Weaving it all together with Soft Century’s Katherine Entis.
BY REBEKAH FINK
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RICARDO NAGAOKA
Somewhere between her years as a design student in Rhode Island and her current status as hustling business owner just seven years later, Katherine Entis managed to fit in a cross-country move to Portland, Oregon, a major stint at Nike as a color designer, and the Herculean-for-most task of developing a unique voice and signature style in her weaving practice. Oh, and she launched her small business of highly covetable rugs and wall hangings, Soft Century, too.
Visiting her home and studio late this summer, I quickly figured out that for Entis, pulling from different, even disparate, aspects is far from a bad thing. In fact, combining them is where the magic happens. While her boyfriend prepped dinner in the kitchen, Entis guided me through their craftsman home in the historic Lauralhurst neighborhood in Northeast Portland.
Entis’ art is peppered throughout her home, along with work from friends and family. “All the art on our walls just kind of rotates,” Katherine said, pointing out a piece she plans on revising, “Since we moved here it’s been fun to decorate with all of my friend’s work. My mom is also a painter.” I find one of her pieces at the top of the creaking narrow staircase. Katherine has always been around creative women. Her grandmother instilled a love of yarn crafts including knitting, beading and crocheting. Katherine is still constantly surrounding herself with creative people.
In her three years in Portland, Entis has found the city to be an inviting community keen on sharing, teaching and collaborating. “It’s small enough of a city that things can happen really naturally,” Entis shared, “You can just meet face-to-face.” One such face-to-face encounter, with fellow fiber artist and RISD and Nike alum Chloe Cooper, resulted in a collaborative piece for a recent show at Seven Sisters. Entis drew from her background in painting, working to create a series expressing painterly techniques through thread.
“It’s nice going back and forth between painting and weaving,” Entis explains. “There’s a spark. Things translate that you wouldn’t expect.” Although she spends the majority of her working time behind her loom, Katherine is constantly jumping out for a fresh take on the tactile art with her knitting machine and paint supplies.
I reach her basement studio, a simple and calm environment from which her colorful and textural weavings can materialize. But, encircling—more than coexisting—her loom, knitting, machine and healthy collection of roving, I notice cords, gear and recording equipment. Her boyfriend also uses the space to make music; the two of them work in tandem on their individual art. “We do a good job of sharing the space.”
Adjacent to her knitting machine is a small chair piled high with yarn swatches, knit samples and woven experiments. I can’t help but reflect on the inches, yards and miles of wool that have moved through Katherine’s fingers as she pulls each piece together. And I can’t wait to see what comes next.