Betsy Leighton has always been a maker. Her early passion for craftsmanship was inspired by sitting in her grandfather’s woodshop, fascinated as his lathe spun and his deft hands pressed a chisel to the wood, transforming roughhewn maple into a smooth and sinuous table leg. Her early musings in color and shape became more focused as she received her MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) where her paintings were inspired by Fauvism’s saturated color palette and the playful shapes of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs. Her time at MICA and her formal training as a painter began a lifelong obsession with color, shape, and pattern.
In addition to painting, Betsy has always possessed an intuitive understanding of the capacity of beautiful objects to transform their settings. Whether she was curating colorful folk objects from her travels to Oaxaca and Santa Fe, snipping velvety coral dahlias from her cutting garden and standing them in a turquoise vase, placing a jar of patinaed sea glass in soft blues and greens on her windowsill, ladling fragrant saffron infused soup into brightly painted Italian pottery bowls, or arranging a tablescape with pomegranates, wild flowers, and the muted glow of tea
candles—for Betsy, colors, textures, and shapes transform our daily routines into joyful and comforting aesthetic experiences. Upon moving to midcoast Maine, her aesthetic expanded in response to the rhythms of the ocean, the sculpted coastline, and the drama of the seasons.
Bowerbird Studio began in 2020, inspired by a species of bird that attracts its mate through crafting an elaborate nest made of artfully curated bits and bobs from the surrounding environment. The Studio’s work focuses on fibers- fabric, yarn, and paper. Betsy started with a selection of pillows sewn from pieced cotton fabric, taking a deep dive into one particular quilting pattern—patchwork of the crosses—which became a canvas for the play of color, pattern, and movement. Betsy’s discovery of the rich colors and sophisticated patterns of Japanese linen inspired a line of elegant aprons, equally at home in the kitchen or at a gallery opening. A series of zipper pouches and eyeglass cases introduced more playful ways to piece
fabric. In her newest line, Betsy has scaled up the soft tiles of her earlier pillows, reinterpreting these patterns in a series of generously sized throw blankets. These buttery Italian merino wool throws are designed in Maine and produced in collaboration with a knitting mill in New York. These have been a staff favorite since their introduction, the quality is phenomenal and the print brings so much joy to any space it is in. A wonderful piece of art that is bound to become a generational heirloom.
The Bowerbird Studio collections are designed to bring comfort and joy into your home, transforming everyday interactions into beautiful, cozy, memorable experiences. Now launching a new product line, in bowerbird fashion, baby blankets in a variety of happy patterns that will be available starting in June.
The Maine Crafts Association was founded in 1983 to support and connect Maine’s craft artists. This non-profit organization provides educational programs, public events, mentorship, artist promotions and an inclusive community to connect emerging, mid-career and established craftspeople.
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