It’s no wonder Laura Preston of Vacilando Quilting draws design inspiration from her travels—she lives and sews in a 1986 Airstream Excella. Her latest creation, a modern bed runner in the softest desert hues, is an homage to the boulder-strewn sand and pink-washed sky of Joshua Tree, California.
On June 1, she launched the 27 by 90-inch cotton quilt in a limited edition of six, priced at $275 for machine quilted and $375 for hand quilted. “The shape of it invites all kinds of uses” she says. “I love it as a long wall hanging or a table runner, as well as a bed runner.”
Laura collaborated on the design long-distance with Lindsay Hollinger, the artist, graphic designer, and hostess behind the popular Airbnb rental Casa Joshua Tree. The runner’s “shapes and colors are all straight from Lindsay and Joshua Tree,” Laura says. “I just arranged them nicely.”
Working with watercolors, Lindsay dreamed up the palette and symbolism. “The periwinkle triangles are the mountains at dusk, with the pink lines representing the glorious pink sunrises and sunsets that we have here in the high desert,” she explains. “The half-moons are boulders, and the cream of the background reflects the colors of the sand.”
The seeds of collaboration were sown in December 2016 when the two women, who were mutual fans on Instagram, became fast friends IRL. Laura was passing through Joshua Tree and messaged Lindsay about meeting for coffee. “Next thing I knew, she was inviting me over to her house for dinner,” Laura says. “By the end of the night, we were talking about ways we could work together.”
The Casa Joshua Tree Runner is just the first of a series of quilted collaborations on the horizon for Laura. The 29 year-old, self-taught seamstress, who studied art history and painting at NYU, plans to weave in additional designers’ voices “because it challenges me to go outside of my box and try new shapes, colors, and designs,” she says.
Laura began sewing in early 2014 as a creative outlet during a yearlong road trip in Loretta (her Airstream’s affectionate nickname), then founded Vacilando Quilting a year later. She connected with vacilando, a Spanish description of a wanderer, in the Steinbeck novel Travels with Charley.
The name fits perfectly, since the landscapes whizzing by her windows are the muses behind the colors, shapes, and textures of Laura’s quilts. “I try and capture that feeling of the freedom of the road and the awe of nature in each piece I create,” she says.
Crafting large textiles in a 200-square-foot trailer, which she shares with fiancé John Ellis, two dogs, and a cat, has its challenges. “It’s definitely not convenient or easy—there are days when I would love nothing more than a huge studio with a giant cutting table and walls of storage for fabric bolts,” she says.
Laura and John are stretching out temporarily in her parents’ home in Dallas while they renovate a second Airstream, dubbed Lucille, which will be ready to hit the road in late 2017. “So we’ll spend the winter in the Southwest—New Mexico, Arizona, Southern California,” she says. “And then, who knows? Wherever the wind takes us."
The first image is courtesy of Lindsay Hollinger / Casa Joshua Tree. The second image is courtesy of Lindsay Hollinger. The third and fourth images are courtesy of John Ellis.
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