Podcast episode 3: Keith Recker

Keith Recker was the first person who made me believe that I can turn my interest and curiosity about cultural textiles into a career when he accepted my first attempt at writing an article for a magazine to be published in HandEYE Magazine. Now 11 years later, I had many articles published in different magazines across the world, and I spend my days talking to and writing about textile artists and artisans. It is an honour to welcome Keith as my guest today.


Keith Recker

Keith Recker

Keith Recker

Keith is the founder and editor of HAND/EYE Magazine, an online publication with a global following that profiles forward-looking creators, faraway cultures, ancient craft traditions, and cutting-edge design. Before HandEYE, Keith was vice president of home furnishings at Bloomingdale’s and Gump’s San Francisco, and director at Saks Fifth Avenue. He is also a trend and colour forecaster whose almost 20-year client list includes global influencers Pantone, WGSN, Stylus, and more.

The revised second edition of his book, True Colors: World Masters of Natural Dyes and Pigments (Thrums Books) was published in September 2020, and he is co-author of PANTONE: The Twentieth Century in Color (Chronicle, 2012), published in eight languages. He is working on his third book about colour and culture.

He has also worked in the non-profit world as a director of consumer marketing at CARE International and executive director at Aid to Artisans and has served on the boards of Art in General, Chez Bushwick, The Quiet in the Land, and the International Folk Art Market where he was also pro bono creative director from 1996-2020.

He is currently the Editor in Chief and Co-Owner of TABLE Magazine. A Pittsburgh-based lifestyle magazine with strong roots in food and drink, TABLE also explores travel, interior design, fashion and jewellery, and other facets of modern living, in both print and digital formats. 



For Keith, colour is the language of storytelling Images: @thechromosapien


Keith shares how his immersion in colour comes from a childhood fascination with colour combined with an education in poetry and literature. He approaches colour through the lens of narrative and storytelling, always looking for the messages that colour sends and the human psychological, spiritual, emotional needs, that those messages have the potential to satisfy.

Keith shares how his career in retail started and later morphed into a career as a colour trend forecaster and consultant to designers and architects. “It evolved so organically, out of my interest in human need, and human narrative, and how to interlock those things into a real connection.”

The storytelling aspect of textiles was always evident to Keith, even as a child. In his retail career, he came to realise that the last few generations in the West have only been trained to be consumers. “We’re not trained to know much. We’re not trained to make, we’re not trained to maintain we’re not trained to mend. We’re only trained to buy. And the blankness of that is something that I think all creative people need to address right now. We have to go deeper, we have to know more, we have to work more collaboratively to push meaning through the entire equation.”


HandEYE Magazine

From the HandEYE archive

HandEYE Magazine

Keith shares how his involvement with Aid to Artisans led to the launch of HandEYE Magazine. Working face-to-face with artisans in dozens of countries, he realised that their stories were completely unknown, even undocumented in some cases, and certainly under-known within the consumer population in North America and Western Europe. Keith started documenting their stories, trying to retell them effectively, trying to advocate for artisans to enter the global marketplace. HandEYE was born as a way to tell some of these stories.



International Folk Art Market in Sante Fe. Images: IFAM website and Pinterest

International Folk Art Market in Sante Fe

Keith was the Creative Director of the IFAM for five years and on the board for several more years before that. He shares some of the life-changing stories about the 160-odd artisans from over 50 different countries he met, worked with, visited, and researched over the years. “It was deeply life-changing. It really was. What an intense time of learning and involvement. I loved it.”


True Colors

True Colors by Keith Recker

True Colors Book

“Some of the folks that I got to know are part of the True Colors book. Some of the people came to the Folk Art Market because of my research for the book. It was sort of a two-way street.” Keith shares stories about some of the people who impacted his life and work.

Keith explains how although True Colors is all about the current-day use of natural dyes and pigments, the idea for the book sprang from his interest in food! His research into natural food and sustainable food production, lead him to apply the same thinking to the textiles and colour industry.


Blue and Purple

Blue and Purple. Images from True Colors book

Blue, purple, and double ikats

Keith explores the mysteries and the magic of indigo by sharing some of his insights, his research, and his personal experiences of this mesmerising colour from around the world and through history. He also shares some wonderful and poignant stories about the Mixtec dyers from Oaxaca in Mexico who have been harvesting the neurotoxin secretions from the Purpura pansa snails without harming or killing them to create a brilliant purple dye. Keith also shares stories about his travels in Vietnam, meeting Khmer weavers in remote villages, creating complicated and intricate double ikat woven panels. Our conversation continues through cultures and across continents until we returned to where we started – textiles, writing and food.


Table Magazine

TABLE Magazine. Images @tablemagazine

TABLE Magazine

Keith’s latest venture is all about applying what he learned about retail, design, textile, food, and the pleasures of living by treating ourselves and our planet with mindfulness and quality. For Keith, TABLE represents a gathering place, a place to come together and to build relationships and community. A table is also a platform, a place to display, enjoy, and admire that which brings us together – food, art, textiles.  A wonderful way to conclude a wonderful conversation!

As a gift to The Fabric Thread listeners, Keith is sharing TABLE Magazine’s latest ebook called Garden Variety. Improvisational ‘recipes’ using spring and early summer sprouts, petals, and foraged edible weeds. Gorgeous and delicious!

To receive your free copy of Garden Variety,

follow @thechromosapien on Instagram,

and send him a DM including #thefabricthread.

A delicious way to conclude a wonderful conversation!







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