The Maui Mercer
The Maui Mercer is a collection of unique handwoven materials for home and body designed and created on the island of Maui, by me, Conn Brattain.
I settled on the name - The Maui Mercer - after researching the word mercantile. I discovered a mercer is one who deals in textiles/cloth. Mercers were formerly merchants or traders who dealt in cloth, typically fine cloth that was not produced locally. However inventories of mercers in small towns suggest that many were shopkeepers who dealt in various other dry commodities, not only cloth. Related occupations include haberdasher, draper and cloth merchant.
I have always been fascinated with the structure of cloth and the endless combinations of yarns to make textures, plaids, checks and stripes. Growing up as a small boy in Indianapolis, Indiana, I never met a plaid I didn't like. My mom was a clothes horse and her love of fashion and home decor certainly rubbed off on me. I remember my burgundy/navy/ivory/grey plaid pants or the navy/white herringbone bell bottoms that I wore to death as do I the plaid shirts with combinations like brown/khaki/navy/sky or pink/light blue/grey... many had a shot of metallic thread running through them. If it had a little shine, it had to be mine.
My love for creating fabrics began as a 6th grader when I took macrame and latch hook rug classes. No yarn was safe in my hands. In 8th grade, I found a piece of white shantung at a thrift store. I was fascinated with the nubs in the weave, but wondered how I could jazz it up. I took every spool of yarn from my grandmothers sewing kit and wove 3" color stripes in along the nubs, creating dashes of color. Rather than hide the ends of the threads, I left 1" tails hanging from both ends of the new stripe - creating an all over fringe. I cut it into a tank dress that I sewed up for my little sister. I have no idea what happened to that dress, but it is one of my most vivid memories.
It's no wonder I studied fashion design/sewing/pattern making and painting at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Oddly enough, I rarely worked with any sort of patterned material during that time. I found myself fascinated in solids that had textures - wool crepe, bouclé, shantung, pique. I also learned to knit during that time. Creating a useful item from start to finish has always been a thrill.
After college I moved to NYC where I worked for 2 fashion designers known for creating their own distinctive textiles - Gemma Kahng and Todd Oldham. I hit the fashion jackpot! After 18 years of living in NYC, I found myself moving to Maui, Hi., in 2007 with my partner John. We both worked as freelance graphic designers for four years creating websites and branding for clients all over the globe. In 2011 we found ourselves landing dream jobs in paradise. John became Art Director for Maui No Ka Oi Magazine and I became the Style Editor. With that title I became responsible for the Great Finds Shopping guides and fashion features. John was an Art Director at both SPIN and Details magazines in NY and I had worked designing fashion, textiles and housewares. John now art directs 4 Publications here on Maui - Maui No Ka Oi Magazine, Ka'anapali Magazine, Island Living, Eating and Drinking. I have shopping guides in Maui No Ka Oi and Ka'anaplai Magazine and am the Art Director for The Shops at Wailea Magazine and their ad campaign. Never did we expect to come full circle to our original careers on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.
With all of that computer based work, I am excited to have the opportunity to be weaving and creating textiles again. During my time compiling the shopping guides, I've had the pleasure to meet artists and creators on Maui who have inspired me to get back to using my hands. Pieces are woven on a LeClerc Nilus II 60" floor loom. I primarily work in cotton and linen, but will be experimenting with other fibers soon. A project on the list is a 5'x8' wool rug for our living room.
Look for the online shop to open soon. Along with handwoven items, the shop will include knitted and crocheted pieces as well as small bags, pillows, jewelry and other collectables created from textiles I have collected for over 30 years. In the meantime, please contact me with inquiries. Custom orders welcome.
- Table Linens
Please stay tuned for updates and mahalo for stopping by.
The Maui Mercer