ITHACA, NY -- Just a block down from the Ithaca Commons sits the community staple Littlestone Upholstery Designs, where Anne Steinle creates “expressive furniture for exceptional people.” For the past 25 years, Steinle has expressed herself through fabric as a residential upholsterer, but the lifelong artist recently pursued another form of expression — writing. Last month, Steinle made her authorial debut with her memoir “When the Ocean Roared: My Mother’s Murder and other Childhood Memories.”?
Steinle explained that her memoir naturally took shape from a compilation of memories she had been writing down for her niece and nephew to read.?
“My book is about a very specific thing — my mother's murder and its effects on my brother and myself,” Steinle said. “I started it with the idea of giving my niece, nephew and friends a better understanding of it all.”
After five years in the works, Steinle said that sharing her own story is a way to “honor my mother and let my niece and nephew know what a great woman their grandmother was.”?
Steinle’s story begins in Florida, where she grew up exploring arts and crafts. With encouragement from her mother and aunt, Steinle learned to sew in the fourth grade and practiced by making clothes and curtains for herself.?
Steinle said that she was drawn to upholstery because the process of choosing fabrics, designing patterns and adding personal touches allows her to channel her innate creativity.?
“This is a labor of love career path,” Steinle said, referring to upholstery. “Most people don't realize how hard this work is — physically and otherwise. This isn't just a job, it's a big part of my life.”?
Since leaving her Florida hometown for Ithaca in 1978, Steinle has used her skills and artistry to build a vast clientele at her upholstery business.??
“When I first got here, I said, ‘I want a customer on every street in this town,’” Steinle said. “And I almost do now.”
Steinle’s business keeps her busy, but hasn’t stopped her from exploring new media to express herself. In fact, Steinle considers being creative a way of life.??
“I think anyone who's creative knows that inspiration is everywhere, you just have to pay attention to what's around you,” Steinle said. “I might seem to be a blank page when I'm caught staring at something for too long, but what I'm doing is dismantling and remaking whatever caught my eye.”???
Steinle finds plenty of inspiration for furniture designs in her cherished garden. Her upholstery is frequently inspired by nature, whereas her memoir pulls from her past. ?
Steinle said that the wave on the front cover of “When the Ocean Roared: My Mother’s Murder and other Childhood Memories” depicts how she felt as a young adult experiencing trauma. However, the illustration of calm water on the other side of the book represents how she feels now — peaceful.??
Steinle said that storytelling came easily to her and that she found the writing process to be cathartic.??
“Any new endeavor is beneficial,” Steinle said. “Even if it turns out poorly, there are positives to be learned from the process.”? ?