Rustbelt Fiberwerks

Leah Parkhurst is a fiber artist working and living in the wonderland of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Through her company, Rustbelt Fiberwerks, Leah produces delicately crafted domestic items such as aprons, napkins, and placemats out of "old, discarded things." She has a lifetime of crafting under her belt, having been introduced as a child to sewing, quilting and macramé by her mother and great-grandmothers, all skilled amateur craftswomen. Leah primarily utilizes sewing, pattern making and printing as the foundation of her pieces. Her work in textiles is often augmented with drawing, collage, and papermaking.


Raised in Little Rock, Leah moved to Milwaukee in 1995, and instantly fell in love with its cold, barren winters; its affordable lifestyle; and its easygoing, friendly people. She also found that Milwaukee's ample thrift stores provided a seemingly endless supply of textiles and inspiration. Building up her stocks through regular adventures into the thrift stores of Milwaukee's diverse neighborhoods, she was soon overflowing with raw materials, both the everyday and the exotic: from vintage clothing, linens and drapes to sail cloth, bark cloth and even old grain sacks.


Leah continues to embrace the ethos of the handmade that she learned as a child, the importance of high-quality utilitarian objects to glorify everyday experiences. Her crafts are sturdy, and made to hold up to the rigors of a household. Her napkins and placemats are durable and the aprons stitched for everyday use. She doesn't believe in hanging onto things to keep them in “perfect” condition. What’s the point? They’ll only end up in your estate sale.


Leah has exhibited at Milwaukee's Mercy Hill Gallery, Walker's Point Center for the Arts and IN:SITE. She has participated in juried arts and crafts fairs such as Art Vs. Craft (Milwaukee), Renegade Craft Fair (Chicago, San Francisco & Brooklyn), ICE (Atlanta), Crafty Wonderland (Portland) , INDIEana Handicraft Exchange (Indianapolis), Crafty Feast (Columbia), Craft Saturday (Des Moines) and Strange Folk Fair (St. Louis), as well as numerous local markets, galleries and boutiques. She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree  as well as an art history degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.