Wearable Art from Venus d'Pyro
By Kimberly Boney
By Kimberly Bonéy
Photos by Sarah Marie Spectrum
Sandy Scott and Gini Holmes’ Venus d’Pyro is a Redding-based, small batch textile design company. Holmes, the technical guru, prints the stunning photographic images, doodles and patterns onto the fabric. Scott, the construction guru, sews the printed fabric together into articles of clothing. Together, they work magic in the form of wearable art.
Why did you go into business together?
Sandy: We’ve been friends since 1982, but didn’t start collaborating creatively until 2007. It was a time for transition. We’d had a few creative conversations, but never really set out to have a business. We just started doing something creative together and it was as if we just woke up one day and had a business.
Who was the brainchild behind the concept of Venus d’Pyro?
Sandy: (laughing) Maybe we should call ourselves the brainless creative twins! It’s a hit and miss process. Sometimes we catch the rebound of the other’s creative energy. There is a whirlwind that happens when people are excited.
Gini: (also laughing) I like to call it ‘the 24-hour response’ – 24 hours later, it’ll dawn on us what the other was trying to say.
How long have you been working in this medium?
Sandy: I am self-taught in design and fabric construction. I’ve worked in batik, quilting, stained glass and watercolor. All of the things I had done or learned up to this point have come together in this art form. I have an affinity for a certain look and I’ll interpret those same designs in other mediums.
My creative force is innovation. The original idea may not even be recognizable in the finished piece, but I know it’s there. Every piece you’ve ever created as an artist culminates in the piece you are making now.
Gini: I was taught to sew by my grandmother. My mom’s approach was that if you want something, you need to at least try to make it yourself. I studied traditional printmaking at Stanford. I got to work with some amazing artists there. I obtained my master’s at MIT and got involved in research during the evolution of Xerox and color copying. I was an artist that was brought in by MIT to help ‘the techies’ figure out how to print the graphics they were working on. My philosophy is that I like to take technology and thrust it back in time.
What’s the sweetest thing about being able to design together?
Sandy: The culmination of everything that is personal and creative between us coming together in a finished piece. It’s the combined energy. It’s the fact that it’s cumulative.
Gini: I love that we are both open to trying to do it differently. We both ask, ‘What if we do it this way?’ We really bounce off of each other. We are not required to do something according to an exact pattern.
I’m very technical. I’ll see the individual tunic. Sandy sees the whole finished product – how it’s worn and how it’s accessorized. The combined perspective just works. Sandy got me back into doing my art.
It doesn’t get much sweeter than that. Tell us a bit about the kind of products you create.
Gini: We design kimonos, kaftans, dusters, scarves, pants, clothing and jackets. From start to finish, we make it. We use natural dyes, eco-printing methods, and random odds and ends we find to create one-of-a-kind pieces.
The name Venus d’Pyro is (almost) as intriguing as the fabulous designs. Where did you come up with the moniker?
Sandy: It was a name I made up that I always felt translated to “Goddess of Fire.” Originally, it was the name I used for my fused glass pieces. It was a way to pay homage to the muse.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Sandy: When you’ve created something and someone is receiving your art in the deepest, most holistic way. Someone has put on a piece of ours and has come out of the fitting room in tears. They have said it’s healing. When someone says that to you, you feel holistically received. I love the delivery of goods to the person it was intended for. It’s a visceral experience —making the piece for this person, for this exact moment.
What’s the most difficult part of the process for you?
Sandy: Finding the right dialog to combine your ideas into a single, finished product—that, and being able to turn off the flow and not having 10 other ideas rushing in at once.
Gini: Making our two realities come together. You know how it is with friends and family – you build a life together but are often very different in terms of personality and approach.
What inspires your designs?
Gini: I am always taking notice of what is around me. I’ll take pictures when I am kayaking or traveling and work with Sandy to incorporate those images into our designs. Sometimes it’s a total surprise what we end up with. The ‘cosmic glitch’ factor always comes into play.
Sandy: You have to design around those glitches. The design has a way of telling you what it wants. Each and every piece is unique. There is a constant creation, recreation, innovation and redesign until it becomes a finished piece.
What’s the most interesting element you’ve used to create a piece of wearable art?
Sandy: The nuts and bolts one.
Gini: One day I was at home and super bored. My husband builds amplifiers. I went looking around in his studio and found some nuts and bolts. The pattern turned out really neat. I’ve even used weeds from my yard and set them on my scanner. It’s picking something up in an unexpected place and wondering what we can do with it.
Sandy: Gini once created a print from a slide of mouth DNA. It was the most beautiful piece. Life is filled with beautiful patterns. We are just collecting them.
Venus d’Pyro • 945 Merchant St., Redding • (530) 945-6301
Find them on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr