—story by Nina Clevinger @NinaClevinger
The giant silver machine is headed North on an empty highway, rolling green hills sprawled out on either side. In the driver seat sits a young woman— 31-years old, to be exact—her pale blue eyes locked on the road ahead. The rest of the trailer, a 1975 Airstream, is filled with a mixture of living necessities, clothes, quilts and random pieces of fabric; randomly strewn about.
The woman behind the wheel makes quilts for a living, and traveling across the country to share them with the world is her ultimate life goal. Right now, the nomadic artist lifestyle is still something that’s in the making, and the Airstream roadtrips are still just being planned. Soon, however - Dre McLeod is going to turn those dreams into a reality.
Since she graduated college about ten years ago, Dre McLeod has been putting her creative talents to incredible use. She went to SCAD for four years, majoring in Fashion Design and hating absolutely every minute of it. It was during the middle of her final senior project that she realized quilting is what she wanted to do.
“I was working on my senior collection and I was just super stressed,” said McLeod, thinking back. “And then, out of nowhere, I just wanted to make a quilt. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.”
She turned to quilting as a way to deal with the stress college was bringing her, describing the process as “comforting, relaxing and meditative.” McLeod didn’t end up finishing the quilt until about a year after she graduated, but that didn’t matter —she had discovered her true passion.
It wasn’t until about three years later, however, that she realized she wanted to try to make a living out of quilting. McLeod was laid off of the job she was working at, and the idea that she could make money off of her art began to become more and more realistic to her.
“I thought it was crazy to want to make quilts for a living, so I held it in for a while,” she said. “But as soon as I finished that first one, I felt like I had found my calling.”
And she did. For years now, McLeod has traveled from state to state, selling her quilts at various craft fairs and pop-up shops across the country. She still has a regular day job right now, but soon she wants to give that up and travel the country full-time. That’s where that Airstream comes in.
“I lived in it for a year and I absolutely loved it,” McLeod said, gushing over the memory. “It’s name is Freddie Mercury. I love it.”
Freddie Mercury and Dre McLeod have one thing in common - they were born to globetrot. McLeod refers to herself as a nomad, never wanting to be stuck in one place for too long. She even has a super cool idea about how she wants to help out the world, one that goes hand in hand with her plan of cross-country art fair hopping.
“Ultimately, I would like to donate a portion of everything I make to charities,” McLeod said. “I just want to be able to take care of other people.”
McLeod plans on donating a portion of her sales to a local charity in whatever community she happens to be in at the time she is selling her art. She’ll be impacting the world positively, in hundreds of different places.
McLeod has an online shop to go with her physical ones, where customers can purchase patches, tapestries and pillows along with her famous quilts.