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color as a starting point : beginning with black

black paper mache teacupDid you know mica comes in black?! Well it does – blackish anyway and it’s lovely ( I got some here). I made a paper mache teacup and gave it a fancy, sparkly interior. The teacup reminds me of the black milk glass on my mother’s little shelf of treasures (P. S. – teacups make sweet  Mother’s Day gifts).

dastardly owl

Black is the color on my mind right now. I finished this scoundrel last week – he’s made of several antique bodices and a ancient moth eaten shawl – all in shades of black. I love the subtle variety in tones and the effect that limiting the palette has on my thinking and process. It made me wonder – what if I applied that same constraint to other ideas? I wandered around in my mind for a while and looked through my big note book of ideas – thinking about everything through a black lens. It was shockingly effective. That shift gave me lots of new ideas and curiosities and  fresh eyes on so many that had stalled and gotten back-burnered. It was a great illustration of the massive creative power of constraint.

The simplest thing – the smallest shift can guide you to new paths, new ideas and new places in your mind – shine a light on something that has been just out of reach in the shadows….. I am on a life long mission to shine a light into each and every one of those shadows.

I think it could be interesting to do a series of color studies (maybe teal next). But here I am so I’ll begin with black. Right now I’m in the collecting, hunting, gathering, percolating phase.

black antique garment fragments

black antique notions

For me percolating means – digging through treasures, making collections, experimenting, taking photos and generally messing around. I’m having an energetic and marvelous time. I’ll share what I come up with soon and if you would like to make your own study of black send me a link – I’d love to see.

back swan

on April 21, 2016 7

suddenly a swan appeared

Swans. They’ve been on my mind and while I was working out the steps for the flamingo kit a swan turned up.  And then another and another.  I love them. LOVE them – so I took a ton of photos.

paper swan

black paper swan

paper swan work

paper swan family yellow

Of course there is a black swan and babies too- a whole family. My first thought was cake toppers and they will be in the shop very soon - ready made and probably kits I think too (sign up here to be notified  when they are available).

floating paper swans

But there is something else – probably most important of all – they bring me back around to the place I always end up. I think that everything I make has a foot in story but I have not very often explored that as fully or intentionally as I would like to and maybe paper swans are something to experiment with,  a good place to play with the idea of illustrations – the setting of a tiny stage.

on April 14, 2016 11

curating, focusing and finding your voice – part 1 : practice every day

I consume tons of information – often via podcasts while stitching – a lot of it around creativity – and some around business and marketing – they often overlap and intertwine. There is a lot of discussion and advice, especially lately, around finding your voice, curating and focusing.

I have struggled with all three – especially the focus and curating. I’m all over the place and I think there is validity to the argument that it’s easier to make progress if you focus your efforts narrowly. For example – I know I could grow the sewing and craft pattern business – my newest venture – much faster if I focused solely on that. Maybe I should. I also know there is a lot more to explore and experiment with in my own stitch-work and I could sink into that exclusively. Or I could dive deeply into painting and drawing – It would be an adventure and I would love to spend a bunch of time working out exactly who I am and what I want to express in that.  And there is the question of what to share publicly – is it smarter to only present one sort of work? I feel the conflict – the conflict of posting work that I can imagine seems out of place or for a different audience. I’ve considered and am considering possible changes and solutions – like having separate homes for the different kinds of work I do. A home devoted exclusively to the craftier end and another home for projects that are more experimental – I love both and don’t want to stop sharing either. It sounds reasonable and I’m not ruling it out but I can’t imagine running two sites – the time and expense and also I immediately see places where the two would overlap – for me it is all deeply connected.  I remain puzzled and conflicted.

I hoped that the work and exploration I did last year ( My Big Creative Year series) would somehow work this out for me but it didn’t. Something did emerge though – maybe the beginning of some clarity through the daily sketchbook work. I recently passed the one year mark – 52 weeks – what I committed to – but it’s been so good for me I decided to keep going. It has not been at all convenient but it has been undeniably good for my creativity and imagination. If you can find and commit to a little space each day to play, to listen to yourself (on the good days and the bad days) and experiment interesting things will happen.

sketchbook work

That relatively small daily practice of showing up began to reveal things to me after about 9 months – I began, or really am beginning to recognize my own voice in that medium, a voice that feels natural to me. Themes, imagery and a vocabulary are emerging as well as a sense of what I’m attracted to and what my strengths and weaknesses are.

sketchbook favorites

When I went through my big stack of little squares (it weighs  3 and 1/2 pounds!) I saw that many of the ones I like best, the things that felt the best to me felt connected to the other work I do. I couldn’t quite articulate how though. And then – while packing and shipping paper flamingos I addressed a box to someone who lives on Fable Lane. I thought – what a charming address to have – I bet Fable Lane is lovely.

fortuny fox

The word kept popping back into my mind and it occurred to me it’s a common thread in so much of what I have done – for the last ten years especially – the idea of fable – all the meaning and sensation that word conjures. I think it’s something to explore intentionally – I’m not sure exactly how yet but the idea of investigating that passes the first test – I’m having some ideas that make me happy and curious. More on this soon.

on March 31, 2016 41

sailboats : a new sewing pattern and a sample sale

The Sailboat pattern is here! Charming boats to sew. They twirl in the breeze and cast lovely shadows. The boats are a great way to use fabrics that are special to you – make a little memory vessel – there is lots of opportunity to personalize and embellish and create an heirloom. I also love to make them from old quilt tops that I pick up at fleamarkets and sometimes on Ebay. The pattern is in the shop now as well as a sample sale of some of the boats I made along the way and some french hens.

I hope you make sailboats!

sailboat sewing pattern

handmade sailboat and pirate

patchwork sailboat

 

 

on March 29, 2016 0

a lovely old quilt and freestyle piecing

lovely old quilt

Quilt is a generous description – it was really more of a duvet and it has come all undone. I made it 20 years ago – the year I moved to Brooklyn. I love quilts and live with lots of them in various states of disrepair. This one has been at the bottom of a trunk for the last ten years.  I’m not sure what made me think of it – I’ve been looking at quilts a lot lately – I have some collected on Pinterest and I’ve been making boats with some pieces of old quilt tops.  The boat below is made from a tattered top with hundreds of different little pieces – it’s like a library of fabulous depression era small prints.

patchwork boatMy old quilt top is missing huge sections so I’m going to take it apart and rearrange everything in a new way and add some sections of pieced scraps. I did some tests and found  the freestyle piecing to be way more difficult than I had imagined. I do love the idea though of turning my giant supply of beloved little scraps into something I use everyday. The little and more subdued sample on the right is the beginning of something that might make it into my  repair. The kookier experiment on the left might become a doll.  It will be a slow summer project  and maybe by next winter I’ll be ready to turn it into an official quilt.

freestyle patchwork

fabric sail boats

In other news – the boat pattern is ready to go and will be in the shop on Tuesday (3/29)  and there will be a sample sale too – of boats I made  during the epic effort of getting the pattern together, a few french hens and maybe a couple surprises.  If you’d like an email notification you can sign up here.

on March 24, 2016 7
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