Passion for coziness and a reverence for Dolly Parton sound like the perfect combo in an artist, and Caroline Z. Hurley boasts both of those things. Hurley was originally trained in painting at RISD, but her Greenpoint-based eponymous label (with a shop at 155 Freeman Street) produces textiles for the home using age-old, hands-on processes like block-printing, quilting, and weaving. Greenpointers had the pleasure of catching up with Caroline and hearing more about her artistic process, and how she managed to turn an “accident” into a full-fledged, sustainable manufacturing business.
GP: Where are you from originally and does your hometown still inspire your work?
Memphis, TN! I think it does. It was a really great place to grow up, so much rich history and blues there. I think deep down it affects how I look at the world. And how I make things.
GP: How long have you been doing hand-printed textiles?
I started by accident about 5 years ago when I came back from a trip to Indonesia. I started block printing in my painting studio and those pieces turned into products. I printed my first throw because I wanted one to take to the beach, and so my company began. I am not trained in block printing or textiles at all. I am a painter—that’s what my major was at art school. So my business happened in that head space. Painting is at the heart of CZH. I have a separate space outside of our Greenpoint shop (in Bed Stuy) just dedicated to making things—paintings, weavings, sewn drawings, etc.
GP: Do you work with any other media outside of textiles that might inform your textile pieces?
Yes, I really love the idea of making pieces from scraps that would have been thrown away. We work with a company in Rhode Island who turns our linen scraps into rugs. We try to have as little waste as possible at CZH. For my paintings, as well, I love using scraps from our products and fabrics that we have made with our artisans and working on top of those fabrics. I am also a huge collector of plastic bags. I have been collecting them for as long as I can remember. Mexico, Europe, Africa… I love how different cultures choose different colors for their takeaway bags, so I am turning those bags into sewing drawings in the studio right now.
GP: You use a variety of processes in your textiles (block-printing, quilting, weaving). Is any single one your favorite?
I love block printing but I am also a fan of weaving and quilting. As a painter, it’s fun to see the way the designs translate to different kinds of textiles. I love making rugs; that’s always fun. I think I just love it all!
GP: Please tell us more about your commitment to sustainability in your work.
I am very committed to having a sustainable business. We have done extensive research into finding better sources for linen and cotton, and with our factory in New Bedford we use all of our scraps. Nothing is thrown away. I care about the way we treat our planet. Having a company that creates more products sometimes makes me feel like I am creating more waste: more consumers; more more. So it’s very important to me that we are responsible and very thoughtful about what we make and how we make it.
GP: Now tell us more about your commitment to coziness in your work (which feels especially relevant as the season changes).
Well coziness is everything to me. It’s what I am most passionate about. I believe that having a cozy home is the starting point for any great adventure, and I mean that in a metaphorical sense too. Home to me means your centered and most grounded self as well, and I think where you live—your physical home—is an extension of that. I hope that my products inspire a sense of peace and that maybe they serve as a reminder to take time for yourself to sit, breathe, and just be.
Caroline Z Hurley | 155 Freeman Street
Monday & Tuesday – by appointment | Wednesday – Sunday – 11am-6pm