Sparks creates a world of whimsy
Known for her fanciful floorcloths and keen eye for home decor, Kassia Sparks is an artist who thrives on her limitless imagination, creating a sense of marvel and whimsy in everything she touches.
Sparks says she’s had a passion for the arts as long as she can remember.
“In grade school I designed the covers of the school newspaper – but they were always whimsical. I remember getting a talking-to from the principal because for President’s Day I drew Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in a ski competition going down a mountain,” Sparks recalled with a laugh.
In fact, creativity seems to run in the family.
“My father and grandfather were artists, and, my great, great uncle wrote ‘The Night Before Christmas,'” Sparks said, noting that her children are also very talented.
Because Sparks has always had a flair for the creative, she went on to earn a degree in fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“I started making clothes when my aunt gave me a sewing machine when I was 10 and I taught myself how to sew. I would make Barbie fashions, of course, and that’s how it evolved. I always wanted to make my own clothes so I could be different,” Sparks said.
Once she received her degree, Sparks dabbled in furs, sportswear, lingerie and couture, but she says she’s always had a passion for designing children’s clothing.
“After a few years in the fashion industry, I said, ‘You know, this really isn’t for me.’ It was just a feeling. My other passion had been decorating, because as a kid, I used to move furniture around all the time in my apartment. My mother would come home from work and the apartment would be totally different!” Sparks said.
Sparks continued to work in fashion while she went back to FIT to pursue a degree in interior design.
“Then I became a mommy, so my design business was put on hold. But as the kids were growing up, I always worked out of the house when we lived in New Jersey,” Sparks said.
In 1990, Sparks moved her family to Sanibel where, in 1995, she opened a home accessories boutique called The Secret Garden. After a successful seven year run with her store, Sparks decided it was time to move on and began designing fabrics for a company in New York, while continuing her freelance interior design work on the side.
It was through designing for various clients that Sparks came up with the idea to create customized floorcloths.
“Clients couldn’t find the right piece to go with their home [so] I would design the floorcloths to coordinate with their house,” Sparks said.
Her floorcloths are durable, weatherproof, easy to clean and can be used anywhere in the home – from the lanai to the dining room and everywhere in between.
And even if you can’t find a place in your home decor for fantastical creatures or tropical, underwater seascapes, Sparks does custom designed floorcloths to fit any design scheme.
During her time at The Secret Garden, Sparks says she developed a passion for painting furniture and resurrecting old pieces of furniture.
“I have clients that just don’t want to part with pieces, so I give them new life,” Sparks said.
As far as style is concerned, Sparks says she likes to make things eye-catchingly ornate and elaborate.
“My saying is “Tchotch it up a notch,'” Sparks laughs, explaining her affinity for adding lots of details, or “tchotchkes.”
“I like fun elements and whimsy. Life’s too short to be serious. You have to find whimsy in everything,”
Sparks describes her self as a very visual person. As a designer, she has an eye and appreciation for elements such as patterns, colors and textures.
“Right now, my newest inspiration is my grandbabies. You can see things through kids’ eyes. They’re very simplistic, but they’re very wise,” Sparks said.
Sparks makes floorcloths, fabric collages, bracelets, wall art, table runners and place mats for 2 Islands Gallery, but she also works in real estate staging and as a freelance interior designer.
“I have my irons in a lot of fires – aside from being a wowie!” Sparks said, noting that “wowie” is the name her granddaughters call her.
So what’s next for Sparks?
“I want to focus on getting a line of kids furniture and accessories out. I’ve got sketches for lamps and tables and bookcases,” Sparks said.
Sparks will also be teaching a floorcloth design class at BIG ARTS in January.
To see more work by Kassia Sparks, visit. www.kassias-designsstudio.com.