FROM ILLNESS TO ENTERPRISE
Nearly a year and a half after being diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease, Craftsbury, Vermont textile artist Ceci Leibovitz has launched a jewelry collection utilizing local historical materials and her own hand embroideries. Leibovitz is already gaining attention for her work; she has been accepted into Vermont Hand Crafters, the oldest and largest juried craft organization in the state. Leibovitz will debut her work in person at the CRAFT VERMONT FINE CRAFT AND ART SHOW, put on by Vermont Hand Crafters at the Sheraton Conference Center in Burlington, on November 18 – 20th. In addition, Leibovitz has launched a website at www.cecileibovitz.com where her work can be viewed and purchased online. This is an important milestone for the artist: as the sole breadwinner for her family she has been working hard to devise a way in which she can bring in an income while dealing with difficult Lyme symptoms.
Leibovitz had been hand-sewing couture style hats for six years, when an ongoing sharp pain in her eye, along with nerve and joint pain signaled that something was wrong with her health. After a series of tests, Leibovitz was diagnosed with Lyme. Chronic fatigue and hand pain were making her millinery work, which required hours of hand sewing, often through thick layers of fabric, increasingly difficult. She began to experiment with making smaller pieces, in the form of textile jewelry and found this much more doable. “Textile jewelry is a dream come true for me. I can create beautiful visual treats that don't take hours and hours to make,” said Leibovitz.
Fascinated with textiles and fabric manipulation, Leibovitz draws from her large collection of beautiful silks, antique and vintage lace and fabrics, as well as her own hand embroidery to create visually interesting, layered pendants and earrings. The work is inspired by her love of collage, flowers and color. She has been collecting antique textiles for years and has been lucky to receive many pieces as gifts, as well as to find a plethora of options at estate sales. “With the antique lace pieces, I love that I'm taking objects with a long-standing local history and placing them into a modern framework,” said Leibovitz. Each piece of artistic jewelry brings its wearer to a simpler time when many things were made by hand, by families at home, while still being relevant to today's fashion. Leibovitz uses both handmade and machine made textiles that have historical significance, ranging from the late 1800s to 1930s. “Who knows, the lace I used to make your necklace could have been worn by your great-grandmother 100 years ago!”