Meet Textile Artist Richard Killeaney

We were thrilled that textile artist Richard Killeaney agreed to work with us on our wallpaper story in the May issue of CTC&G. His creative passion is evident in the wallpaper quilts he crafted for the feature, "Piece by Piece."

How did you get started quilting?

My mom taught my sister and me how to sew at a young age. When I was 15 I started taking quilting lessons at a local shop. I was inspired by my grandmother’s collection of beloved antique samplers and quilts. I designed and made my first large quilt for my dorm room the summer before I left for college.

Do you have a favorite quilt pattern?

I love historic quilts. I am drawn to certain colors and dramatic value studies. I like Civil War era quilts in all browns, and I love cigar silk quilts because of the unusual material from which they are made and the insane yellow color.

Talk about the custom quilt and decorative accessories that you create for your design business, Ocheltree Design.

The quilts that launched my business originated from my master’s thesis work and were designed using mostly repurposed materials. The limited choices pushed my creativity. I have always been interested in environmental causes, and am appalled by how much clothing is thrown away. I use fabrics that might otherwise be discarded—leathers, wools and shirting fabrics— giving new life to fashions that folks don’t want to wear anymore.

Do you have a design philosophy?

My designs are usually inspired by place, be it the beach in San Diego where I grew up or a recent residency in Iceland. Color is a big driver of my designs.

As a teacher, you share your passion with students in interior and textile design. Where and what do you teach?

I started teaching textile design to fashion students at Gibbs College in Norwalk in 2004. I’ve taught all over the map, at Pratt Institute, Fairfield University, Queens College and the Rhode Island School of Design. I’ve taught clothing construction, fabric design, textile identification and trend forecasting. I get really enthusiastic about a good mohair velvet, or a double woven wool crepe. I love textile in fashion and interior design.

So, what’s next?

My dream job would be a design director for a successful textile house that produces fabrics and wallpapers. Whether that job means I’m working for a heritage company or I’m putting my personal work out there is still up in the air. I love thinking about creating a world that encompasses quirk, sophistication, sustainability, severity and beauty.