From the time Kari Lonning was little, she always knew that all she wanted to do was to make things. Instead of running and jumping in leaves, she was raking piles of them into floor plans.



She originally trained in ceramics at college in the 1970s, with a minor in textiles (weaving) and a passion for architecture. After graduating, she started showing her weavings at craft fairs. But then, “one of my loom-woven pieces was bought by the Smithsonian, and that day I experimented with weaving rattan. I haven’t stopped since.” (Wow, if my work was bought by the Smithsonian, I’d take that as an indication that I should keep going too!)




Although she works in many mediums, Kari believes her whole output comes from one indivisible creative force that drives it all.  “I work at whatever I do with the idea that it is all related. All of my training before and during college has fed into what I do now. It’s all about color, space, and design. I make baskets, but I am also a photographer, gardener, color and design junkie and mother to 2 four-legged beasts. I believe that it is important to see how everything impacts everything else, from fine craft to architecture and ecology.”



Her Norwegian heritage feeds into her work and finds expression. Kari’s grandparents were Norwegian, living on the tiny island of Hesnesoy on the southeast coast, and she spent many summer holidays visiting there as a child. She continues to travel from her home in Connecticut to visit Hesnesoy regularly, taking hundreds of photos of the textures, shapes and colours she sees there – the buildings, the boats, the land and the water – and  new pieces are inspired by both the landscape and journey. She loves the Scandinavian regard for clean lines and respect for quality in the functional, and she also loves Japanese architecture and design for the similarity of aesthetic.



Kari loves her life, despite the insecurity of an artist’s fluctuating income. “I enjoy being able to choose how I spend my days: immersed in the passions and serenity of color and creating, surrounded by nature and accompanied by Emma and Kitt (my dog and cat).  I live in the country, with my gardens and interesting architecture. I can open the windows and hear birds and bugs, wind and rain.”



And her best piece of advice? “I’ve always been quietly self motivated. So when when people say “just do it,” it resonated. I would tell people to follow their passions, but to be realistic as well.”

You can find more of Kari’s work on her website, her Facebook page, and her blog.



With thanks to Kari for sharing her images and words.