Featured Seller: Alla D
"I live by the philosophy that we all need a special something in our lives, something we can treasure. Alla D is that something special. Something special for your home, whether a piece for the wall or a cushion." - Alice
The owner of the creative shop, Alla D is Alice Oelofse. She is a fabric artist that lives in Cape Town. She creates stunning pieces of art with unique mediums.
How did Alla D get it's start?
At the end of 2015 my husband and I moved to beautiful Cape Town from buzzy busy Johannesburg. It was then that the seed for Alla D was ‘planted’. I had left my academic teaching job, where I taught Anthropology. I felt hugely inspired to work in a more creatively tactile way. I have always been drawn to fabric - as a young child I would sew bits of fabric together by hand using a very ‘wonky’ straight stitch. Later I spent many school holidays dyeing fabric. I would then sew the dyed fabric and bits of shwe-shwe together into what I called a ‘quanket’ (quilt and blanket) – I would give these to friends as birthday presents. I was never keen on making clothes – although I did make a skirt from fabric I printed using potato stamps. Alla D is all about the notion of something special and working in a gentle considered way. Each piece is handmade and has an abstract yet narrative quality, made in a spontaneous intuitive way using various fabrics and thread.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the birds chirping happily, our dog Oliver, life and experience are hugely inspiring, my beautiful husband Dylan inspires me, people inspire me, conversations inspire me, forests and looking up at tall trees, colour inspires me. Thinking and pondering inspires me. I find it tricky to pinpoint specifically what inspires me because I feel many areas of life influence my style of work.
What is your favourite medium for creating your items?
I work with fabric and thread. I use a technique where I draw with thread (free motion embroidery) on fabric using my sewing machine and then add a few hand stitches to soften the feel or look. I love using a linen/ cotton fabric as a base. Another technique I use is layering of fabric and cut out images (birds, trees) sewn together using free motion embroidery, straight stitch and hand stitching creating a ‘little story for your wall’.
What is your workflow like?
I work in quite an intuitive and spontaneous way and often work on many pieces at a time. I tend to plan, draw, sketch and write in a note book beforehand to get a rough idea of what I want to do. I then decide the size of a piece and cut the base fabric. For my framed wall pieces - I start with a process of laying the cut out fabric shapes. I then stitch and stitch and stitch using free motion embroidery and straight stitch creating depth and texture. I start working with the shape (tree/ bird) and then move to the background either adding various pieces of different fabric or I stitch the background using free motion embroidery.
Another method I really enjoy working with is ‘drawing with thread’, free motion embroidery. I measure out and get my fabric ready and then using my sewing machine I stitch various shapes and forms using free motion embroidery, each piece is hand drawn and stitched. Recently I have been working with the theme ‘home’, pondering the notion of home, what does home mean? What makes a home? I have been working with shapes such as houses, trees, birds and bowls of fruit. Alla D story cushions are made using this technique – each piece made at Alla D is a one off little bit of specialness.
"I find both these techniques very meditative and nourishing and enriching. I also feel my background in Anthropology influences my work. "
What’s on the horizon for Alla D?
To make and make and make and share Alla D a little more – I love and am very inspired by the notion of creating in a considered thoughtful way – bringing a bit of whimsy and delight to our lives – a lightness.