Meet Norma

Written by Margaret Sutherland


Posted on July 14 2023

Norma is one of Blue Sky Clothing Co’s pattern designers. She is also Blue Sky owner Marilyn Cobban’s sister!  
Norma always knew she wanted to work at Blue Sky, but it took a long while for the pieces to fall into place.  
One day, about 20 years ago , Norma was teaching a driving lesson. She heard an ad on the radio for a course, Pattern Drafting for Wearable Art, and thought “that is the course for me.”  She signed up – it went well with the idea that she would work at Blue Sky.  
Norma quickly learned that she didn’t really enjoy pattern drafting … but she “fell in love with going to art school” and learned that her passion was surface design, creating art intended to be applied to a surface, such as silk screen and block printing.  
Norma began working as a textile designer, taking her creations to farmer’s markets and craft fairs. All the while she was honing her skills and learning new surface design techniques.  
Finally, the convergence of all she learned and the development of new technology led her to a permanent position at Blue Sky, where she uses a variety of traditional and digital techniques to create her designs.  
This season, Norma has several favourite designs: 
Lifetree began with a photograph of a wall mosaic in Turkey.  Norma made the design into a silkscreen and printed it on linen samples. The background is from a photo Norma’s brother-in-law Steve took of the summer sky in the Kootenays.  
For Cosmos, Norma took flowers from her garden and placed them on watercolour paper. Then she laid a barrier of brown paper on top. She repeated the process to create a bundle, which she bound together to make sure the flowers came into contact with the paper. She steamed the bundle so the colour from the flowers would print on the paper. To finish, she painted around the flower prints with watercolours.  
Shimmy started out as a painting. Norma then manipulated the painting in Photoshop to add texture to the design.
Poppies came from a painting Norma did from a photograph of poppies in Balfour, BC, just up the hill from Marilyn’s first store at the ferry landing. Norma painted them in 2005, when Marilyn just had two stores, one in Balfour and one in Nelson.
Norma says, “It took a while to get here, but I am so glad I work at Blue Sky. I love what I do … and I get to spend time with my sister!”    
Here are a few more pictures from her studio:



  • Comment author

    It’s really interesting to see how the designs are started, and how they are finished. Lovely work!

    Posted by Avril | January 26, 2024
  • Comment author

    I don’t have a comment about lovely Blue Sky prints but I have a design request. I live in theBluesky leggings and particularity love the skirted leggings and would love an iPhone pocket. Cheers!

    Posted by Des | February 14, 2024
  • Comment author

    Very cool, I love the designs and patterns of Blue sky and I love the concept of the business behind it too. Comfy clothing. The fabric designs are lovely.

    Posted by Roxi | January 26, 2024
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