West Coasters

When a prominent museum gift store asks what new products you have for their store, the gears start turning. Taking a friend up on an invitation to wander around Capitol Hill for a morning, we went for coffee, wandered around Volunteer Park and then visited a few mid-century design stores. By the time I made it to my studio that afternoon, I had an hour to work on an idea that occurred to me as we drove through the city. Pulling out a felt remnant, I stitched some irregular shapes in imitation of topographical maps.

My first prototype received a green light from the buyer at the gift store, so I set to work on the real thing. Inspired by the distinctive colors of Puget Sound, the alpine meadows around Mt. Rainier and the paloose of central Washington, I imagined three colorways reflective of the colors in these regions.

After creating sheets and sheets of merino prefelt, I cut hundreds of circles. Pulling together the colors was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.

The riot of color was intoxicating. Once everything was felted, I cut the circles and machine stitched the lines to create greater definition and contrast.

The next project was deciding on the packaging. Price point and hand-feel were the two factors that led me eschew any fussy plastic packaging. People need to touch something this soft. Maude May designed the tags and branded the coasters, inspired by USGS map TWA 1627 Glacier Park,  TWA 1623 Frosty Meadow and TWA 1680 Methow Valley.

West Coasters felted topographic coasters are now available at the Bellevue Arts Museum gift shop and in my Etsy shop.


7 Responses to “West Coasters”

  1. 1 debrah Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    thoroughly enjoyed this post and love the colors you put together–

  2. 3 paula Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Leah, I just love these. Congratulations on branching out and finding even more ways to tickle our retina’s. Great colors.

  3. 4 Pokhra Friday, July 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Nicely done! No excuse for ring marks on the coffee table anymore! We just have to remember to use them 🙂

  4. 5 Elizabeth Monday, July 9, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Beautiful, I love the colours and the map feeling.

  5. 6 alana Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Love these – on trend but still unique!! Brava!

  6. 7 Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I love these!!! My dad worked in that area for his PhD dissertation. I’m going to have to ask him if he worked on those maps! Not sure he was with the USGS at that point though, maybe not.

    Also, I’d love to see these (and some of your other stuff) in person soon. When do you have open studio hours?

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