Meet the Makers: A SoCal artist weaves her way to a new career
Gift merchandise at the tiny All Roads retail store.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Handwoven color block scarves for sale at the All Roads store.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Janelle Pietrzak approaches her weavings with the same eye for detail that she once used as a fabric consultant.
“I just think about what I love,” says Pietrzak. “Color resonates with people. I have been obsessed with yellow and plaid lately.”
The self-taught weaver, 37, and the creative force behind the Yucca Valley-based All Roads studio, learned about color and textiles during stints sourcing fabric for Anthropologie and choosing more than 700 colors for a Chinese yarn mill.
Working in an office, however, left her craving a creative outlet.
In 2012 she started weaving using a simple loom her boyfriend and All Roads partner Robert Dougherty, a welder and carpenter, built for her. Equipped with only basic weaving skills she learned in a college textile class, Pietrzak was soon weaving increasingly complex free-form tapestries.
In less than a year, Pietrzak went from weaving as a hobby to creating custom pieces for clients. Commissions for the stylish Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs and the Thompson Hotel in Nashville followed. In 2014, she licensed her designs to Anthropologie, which now produces All Roads Studio rugs, pillows, throws and duvets.
Her small “stordio” (studio and retail store) in Yucca Valley is a textile lover’s dream.
Multiple looms share space with raffia and rope, silky smooth tassels and multicolored cones of yarn. A yard of vintage fabric hangs like an artwork on one wall while her weavings, made from skeins of bamboo, linen, hemp, cotton and hand-cut metal scales and stoneware, hang on another, adding to the colorful, warm vibe of the studio.
All of her work is made to order, with small weavings starting at around $125 and bigger tapestries selling for as much as $6,000 on websites like 1stdibs. In the tiny retail shop, visitors can shop for handmade shibori socks and sweatshirts, steel peace signs, hand-dyed and painted T-shirts and woven washable color block scarves (while they last).
The former Los Angeles resident takes inspiration from the surrounding desert landscape as well as her travels. For her current Anthropologie collection, for instance, she traveled to Todos Santos, Mexico, with the company’s senior textile artist.
“We stayed there for four days and took in as much inspiration as we could,” she says of “the retro ’70s vibe of Hotel Cristobal, snorkeling over coral reefs and bright colored fish.”
For Pietrzak, beauty comes from long hours using her hands. Though she has also experimented with ceramics, she remains infatuated with textiles, producing works that straddle the line between functional craft and fine art.
Looking ahead, Pietrzak hopes to develop her own line of textiles and home accessories. “The art side of my work is equally important as that is what pushes my aesthetic, color and technique,” she says. “I plan to keep working on that, and letting the desert sink into my brain and see how it reflects in my work.”
Pietrzak will be hosting a bed layering workshop at the Century City Anthropologie from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. $10; includes a tutorial, drinks and snacks and a small gift courtesy of the artist. Reservations required: beddingmakeoverworkshop
Your turn: Do you know a maker who deserves a wider audience? Tell us about them and why their work is so special at latimes.com/Home and we may include them in our ongoing series about makers, crafters and artisans in and around Los Angeles. Include a few photos of their work and a link to their website, if possible.
Where: 7319 Acoma Trail, Yucca Valley
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and by appointment
Meet the Maker: Janelle Pietrzak
Craft: Weaver, All Roads
Studio playlist: “Up and Vanished,” “The Last Podcast on the Left,” “Donner Party” podcasts
Why handmade things matter: “There is a nostalgia to handmade crafts. With everyone on the phone, handmade things ground you and connect you to the earth.”