandparents’ farmhouse and spent a lot of time in the barn and huge hayloft. The place was full of old wood, handwoven linens, cornsacks, mangle cloths and wonderful white bedsheets. I loved all these materials and started using them to hand sew dresses, hats and shoes for my dolls.

My other grandmother was a tailor and my aunt a textile and fashion designer. I loved to watch her drawing sketches for the first communion dress she created for me. They both inspired me a lot. My grandmothers had the gift of being able to create beautiful things out of almost nothing. I think the years of scarcity during the war must have taught them this.

When I finished school I knew I had to follow a creative path, specifically fashion, costume and design,  but to do it in a very conscious way.

How did you get to where you are today?
During my studies in fashion design in Hamburg, Germany, I was one of the first students of Tamotsu Kondo, a Draping artist from Japan. He taught us how to create patterns three-dimensional directly on a mannequin. This unconventional way of creating patterns was completely new to me and  it was a breakthrough moment. It was like being offered an instrument of freedom. Once I had learnt the method, I NEVER created a two-dimensional pattern again. I started to experiment with the classical method of Draping using recycled materials, moulding and patching them directly on the dress form. This was in a time when Upcycling was not common. I guess I have been a pioneer of it in a way.

In the beginning, I found old military jackets and transformed them into powerful feminine jackets. Each jacket was a handmade individual piece, draped on the dress form. It was a transformation of the male military energy into something of beauty.  I wanted to give something back so I started to support children in India and Nepal with the collection and the MAYER. Peace Collection was born. The MAYER. Peace Collection military jacket was a great success and was sold in designer stores worldwide for many years.

After more than 10 years in the fashion industry, I felt it was time to work in a more conscious way, to step out of the fast-moving carousel of fashion and into a place where others could grow with me and find a path to their own true identity and creativity.

I created my platform IntoTheLight and began sharing the art of Draping, Upcycling and creativity. My goal is to connect the people to their creative souls with a sense of purpose and I like to incorporate meditation, sound and Kundalini Yoga into my workshops and retreats. This helps to find a flow and personal connection to the cloth or clothes and helps develop a sense of self-love. That’s the first very important step in the process.

Can you tell us about your process? How do you get from idea to finished piece?
For me, the material is always the inspiration. I love materials with history, floursacks, mangle cloths, handwoven linens, old embroidered pieces from all over the world… I believe that everything has a soul and if you find a connection with a piece of fabric, maybe one with a history, you will know exactly how to mould and shape it. The fabric almost guides you and that’s the whole secret in draping. I love to teach this and to observe, how the participants explore and free themselves.

What have you been inspired by recently?
I just have been on a 2-month journey through India, the sacred land of ancient wisdom, country of colours and textiles. This has been truly inspirational and I carry lots of pictures with me in both head and heart.

Nature is a huge source of inspiration for me. It is so beautiful and perfect in a way humans can never recreate. The Universe/God is the greatest creator. Meditation, Yoga, or being in nature connects me and when I’m connected, everything, every encounter or conversation inspires me.

Do you have a favourite piece of work from your collection?
Still my PURE military jacket is a favourite piece. I have worn it for many years as do many of my customers. It’s timeless and you can combine it with many styles.

Do you have any encouraging advice?
KEEP ON!  Keep the light burning!