Pieces of lace, yarn and fabrics of varying textures fill shelves and cover countertops.
Light pouring in from above makes their colors stand out. Here, bright splashes; there, subtler shades. A collage of lace drapes across a mirror’s edge. A pinned-together creation awaits a finishing touch. Three mannequins model completed hats, headbands and scarves. There are collages of fabric and there are felted pieces made with wool and silk sandwiched between soft layers of lace tulle.
In the midst of it all, artist Suzanne di Francia brings the many textures together using techniques born out of her imagination. The resulting pieces are featured in di Francia’s full moon trunk shows. The next one will be in her gallery at 1002 Ocean Drive Loop, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 16.
“I’ve always loved the full moon. … And I felt it was a natural combination, once a month to bring new work to the marketplace and enjoy the special energy of the full moon at the same time,” said di Francia.
Since she was a child, di Francia has explored methods to bring seemingly disparate pieces together. Her mother, Antoinette, who is now 88 and can “look at things and turn a problem into a beautiful challenge,” inspired di Francia’s sense of design and style. Her Aunt Franca, who lives on the Isle of Capri “designed and made couture clothing for French haute couture houses,” said di Francia. Her Italian heritage fuels her vision of beauty.
“I went to Italy when I was nine years old,” said di Francia, who was raised in Wisconsin. “My mother took my sister and me for four months. It was a huge eye-opener to see Italian design and culture and the beautiful way Italians just know how to create life.”
In the 1980s, di Francia launched a bridal and special occasion accessories manufacturing business in San Francisco. She also developed a list of clients that, for 14 years, included private labeling for Victoria’s Secret stores.
“When I was working with Victoria Secret’s, there were lots of scraps that would end up on the production floor and I could never throw anything away,” said di Francia. “I’ve had these bags of remnants of lace and silk and high quality stuff.”
Learning to bring color to the mostly white pieces of lace meant teaching herself dye techniques for different types of fabric.
“There would be cotton, rayon and nylon in one lace, so I had to learn to work with different dyes to come up with a formula where I could take one piece of lace and get the results I wanted,” said di Francia. “It was a huge challenge, working with so many different fibers.”
In addition to dyeing, di Francia hand-weaves, felts and embroiders for detail. On this piece, beads are added. On that piece, gold threads shimmer. Her creative energy is layered, texture combined with texture, method combined with method.
Since 1992, Alaska, specifically her gallery on Ocean Drive Loop, has given di Francia a base from where she continues to produce pieces she has taken to some of the state’s larger markets in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
“I spent a lot of time in Anchorage, at the Saturday market in the summertime every weekend, and then I would work during the week to create something fresh and new for the next weekend,” said di Francia.
She also showed her work at other Anchorage venues, in the last couple of years adding the Anchorage Museum’s annual crafts weekend held during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Trunk shows – events that allow artists and designers to display their work for review by a select group — allow di Francia a more intimate setting, such as a gallery or a home.
“It’s a way for a designer to get real person-to-person feedback and it’s a great way for customers to buy exclusive one-of-a-kind items or to place custom orders,” said di Francia.
Shows of that variety are being planned at a couple of smaller boutiques. This summer, di Francia’s work will be available at a shop on the Spit. For now, she is introducing designs to the southern peninsula through trunk shows in her own studio.
At the March 16 full moon trunk show, knitwear of an “honored guest,” her mother, will be featured as part of the collection.
‘For the first time in my fiber art career, I have found a way to bring all of the elements together that I love working with — silk, lace, luxurious yarns, etc. — to create a very distinctive look,” said di Francia. “By blending and layering, and applying various skills and techniques that I have developed over the years, and having a higher level of appreciation for the creative process to freely flow, maybe now I am producing the best work of my life time.”
Those unable to attend a trunk show are invited to schedule a personal visit by calling 399-8229.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.
Full Moon Trunk Show
Featuring the work of fiber artist Suzanne di Frnacia
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
1002 Ocean Drive Loop
For more information or to schedule a personal visit, contact 399-8229