“I originally drew the snail and mushroom design for my daughter, and it has stood the test of time, “ says Mindy Schumacher, the artist behind Follysome Prints. Ingebretsen’s carries Follysome’s appealing snail and mushroom pin, along with block-print tea towels, stickers, and jewelry. The pin’s folks-style line drawing grew from time spent with Mindy’s daughter, Grace, exploring the “diminutive world” of plants, bugs, and snails in their backyard. “Mushrooms are little sculptures that pop up for our amusement,” says Mindy. “They’re really forgiving to draw, too. Just a few, simple lines and people recognize what it is, even if the drawing isn’t to scientific botanical standards.”
The same is true of her block-printed textiles. The strong, simple lines create designs that are recognizably flowers, though of a species best known to Mindy’s imagination. If she were making art in the 1860s, William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement, would have recruited her to join his group of artists in London. Morris and his fellow artists believed in using architecture and interior design, especially textiles, to create beautiful environments. They emphasized fine workmanship that was affordable to average person. The hallmark of their aesthetic was nature-inspired design with flowing lines and nature-based colors. The curvilinear flowers of Mindy’s tea towels in warm earthen tones would have impressed them.
Inspiration comes from close to home
Fortunately for us, Mindy is working in the 2020s and her textile and decorative art are available to us today. Based in her studio in north central Illinois, Mindy summarizes her work as, “I am inspired by Nordic heritage and a fascination with the rhythm of pattern. I create in the slow tradition of relief carving and hand block printing.”
“As a child, I spent hours playing in my grandmother’s yard. She let us play and explore. I was always making floral wreaths,” she says. Examining plants, watching bugs, and simply spending time in a nature-rich setting laid the groundwork for Mindy’s later work.
In college and graduate school, she studied philosophy and religion. Her roommate was an artist who made block prints. Mindy spent happy, relaxed hours in the school’s print room with her roommate, who shared her knowledge of printing. Mindy had not planned to become a practicing artist; but as so often happens, the birth of her daughter changed the course of her life in a lovely way.
A rekindled interest in print-making
“When I bought my first home and was expecting my daughter, the desire to create grew in me. I had this ‘Little House’ fantasy. First, I wanted to make all her clothes. Then I wanted to make the prints for the fabric for her clothes,” says Mindy. Soon that grew into a desire to design and make décor and accessories. From this, Mindy has built a business, which has been steadily growing. She is pleased to say that her family, who are all artists, as is her husband, Hans, have been pleased with her success and are supportive of her work. A true Midwesterner, Mindy is quick to state, “Though I am by no means the most talented artist in my family.”
Family has been an inspiration for the Nordic component of Mindy’s work, though she had been drawn to the designs before she even knew that she had Norwegian ancestry. Growing up in Rockford, Illinois, which has strong Scandinavian influences, Mindy saw rosemaling and other folk art. She liked the swirling designs and was drawn to certain motifs. After ancestry research and tests, Mindy learned that she had significant Norwegian heritage. That motivated her to dive further into the block printing traditions from Norway.
“What I love about block printing is how it is so elemental. The art of making multiples seems to have emerged and been practiced in many corners of the world. That makes me feel a connection to people separated from time and space, there is something very special in that shared experience and slow handmade process,” says Mindy.
She continues “I am distant from my heritage and ancestral origin; from the people I didn’t meet and language I do not speak. But in some practical ways, heritage continues beyond those gaps. In our appreciation, perhaps some longing to know our own story, and in taking time to practice the passed down knowledge.” Though the designs which Mindy creates are inspired by a particular culture, the art of patterning in multiples is a universal. Even cave art shows the use of multiples – humans have found repetition aesthetically pleasing from the earliest time. ‘No one “owns” block printing. We are all connected by this type of artistic expression,” says Mindy.
While patterning is a universal, Mindy has also found a particular that connects people. “I say that I am a Scandinavian girl from the Midwest. When you put out an identifier like that, people respond positively.”