Spotlight: Alfred Art to Wear

Posted August 10, 2021

Alfred Art To Wear

Alfred Art to Wear

159 N. Lexington St. Spring Green, WI 53588

608-239-5974 |

What's the history behind Alfred Art to Wear?
Having been raised by a seamstress and tailor, I studied weaving and textiles at Madison College in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where I got a degree in Elementary Education. A year after school, I moved from Northern Virginia to the Midwest, and in 1981 I landed in Chicago. Seeking other fiber people, I was introduced to the home knitting machine. I fell in love with knit fabric. Learning and then improving my skills on the knitting machine, I made myself a few sweaters. At social events I started getting orders for custom items. In 1990 I moved to rural southwest Wisconsin. I met fiber artists JorJan Borlin and Sharon Nicholas. Sharon encouraged me to participate in the Fine Art, Fine Craft Show circuit. About 2001 Sharon and weaver Rosie Zimmer asked me to join them in Paper Loom Studio on S. Albany Street in Spring Green. I really enjoyed the studio/store front experience. When Paper Loom broke up, I moved into a single space still on S. Albany. During my time there, I was able to stop traveling to shows, as my sales were robust from my working studio. I stayed there until 2017 when I bought my current building, the oldest retail building in Spring Green. It was moved to its location in 1856, and opened as a general merchandise store. During the life of the building, something has always been made and/or sold from its front room. That room is now the Gallery at Alfred Art to Wear. Having more room, I opened the gallery when I moved in. I currently have six Spring Green area artists who work in some form of fiber related fine craft. I also host the Winter Art Market from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. I invite about 12 to 15 area artists to offer their locally handmade work for the holiday shopping. No consignment fee is charged.

How does Art to Wear serve your clientele?
I design and fully fashion loom-knit fabric for one of a kind, ready to wear and bespoke knits. I believe every touch, stitch and manipulation of a fiber contributes to the beauty, integrity and spirit of each handmade piece I present. I create mostly jackets and pullovers, but I occasionally get a request for a vest, coat, skirt or two-piece suit. I love color and texture, which is always available on display in the gallery and in my working studio with the wall of color. The wall of color is several shelving units that have cones of different yarns. My favorite yarns to work with are Merino wool, a Merino wool and rayon blend, cashmere and a Merino wool and silk blend. I also use a bamboo viscose and a little cotton. The majority of my customers are visitors to the Spring Green area. A large percentage of them are from Madison. I've learned over the years that having an open working studio has been a boost for my business, and I demonstrate my looms for anyone interested. They learn how the knit fabric is made and that it is hand manipulated. I show them how I swatch colors and textures, and how I design the patterns. They get a full experience that I couldn't give in a 10 x 10 booth at a fine craft show.

Tell us something unique about your business?
The majority of my business is bespoke. I create original designs or rework an existing design for customers so they have a one of a kind custom fit piece in the color of their choice.