In the Beginnings... 1984
After a year of travelling in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji, I returned to my unfinished cabin in the woods of NW Montana. Nearly everything I had was in tatters. I sublet a small place that happened to have an older industrial sewing machine in the corner, familiar to me because my mother had shown me my way around a sewing machine when I was five. With a bit of courage and thread, my traveling gear was functional again and Coon Hollow Canvas was born. I loved it then and still today enjoy combining ideas and fabric into colorful functional creations.
Coon Hollow Canvas morphed from selling bags and hanging chairs at art fairs to creating musical instrument cases and covers when we moved east for a couple of years. My husband is an ornamental blacksmith who was hired to work at Samual Yellin Metalworks during that time. In Philadelphia we found many friends playing music. Two by two they asked me about making cases for their instruments. Being musicians ourselves we understand the needs of your beloved instruments and what is easiest for carrying them. I often work for luthiers and drum makers and have many patterns already on the shelf.
In 1984 I purchased the old Baptist church in Kila for the sole reason it had electricity, our home in Coon Hollow is off the grid. As my children grew in size, wits and independence, my business grew as well. Concentrating on musical instrument cases is satisfying and fun for me. Each of my cases while travelling from festival to session does the advertising for me. I see patterns and like to problem solve. I enjoy challenges and like to make the canvas items which add convenience, color and comfort to others’ lives.
People often ask me to make odd things. In 1992, I was asked to make a guitar case for the first guitar to go into space. The guitar was custom built by Bob McNally for whom I had been making many cases for his strumsticks and back backing guitars. As wood is a combustible material it needed to be encased in non flammable material. The case industriously was made of nomax with nomax thread. It was sent up in the shuttle with astronaut Pierre Thuot. I can now say I am an official space case maker. My husband and children can attest to that.
The most enjoyable end to my day is far from lure of computers, machines and telephones, plinking on my guitar, tooting on my flute or beating on marimbas with my friends. Come by Kila on a Thursday evening to play or listen to the Irish session at The Cottage Inn. Look for us playing music at the NW Folklife Festival every memorial day weekend in Seattle. Ride your bike along our new Great Northern Historical Trail from Kalispell to Kila and look for the two story building with the peace sign on it and join in the garden weeding or hula hooping out front. If it is winter we are always up for a ski or skate of any kind. Or just give a holler on a land or cyber line, and we will be happy to talk.