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Check Out Katya Fredericksen’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katya Fredericksen.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’m from Carmel Valley, California. I am a multifaceted artist with a passion for everything creative. Art has always played a big role in my life, and what I create is inspired by my state of mind while I listen to my curated playlist, “Mood Boosters.” Music is what uplifts my mood, inspires my work, and keeps me engaged with the process of creating. I am constantly exploring new mediums of art, whether it be pastel drawing, acrylic painting, collaging, photography, or videography. Coming from a creative family background, my family constantly inspires me and has always encouraged me to pursue what I love, which I am forever grateful for.

This past year, I decided to take a leave of absence from school for the year. Experiencing isolation and witnessing heartbreaking events unfold in the world created many obstacles for my mental well-being. With all the time I suddenly had, I aimed to explore positive outlets. I began interning at a vintage fashion store; the owner was a fashion merchandiser, wardrobe stylist and traveled the world to curate one-of-a-kind vintage pieces. Working there, I felt encouraged to further explore my personal style and embrace it as a form of self-expression. I began to up-cycle, rework, and sell vintage and designer pieces. I fell in love with the process of discovering unique, unconventional fabrics and transforming them into something new. While thoroughly enjoying sewing and crocheting, I became increasingly curious about textile design and began accumulating books to learn more about the field.

It wasn’t too much later that I discovered rug tufting, a very new medium of textile design in which you can create custom-designed rugs using a myriad of colors. This budding art form has mainly been popularized through TikTok and Instagram. I remember the exact moment I came across colorful rugs for the first time on Pinterest, soon to find out they were completely handmade. I started to do research about the niche and knew I had to pursue tufting. I invested in a tufting gun and all the yarn I needed to create my own rugs. I not only could revive my inner child and achieve creative fulfillment, but I had an art form that helped me cope with unfortunate circumstances while in isolation. Tufting has been the perfect medium for me to fulfill my passions of interior decorating, textile design, and visual arts. With my love for fashion, making custom statement piece tote bags for others has also been a fun imaginative outlet.

This fall, I left my home in Carmel Valley and moved back to San Diego to finish my fourth year at the University of San Diego. I am currently majoring in Communication and minoring in Entrepreneurship and Changemaking, balancing rug commission orders for people on the side. I have received a wonderful support system from friends and students at USD who have taken interest in my tufted creations, which has been a major blessing.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The first few months of learning how to tuft were far from smooth. I failed over and over again, enduring trial and error. With tufting being a relatively new art form, there was a considerable learning curve in terms of technique that I had to discover on my own. But staying diligent, I was able to figure out what worked and what didn’t. The most challenging aspect was building the frame and stretching the canvas to where it was strong enough to take the intensity of the tufting gun. The early experimentations with various recommended materials including cotton cloth, drop cloth, and burlap proved to be ultimately unsuccessful, consistently putting gaping holes through the fabric. I learned in the early stages that using a high-quality canvas material, known as primary tufting cloth, was the key.

Early on I discovered an app called Mighty Networks in which I was able to connect to a tufting community called “Tuft the World.” The community has been extremely supportive and responsive, providing many insights, tips and tricks. With the app’s forum feature, I was able to troubleshoot and fill in the missing gaps.

Through the journey, overcoming obstacles has been very rewarding. Rather than focusing entirely on the end result, I have learned the importance of patience. Some tufted rugs take weeks to complete, so it is important to not rush the process and to simply enjoy the act of creating something entirely new and different.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I specialize in tufting, which is somewhat like the art of painting, but with yarn. I started out tufting on a two by two foot frame but was later able to upgrade to a four by four foot frame. Eventually, this allowed me to make fun, giant statement piece rugs.

In terms of the process of creating a rug, the first step is to stretch the primary tufting fabric onto the frame. The frame has sharp tacks mounted all over it and I staple the fabric onto the frame for extra security. Once the canvas is stretched and taut, I place an image onto the fabric using my projector. After tracing the projected image onto the fabric, I thread the tufting gun with color-specific yarn. Applying pressure, I shoot the yarn through the fabric using the trigger button and guide the gun in the necessary direction. Once the tufting is complete, I glue the back of the rug with carpet adhesive. I then spray it with an all-purpose spray and attach a felt backing. Lastly, I trim the front of the rug down in order to finalize it. Though it can be strenuous and time-consuming, it is a therapeutic and satisfying process that I always enjoyed.

Collaborating alongside other creative minds has always been a dream of mine. So far, I have been able to create logo rugs for brands and collaborate with animators, musicians, and graphic designers. This has given them the opportunity to manifest their ideas through the medium of tufting, also serving as a great marketing tool for them.

The most rewarding part is seeing someone’s reaction once it is complete, especially when they are able to see their design come to life as a soft, colorful rug–which can either rest on the floor or work as a wall piece. It brings such satisfaction as an artist for these tufted creations to be a source of joy for others. My mission is for these rugs to uplift the energy in a room, radiate love and positivity, and to spark conversation and connection.

In terms of what sets me apart from others, I would say I am an extroverted introvert. Though I do very much love being around people, spending time alone allows me to truly tap into my creativity. Tufting has given me the freedom and space to get lost in my own world while simultaneously sparking beautiful connections with others.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
During the COVID crisis, I learned the value of spending time with family and loved ones. Last November, my grandfather had pneumonia and, while in the hospital, he got Covid on top of that. My grandparents were both quarantined at home, and my family got a call at 1 AM on Thanksgiving from my grandmother. She was out of breath on the floor with very low oxygen levels asking us to call an ambulance. Spending Thanksgiving waiting to hear an update was a terrifying experience for my entire family. But both of my grandparents thankfully survived and it was a beautiful thing to come together once it was eventually safe again. It taught me to appreciate every single moment spent with my family and I no longer take any time together for granted.

I found that prioritizing my mental and physical health, sleep, and protecting my inner peace helped me through the crisis. Focusing on feeding into my interests and pursuing my passions led to more harmony in my life. Since I took the year off from school and was not in Zoom classes, life was more unstructured by nature; therefore, I realized the importance of having a routine and schedule to stay on task with my goals and priorities.

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