Susan Waldron Creates Runway Worthy Wearable Art Using Natural Fibers--some from her very own farm!
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
A Model wearing one of Susan's creations walks briskly down the Q Center Ballroom runway at a previous fashion show produced by Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, IL
(Scroll down to view more of Susan's designs).
THE WALDRON ALPACA FARM
Surrounded by adorable alpacas, Susan greets Honey -- one of her favorites.
When Susan and her husband first started raising alpacas on 5 acres of land in Campton Hills, IL in 2002, they had to learn everything about them from scratch. During their years running the “ranch”, they once had as many as 45 animals. She describes their busy lifestyle as having been a lot of fun -- hosting frequent open houses, workshops, and art shows that attracted both animal and art lovers alike. However, last month they parted with their last two alpacas in preparation for downsizing their lives and ending life on the farm.
During that time, though, she happily stashed away a lifetime supply of alpaca fleece in her studio, along with Merino wool, silk, and other natural fibers for her many one-of-a-kind designs. These include: jackets, vests, jumpers, scarves, shawls, handbags and more. (Scroll down for her Etsy store link.)
Susan dyes all her own fibers to create unique colors and obviously especially likes working with alpaca fleece. She describes it as a cross between silk and cashmere with a natural luster that elevates color brightness. It’s warmer than sheep’s wool without the scratchiness, wrinkle resistant, incredibly soft and breathable. The fine quality of its fleece has been known since the days of the Incan empire when only royalty was allowed to wear clothing made from it.
For the past seven years, Susan’s apparel has been featured in Fine Line Creative Center’s annual “Uncommon Threads” fashion show in St. Charles, IL. Prior to Covid-19, Fine Line hosted its show with before-and-after boutique shopping to an audience of 400-plus. It is juried and features fiber artists (along with jewelry) from around the U.S.
“The show is one of my very favorite things at Fine Line,” Susan says. “It is so exciting to see the garment you have made worn by a live model, walking down a real fashion runway in front of a live audience. The whole experience generates such enthusiasm -- it incentivizes me to do the best I can.”
The key to growing as an artist?
“Just do a lot so as not to get married to just one project,” she advises. “Have several going at the same time – that gives you the freedom to grow as an artist – to take more risks – to not worry about every little brush stroke. If you just have one thing going, it’s too easy to clamp up.”
Susan, who has a degree in interior design from Iowa State University and worked for 25 years as an interior designer in St. Charles, follows her own art advice with watercolor, acrylic, alcohol ink, pastel and batik projects.
And the alpaca-less lifestyle ahead?
“No more winter fretting about the animals as I used to do each year, especially during a Polar Vortex,” she says sounding relieved. “Whatever lies ahead and wherever we end up, there's one thing I know for sure: l will always continue painting and creating one-of-a-kind clothing.”
Visit her Etsy Shop here: Susan Waldron Art by Susanwaldronart on Etsy
Scroll down to view more of Susan’s work…
A beautiful sampling of some of the many wearable art looks Susan creates.
PANSIES ADORN THIS HANDMADE PURSE
PEACOCK JACKET IN LIGHTWEIGHT SILK
PETUNIAS WITH ALPACA FLEECE
ASPENS IN ALCOHOL INK
FLORAL IN ALCOHOL INK