meet the maker: Susy Pilgrim Waters

Susy Pilgrim Waters

In our new fall issue, Boston-based artist Susy Pilgrim Waters created a beautiful illustration of our favorite old-fashioned peach crisp recipe, showcasing her talent for warm and inviting design. For some, Pilgrim Waters’ art might be familiar.

The English-born artist began drawing at a young age, started receiving commissions as a teenager, and has been working officially as an illustrator since 1991. She has produced art for Crate and Barrel, illustrated a children’s book, and designed a mural for the children’s room at the New York City Public Library.

When asked about what inspires her art, Pilgrim Waters simply replied “everything” but adds that she was influenced by Barbara Hepworth, an abstract, multi-disciplinary artist, from a young age. Her creative process is a bit abstract as well: Pilgrim Waters explains that when she is creating an illustration, she “makes a mess,” collecting textures, words and drawings and layering them together. The hands on quality that Pilgrim Waters exudes in her illustrations can be seen throughout her work, giving her designs a unique, lived-in quality. 

Outside of her personal work, Pilgrim Waters also runs the company PilgrimWaters with husband Keith Waters, through which they offer a number of products including scarves, trays, and tea towels. The couple met at Middlesex Polytechnic University, where Pilgrim Waters studied textile printing and Waters studied graphic design. While both pursued separate careers, the two began working together full time five years ago, developing PilgrimWaters based on their shared design sensibility. 

The most notable of PilgrimWaters offerings are their scarves and wooden trays—all of them handmade. The scarves are hand crafted by fair trade artisans in Nepal and India, while Pilgrim Waters and her husband personally oversee the creation of the trays. 

Pilgrim Waters and her husband, using wood from a local supplier in Boston, cut and mill the tray pieces in their workshop, forming the handles and the tray’s box joints. The trays then receive a printing of Pilgrim Waters’ designs, are assembled by hand, and receive a light sanding to remove any rough edges. They are not, however, smoothed out completely. The trays are purposefully left with uneven joints and an imperfect finish emphasizing their handmade quality. 

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