She was always the artsy type, balancing her formal training as an actress and 20 years work onstage and in film, with courses in pottery, quilt making, weaving and experimentation with natural dyes. “I made clothes, toys, pillows and blankets recreationally and I received my teaching certificate at S.F.U. to teach acting and knitting” says Wendy.
In 2001, Wendy won a Jessie Award for Best Actress in a pertinent human drama by local playwright. “Beyond the honour of the award, I was very honoured to be a part of a wonderful group of people in telling an important story. This kind of fulfillment had been rare in my career and I realized that I wanted to pursue an art form in which I had more control over the stories being told; stories that reveal our connections to the earth, stories that allow us to see old things in new interconnected ways”. At 48 it was time for Wendy to be another kind of artist.
As an environmentally conscious person Wendy decided she wanted to manipulate recycled garments, fabrics and industrial materials into renewed forms. But before jumping head first she decided to apply to Capilano College in Vancouver for formal training and was accepted into the Textile Program in fall of 2003. Upon graduation she was now 50 years old and she decided to use her newly acquired skills to start Dahlia Drive. Unlike most designers who start with a fabric and use it as inspiration to create a garment, Wendy takes an existing dress or slip that has been pre-loved and allows it to inspire her. These pieces become the canvas for her creations; each one taking on its own individual personality and flare, with no two pieces ever being the same. By using screen printing, dying techniques and crafty applications of lace or ribbon, she creates one of a kind dresses fit for any occasion.
Now, 5 years later Wendy is well known in the Vancouver designer circuit and has inspired others to take a more eco-friendly approach to purchasing clothing. She has also branched out into revamping men’s shirts; the most common method of reinventing them requiring the use of indigo dye and then wrapping them in rusty objects and burying them in her garden (see shirt to the left in picture). Wendy attends many shows in the Vancouver area to sell her pieces but you can also order your own custom piece from her online at www.dahliadrive.com.