Heirloom Couture

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It'd fun seeing these quilts out on the town, Joanne KliejunasAbout Heirloom Couture

Heirloom Couture was created in 2007 by Joanne Kliejunas, a textile artist in Ashland, Oregon, as the vehicle for repurposing textiles that are damaged and no longer used or seen.  HC creates one-of-a-kind garments using art textiles, including commissions of custom garments from patrons’ cherished heirlooms, or pieces Joanne has collected.

Hand-crafted textiles by women, whether highly-skilled works of art like expert quilts, rugs, and embroideries or homey table linens, dishtowels, and hankies have long had a place in Joanne’s heart – and her storage closet.  Over decades, she has built a worthy collection of pieces, suspecting they had a role in her future work.   HC was percolating. . .

After a suggestion from a creative spirit, Anahata, and through a budding relationship with a superb quilt gallery in Ashland, Fourth Corner Fine Quilt Gallery, www.fcfquilts.com, Joanne experimented with damaged quilts from the 1860’s – 1930’s to design and create from them chic and surprising coats.  The earliest Heirloom Couture creations were shown and sold there at Fourth Corner.  Many of these coats can be seen at Antique Quilt Coats.

Elegant linens were the next draw, especially those with indelible spots and irreparable tears that kept them off tables and beds. Magical accidents connected Joanne with two antique linen purveyors in South America.  Through them, she has acquired spectacular antique European tablecloths and sheets of a quality seldom seen in the US.  Too damaged for their original uses, Joanne repurposes their elegant detailing into skirts and jackets that are eye-popping.  Have a look.

Repurposing is the passion of Heirloom Couture. Artists long gone imbued their creations with energy and spirit. Each fashionable Heirloom Couture garment conveys their gifts into our everyday lives.

HC prompts the question, "Why wear a piece of clothing when you can wear a work of art?"

About the Designer, Joanne Kliejunas

Joanne has been sewing since 1959 when, as a nine-year old, she took a sewing class at the Singer store in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  She was encouraged and coached by aunts and neighbors.  She sewed through college and started designing a unique wardrobe for herself, haunting fabric outlet sales and collecting notions. 

Her artistic identity took a back seat to her 25-year professional career* during which she managed and provided consulting services to progressive non-profit organizations and foundations from her base in the San Francisco Bay Area.  During those years, she made clothes occasionally, and clandestinely collected antique linens and Japanese silks. 

The artist resurfaced in 2003 when she and her husband, Irving Lubliner, invested in a house in Ashland, OR giving her an opportunity to apply her talents to house remodeling. It seemed easier to explain being a house designer than a textile artist.  She would make a 1970’s era ranch-style house with good bones into an Asian retreat.

Joanne and Irving happily moved into her creation in 2005.  In 2006, she “flipped” another “Asian ranch” and was lucky to sell it just as the housing market began to collapse.

Finally, she had no choice but to take her textile art seriously.  Heirloom Couture was born in 2007 to repurpose timeless textiles (of the kind she’d been collecting). Though she still makes new garments from quilts and linens that intrigue her, now most are commissions using clients? heirloom textiles or requests that she design and create a special piece. These lively collaborations result in unique creations, meaningful for both the client and artist. 

*  Yes, she is the same Joanne Kliejunas who was a VP for nine years at [then] Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and consulted with environmental organizations and foundations as Rhino Associates.  She earned a Ph.D. at Stanford in 1982 (with a dissertation on the value of housework) and was an undergrad at Marquette University from 1968-72.




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