Imagine trying to escape the safe confines of a country upbringing in favor of a more daring city life only to then find yourself right back in the snares of bucolic security. What Becky Vizard did, and what makes us also want to uproot and head for the hills, is set to work. Fewer distractions and perhaps fewer cocktail parties allowed her entrepreneurial and creative spirit to reveal itself.
Photo Credits: House Beautiful
Becky was at Tulane in New Orleans, when she first started to feel her life assemble itself. Of course, she then had to go on to meet the love of her life, husband, and Uptown native Michael Vizard. A couple of well spent years later and off they went running, funnily enough back towards the Delta. Michael had accepted a position at her family’s business back in St. Joseph. To hear Becky tell it, she fought it those first four years out in what the locals call, “locustland” but when she did adapt to her lush albeit isolated surroundings, it was with an admirable rigor.
Photo Credits: House Beautiful
What began as relaxed design advice Vizard would dole out to her solicitous friends, ended up being a respected career in the field. One day while in New York working on a particularly tricky project, she had an awareness that started with a problem (as most discoveries do) and this would go on to reshape her life. She couldn’t find the right pillow! All the vintage or antique looking pillows also came with a one too many frills. This wasn’t the look she had in mind for her rather polished client. Somehow she knew what to do and headed over to her favorite New York market to start hunting for antique textiles. A beautiful antique priest’s vestment presented itself and she set to work sewing. Those first few pillows she gave to clients had such a warm reception she decided to see what preeminent New Orleans designer, Gerrie Bremmermann thought. Bremmermann bought all she could and since then, neither momentum nor desire for these expertly composed treasures has wavered. Becky is now so sought after in the design world there’s a wait list for her coterie of custom clients.
Photo Credit: House Beautiful
Becky could probably teach historians a thing or two with the depth of her textile knowledge. After all, when you learn the history of textiles you learn the culture, if even just by proxy. Some of her favorite textiles to hunt for and work with are listed below.
A pillow for every occasion and every style!
Suzani is an embroidered Uzbek textile, once made for specifically for a bridal dowry; they are now highly sought after for their elaborate hand stitching and rich colors.
Designer: Melissa Rufty – New Orleans, LA/ Photo Credit: ‘Once Upon A Pillow’-Becky Vizard
Designers: Courtney Coleman & William Brockschmidt/ Photo Credit: ‘Once Upon A Pillow’-Becky Vizard
Ecclesiastical or religious textiles are some of the more valuable fabrics, inherently owed to the extreme wealth of the church throughout history. You will see the best of European embroidery in these examples. The period of the highest acclaim was the 17th century, with their detailed biblical iconography on vestments and altar frontals. These days it’s extraordinarily rare to come upon such a textile accidentally and thus they are of enormous value.
Designer: Annelle Primos – Jackson, MS/ Photo Credit: ‘Once Upon A Pillow’-Becky Vizard
Designer: Katie Scott – Houston, TX/ Photo Credit: ‘Once Upon A Pillow’-Becky Vizard
Fortuny is one of more well known textiles in the fabric lexicon. The design was created by Mariano Fortuny in the early 20th century. He had his start in the theater, making beautiful costumes for the likes of Isabella Duncan and then gradually transitioned to interior design fabrics. Fortuny is characterized by the changing colors of the fabric depending on the light cast upon the textile.
B. Vizard’s Fortuny Pillows on the bed and an Antique Stump work Pillow on the Chaise. Credit: Cote de Texas
Designer: Eleanor Cummings – Houston, TX/ Photo Credit: ‘Once Upon A Pillow’-Becky Vizard
European Embroidery encompasses a huge array of styles and even centuries. There are a host of different embroidery types ranging from primitive to elaborate gold ornamentation. Some of the textiles sewn to silk are so delicate Becky prefers to frame them.
Antique Raised Gold Metallic Embroidery $$1,550.00/ Antique European Raised Gold Metallic Embroidery $2,250.00
Designer: Ginger Barber Houston, TX
Tapestry fabric is woven from a matrix of threads called the warp and a weft. The warp serves as the stationary thread and the weft is the thread that is woven in and out of the warp. Due the high cost of this sort of labor, they were at first, exclusively for aristocracy and the church, usually depicting a biblical scene. Eventually, with the advent of machine operated weaving and more of a middle class, tapestries started to become available to the masses.
Our personal collection of Ecclesiastical and Tapestry pillows.
Ottoman Empire textiles are mostly done in raised- gold or silver metal embroidery. Becky gravitates towards the styling of the late 19th century to the early 20th century. A hallmark of Ottoman Empire fabric is the extreme density of the embroidery. They did this by using a piece of cardboard or leather to serve as backing. The gold or metallic threads are reserved for the front, while being secured by a less ornamental thread from behind. Some common iconographies seen are: Turkish flowers, Pomegranates, apples, artichokes, baskets, scroll-work and vines.
Becky’s hallway connecting the main house with her studio. One of her Ottoman Empire tunics hanging on the door. Credit: House Beautiful
Designer: Susan Ferrier of McAlpine – Mountain Brook, AL / Photo Credit: ‘Once Upon A Pillow’-Becky Vizard
Photo Credit: House Beautiful
Becky has given these antique textile pillows the breadth of her education, creative intuition, and time. We genuflect accordingly.