Meeting the Makers: Hillery Sproatt of Specks & Keepings

by Jessika Hepburn, Editor

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

It’s a beautiful handmade world we live in friends! One filled with makers of marvelous creations and lovely shops that open our eyes to new ways of seeing handmade. When Hillery of Specks and Keepings wrote to tell me about the launch of her new shop I knew right away that she would be a perfect fit for our Meeting the Makers theme. Specks and Keepings is a graceful space of light and simplicity, balanced by earthiness and perfectly imperfect handmade works. It is obviously a carefully curated shop and it almost seems like the pieces themselves are telling a story. Each item has been photographed with love in a way that helps the story unfold. Specks and Keepings is a shop to happily lose yourself in.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

I asked Hillery a few questions about her shop and her own making, her answers are eloquent and thought-provoking. I will let her words and images speak for themselves, come and get lost in the simple beauty of a handmade life….

Hi Hillery! I am so happy to share your beautiful shop & work on OMHG. Can you tell us a little bit about Specks & Keepings + your own handmade?

Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my work and my shop. Specks & Keepings is an online shop that specializes in handmade objects and design. It is a showcase of thoughtfully made goods that aim to inspire a simple lifestyle that is carefully shaped and chosen. The shop currently features the work of seven artists from all over the country: Adam Wolpa, Anschtecka, Eric Stiner, Karen Thurman, Kotoa, Rebe, and myself. I hope to grow the shop to included even more wonderful makers in the future.

When browsing the shop, I hope customers will be overwhelmed with a sense of wonder at the beauty of a handmade life. I aimed to create a shopping environment where people think about what it is they are bringing into their home and in turn into their lives. I believe on some level, our possessions are an extension of ourselves and they should speak to who we are as individuals. Things are always more beautiful when they mean something to us.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

Specks & Keepings is a sense of connection to the people who make the things we surround ourselves with. It is the small pleasures we feel when we eat from our favorite bowl or wear our most loved sweater. It is the belief in special goods that age with us, and the idea of home as a space we love and can love in. It is story telling through design.

My prints, drawings, and embroidered objects all of which are made with careful attention to detail and much care, are featured throughout the shop. I grew up around soft handmade goods and have always been interested in smallness. The smallness we sometimes feel, the smallness of special objects found and lost, the smallness of everything as it relates to everything else. As of late, I have been making men and women figures. I am excited by the intimacy of creation, the small details that describe the human figure, and each dolls lovingly familiar expressions drawn with stitches.

To see what pieces are currently available for sale, visit specksandkeeings.com.

Take us on a tour of your shop & show off some of your favorite items & their storie:

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

The Anschtecka collection by artist, Annika Blomberg is made from reclaimed materials and cutting room scraps. The Anschtecka collection includes handmade backpacks, braided pins and pouches, jewelry and accessories. When I first met Annika, she was toting around this wonderful backpack that she had made. I was immediately smitten with it and have wished for one of my own ever since. Annika spends a good part of her time searching for interesting objects and materials and she is passionately dedicated to the process of reexamininaing the function and form of her materials. She has a beautiful ability to see past what things are, into what they can be. Annika’s work is just as much about breathing new life into discarded and forgotten things as it is about making beautiful and interesting objects. Some of my favorite Anschtecka pieces are the backpacks featured in the shop and her braided spiral pins.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

Specks & Keepings features the work of women’s apparel designer, Debra Weiss of Rebe. Debra’s collection of wearables are simple, elegant, functional, and feminine. Each piece is designed to be worn alone, or layered with other pieces in the collection. She is interested in good design that celebrates pattern, play and wonder; and inspires us to be comfortable in our everyday lives. I have lots of favorite Rebe pieces, as they make up much of my closet. Some of my new favorites are the Emmaline Coat, the Molly Pants, and the Agnes Raincoat.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

I am very fond of Eric Stiner’s ceramics. I have one of his bowls in my kitchen and it makes me so happy. The little sculpted machine like faces on each piece remind me of a machine man named Tick Toc from a film I saw and loved as a child, Return to Oz. Each piece is one of a kind and Eric is no longer making more like these, making them even more special.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

Karen Thurman’s Dot Cardigan is one of my favorite pieces in the shop. It is one of a kind and is made from 100% cotton yarn. It is one of those pieces of clothing you have and love forever.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

Erika Jane of Kotoa is a wonderful maker who lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Erika is interested in the art of homemaking and the idea that everyday objects are more wonderful when made by own our hands. Like the rest of her work, Erika’s Sweet Mats are special reminders that moments can be made more special with a bit of love and care paid to the objects that surround us.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

Adam Wolpa’s drawings and sculpture are always bewildering and beautiful. It’s like he has his own language and we have to listen very carefully to pick out bits and pieces of words, even though we know what he’s talking about. Making as a medium, a means of sharing intimate information, story telling through symbols, re-imagining tradition, this is just some of what Adam does so beautifully and perhaps why I am so find of his layered cubes.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

As for my own work, I think I most enjoy making my rock story mobiles and double-sided dolls. I am very fond of Moe & Agnes, the doll.

This month on OMHG our theme is Meet the Makers, I would love if you could give us an inside look at your workspace & process:

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

I live and work in a small row home in Baltimore, Maryland. My studio is one the second floor of our home and is very modest. Because our house is so small, most of the furniture in the studio was handmade to fit the space.

I am an intuitive maker. I rarely go into making with a plan. I am interested in happy accidents, careful pairings, and locating and building relationships in the work. I try to be a careful looker when I am making. I tell myself stories when I work. Stories about the people I am making, the small bits in a drawing, a collection of collage pieces on a table. I like to play and most of all I try to remember to make what I would make if no one were looking. Even though sometimes that proves very difficult.

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

hillery sproatt, specks and keepings, handmade living, meeting the makers

Visit Hillery and Specks & Keepings online at www.specksandkeepings.com

All photos taken by Matthew Yake of mlyphoto.com.

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