Interview with Kelby Lynn Konz – By Ryan Neeley exclusively for Appalachian Jamwich

photos courtesy of Kelby Lynn Konz

In preparation for the holiday season, Appalachian Jamwich, the fastest growing magazine about the scene you call home, is highlighting vendors and artists in the scene that depend on us, the community, for their livelihood.  This is the first in a series of articles leading up to the holidays, so please, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS!

Throughout the years going to numerous festivals and shows, I’ve admired many people’s pants, skirts, and hoodies that have a label of THC affixed to them, which stands for Thread Head Clothing.   Recently I ran into the fine young lady behind this logo, 33 year old fabric artist Kelby Lynn Konz while she was vending with her fiance’ JP, a fantastic artist in his own right with Out Rage Us Wraps, at Night of the Living Dead, a Halloween party in New Martinsville, WV, and sat down with her for an interview.

Appalachian Jamwich:   First off, let me tell you that I LOVE your work.  I’ve seen the logo on a bunch of my friends gear, and always notice it when I check out patchwork.  So, where are you from?

Kelby Lynn:   I grew up in Michigan, but I’ve moved all over the country.   Currently, JP and I are living in a 130 year old farmhouse in West Virginia, and our goal is to make it a self sustaining farm.   The house has been in JP’s family for a long time, but we’ve only been here since spring.   Hopefully by next year we’ll have solar panels and livestock to go along with our gardening.

AJ:   How long have you been sewing and how’d you get into it?

KL:   I’ve been sewing for about seven years.   I was living in Bradenton, FL at the time and was getting tired of the rat race, working at call centers or restaraunts.   I enjoyed being a part of the festival and music scene so much, and wanted to figure out how to make money legally.   I always wanted to try my hand at sewing, so a friend kicked me down an old Singer sewing machine and I just decided to go for it.   I never took Home Ec. or anything in high school – I’m 100% self-taught.

AJ:   When were you able to start doing it full time without having to keep a second job?

KL:   That’s only been about a year – last October.   I still have some starving artist moments for sure, when I need to sell something, but most of the time it works out.  I’m definitely much happier now.

AJ:   I love the fabrics you use.  Where do you get most of them?

KL:   90% of my fabric is upcycled from a thrift store in Parkersburg, WV – It’s an hour drive from my house, but they have a sale on Monday where items are marked down.   I make a regular trip there and go through the corduroys.  We have a local thrift store but they want a little too much for their stuff.   Sometimes I have to buy fabric from a store when I’m filling an order because there are times when I just don’t have enough or don’t have the color that the customer wants, but I try to upcycle almost everything.

AJ:   So what is the actual process you use?

KL:   There’s a LOT of cutting, gathering, figuring out dimensions on paper and the like.   When I get home with the fabric, I usually cut it up then so I have it ready to go.   Next I figure out the dimensions and pattern on a piece of paper.  Now i have two sewing machines, the old Singer has been retired, and one of them is a serger machine that trims the fabric when it sews – it saves so much time – when I got the new one I realized, ‘Hey, this isn’t as hard as I thought’ because I was using such an old machine.   I also do a lot of handstiching and I use the regular sewing machine to do appliques and other details.

AJ:  What inspires you?

KL:   Actually, living in the same house as an artist inspires me.   I seem to get more done when JP is working on his stuff.  I guess you could say he inspires me, but I’m inspired by so much – Art, Music, PEOPLE!  And nature for sure – all of the colors in nature are so inspirational if you just stop long enough to pay attention.

AJ:   I agree  – not enough people realize how beautiful this region is.   Where’s your favorite place to vend?

KL:   Actually, it’s on lot.   I know it sounds weird, because you’re not actually setting up a vending space so to speak, but I have the most fun when we do shows = (Phish in) Atlantic City was a blast!   Actually, JP and I got engaged there during Fluffhead (Bader Field – 6/17/12 – Fathers Day – Set 1) , so that day was extra special in my life and that memory will live in my heart forever.

AJ:   That’s such an awesome story!   Atlantic City was a great time for sure.  So you do a lot of custom work for people?

KL:  Yeah, some of it is custom, other times I just make what I feel to have stock in hand.   I’m actually taking orders starting November 1st and business has really taken off, so if you want something for Christmas for that special patchwork-loving someone on your list, I’d suggest getting an order in.   We require a 50% deposit up front because it does take a lot of time to do them but I try to work with people as much as possible.

AJ:   I’ve spoken to a few people who have gotten tips off of you.  Many artists are hesitant in sharing their knowledge, but I’ve heard that you have been super helpful to people starting out.

KJ:   Aww thanks, I try to be.  I figure if someone wants to do something bad enough and wants to put their heart and soul into learning something, they’re going to do it no matter what – nothing can stop them.   It doesn’t hurt me to share some of the knowledge I’ve obtained along the years – there’s enough work out there for everyone.  Art and music are meant to be shared.

AJ:  Well thank you so much for your time Kelby.   I’m actually putting my order in for some pants today, and can’t wait to see what you come up with.  You’re a phenomenal artist and I love the energy you put off.  I can tell that you put love and care into every stitch.

KJ:  Thank you so much for supporting the scene and for the compliments.

To see more of Kelby’s work, check her out on facebook at ThreadHeadClothingTHC or click here

Or click here for her ETSY shop THREADHEADCLOTHING

Click here for Out Rage Us Wraps on FB


Favorite BandGrateful Dead

Favorite Show:  Umphreys McGee/Disco Biscuits late night set at Bonnaroo (6-16-06)

 Favorite Venue:  Nelson Ledges Quarry Park

Favorite Festival:  Wakarusa

Favorite Artist:  (Salvador) Dali is my favorite visual artist, but honestly, my favorite artist is every artist in every person.  The artist that inspires beauty and awe – Those are my favorite artists!