* All the new creatures and dolls below are in the shop now.
Houndstooth is always a bold statement and the scale is daring for an owl of his stature. I think he pulls it off though and he should, Mr. Skimpole is concerned only with appearances and pleasure.
His associate Sinclair, a far more somber owl, is made from Edwardian and Victorian garments and has shoe button eyes.
For the last couple days I’ve been adding finishing touches and last minute details to almost finished dolls and creatures. I love a worktable covered with lots of things that only need the fun part done, a little edge stitching or an expression tweaked. One after another they cross the finish line and I feel like an over achiever for a little while.
Tonight I’ll begin a new group of things. Mostly ships and boats. I love waking up to a freshly dried layer of paper mache.
Have a lovely weekend and holiday,
When I was small there was a record I loved. A collection of creepy poems read aloud in creepy voices. I have thought of it often but never expected to hear it again. I did this April. I guess just about everything is on the internet now. I have intense memories of these poems and the sensation of hearing them again is hard to describe. They terrified me as a child and I could not get enough. Now when I hear them I see the old record player, the worn carpet and the dusty, dappled light in the front room of the shady little house. It stirs up all my ghosts.
If you’d like to hear it’s all there, on youtube. My favorites are The Erlking and Dust. I still love the recording and I wish more of the world could be delivered to me in rhythmically crackling record with old-timey voice format.
Happy Halloween and in honor of the spooky day a creepy retrospective.
“A woman drew her long black hair out tight
And fiddled whisper music on those strings
And bats with baby faces in the violet light
Whistled, and beat their wings’ – T.S.Eliot
And just like that I’m a finishing machine.
I haven’t felt this much momentum in a long time. I’m even finishing stuff that was already finished – a little extra. A few days after crossing improvisational doll Matilde off my to do list it was clear she was missing something so I made her an underskirt from an antique wedding dress and added the button bustle and black stitch detail at the last minute – I love the combination of black and ivory.
I finished so much stuff I’m allowed to start new things and I have lots of ideas. Many of those ideas sprang out of a lovely package form Sri Threads that appeared with the usual serendipity – unexpectedly and at a perfect moment. Such inspiring old cloth.
I have more songbirds in progress and I feel like there is a pigeon here somewhere too.
This is rag doll # 2 – Camille. I had not intended to name the rag dolls but as I worked on her that name kept occurring to me so she must want it. She has a very nice life – she just sits around looking serene and thinking about things. Sometimes just in her underwear…..
Besides her name she also wanted fancy shoes and pantaloons. She is in the shop today along with the fellow below – an owl made from Mrs. Brown’s skirt – Chuzzlewit.
He seems a little suspicious of you.
Last year I focused on creating my first patterns and a couple other large projects and made very little of my own stitch work – the slow sewing I love to do, the creatures I love to make. I’m determined to do more of that this year and to get them into my shop. To build some momentum, for the remainder of January, and starting today, I’m committing to adding something new to the shop every Thursday. Maybe one thing, maybe several, the usual suspects and some surprises and experiments too. If you’d like an email when new pieces are available you can sign up here. Two of today’s new pieces are below, a dark bird and haggis ( a scoundrel) – both made from Edwardian garments.
This is what a sewing frenzy looks like. I’ve been working on a large ship and I began with a very specific idea of what I wanted it to be. The ship did not cooperate and taught me a lesson about letting go of outcome. Plans are great but sometimes things need to percolate and meander. I un-did most of my work ( painful) and pulled out just about everything – kimonos, gowns, boro – tons of stuff – and camped out for hours experimenting. A ship is emerging – not at all what I expected and I love it. It’s a ship that wanted to be what it wanted to be – each thought, each scrap, building on the next, layering into something new.
Hoping to finish tomorrow and have it in the shop this week. I’m working on a couple owls as well – a big guy and a little guy – both dastardly and made from Edwardian bodices.
This August feels so thick and slow and sleepy, everything shimmers and that strange cicada sound – it all feels a little otherworldly to me. Even the creatures I’m making are golden and languid. August is also when I work on holiday designs. I’m planning on some ornament patterns for the shop and I would love your opinion on a couple things. I posted a survey
here – it’s super brief – just 3 questions and as a thank you you get a coupon for 30% off patterns (the survey is closed). I had fun with my handmade Christmas last year and you can check out that post if you’d like to get an early start – there are links to patterns and free projects and ideas. Also in the holiday department – I just saw samples of designs I made for Crate and Barrel this year and I can’t wait to show you – I’m so happy with them.
Have a lovely weekend – I’ll leave you with a couple sleepy Fortuny creatures.
Louis, he got all dressed up for you in his summer best.
Please meet Pietro – he’s mean, green and not afraid of pattern. Pietro is being auctioned to benefit The Alpha Workshops – you can find the auction here and more about the wonderful work that The Alpha Workshops does here.
And one other bit of news – I’m having a sample sale today – these are the sleepy lambs and goats I made while creating the sewing pattern – you can find them here. Or if you’d like to make your own the sewing pattern is here.
I’ve just added a few new things to the shop ( including a dastardly owl).
I spent much of the last two weeks working on a large order for Fortuny Venice. It was a good excuse to replenish my fancy antique button stock and I found some wonderful stuff.
Cats! I love them so much I may never be able to use them.
I brought the whole group to the spectacular New York Showroom yesterday to be packed and sent on to Venice – these creatures have exciting lives.
(photos below by Meena Dimian)
a couple related notes:
* If you’re curious – Abby Glassenberg and I talk about my work with Fortuny ( and lots of other stuff) in episode 23 of her podcast.
* Stay tuned in January for a new Fortuny collaboration – I can’t wait to show you.
I’m headed to the Squam Art Retreat tomorrow to teach my botanical sewing class – I can’t wait to get started. I’m bringing a ridiculous amount of stuff with me – it’s like I’m moving. I’ll also be at the art fair with some of my botanical experiments and I’ll have the prototypes for the ship pattern with me too if you’d like to see or have a question, or just come say hi – the fair is always fabulous.
And some new Fortuny pieces – I just sent this group off to Venice.
Francesco and Alessandro
A little collection of new creatures – I’ve posted them on Etsy just now (7/31). I spent the morning re -shooting them, I was disappointed with yesterday’s photos ( on the up side I learned some things about aperture) so now I’ve got to roll right into Flamingo making – lots and lots of flamingos…
Pecksniff (he’s got some fancy junk in his owley trunk)
(beautiful fabrics courtesy of Sri Threads)
I started this dark bird months ago and he ended up becoming more complex than I originally intended.
His underside is stitched and stitched. I like to have this kind of project, this kind of compulsive, repetitive stitching to pick up sometimes. I like to have busy hands when something is percolating in my mind or when I’m searching for an idea or part of and idea.
On the subject of inspiration: I listened to a great episode of “After The Jump” yesterday – Grace Bonney talks to wall paper designer Katie Deedy about her creative practices, where she finds inspiration and how she develops ideas. I love hearing about other peoples creative process and I could relate to everything Katie said. The work of being inspired is a constant and consuming process for me. I enjoy all of it – even when it’s difficult – the thrill of the chase I guess. I’m so curious what might be next, what surprises and odd intersections might reveal themselves. I do some of my best thinking in the tedious or deeply repetitive work of hand stitching or paper mache and I’m sure that’s part of my attraction to those mediums.
I’m also nearly finished with a big gray owl – I’m photographing all the newly finished creatures today and I’ll add them to my shop ( temporarily on Etsy) tomorrow (7/31).
And progress – this is a sneak peek of the little boat pattern instructions that is part of the paper mache pattern collection (it’s nearly done!).
I’m working on some new owls – a new smaller owl shape for me with some new details. I’ll finish these tonight and photograph them in the morning . They are part of my “new creatures” update tomorrow ( friday 3/28 ) evening.
And onother new shape – a hummingbird – a bit larger than a real hummingbird but still quite small, she fits in the palm of your hand. The bird and owls are made mostly from Sri textiles – I love this muted palette.
Another new creature Laurent ( all my rats are french) and a blue owl.
He’s big and blue and bad, and has some junk in the trunk.