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Fresh Shop: Rain and the River

May 15, 2014

by Jenna Valoe

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a handful of months or are waiting for those first few sales introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!

My name is Jenna Valoe and I started creating textiles as Rain and the River to help people celebrate their homes and the lives they live in them.

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In high school, I borrowed my grandmother’s sewing machine and taught myself to sew. It was intuitive and gratifying. While earning my degree in Cultural Anthropology, I worked as a seamstress for a Milwaukee designer furthering my sewing skills. Inspired by the ornamentation of other cultures I began printing fabric using hand-carved stamps and screens.

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All of my life I’ve been interested in how people create a sense of home. As a lover of the comfort that comes from being wrapped in a blanket, I started sewing quilts for my family and friends in the early 2000s. I was always looking for an occasion to make another. It wasn’t until I read Cortney Heimerl’s article about Folk Fibers in the February/March 2013 issue of American Craft magazine that I felt quilting and textile art could be a viable career for me. Handcrafts were all I wanted to do, and reading someone else’s success story gave me the courage to try for myself.

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I’m fortunate to live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an inspirational city full of makers and dream chasers. Ideas often come to me from observations of the city’s architecture and seasons, or the way colors and shapes blend together out of the corner of my eye. With a design in mind, I create a color palette and occasionally sketch out a rough draft, however, my work is primarily improvisational. Once the colors are in place, I cut and piece my work together. When I’m feeling stuck on a design, I step away from my work and find inspiration in paintings by Lily Stockman, Gees Bend quilts, Arhoj ceramics and Inuit block prints.

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I design and construct every piece in my home. Alternating between sewing, embroidery, printing and weaving, I endeavor to create something daily. Commissioned pieces are particularly enjoyable. I’m grateful to be able to create heirloom quality quilts and home decor knowing the joy and comfort they bring to people. Our homes hold stories about our lives and should be filled with things we love. It’s an honor to contribute to these stories with my handcrafted textiles.

All photos courtesy of Rain and the River.

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