ASHLEY EVA BROCK | OF QUARTZ | West Marin
A couple miles down the gravel roads atop the Bolinas Mesa, the old aqua-painted Bluebird school bus where textile artist Ashley Brock lives stands in vibrant contrast to the deep and muted tones of West Marin. A wood stove radiates heat, battling the cool air that seeps through the uninsulated shell of the bus. She shares the bus with a four-year-old Pointer named Lyla, and there's just enough room to accommodate visits from a few friends.
Down the hill, Ashley's studio is a weathered board-and-batten woodshed, protected from outside elements yet integrated with the natural world. Cobwebs creep into window corners, and the bed sheet that hangs as a front door provides little defense from the raccoons that rifle through her studio supplies. An array of folded fabrics rests on the shelves; a sewing table sits in the center of the room.
“Ashley's simple lifestyle parallels the minimalist aesthetic of her work. Pulling from a fine arts background in the studio, Ashley aims to create clothing that works as kinetic sculpture while maintaining a comfort level well-suited for adventure.”
After learning to sew from her mother at an early age, Ashley worked as a seamstress at a vintage clothing shop, focusing mostly on mending and alterations. In a storeroom filled with vintage pieces, she learned to upcycle items that weren't quite what customers were looking for, breaking pieces down to their raw elements and reworking them into more appealing and modern garments. At California College of the Arts, she studied fashion design and textile arts. Since then, she has focused on costume and production design for projects ranging from music videos to performing arts.
Ashley's simple lifestyle parallels the minimalist aesthetic of her work. Pulling from a fine arts background in the studio, Ashley aims to create clothing that works as kinetic sculpture while maintaining a comfort level well-suited for adventure. In her costume design work, her pieces unite with the shape of the wearer’s body but also transform into an independent and animated entity. Using naturally occurring fibers—mostly cotton, wool, and silk—, she reduces clothing to simple forms. Oak galls prepared with an iron mordant, are used for natural dye baths. From there she employs a minimalist's eye, designing items that are both visually interesting and functionally wearable.
A tiny home like the school bus Ashley lives in is a deliberate paring down of belongings, a reduction in distractions—a choice that certainly translates into her aesthetic sensibility as a designer. But this much is clear: in nature, the confines of space do not limit the freedom of the mind, a freedom that appears vital and sacred in how Ashley lives and creates.