Mara grew up in Lake Tahoe. She loves color, patterns, and texture. She studied both interior design and jewelry design in college.
Mara says she is inspired by everything including – fairy tales, the night sky and sparkles! She likes to paint and draw and whilst she does like to sew she doesn’t think she is very good at it!
Mara is a Wife, a Mum, a Sister and an Aunt and her husband is her best friend – even though she doesn’t like to cook! Mara is one of Moda’s newest designers and her Desert Song fabric range is available in store and online at Eclectic Maker.
Who/what inspired you to take up design and how old were you?
I’ve been creative my entire life. My grandmother was a painter and encouraged my creativity. My earliest memories, around five years old, are of being with her and drawing calendars. I LOVED making calendars as a kid. Making seasonal illustrations was where it was at for me!
What was your first successful design – do you have a picture
I entered this piece in a contest and won both the peoples’ choice and the judges’ choice. It went on to become a greeting card.
What inspires your designs?
I am literally inspired by anything and everything! My first love in color and sometimes a certain color combination will spark a piece.
Do you have a favourite designer current or past?
I love Florence Broadhurst, she designed the most beautiful fabrics and wallpaper.
Do you sew if so please tell us more?
I do sew but I am not very good at it. I used to make clothing for myself but now it’s more throw pillows, visible mending and easy upholstery projects.
You are very creative – sewing, drawing, designing – what is your favourite?
I love to draw but I also really love to design. I draw individual icons, scan them into my computer and then arrange everything digitally. When I put everything together I feel more like a designer than an artist. In college, I studied both interior design and jewelry/metal arts. I worked in both fields professionally before I ultimately landed on illustration.
What do you consider your best piece of work?
My favorite piece I’ve made in the last year were these autumnal tea tins.
What is your favourite tool or gadget?
My favorite tool is color. Making color combinations is my favorite thing to do. I even have a collection of paint chips that I play with.
Do you have a favourite colour to work in?
Neon pink and chartreuse… teal too. Oh and black. I use lots of black. It makes everything pop!
What type of fabric would you choose to work with?
I like linen.
My advice to a new designer would be ………………….?
Stay open. I oftentimes include my wonky mistakes in my work and that’s usually my favorite part of the piece.
What is the piece of work that has driven you mad/been a disaster?
I have had some pretty epic sewing fails. I know this is easy for most people but I simply cannot put in a decent zipper without a giant lump at the bottom.
Who (famous person alive or historical) would you love to create something for?
What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy
I am constantly doing house projects and rearranging things. Our home is small, my desk is in a little corner in the living room.
What’s your best creative background music or what do you listen to when designing?
I used to mostly listen to opera or classical music when I’d work. However, I live in the United States and have become obsessed with our political environment since 2016. Now I mostly listen to the news but plan on going back to classical once things go back to normal.
Are you an early riser or a night bird?
Night bird for sure.
Who in the sewing/crafting/design world do you most admire?
I adore Jess Brown’s dolls. They’re gorgeous!! I also absolutely love visible mending. There are lots of people doing it these days.
Do you have a favourite made item from one of your designs?
Some people have posted quilts that they’ve made with fabric from my Desert Song collection. They blow my mind!!
This one was posted by @quiltjane I can’t believe it!!
What was your proudest moment in your career?
I love seeing my work out in the wild! It never ceases to amaze me when I spot it. I feel like I have arrived. I came across one of my books in Boston last year!
How do you celebrate Christmas?
My family and I will travel to Lake Tahoe to spend Christmas with my sister and her family. It’s cold and snowy there, a real winter wonderland. In fact, I have a new collection with Moda coming out soon called Tahoe Ski Week!
Find out more about Mara Penny and her designs on the links below