Name: Jesse Stone
Home: Springfield, Missouri
Day Job: Lewd Linens
How’d you get started making?
Growing up in a very closed off church and a family in poverty were great motivators for creativity! Without television or toys (okay, I had a few), I have been making for as long as I can remember. I didn’t play with Barbie, I just made her whole wardrobes and homes out of old scraps. I modified my clothes to fit and fit in as I grew, helped my parents put together meals from edibles picked in the fields, and entertained my siblings with elaborate sock puppet soap operas. I loved that about my childhood, that everything looked like the ingredient for some awesome new thing to me. And yes, the world still looks like that to me today.
What type of maker would you classify yourself as?
I don’t know the list of terms I am perhaps supposed to draw from here, but I have always thought of myself as a gleaner. You know, those women from the poorer families, who go through after the grain harvest and pick up whatever is leftover to take care of their own families? They find a full harvest in what is just lying in the ground, and they nourish and grow their families with it. That’s how I see the kind of maker I am. I dislike waste, and I love old things — inanimate objects have always seemed like they have feelings to me, so I feel good giving them a new purpose, making them beautiful and useful in a new way, and I love that I can find bounty for my own family who I support, in what is small and overlooked.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?
My son. Seriously, I made the love of my life. It blows my mind every morning.
What’s something you’d like to make next?
My daughter :). And in my art? I am currently in the midst of creating a whole line of house wears centered around my love of old-meets-new. So, my to-do list of things to make in the next year are collections of ceramic mugs, sheets and pillows, hats and tank tops, and a set of break-up survival gift boxes, all with their own energy and individuality, but all keeping the feeling and aesthetic that my brand is built on — an old world handcrafted look with an edgy I-listen-to-a-lot-of-Niki-Minaj-in-the-morning feel. That is the creative multiverse I am in right now, until my hands can make it all… but I am already writing my first novel on scrap paper at stop lights.
Any advice for people reading this?
Wow, the past few years of my own life have really put me through the wringer, so mostly I want to say ‘love yourself! Hug your friends and family! Be thankful for everything you have!!!’ But if we’re talking in terms of the making life — I would tell y’all readers this: What you WANT to make is what you SHOULD make. No matter what that is. I believe the creative force is sacred, and I know that if the desire to make something is a seed in you, then your best move is to grow that seed to fruition. BUT. When you do something, DO it. If you’re moved to make boxes or pies or tinfoil sculptures, make the most badass boxes or pies or tinfoil sculptures this universe has ever seen. It will take a lot of practice and work, and it will always be worth it in the end.
Why do you feel it is important to use language that some might find offensive?
I’m so glad you asked! This is a cornerstone concept in my successful business! I believe that words have power. They can help or hurt, uplift or truly damage. But in the same space that I believe that, I also know that they are just words, and I would love to see the social norms that have a bizarre moral stranglehold over a handful of ‘offensive’ words be totally scrapped and forgotten. Curse words, used in anger, are genuinely harmful things. But curse words used in levity, in say, enthusiastic encouragement, have an equal power to bring energy and joy. The words in themselves, have no inherent good or evil, they just heighten whatever is being said. Also, I have long loved the movements that reclaim words for themselves, words that have been used against women or minorities, that these groups then use themselves to de-arm the offensive terms, and even to find humor or motivation in the overuse of them. That is the way I use curse words in my collections. If you see a design in my collection that you think is offensive, consider that a reclaimed word that I will use until its only power is one of making people laugh. And I am very conscious to keep plenty of designs in my collection that do not have any ‘offensive’ words, and that only encourage and uplift, because I want to always be very intentional about setting the overall tone of my line. That tone is one of loving irreverence in the face of outdated and ugly social norms. So that is why I like a good smattering of curse words in what I consider to be my spiritual work. After all, as the great Ani Difranco once said, “every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right.”
Jesse started Lewd Linnens with a successful kickstarter (I have some in my kitchen, and I’ve given them as gifts to the women who organize Maker Faire!) Jesse currently has a Kickstarter going for her next series, called “Saucy Sampler”. These are similar designs to Lewd Linnens, but in coloring book form.
We highlight different makers from our broad community to show you the faces and stories behind the projects. Meet all the amazing people featured in Maker Spotlight. Want to nominate someone, maybe even yourself? Send a note with your responses to the bolded prompts above to firstname.lastname@example.org.