The 254

Laura Lee Blackburn-Washington

By Kevin Tankersley

Renew, Rework, Recycle

Lola, the rescue mutt who may have had some border collie and whippet in her, was part of Dylan Washington’s life for 12 years. When Lola died last year, Dylan’s wife of four years, Laura Lee Blackburn-Washington, took the blanket Lola slept with every day and made a coat for her husband. It’s olive green and resembles an army pea coat.

That coat is an example of Blackburn-Washington’s mantra of “renew, rework, recycle,” as she says on her website, which features examples of her work in photography, web design, social media management and, most recently, sewing.

“In the midst of the pandemic, I started kind of leaning into my sewing,” she said. “I was doing some alterations for people, but what I really have been getting into is taking older textiles, quilts and blankets, and turning them into wearable pieces. I have been making quilt jackets and little crop tops, just simple pieces that actually fit someone’s body versus a sort of abstract sizing.”

When she was a child growing up in Austin, Blackburn-Washington and her two younger sisters created outfits for their dolls, “just as a way of being crafty,” she said, but she got serious about sewing when her in-laws — Lee and Marlina Washington — gave her a sewing machine for Christmas a couple of years ago.

Blackburn-Washington graduated from Baylor in 2015 with a degree in film and digital media. She puts her degree into use making “documentary-style music videos,” most recently with Cameron Knowler, a Houston-based musician who is a “flatpicking guitarist, which is a style of playing with roots in bluegrass,” she said.

“In my mind, film is the ultimate art form, all of these moving pieces coming together to create, as close as you could get to, a memory,” she said. “Film is and always will be my creative outlet.”

Blackburn-Washington’s favorite film is “The Shining,” the 1980 adaptation of the Stephen King novel which was directed and co-written by Stanley Kubrick.

“I am a big Kubrick fan. I love Kubrick,” she said. “It’s the pacing for me [in the film]. I love the pacing. It’s slow-paced, but there’s so much suspension and tension. And I think being able to pair this really slow, what I think most people would perceive as like monotonous, with this growing tension, I think is really incredible. It’s the emotion.

“All of my work is from this very emotional place, I would say. I think that in order to create what would be the best kind of work for me, it would be just like steeped in emotion. That’s what I like, and that’s what I try and do.”

Blackburn-Washington and her husband are also owners of Sloane’s, a cocktail bar at 110 North 25th Street in Waco. She handles social media and graphic design for that business; Harvest on 25th; and Pinewood Coffee Bar, which Dylan co-owns with J.D. Beard.

Sloane’s is a “small, ’80s-inspired shotgun space,” Blackburn-Washington said. They opened the place in October 2019 and then closed it for a while during the worst of the pandemic and just recently reopened to the public.

Local Honey

As if she didn’t have enough going on, Blackburn-Washington will be making a trip to Navasota to buy 20,000 bees that she’ll keep in two hives on some land between Waco and McGregor. She started beekeeping as a high schooler, even winning a scholarship and meeting her beekeeping mentor, Jimmie Oakley.

The bees will live in two “absolutely gorgeous” custom hives that were built by her grandfather-in-law, Marlin Earley, who lives in Waco. And the hives will be working hives, “so hopefully, there’ll be some local honey at Pinewood in the future,” she said.

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