Sunday, November 30, 2008

Put your hands together

The snow is beginning to fall, ten inches have been predicted, so it is a good time to cozy up with a good book or gather the craft making supplies. Better yet, settle in under that hand knit afghan and get your paws on the new book Handmade Nation by Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerl. The book is a companion to a film of the same name to be released in February and is an exploration of the new generation of art and craft makers. The artists, who live from coast to coast, describe in interviews their reasons for creating and selling the handmade, what it means to them to create, what materials they use (emphasis on re purposed and recycled) and their backgrounds and influences. Add a ton of full page photo spreads of work spaces, artwork, materials, artisans and craft fairs and you got a book of inspiration in your palms of your hands. Our holiday Art vs. Craft fair was held yesterday, organized by the author herself for the past five years, and it was not only overflowing with folks (lined up down the block and around the corner) but with some super unique and finely crafted items. These darling George button barrettes were made by Glitter Workshop and the ceramic tab by Circa Ceramics (can you guess who that is for?). Alright, I did want the brain tile, bowl, cup and magnet, but you gotta spread the goodness out. So take the buy handmade pledge and join in the handmade hootenanny.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I have never had cleaner hands...

I told myself that I had to use up all of my latest art material purchases before going out for more goodies. So, I finished up a felting project I had been intending to do since I read The Creative Family and since seeing Mother Rising's beautiful felted ball necklace. So Mai and I dipped our hands into bowls of warm soapy water to felt for the first time. The smell of warm wool, the feel of squishy soapy balls and the very clean hands where just a few of the highlights. It took a while to get the hang of making the balls, getting it rolled tight enough and giving just the right pressure, heat and agitation to get the fibers to interlock. We ended up with some nice larger balls with bells inside, some smaller ones and some "seaweed" which was of Maia's creation. It seems that at a certain point the fibers get so matted that they can no longer be reshaped (?). Nonetheless, Mai exclaimed "I am so cited bout that!" so I must deem it a success. Happy Sunday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coffee, tea or rust?

Okay, so the giveaway is (what folly) extended indefinitely because folks out there just don't yet know that they really, really want that fibers magazine. So, let us divert our attention to something more pleasing. I have been experimenting with new ways to make marks on fabric, and to my surprise, though coffee and tea are most appetizing, rust is my current favorite. Coffee, I found is stronger, dyes darker than tea and is more colorfast. But rust, lovely rust, of the sort that never stops, is unpredictable and poorly behaved. It bleeds where it likes and continues the process long after you wish it to. And it can take a bit of weaseling to beg old rusty parts off your in laws. The one pictured is made from an old brake drum, some steel wool and rusty pipe fittings. So, if you have anything just sitting away in a rustbucket, save it! And make something with it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

If my apron could talk giveaway

Apron one is complete! It was put together based on a few designs from A is for Apron by Nathalie Mornu and my own excessive layering and need for text. I used dyed fabric stamped, stenciled, printed on, shibori (ed), resist pasted, bleached, thioxed, and sewn on. Most is cotton, although there is a bit of organza and tulle. I concluded that ruffles are fun and text is difficult. I also, of course, got lots of different interpretations. My intentions were to create something that reflected my views and experience of cooking. The text in the bib, which is really just supposed to be a really wide waistband, is fragments of cooking directions: stir continuously, serve piping hot, reduce heat, simmer 1 hour, etc.) which reflects my dependence on cookbooks as well as my fragmented knowledge of and ambivalence towards the culinary arts. The topic had to be related to food, as are the rest of the projects. Another discovery for those of the fibers minded: The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff which has instructions and examples of gathering, shirring, making ruffles, flounces, godets, pleating, smocking, tucking cording, quilting, applique and using darts. Enough said. An amazing book. Now back to the pile on my desk of thank you cards, PTO meeting notes, budget charts, magazine clippings and the just cracked Pride and Prejudice novel. So for fun, and I have never done this before, I would like to giveaway, in order to clear my desk a bit, an issue of Fiber Arts (sept/oct 2008) which is always an inspiring look-see. So leave a comment and I will pick a name by next Friday. Cheers!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Three is the Magic Number

So that new three year old tries out her birthday quilt. Jumpworthy? I guess. Actually, she liked the Lightning Mcqueen blanket cousin Lauren made her much better than mine, but hey, I can deal. I had forgotten how much cloth wrangling it takes to get a larger quilt through a small sewing machine, but with that and some leaf raking, I have gotten some pretty good exercise lately. I lined the quilt with a bamboo fill, which was thinner than expected, but decent in warmth, and used the leftover fabric as binding. Yes, those are mitered corners with "invisible" slip stitching! Now, back to things of smaller proportion. Anyone need a baby blanket, or rather, a doll blanket???

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Spinning out of the blur

The blur that was the last few weeks is (maybe) coming into finer focus. Halloween was a manic mix of sweets, disguises and horrors. The wicked witch melted (down) at least once, and all the (adult) characters slept though the midnight movie (Donnie Darko) as usual. Candy, candy and more candy was secretly weighed and distributed between three boys. Nighttime Trick or Treating in the old neighborhood featured some new faces and new wrinkles (including a rolling, glass-clanking traveling cooler stuffed with adult treats of the liquid kind, though I had nothing to do with it :). The festivities were fantastic as usual, with hoards of greedy goblins racing around in packs, weaving through the meek first timers, glowing in the twilight, sacks full. The costume that took the uniqueness prize was Jr. Bucket Head, though we speculated that mom was the real fan.
Lately, the sewing machine has gotten more attention than than the computer. Fiber projects (aprons), appliqued tee shirts (for fun), and a quilt for Ms. Mai's birthday (which is tomorrow!) have all seen the sharp point of a sewing needle. I stole away to see a few art exhibits and am looking forward to spending some time at a few holiday craft fairs. And of course, another party to host, Mai's third birthday. So the mania continues...
Above photo by Grandpa Marc, more blur here.