Portable Art by Robin Brown

Favorite article ever! From the Dallas Times Herald March 31 – April 5, 1989

Dallas Market Dresses With Success

Robin Brown puts a lot of Texas and the Southwest into her Portable Art, so it’s only natural that the Fort Worth native sticks to her roots when it comes to designing and manufacturing her colorful dress line.

Hers is an almost overnight success story. Today she and her growing staff and production line of 23 work out of 3,000 square feet of space in Alpine, Texas.

It’s hard to believe that in 1985 she had a new biology degree and no job. Her husband John Davis, a potter, encouraged her to make ceramic jewelry. With his support, she evolved her talent to painted clothing when she made costumes for her “Patsy deCline Chili” for a Big Bend chili cookoff.

Her first studio was an abandoned shack behind her home. Utilities were supplied by a 150- foot extension cord and a garden hose. The first two years she sold at well-juried art shows and her gallery.  Her favorite was  the A.C.C. Baltimore show sponsored by the American Craft Museum in New York. Her greatest success came with the decision to wholesale her clothing through The Dallas Apparel Mart in the Dee Simmons and Pam Siefert showroom, Brown said.              •

Her clothing, which features whimsical designs such as cactus, buffalo, coyotes and bronc riders, begins with plain, white fabric. After dyes are applied by hand, the fabric is block printed.

There is no denying that starting a new business with very little fund is a challenge to bow the head of many new-career hopefuls. But necessity is the mother of invention, and Brown is quite inventive. She made use of an abandoned house, a 150-foot extension cord and three garden hoses hooked together. All her dyeing was done in a five-gallon bucket.

Recalls Brown, “Even with rubber gloves, my hands always looked like Easter eggs.”

Brown creates her simply-cut collection by dyeing her fabrics in bright colors. She then block prints them with whimsical Southwestern motifs. Coyotes and jack rabbits leap all over her fabrics, and cacti, cowboy hats, longhorns and Lone Stars adorn the garments as well. She employs her skill in jewelry designing by creating colorful ceramic buttons-many shaped like the state of Texas-and sews them on the clothing.

Customers say that Robin Brown’s clothes are fun to wear. “Portable Art just makes you feel good ”says the designer. “People tell us they love opening our boxes.”