Several professional designers in Petaluma create wearable art that matches the beauty and craftsmanship of some big-name designers. And there are talented artists who construct more casual, one-of-a-kind accessories that are available at Petaluma prices rather than Beverly Hills prices. A small sampling here is sure to impress and delight.
"I was a total geek growing up," scarf designer Tina Mills admits, "and I was always into art. When I was 12 years old, I had five fish tanks in my bedroom, and one entire summer, guppies in my bathtub."
Is it any wonder that fish have inspired four exotic designs for her Chanel-type silk scarves? That inspiration came when she visited Monaco's Jacques Cousteau Oceanographic Museum in 1993.
A graduate of San Francisco's Academy of Art and Sonoma State, where she earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts, Mills hand paints her designs, replicates them on Adobe Illustrator, then emails them to Larioseta, a well-respected silk printer in Como, Italy.
Mills says she could have the scarves printed more cheaply in India or China, but "I wanted the best quality possible, and Italy is known for the finest silk printing."
Actress Tippi Hedren recently received one of Mills' "Cuttlefish" scarves, and immediately sent a thank you to the friend who gifted it to her, and emailed Mills, saying, "Fabulous scarf, great design and beautiful silk."
Mills is eager to start her next series of designs, inspired by butterflies and birds.
"I contribute a portion of my business profits to the California Academy of Sciences," where fish, butterflies and birds flourish, the designer adds.
Mills' scarves are available at Gallery One, 209 Western Ave., and at www.tinamills.com.