Ilze Heider creates stunning leather handbags which combine Latvian motifs, bold, rich colors and timeless style. Ilze’s studio is a warm, comfortable place in the Arts Mill in Grafton, Wisconsin and she would love for you to visit. Please call ahead 1-262-377-2242. She has a selection of bags on hand for you to choose from. Or you can look through the Ideas Gallery and together you can work out what’s best for you.

Ilze’s approach to a successful career as an artist:

I try to keep a schedule of going to my studio every day. Even if I do not feel creative, there are always the basic items that need to be prepared and working on these sometimes opens that creative energy flow.

TAN V-TOTE BWhen did you first become interested in fiber art?

I’ve sewn since I was in grade school Home Economics class. Later I did pillows I sold at my office job. When I had an opportunity to work for a leather business in the late sixties, I jumped in and started with fringe jackets, pants, vests and purses. The purses won out and have been making leather bags since then.

What about the medium of fiber appeals to you?

I love the textures and versatility of the materials.

What types of fiber do you work with most often?

I work only in leather right now. There is no where to take classes in this medium but I have had fun doing different surface treatments and designs that make my bags recognizable.

What theme of ideas are recurring in your work?

Many of my appliqué patterns are Latvian. There is such a rich fiber design heritage in Latvia and being raised with the language and culture since birth, it was a natural design element. I then expanded to Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs and some colorful painted free form images.

What are your creative challenges?

It is always a challenge to make new patterns so that they are functional as well as attractive.

How do you approach your work?

I try to keep a schedule of going to my studio every day. Even if I do not feel creative, there are always the basic items that need to be prepared and working on these sometimes opens that creative energy flow.

What tool could you not live without?

My sewing machine, a Juki industrial straight sewer that I purchased used over 35 years ago. I also have several other machines that help in the process.

WHat is your creative process?

It’s all about the texture and color. Sometimes just handling the beautiful leather hides inspires me to create the bags.

What are some of the pleasures you get in your work?

Seeing a piece come out the way or better than I had visualized in my head and then having someone love it as much as I do is so rewarding. I have some the nicest buyers that you can imagine.

Does your location, physically or as an idea manifest itself in your work?

My location does not directly manifest itself in my work but it certainly comes out. I love to travel and know that that also is somewhere in my work.

What are some of the big ideas that influence your work?

To me, since my work is functional, it should be a pleasure as well as a convenience for the owner. Not only do I want it to look nice, but it feels good and smells wonderful.

How do you view the artists of today?

It is harder today to do anything that is totally original. We are influenced so much by all the visual input from the internet and media, whether we know it or not. Also, the imports of mass produced goods really makes it hard to convince people of the value of hand made.

Which fiber artist do you admire the most?

There is no individual, but all the ethnic fiber from around the world. Again, being Latvian, just the linens, mittens and folk costumes I was raised with really made an impact.

Heider_Ilze3_webWhat is your work motto?

Work hard and be honest and forthcoming. I love what I do but even then it is a job sometimes and one must learn to balance it with family and play.

Where do you sell your work?

I sell my work out of my studio, on my website, at art fairs and in several galleries.

Morning Glory Gallery: 929 N Water Street Milwaukee, WI 53202

Lanesboro Arts Center: 103 Parkway Ave N Lanesboro, MN 55949

www.ilze.com

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