Originally Published: March 17, 2010 8:46 a.m.
Spring Valley is becoming a peacock mecca, thanks to resident Joanne Fedden. No, she doesn't raise the majestic birds, but rather, she embroiders them and sells the resulting pillows worldwide.
Fedden employs rich satins, silks, suedes and velvets for the 17-inch- square pillows' backgrounds. She edges her elegant creations with tassels, fringe or cording.
Fedden has access to numerous peacock designs, which she machine-embroiders. But each pillow is one-of-a-kind as she switches up colors and crystal accessories. She hand-sets the Swarovski crystals she buys from New York to add iridescent highlights.
"The magnificent color array of the Aurora Borealis - the northern lights - inspired me to use peacocks for the luminescence of their plumage," Fedden said.
Each pillow may take three to fours hours to embroider, with as many as 58,000 stitches and 22 or 23 thread changes. Total construction time can be upwards of six hours or longer, she said.
She uses only all rayon thread and highest quality textiles, buying fabrics in Phoenix, where the variety is greater.
"The upholstery velvet is soft and sensual to the touch and pleasing to the eye," she said.
She said she generously fills each pillow with 100 percent non-allergenic poly-fil and handcrafts them in a smoke-free environment.
"No two are ever alike," she said.
Fedden said she's been handcrafting ever since she was a little girl.
"I wanted to be an artist, but my dad said you can't draw a pair of pants on a baby's hind end," Fedden said.
She sewed clothes and used her creativity in different ways while raising five babies of her own.
But of all needlework types, her love is embroidery. Since she bought her first machine about six years ago, she's upgraded twice. Her latest model is computerized with a USB port.
"I was making cutwork table linens, and when I saw what I could do, the muse began exploding and I started looking at textiles," Fedden said.
She designed pillows for friends, but when others began asking for her services for their own ideas, she declined.
"I can't do what they asked for, because I can't see it that way," Fedden said, "I have to design it myself, and if they like it, they can buy it."
Through etsy.com and e-Bay, as Thread on Threads by Jas of Arizona, she's sold pillows all around the U.S. and even in Australia, with interest also coming from the U.K.
Testimonials from satisfied customers describe her pillows as "absolutely gorgeous," "exquisite," "never seen anything more beautiful," and "feels so luxurious."
Her writing and marketing experience is coming in useful to write descriptions and put forth her product.
"It's so exciting. Here I am 72 years old and basically I'm starting a new, exciting business," said Fedden. "To keep my mind active and alert I have to keep learning new things all the time. I've always had something on the side; I'm that type of person."
She and her husband, Richard, have retired as escorts taking oversize loads across the U.S., a business they started so they could travel. They also have served as Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, and still meet with a group of friends every Saturday at The Donut Hole in Prescott Valley.
"The oldest is 86 and we're the youngest," she said. "We have a birthday get-together once a month, too. We try to stay young."
Richard, who just turned 75, recently built a unique off-road buggy.
"I call it the yellow mule because it can go anywhere," she said with a laugh.
Fedden said she used to decorate wedding cakes, taking weeks to make the royal icing butterflies.
"There was something within me, that I was giving to someone else," she said.
She feels that with her pillows, she is creating "something kind of like a legacy."
Fedden is working to put up her own website. For now, reach her at 928-713-7924, or at etsy.com at Thread on Threads.