My love for sewing and fabric is a gift from my Mom, a great seamstress and very well taught. She patiently and generously began teaching me little things about sewing when I was just 3 years old. During the summer when I was 11, I began learning to sew in earnest. She taught me how different fibers felt by touch and what different weave types were named by sight. I loved sewing then and still do. It's quite lovely for a mother to give her daughter both a source for her livelihood and a source for great creative joy. I have a degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, where I received the noteworthy Peacock Award upon graduation!
I've worn lots of hats over the years, from being a costumer to manufacturing gifts and decorative accessories during the 1980's. I was reinventing my career for the 3rd time when my work was discovered by Jo Packham (Sterling/Chapelle, Where Women Create) at a boutique in Carmel, California. She asked me to start designing for her, which shortly led to writing how-to books on many subjects. I began to realize my interesting designs, techniques, color sense and good workmanship was not only important to me, but inspiring to others.
I now create for Mary Jo Hiney Designs almost exclusively, my favorite work ever and fourth career reinvention, the inspiration for which arrived early one morning as Divine Inspiration! My family, friends and our doggie never stop offering support, logical ideas and just plain 'ol good advice.
I have some goals as an artisan and teacher. I want to influence those who need encouragement to try something a little challenging or out of their comfort zone. I want to influence those who love and appreciate the work of our hands. I want to encourage many to experience the brain health benefits of creating by hand something that is challenging, but powerful when accomplished.
I've always believed that good work requires skill, which is learned over time, bit by bit, and that we benefit enormously by acquiring skills that combine the effective use of our hands and our brains. Additionally, escaping into my own creativity has helped me heal from a traumatic event in my childhood and I know this form of escape helps my customers and students too.
I am inspired by other people's stories, my immigrant roots, all shades of color, Lesage embroidery, fine workmanship, being able to design and create with my hand-dyed ribbons and silks, interesting shape, God's grace and mercy and most of all, my family.
Two of my greatest pleasures have been to sew gorgeous wedding dresses for two gorgeous young women, our daughter, Lexi (who wanted a princess gown) and our daughter-in-law Marissa (who wanted a Jean Harlow gown). They were spectacularly beautiful on their wedding days, but they are beautiful every day....as are we all, right? I've included a few of my favorite family photos on this page.
I love the phrase "for such a time as this" and have borrowed it from the book of Esther, with great thanks for her inspiration.
I hope you will enjoy your journey through my website!
The Princess Gown! The Jean Harlow Gown! M'riss & Joshie!
Here's my Mom! and my husband, Ev Marissa, MJ, Claire Bear and Lexi Celebrating with Marie on her 93rd birthday
Lexi and Ian, with their bridal party! Lexi, my Mom and Claire Bear