Glista in her Vespertine upcycled Reflective Merino Kimono
Name: Heather Glista
Location: Somerville, MA
Heather Glista is the talented creator behind the Vespertine X Heather Glista Collection: gorgeous, upcycled, one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces using the reflective merino wool remnants from our manufacturing process and other recycled textiles. We are so in love with her and her work- we had to find out more about her. Thankfully, she agreed to answer some of our questions. Feel free to chime in with your own in the comments section!
What are your primary means of creative expression?
Refashioned clothing is my primary means of creative expression, but I also play around with mixed media and collage. Birthday and holiday cards are always handmade from old calendars and cards.
How did you learn to sew?
I learned to sew from my Mom. I also worked as a seamstress for a costume company.
When did you become interested in upcycling?
When my now-husband, Paul, and I started dating, he took me to his hometown to meet his folks. While there, we went thrifting and I spotted a skirt covered with brightly colored tropical fish on a light blue background. It was terrible as a skirt, but there was just enough fabric to turn it into a flashy Hawaiian shirt once I added a contrasting fabric for the sleeves, yoke, and facings. I gave it to Paul for his birthday, and it was a hit. That the 'fabric' was found on our first trip together made it even more special. After that, I started looking at clothes differently: as jumping off points rather than finite objects, and things progressed from there.
The Glista in her first upcycled creation- the shirt that sparked her passion!
Can you tell us about your process and what inspires your pieces?
I work with post-consumer waste, which I collect from thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets. I tend to favor natural fibers: wool and cashmere sweaters, in particular, because they have a nice amount of give as well as softness and warmth. I wash everything and bundle items together that I think look interesting. I then take each bundle, cut into pieces, and lay out garment designs which are then assembled individually using a combination of machine and hand stitching. Each resulting garment is completely unique and one-of-a-kind.
I'm inspired by the colors, textures, and shapes of the clothes I use. Part of what I love about working with clothing is the opportunity to turn something that isn't quite working, whether it be due to wear, cut, or style, into something completely new. This process of refashioning is something that used to be done all the time! Cloth was precious and clothes were altered, disassembled, and cut into new garments, quilts, and, eventually, rags. Returning to this practice is a way to slow down and reconnect to the past as well as reduce the amount we consume. It's also fun and magical! Shapes, combinations, and layouts emerge that may not have were I working with straight yardage.
Besides designing and creating amazing wearable art, I understand you also ride a bicycle?
I do! Though I'm sorry to say I ride less now that I've moved from a small village to a large city.
What pair of wheels do you cruise in?
Like many bike enthusiasts, I have a few! My go-to is a Co-op Cycles Adv. 1.1, which I particularly love for city riding because it feels like a tank. I also have a Dahon Boardwalk folding bicycle, for when I'm traveling and don't want to carry a full size bike. Finally, I have a Raleigh mixte, which I'm slowly rebuilding.
Why do you bike?
So many reasons! It's fun, efficient, cost-effective, elegant, and great exercise. It allows you to be fully present to the elements and environment. I still remember one bike ride home from work when I lived in western MA: it was fall and there was an apple orchard on my route and as I rode by the smell of apples was just incredible. I never would have noticed it had I been in a car. Of course, there are drawbacks to being really present to the elements and environment: snow and cold require serious gear and planning to ride safely. Still, I think it's totally worth it!
Which Vespertine styles keeps you shining?
I have three pieces: the vespert reflective vest in eco citron, which I use when biking or walking at night, the black riding coat, for when I'm feeling fancy, and a wool knit kimono, which is particularly special to me since it is made from production scrap.
Glista in her Vespert Eco Reflective Vest
Do you have tips for biking in Somerville?
I'm still finding my feet as an urban cyclist. I have found it incredibly helpful to have a membership with Blue Bikes, the local bike share, which give me the flexibility to bike in areas I'm confident and dock when I'm more comfortable walking or using public transportation.
There has to be more you want to tell us! Any awkward biking or refashioning moments?
One last thing: As a cyclist and pedestrian in a large city, visibility and warmth are especially important to me. Incorporating Vespertine's merino wool/reflective yarn knit remnants into my production process allowed me to create pieces that contained both, which was a real treat!
See the Vespertine X Heather Glista one-of-a-kind Collection here!