Studio Tour

Inside Artist Dawn Wolfe’s Airy Home Studio

Inside Artist Dawn Wolfe’s Airy Home Studio
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Nestled in the coastal Santa Cruz Mountains, surrounded by a redwood forest, is artist Dawn Wolfe’s studio. Enveloped by nature, she finds inspiration for her multilayered three-dimensional works—depicting monarch butterflies, deer, and other creatures—right in her own backyard. Using exquisite cotton papers, watercolors, and a methodical arts- and-crafts process, she turns scans of photographs, old love letters, fabric scraps, vintage maps, and other mementos into unified pieces of art. The results have the same magical, folkloric feel as her light-filled studio in the woods.

Dawn’s gorgeous double doors feature several glass windows that let light shine into her space.

Dawn’s gorgeous double doors feature several glass windows that let light shine into her space.

How does having your studio as part of your home influence your process?

“I hate dark houses. Our property is open, so we get 360 degrees of daylight. I think it very much inspires what I do. I have the doors open year-round. In spring and summer I see wild boar, rabbits, squirrels, even bobcats walking around.”

Wolfe draws her forest creatures freehand before having them die-cut. To play up the details, she finishes the job by hand. The tedious work is a “tactile and visceral experience.”

Wolfe draws her forest creatures freehand before having them die-cut. To play up the details, she finishes the job by hand. The tedious work is a “tactile and visceral experience.”

How did you get into making pieces of art using paper?

“The first one I did was for a wedding. I was trying to come up with something special that would tell the couple’s story. I ended up incorporating maps of where they were from and where they had lived together. They’re all very personal.”

Wolfe was inspired by the monarch butterflies that migrate in winter to the eucalyptus groves near her home. Old love letters, maps, scraps of wedding-dress fabric, and champagne labels make up the patterns.

Wolfe was inspired by the monarch butterflies that migrate in winter to the eucalyptus groves near her home. Old love letters, maps, scraps of wedding-dress fabric, and champagne labels make up the patterns.

What’s your approach to using color in your pieces?

“I like doing subtle color gradations.”

Dawn’s butterflies are intricately detailed, featuring subtle differences in pattern and color.

Dawn’s butterflies are intricately detailed, featuring subtle differences in pattern and color.

I take a hodgepodge of things that have meaning and unify them into a single piece of art.

— Dawn Wolfe

In love with Dawn’s dazzling art? Shop her stunning pieces here →

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