Updated: Aug 20, 2018
The work of Calvin Chumbley belongs in a category of its own. Made from carefully selected, high quality and vintage textiles, his trademark products- decorative pillows and custom cushions- are a testament to his skill as an independent artisan. Chumbley has a great eye for matching together various vintage fabrics gleaned from local thrift shops and garage sales, sometimes using textiles that are known to be over 100 years old.
Chumbley is also half of Arts & Craft Collective, our new artist center in Downtown Gananoque. His work will be featured in our Maker Market every weekend starting May 12. Along with the pillows, Chumbley will sell prints, furniture, and other ephemera he has created. If you don't get the chance to stop at the Market this summer, you can always order directly from his Etsy shop, WalterartCo.
Can you explain the technique used to make your pillows? How did you learn to do this?
As an artist and maker, I am always in search of neat things - and things that speak to me - that I can use in my artworks and craft designs. From an early age, I can remember being drawn to many eclectic items in thrift stores and vintage shops. I guess that love for cool items mixed with my love of 'making' has translated into what Walter+Co is today.
Are you completely self-taught? Did you go to school?
In high school I attended a special arts program called "Creative Arts"; it's an amazing fine art and design portfolio prep program where you enroll in three Art classes a day. It was profound as a high school student to have access to this level of arts education and instruction. I then went on to attend Georgian College, School of Design and Visual Arts where I studied Fine Art (Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture) and graduated with an advanced diploma with honors.
As for sewing, I am essentially self-taught through years watching my mom and grandmother sew on the machine.
When was the first time you sold your pillows? How did it make you feel?
I actually started out by making "sweater" pillows. It began by retiring a bunch of vintage sweaters from my personal collection... then started looking for more in thrift stores. A friend was hosting an Indie Craft Market so I arrived with the 30 sweater pillows I had made and pretty much sold out that weekend. I knew I was onto something... from there, I evolved into using more than just sweaters, finding any cool vintage textiles.
How long does it take you to pull a finished set together?
Well, it can be a bit difficult to put an amount of time on the process of making... my process is not limited to sewing, it's also in the search for high quality, bespoke, and vintage textiles. I then lay the fabrics out and curate patterns and textures together... from start to finish, it would work out to a generous handful of hours.
When did you become or decide to be an artist? How long have you been working as an artist? How did you find your calling?
In kindergarten I remember being in front of the fisher price easel painting with a feeling of comfort and fulfillment, and saying to myself - this is me. For as long as I can remember, I've been doing art; I guess it was in high school that I decided to truly pursue it as a lifestyle and career. The rest is history…
As for my calling, the mediums I work in are in constant flux; I seem to morph from one thing to the next. I attempt to learn from and build off the last project I've done.
What your favorite piece? Why?
Pieces... perhaps... I'd say my ‘favourite’ is an entire collection of work. My true passion lies in the body of work that I evolved during my time at SDVA Georgian College. The work is a very large (and continually growing) conceptual collection of "driving photographs" (Pictures taken from the window of moving vehicle). An aesthetic I developed and ran with. You could say it became 'my thing'... I’m still developing this body of photographic work to this day. I’ve started to intermix the photographs with other mediums such as collage, encaustic, serigraphy (screenprinting), and paint.
What projects are you working on right now?
I have a couple of projects on the go... One: Walter+Co, Two: my own Artworks, and three: Arts & Craft Collective (with Tikvah Mindorff).
Walter+Co: Salvaged - Renewed - Treasured, covers the craft side of things... it's a nice outlet for me - something that is creative, where I can also inject my personal aesthetic, and isn't as mentally demanding and invested as the conceptual Fine Art route.
As said, my Artworks include quite a few different mediums, the list could get pretty long... presently, the majority of my works are photographic and encaustic (wax and pigment) (www.calvinwchumbley.com).
Arts & Craft Co is a new venture that I've been creating and developing alongside Tikvah Mindorff. We have great aspirations and plan to take the town of Gananoque by storm (www.artsandcraftcollective.com)!
8.Why are you starting Arts & Craft Collective?
We have a healthy and growing culture of Arts here in Gan... With A&Cco, Tikvah and I believe we are filling some of the gaps by creating a richer set of Art events and projects for this Community. Our focus is to create more opportunities for locals and visitors to have access to the Arts right here in Gananoque.
You can connect with Calvin directly here: