Lotta Helleberg

Lotta grew up in Sweden and began her career as a journalist before immigrating to the US in the ’80s. After settling in Charlottesville, Virginia, she transitioned into graphic design, bringing the Nordic design aesthetic of simplicity, elegance, and clear lines into her work. Like many artists, Lotta dreamed of the creative work she would like to pursue outside of the requests of her clients, and started combining her interests in gardening and natural materials as inspiration. She began leaning away from working with synthetic dyes and paints, aware of both the health and environmental effects of working closely with these toxins. What started as a hobby developed into a production line of linen household items including pillows, napkins, and runners, all using leaves and natural plant materials found outside in her immediate environment.

Lotta soon discovered that the natural dyes had benefits beyond the lack of toxic chemicals, finding that she was able to realize colors she could never achieve with the synthetic dyes. Her artwork now extends beyond just textiles to printmaking and book arts, and features an eco-printing technique called "botanical contact printing." Lotta carries her sustainable principles through every part of the artistic process from composting old leaves used in the printing to creating her own processing solution from iron scraps.

So much of Lotta’s art and life revolves around the slow principles we espouse at Lady Farmer. She reflects on how growing up in Sweden with the ability to wander freely and explore the natural world has fostered within her a deep, personal connection with nature. When she isn’t in the studio, she is outside cultivating her naturalist garden, tending to the trees and plants grown on her property that will be translated into the design and colors of her artwork. She also incorporates the meditative practice of hand stitching into her art. On this episode of The Good Dirt, Lotta encourages us to find beauty in the natural world all around, and experience the wonder that is everywhere. Join us on this week’s episode to find out more.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podchaser, Captivate, Podtail, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Topics Covered:

  • Art being informed by one’s personal principles 
  • Lotta’s sustainable and biodegradable dyeing process using linen, silk, and wool
  • The Swedish concept of Allemansrätten, or right of public access
  • Society’s pressure to be constantly producing
  • The meditative practice of hand stitching
  • Finding beauty in the simple and common natural world around us

Resources Mentioned:

Guest Info:

Connect with Lotta on her website.

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