Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Line

Well, here in Maine it has started to get a colder again. Baby is wearing her new fall outfits. They are a little big for her as I bought a size ahead, but by the time it warms up again (next June or July) I am sure they will be too small.

In honor of fall I have started a line of hats. This particular style is called the Tomboy Bonnet. It has a nice relaxed slouchy look. There will be a total of four different fabric choices. So far I have two up. They are called Fall Foliage and Fall memories. The next two are going to be a purple color scheme. I think they are really fun.

Baby is sleeping at present, so I am now going to go back to work while it is quiet.

Thats all for now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Renegade Bloggger

I have not blogged for a really long time. I have been busy working on a line of fall hats. They are coming soon.

Baby is now crawling. She was satisfied with that accomplishment for about a week before she started to try and pull herself up to a standing position. Luckily she has not mastered that quite yet. When she does, we are all in big trouble, because walking will be the step after that. I am really not ready for that....

Thats all for now. I will post my new line of hats as soon as they are done.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A little bit of everything

Page boy hat
We went to Crown Point last weekend, and had so much fun! I will post pictures, but I seem to have misplaced my camera. (its in the truck somewhere) Baby learned how to stick her tongue out there as well. She also now has consonants and is "talking" a lot.

A lady that I send some of my work to on consignment wanted a certain style of hat. So I spent all day yesterday making a prototype of it out of an old sheet. Here is the picture of it. I am almost done with the second prototype, and she has asked me to try another style hat as well. So baby and I have a busy day ahead of us.

Thats all for now.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My "creative process"

crowning laurels choker necklace
I have finally finished another project, and it is up and listed in me Etsy store. It is called the crowning laurels choker necklace. I have decided to record the process I went through to arrive at this end product. If you write it down, it is really rather funny, how I get distracted. If you called it a journey, I guess you could say I got a little lost, but still ended up somewhere nice in the end.

So I started this project because I decided to do a choker necklace. I had done a custom one a while back and really enjoyed making it, and was pleased with the end result. I was going to do a similar one to the custom one. It had a rose as the focal point.

So I started going through my stash of silk. I picked out lovely pink on one side and purple-blue on the other side for the rose. For the band itself, I chose a purple on purple stripe. As I was laying out the fabric, this beautiful piece of green fluttered out from the folds of one of the pieces. I took one look at that green, and all I could think if was leaves on gold.

So, the pink and purple was immediately put back away, and the gold was dug out to go with the green. So I drew up a leaf "pattern" and I started making the rolled hems on the leaves. I was worried about all the leaves looking the same, but I need not have feared. That problem solved itself very quickly, as I had cut half of the leaves with the bottom on the salvage edge, and the other half just on a regular raw edge. Since I am lazy, I decided not to roll the bottom edge before pleating. For the salvage I just left it be, and the raw edge I just turned it once. My leaves now had a slight variety to them!

Next, I had to think about the front. I had to have a focal bead. So off to the nearest bead store it was. I came home with a bead, and got back to work. But I kept on questioning the bead. Was it too plain, too big....you get the picture. I tried my hand at wire wrapping, but that lasted about five minutes. If you don't have patience, then wire wrapping is not for you! So I went to another bead store. This one was bigger and farther away. I discovered Cabochons there! A whole new perspective opened up! For those of you not into beading, a cabochon is (as far as I can tell as a non beader) a bead with no whole in it. You glue it to a setting so you can string it (or in my case sew it) to whatever you are creating. I ended up coming home with two more beads. Then, I got to second guessing again. But this time I had some new knowledge. You can frame a bead. (who'd 'a thunk) I ended up taking my original bead and making a half rosette to mount it on.

My next dilemma was the back closer. A choker is a very personal fit, because it hugs the neck. I could put several sets of snaps, but that would show, and look ugly. Buttons and buttonhole that small would be so much work that the end product would really not be cost effective at all. I decided that it should tie. If I angled the ends of the band a little it would really look just elegant! But then I got thinking again. The knot could be bulky, and the ends would have to be really long. I finally decided to make a pin. Of course, that involved yet another foray out to the real world because, of course, I had no pin backs.

Well, three trips, three beads, two settings, and forty pin backs later, I now have a complete choker necklace that I am satisfied with. And now for my next project.....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What a Real-Leaf!

Silk leaves with hand rolled hems
Ok, so that is a horrible pun. But here is a sneak peak at my latest project. I have spent my creative time making silk leaves (16 of them) with hand rolled hems. Here they are in a pretty arrangement. It is not, however, how they will be used in the end. (You'll just have to wait and see for the finished product)

I am thinking of buying a knitting machine. I think I could really have fun with one. (and be productive, of course) I am watching a few on Ebay that are not too pricey, and I am also getting very excited about this future purchase.

I had to work on Thursday. It was the first time in three weeks. Go figure, I ended up with the one truck whose air conditioning did not work for most of the time. Apparently they have been trying to get it fixed, but the mechanics told the truck's main driver that it was all in his head. Sometimes, I have got to wonder about mechanics. They should try driving those trucks around for two to four hours at a time before they come to a conclusion like that. Drivers spend enough time in their trucks that they just might know if something was wrong. (end trucking rant)

We took baby swimming for the first time today. Of course, I forgot the camera, so baby's second swim will have to be recorded for posterity instead. We had purchased a life preserver for her, but it did not fit. Her cheeks were too big for it! I am serious! The life preserver pushed them up so high she looked like a cartoon character of some sort. (perhaps Dennis the Menace?) It was really cute and funny looking, but poor baby did not think so, of course. She did, however, enjoy the water once we took back out of the life vest. I think I will get her one of those floaty rings with the seat in them. Just carrying her in the water makes me a bit nervous. She is all tired out now, and fast asleep.

Well, that's all for now.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Featuring Tangible Daydreams

Melissa ans her weaving
So I have decided to start featuring another artist from time to time. The artist today is Melissa of Tangible Daydreams. She is a multi-talented fiber artist. I don't think there is much she hasn't tried in the fiber arts department. This is a picture of her wearing a shawl she wove and dyed. The curtains in the background are also woven by her.

I found her through her blog Tangible Daydreams (http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/). She also has a lovely shop of the same name on Etsy (www.tangibledaydreams.etsy.com) I sent her list of questions, so now I will allow her to "speak for herself".

1)Can you tell me a little about what you do and why you enjoy it? Also, do you have a favorite "medium" and why is it you favorite?

Hi! I'm Melissa. I guess I'm a textile artist, primarily. You'll find me spinning and weaving most of the time, with dips into felt making, gourd decorating, silk scarf painting, and threading together seed beads into sparkling creations. I find all of these activities oddly related--taking small, unassuming ingredients and combining them into something extraordinary. And the techniques often cross over from one media to another. I find the creative process playful and invigorating, the work itself meditative and soothing (and I like to pet the fiber!), and the results? My creations are so, well, themselves that I sometimes have a hard time remembering that they are actually the work of my own hands.

2)How did you pick your shop name and what does it mean to you?

My shop name is the same as my business name, "Tangible Daydreams". I'm enchanted by the idea of dreaming something up, and then through my craft having it emerge into reality. To take the image in my head, and make it into a form that someone else can hold in their hands? Pure magic! I did an internet search, and nobody else seemed to have that name. So I snagged it, and registered it with the state of Arizona when I needed to be all official and pay my taxes and stuff.

3)Describe your workspace.

Pictures here: http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2009/06/tour-of-my-studio.html

My studio was a spare room downstairs in our home. For years, it was a guest room. After I picked up my first floor loom, I actually had the loom out in the family room. But then we rescued a pair of kittens. Do you know that kittens can run upside-down
across the back beam of a loom when it is warped up? And little kitten claws can snip through warp threads in nothing flat? Yes. Well. I needed a room with a door I could close. So I retiled and repainted, added shelf space everywhere, wove some curtains, and moved in to the guest room. I swear, it used to be bigger! Several years of stash accumulation will sure shrink a room.

I wrote this a year and a half ago:

The Dragon's Lair
-By Melissa McCollum

I sit in a room filled

with the ingredients of creation...

strings and beads

and fabric and wire,

all the raw materials I need

stashed in jumbled bins,

hedged in by looms and wheels,

shuttles and spindles,

and all manner of specialized tools.

And books.

Research books everywhere,

piled on desks,

leaning over drunkenly,

ready to leap

from the crowded edges

of crammed shelves,

all vying for my attention.

The cutting table,

the ironing board,

and the weaving benches creep

toward the center floor

until there is barely enough room

to turn around

and every surface holds projects

waiting for my hand...

half sewn costumes,

partially strung warps,
mounds of raw fleece.

I lounge,
surrounded by a dragon's trove
of artist's riches...
But I have no room to work!

4)Can you tell me a little about some other activities that you enjoy doing?

I'm part of a historical recreation group, called the Society for Creative Anachronism. We stu
the Middle Ages and Renaissance, by doing it. (http://sca.org/) Basically, if someone in the Middle Ages did it, someone in this group is studying and trying to recreate it--and would love to talk your ear off about it! So a couple of weekends a month, I dress up in 12th century clothing and become Mistress Gwendolen Wold. I can shoot archery in the morning, watch my champion win a tourney for me in the afternoon, cook an authentic feast for 75 over an open fire, and then dance the evening away in high Renaissance style. Great fun! http://s15.photobucket.com/albums/a366/lissamc/Estrella%2025/?action=view&cu rrent=CIMG3602.jpg

5)How and when did you begin all your diverse talents?

Well, when I was in high school I was convinced I couldn't do art. I went to college, and got a degree in social work. After college, marriage happened, and career burn out happened, and children happened, and I found myself happily being a stay at home mother of two. I turned to crafty projects to keep myself occupied and somewhat sane. Then my family joined the SCA, as I mentioned earlier. This gave me a focus and an outlet for my crafty dabblings, as well as lots of positive support. Between taking classes, doing my own research for Arts and Science competitions, and picking the
brains of anyone who stood still for a moment or so, I absorbed all sorts of neat information. I learned to spin and weave and sew, to make baskets and glass beads, to fletch my own arrows and knit chain mail, to make felt from raw wool...all sorts of varied and wonderful things! And as soon as I learned something, I turned around and taught it to the next person. Eventually, I was honored with the group's highest award for arts, the Order of the Laurel. That was a bit of a shock. I still had the self image of someone who wasn't good at that artsy stuff. So, since the kids were old enough by then, I started back to school at the local community college, to take more formal art classes. I started branching out beyond the limits of what had been done centuries ago, exploring more modern techniques and medias. Occasionally along the way, someone would buy a piece of my work. It gradually occurred to me that I really really enjoy this creative stuff. And with enough practice and sheer stubbornness, I found I wasn't too bad at it after all.

6)Do you have a "real life" job, and if so what is it?

I work part time at that local community college, and at local museum, as a life drawing model. Basically, I take off all my clothes and sit very very still while students try to make a vaguely human shaped drawing of me. Think of it as my mid-life crisis, in artistic form. :) See, I had taken the life drawing class a couple of times as part of my art curriculum, and saw the trouble they had getting female models. I figured this would be a good way to kind of 'pay it forward'. The hours are flexible, and I still have time to be here for the kids, and to work in my own studio. Tell you what though, it is very odd to go to a museum or an art show, and look up to see yourself on the wall!

7)From where does your inspiration come?

Often, I just play in my stash of ingredients, or leaf through my books looking for a technique I haven't tried yet. I also carry a digital camera in my pocket every day, and snap pictures when a detail, or a color combination, or an angle of the light catches my eye. Well, for instance: I was sitting on the beach in Mexico a few years back, watching the waves roll in and thinking about the
hand woven curtains in my hotel room. That led to admiring the color combinations of the water and the sea foam. I watched how the waves curved in to the land, which led to thinking about undulating twill weave. So I snapped a picture, and jotted down some notes. Then later I was at a fiber retreat, and one of the merchants had some merino/tencel blend roving in just the colors of the Mexican ocean that day. That led to a couple of years of spinning on and off, then taking a workshop to learn how to draft my own weaving patterns, and finally weaving a undulating twill table runner in turquoise and white. It is on my dresser now, with my antique walking wheel (and several happy cats) on top of it.

8)Gives us one fun fact about yourself that we can enjoy.

I also collect--and use!--antique textile equipment. My collections of weaving shuttles hangs on my studio walls, where I can pull one off as needed. The mid-1800's great wheel is in my bed room on top of the dresser when not in use. I have an old clock reel, or spinner's weasel, that I use to measure yarn with every time I spin up a batch. I still haven't quite got the nerve up to use the spindle whorls that are actual Medieval artifacts...but I will! You can almost hear the happy sigh when a piece of equipment gets put back to doing the work it was designed for.

I do hope you all have enjoyed this interview and have been inspired as much as I have!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A "bender"

Baby in Sailor Hat
I am officially on a sailor hat "bender" I made four the other day. One had to go to baby, of course, but the other three I took to a store called Matchaversibles. They sell handmade children's clothing and accessories. She was kind enough to take my hats and even sent me home with some of her material! She wants me to make hats that match her outfits. She is having me start with soem boy's hats. I am so excited, and I really hope they sell. I have started cutting them out tonight.

Here is baby in her latest hat. I even managed to find a dress that matches the colors perfectly. (She has a rather extensive wardrobe, so that really wasn't that hard.) I will hopefully be making some more in my own fabric choices as well to go in my own shop.

I am also really excited because I am going to be featuring my first Artisan this week. She is a wonderful weaver. That is all I will tell you for now as I do not want to give too much away.

Thats all for now