— t really is a global village when a young dressmaker with a fledgling business in Niagara Falls has fansin Alabama.
Thanks to a Web site that sells handmade art, a librarian from a small college in Anaston, Alabama, wears an assortment of dresses she purchased from Kathleen McKee of Green Mountain Threads.
McKee, who works out of her 74th Street home, specializes in creating handmade tops and dress with flowing Celtic and nature patterns.
The Alabama librarian has purchased four of the dresses on a Web site, www.etsy.com, and when she wears them to work, her students notice.
“The students love them,” Laurie Charnigo, a librarian at Jacksonville State said of the dresses. “They always look forward to seeing what I’m wearing.”
The long dresses McKee creates seem made in another era and the dressmaker suspects that is partly due to her fascination with faraway places and long-ago times. She’s drawn to Celtic symbols and stencils them onto the fabric of some of the 50 dresses she has created since she started sewing in 2001. She also loves dinosaurs and dragons and images of Merlin the Wizard.
McKee studied anthropology in college, but the dressmaking called to her. “I just felt my life totally took another direction towards art and sewing, so much so that it was impossible for me to pursue another path.”
But while she creates the clothing, she only wears it some of the time. “Whenever I wear it people say ‘Oh there’s that hippy girl,’ ” she laughed.
Looking at McKee, who is expecting her first child in March, with her long hair curled about her shoulders and wearing a long, loose navy-print dress she made, it is easy to imagine her living in the era of the flower children.
She is, however, an artist at home in many eras. Beyond the dresses, she also creates contemporary clothing, including hoodies like the one she recently made for her boyfriend. She likes to sew the hoodies as she listens to heavy metal music, a soundtack for someone who also appreciates popular music’s cutting edge.
She recently taught herself to do screen printing and she’s now creating T-shirts with imprints of famed inventor Nikola Tesla, who helped to harness the power of Niagara Falls.
Her work may seem an odd crossing back and forth between time periods and cultures, but all the different types of clothing she makes are similar in one key way, each item is unique, she said. She believes that her handsewn products are the perfect antidote to franchised stores where people buy clothing that all looks the same. “There’s just no soul to it,” she says of the consumer culture.
Although McKee is going to spend the next few months getting ready for the birth of her baby, she’s already dreaming of new directions to take her clothing line.
“I love monastic text and the Book of Kells. I would like to draw something like that on linen,” she said.
Whatever designs she decides upon, it’s a sure bet the students at Jacksonville State will be watching to see them modeled by their librarian.
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Librarian Laurie Charnigo, of Jacksonville State in Alabama, models some of the Green Mountain Threads she has purchased on the internet.