TNM: Introduce yourself, family and where you live.
HM: Hi! My name is Sarah Gibson Wiley and I have lived my whole life (except 2 years in college), in Richmond, VA. All of my children are out of the house. Their ages are 24, 29 and 30. But I remember like yesterday looking for activities to do with them. I would have loved to have had a blog like yours for Richmond!! I now have a blended family. My husband of 6 ½ years has 5 sons!! And no, none of them live with us!!
TNM: How did you use your love of interior design to create Huger Memories?
HM: I was an interior designer for 28 years. I specialized in window treatments and though I know how to sew that skill was put on the back burner when my business grew. With little children at home, I would leave them with a babysitter, say my goodbyes and run around back to our carriage house that was my office. They rarely knew I was back there. When my youngest daughter was in high school she wanted to monogram for her friends as a summer job. Skilled with sewing, I said yes to the purchase of a very small monogram machine. Her interest waned very quickly. I was bored with the precision of monograms. I taught myself to digitize, which is the skill of drawing the stitches. Using interior design fabrics was obvious for me when it came to the applique. Each piece I create is putting together a small room. I love combining fabric, color and texture.
TNM: Your designs are inspired to become family heirlooms. What are some special projects you’ve worked on for your clients?
HM: Telling stories on pillows or framed pieces can be very special. My children’s portraits often incorporate outgrown clothing as part of the piece. I’ve used a tie on a portrait that belonged to a grandfather who had passed away. A family house is something that brings memories to all that see it. A wedding invitation is an obvious heirloom that the couple will cherish forever. We all love our pets who quickly become part of the family. There are so many ways to incorporate memories into my pieces in addition to the image itself.
TNM: How does the process work for clients to create their own, unique piece?
HM: The process is easy. Just send me a photograph or several. Even off of Instagram! I especially like using several photos so that if needed I can have several children or family members together even if the reality is impossible. A lot of adding and removing can be part of the process. I always send a mock up so that my clients can get an idea of what the piece will look like before I actually stitch. How about the old black and white photos you have that belonged to your parents or grandparents? They can be a lot of fun to add color to.
TNM: How do you stay inspired in the creative process?
HM: I am always learning new skills and inventing new techniques. Finding antique or unique textiles and trims, and odd buttons and other details continue to inspire me. Right now I am working on layering even more fabrics and texture to make my pieces more interesting when I create. Using inspiration from the photograph and some creative license helps make some of my best pieces.
TNM: Where can readers find more of your work? My website is www.hugermemories.com. I am also on Instagram and Facebook. @hugermemories Please follow along. My Men and Women We Love pillows can be found in many shops across the country. I am starting to do more trunk shows which is especially nice for custom work.. Please spread the word and I will come to you!