Friday, December 21, 2012

Sari Ribbon - Next Steps

Earlier in the week I shared the start of my project using recycled sari ribbon.  I created a piece of fabric by couching over the ribbons to attach them to a piece of silk organza.  Over the last couple of days I've cut that piece of fabric up to use it in reverse applique in a jacket.  Here's the beginning of that jacket.

The squares and triangles will float down the front, back and sleeves of the jacket.  I'll be doing more couching to tie things together, but I haven't made a final decision on that design yet.

When I started working on the fabric, I knew that I also wanted to do something with the ribbon in a wall piece as well.  My initial thought was to follow the same process for creating the fabric, but doing hand embroidery instead of machine couching.  As I began to gather the scraps from the jacket piecing, I realized I needed to do something creative with them as well.  They were too beautiful to discard, but too small to use on their own. I started laying them out on a background fabric to see if I could get a pleasing design.  Here are a couple of my "test" pieces.

I'm not sure where I'm going from here, but I know it will involve hand embroidery - and likely something more.  I know it will get tweaked along the way.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Recyled Sari Ribbon

I've had a hank of recycled sari ribbon hanging from a hook on the wall of our studio for months now.  As soon as we started carrying it in our web store, I knew I wanted to work with it.  I had no idea what I would do with it.  I just loved the vibrant colors.  With all its frayed edges and the overall look of haphazardness, it seemed just perfect for our Wabi Sabi-themed show.  

For months it has called my name, without telling me what to do with it.  A friend crocheted it into fantastic coiled bowls.  I love her bowls, but it wasn't what I wanted to do.  I tried braiding it, but my braids disguised  the frayed edges, transforming the wonderful messiness of it into something neat and somehow insipid.  I tried weaving it, but it came out sort of checker-boardy.  Again ho-hum.

Finally in the last couple of days I think I have found a way to use it that fits my vision and the wabi sabi concept.  Here's my beginning:

I pinned the ribbon to a length of silk organza, folding it back and forth to cover the base.  I took the colors just as they came; I didn't try to rearrange them at all.  I didn't iron the ribbon before putting it down, I left it wrinkly.  I tamed the wrinkles just enough to be sure that I covered the organza and that I could stitch over it.  Then I started couching a thin fringed yarn over the ribbons in a wavy pattern.  I worked in sections, putting in just enough stitching to hold the ribbon to the base without any pins.  Then I ironed the whole thing to flatten down the wrinkles and continued adding wavy lines of couching till everything was secure.

When I first got going I wasn't sure that the result was going to be worth the effort.  By the time I finished the first section, I liked it just enough to keep going.  The second section was much easier due to the fact that I placed the pins lengthwise in the ribbons, not crosswise.  It made it SO much easier to remove the pins as I sewed and I was still able to control the wrinkles the way I wanted to.  By the time I finished stitching the section shown in my photo, I was happy and starting to think about another similar piece.

I think this one is destined for one of my jackets - perhaps cut in strips and inset somewhere.  Then I think I'll do another similar piece but stitch down the ribbons by hand using a variety of embroidery stitches and fancy threads.  I think that will be a wall piece.  Stay tuned, there will be more to come...

Friday, December 7, 2012

More Free Lace

One of my father's favorite sayings was "you learn something new every day."  A typical dinnertime conversation consisted of his asking us in turn what new thing we had learned that day.  Often we had to struggle to come up with something, but usually we could think of something.  I reinforced the idea that learning was important and enjoyable - an idea that stays with me to this day.

With my latest free lace scarf, I learned that I should test the strength of all the threads and ribbons that I use.  I've made many of these and never had any trouble with thread breakage, but with this last one I did.  Not much, but enough that I couldn't ignore it.

The thread that broke was a decorative element, not structural so it wasn't necessarily a fatal flaw.  But I liked what it added so I didn't want to just cut it out.  I'd spent too much in time and materials on the scarf to just junk it, plus I really liked it.  I'd had fun working with colors outside my usual set.  What to do???  No ideas immediately came to mind.

I set it aside, tried not to think about it, and proceeded with all the other things I needed to do yesterday.  Late in the afternoon a friend came by my studio and noticed it sitting on my table.  I showed it to her,  bemoaned the thread breaking problem, and set it aside again.  Luckily though, showing it to Laura must have triggered something in the back of my mind because just after she left I had an idea for fixing it.

Here's the detail shot so you can see what I did.
I added in little "fringes" all over it.  The fringes anchor the broken places as well as adding another decorative element.

The whole thing reinforces one of my favorite art-related sayings - "no mistakes, only opportunities."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How do you define slow?

As I was laying out ribbons for another Free Lace scarf, I began musing about how differently people perceive various (art) projects as quick (and easy) or slow (and tedious).  I began thinking about this because these scarves feel very quick to me--I have finished two already this week and am starting a third.  And yet I spend literally hours very carefully laying out the ribbons to make a pleasing pattern.  If they ever watched me as I do this, many people would say the process is very slow and think it tedious and boring.  Yet because I usually work on jackets and feel very productive if I finish two in a month, these scarves feel very fast to me.  One more example in life, of "it's all relative."
Here's a picture of the scarf that I just finished.  This is another one that was inspired by one of my jackets--specifically the thread couching pattern I used on it.

As I said it took me hours to lay out the ribbons to make all those box patterns, but to me it was far from tedious or boring.  I loved watching the pattern grow and seeing the interplay of the colors.  Working on something like this really helps me to live in the present moment, paying attention to and deriving joy from the details.  So this part of laying out the pattern and then doing the stitching to hold everything together is the calming, meditative part of the project.
The "rush" comes when I wash away the stabilizer to see the completed scarf, and again when I put it together with the jacket that inspired it.  Here's the combination for this scarf.
I was happy enough that I decided to make another one something like it - but I'm trying triangles this time - and very different colors.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Celebration Ensemble

It's gray, gloomy and cold outside, but I'm inside where it's warm and I'm having fun playing with color and texture.  As soon as I finished one Free Lace scarf I started on another.

Here's the one I just finished.  As I mentioned in my last posting, this one was inspired by the jacket I finished most recently.
I incorporated small squares of hand-dyed silk charmeuse in colors that picked up the colors of the jacket and used some of the same slub yarn that I had couched onto the jacket.  I cut the silk with a wavy edge rotary cutter so the edges will fray a little but not totally.  When I washed out the stabilizer the threads shrink up a little giving the silk squares a bit of a scrunchy look.

Here's the full effect with the jacket.  What do you think??

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meditative Stitching

My week is off to such a lovely start, I just had to share...
I got to the studio this morning about 9, after a refreshing water fitness class at the local Y.  By about 10, the sun had come out and burned away the clouds.  It is now streaming through the windows here in my studios, warming it up so nicely I have taken off the bulky sweater I was wearing over my turtleneck.  Glenn has Gregorian chant music playing in his studio across the hall which seems the perfect accompaniment to the undulating lines I've been stitching on a free lace scarf.  It gives me such a nice content feeling...
My plan is to create several new free lace scarves this month to put in the Winter Lights V show at The Loading Dock Gallery later this month.  The scarf I'm working on now is designed to coordinate with the jacket I finished most recently.

I call this one Celebration because I was working on it when I found out that I was a fully qualified juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen.  It uses a combination of a bluish purple linen-like fabric and a cotton with a batik-type pattern.  (The fabrics were someone else's cast-offs, so I can't be sure of the composition.)  The bluish purple has a lovely sheen to it.  I think it might be a linen and silk blend.  I have embellished the cotton by couching over it with a variegated slub yarn.  I have used that same yarn in the free lace scarf.  I'll let you know how it looks when I'm all finished.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Two More Art-to-Wear Jackets to Share

It has happened's been a full month since I posted last.  It seems I just can't keep up with everything I need to do.  In my last post I mentioned that I needed to work hard to complete my last review for the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen before November 1.  Today I am pleased to report I found out Friday that I am considered a fully qualified member based on the work I submitted for the Craftwear exhibition in August.  I was so pleased and excited that I had to run right down the hall to tell my friend Betsy - another League member.  She's been my coach and mentor in the whole process, encouraging me to keep going when I got down about things.  Then that night I went out for dinner to celebrate with my husband and daughter.  (We had a great dinner at Fuse Bistro a couple of blocks from our condo.)

Now the next big thing on my agenda is to submit my application for a booth at the League's Annual Fair in 2013.  As a newbie I have lowest priority for getting a booth, so I need to make sure my application goes in on time.  I hope to do that tomorrow.

Of course having my own booth also means that I need to keep creating work.  I have finished two jackets since my last post.

Here is the one I call Honoring Friends.
The name comes from the fact that I used hand-dyed fabrics from two of my art quilt friends.  The rust-colored fabrics that form the body of the jacket were created by local artist Mary Walter .  The upper fabric was discharged and has shiny dots painted on.  The lower fabric was printed with bamboo sticks.  I echoed her designs with couched threads.  The cuffs and collar are hand-dyed cotton sateen from Washington artist Judy Robertson.  
(Judy and I used to vend together at the Quilt/Surface Design Symposium in Columbus each summer.  I built up my stash of her fabrics by trading for my art supplies.  Next summer I hope to visit her home studio.)

Here's the back of the jacket - same fabrics, but different proportions.
This next jacket is one I plan to include in the exhibit that Sonja and I are doing at the Topsfield Library (MA) in February.  I call it Wabi Sabi in my Soul.
For this one I used an African Damask that I also bought at Q/SDS in Columbus, from another friend, Becky Hancock.  This fabric seemed to me a perfect example of beauty in imperfection.  I loved the process of deciding just how to place the patterns of the fabric on the jacket to best show them off.  Then I spent many a relaxing night doing hand embroidery on many sections to add color and texture.
Here's a detail shot that better shows what I've done with the embroidery.
And finally here's the back.

I love to incorporate diagonal lines in my jackets whenever I can.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Music for my Eyes

Almost a month since my last post...where does the time go?  I did take a "real" vacation during that time--my son came home and the five of us, my husband, daughter and son-in-law, spent a week just hanging out at the lake.  It was wonderful, no plans beyond what to eat for dinner.  But beyond that vacation time, I've just gotten caught up in the day-to-day of keeping the Friends Fabric Art and Loading Dock Gallery businesses going.  There's always more to be done than can be fit into the available time.

In among all the general administrative things that need to be done, I've tried hard to make time for sewing as well.  If I want to try for my own booth at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen fair at Sunapee next year, I have to finish my last jacket review by November 1.  I need four new jackets.  I finished one, and have another one well underway.  I should have no problem, but I always get carried away with the design/creation process and making each one totally unique.  It doesn't make for quick projects.

Here's the most recent one that I finished.  I call it Music for my Eyes.  I couldn't really explain that title, other than the jacket evoked music for me.
This one was inspired by that beautifully patterned fabric that I used for the collar, cuffs and lining.  The great blue and purple dyed design has been overprinted with a shiny copper color.  It's really spectacular.  The background is a moire silk to which I've added pieced insets to coordinate with the patterning of the lining.  I had such fun.

Here's the back.
I love to play with asymmetry in my designs.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Seeking Photos of Topsfield, Massachusetts

As I've noted before in this blog, my daughter Sonja Lee-Austin and I have a show coming up at the Topsfield (Massachusetts) Town Library  in February of 2013.  Our theme is Wabi Sabi - the honoring of things that are worn by the sands of time but getting better and better with age.  These are things that may be old and frayed, but are still beautiful and dearly treasured.

Having visited Topsfield many times of the years, we know that there are many things and places there that fit our theme.  Rather than just base the exhibit solely on our own ideas of what those things are, we would like to incorporate images of places and things around the town that are particularly treasured by the town residents themselves (or visitors).   We feel like this would be a good way to really share the wonderful spirit of Topsfield.

Here's basically what we have in mind:

Send us your digital photograph(s) of your favorite place(s) in Topsfield along with a brief statement about why you chose that particular place or thing and just what you treasure about it.  We'll print the photo on fabric and incorporate it into an artwork--perhaps adding embroidery or painting, for example.  We'll also incorporate something of your story into the artwork giving you credit for the photo and the story.

Here's a sample of the type of thing that we might do.  This is Sonja's Boston Public Garden Quilt.

Here are some important "rules" for this project:
  • You must have personally taken any photograph you submit and you must be willing to let us use it as we see fit--e.g., cropping it, merging it with other images, etc.
  • We will own the artwork produced.  If the artwork should sell, we would share up to 20% of the proceeds with you or if you wish to purchase the artwork yourself, we would offer you a 20% discount on the purchase price.  (It is possible that we would incorporate images from more than one person into an artwork.  In that case the 20% "commission" would be split among the people whose images are used.)
  • We do not guarantee that we will use all images submitted to us.
  • Images and stories should be e-mailed to by September 30, 2012.
We'll share our progress on this here in my blog or in Sonja's.

Monday, August 6, 2012

From Somewhere on Cloud Nine

My first bit of excitement from the Sunapee fair (League of New Hampshire Craftsmen) came before the show officially opened.  At the preview party Friday night, it was announced that I was this year's winner of the Best in Fine Sewing award.  Was I ever surprised and thrilled.  This award is sponsored by the Portsmouth Fabric Company and the prize is a gift certificate for their store.  This is one of my favorite fabric stores, so that made the award doubly exciting.  I can't wait to redeem it.  I've been spending some of it in my head already.

The jacket that won was Fruit of my Mind - pictured here - in the center.

There is a funny story about this jacket winning the prize.  I had originally submitted Jellyroll Rag for the exhibit instead of this one.  Jellyroll Rag is red and when Stacy Herlitz, the Craftwear organizer, was setting up the display she had a hard time making the red jacket "play well" against the aqua wall behind it.  So she called me up to ask if I minded if she put Fruit of my Mind into the exhibit instead.  I agreed figuring it was much better to make sure the whole display would look good than to work around a specific piece.  Needless to say, I was awfully glad she made the swap.

Here's a closer view of the jacket.  It's made of embroidered silk with layers of couching--bands of plain colored silk, followed by iridescent ribbon, followed by those Stef Francis rayon threads that I love.

(Thanks to Sonja for these pictures.  I was so wound up by all of this that I forgot to take any pictures when I was there on Friday and Saturday!)

I have to say that it was also exciting to see my jackets in the context of the larger display.  Here's a picture of Dance Rhythms as a centerpiece of another part of the display.  The necklace that Stacy chose to put with it also won an award.  The colors coordinated beautifully.
These four jackets were part of the Craftwear Exhibit (i.e., eligible for prizes).  I also have 11 more jackets on a retail rack nearby.  

The show continues through next weekend, so there's still time if you can get there.  It's well worth the time.  There is just so much stunningly beautiful work available, I'm sure you'll be inspired.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Craftwear Exhibit at Sunapee

Tuesday was a big day for me.  I dropped off 15 jackets at the Mount Sunapee Lodge in Newbury, New Hampshire for the upcoming Craftwear Exhibit that is part of the 79th Annual Craftsmen Fair.  Four of the jackets will go into the judged exhibit and the other 11 will be in the retail section.

Sunday night I finished up the last jacket I needed for the show.  I called this one My Secret.  

I used an African hand-dyed damask that I'd purchased last summer at QSDS from Becky Hancock of St. Theresa Textile Trove.  I love the complexity of the design with the drama of the tie-dyed design combined with the subtlety of the woven pattern.  It's a softer cotton than many of the African damasks with a lovely hand.  I added a bit of drama myself with the bright fuchsia lining - and subtlety through couched threads that hint at the lining color.

Here's the back.

This is my first really big show - tens of thousands of people attend each year - so I'm anxious to see how people respond.  I've done all I can to make the jackets beautiful, easy to wear and care for, and durable enough to look good for a lifetime.  Now I just have to wait to see if others think so too.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Floating Flowers

Last week when I finished up a jacket I planned to go right on to another - until I discovered that I hadn't prewashed the fabric I intended to use.  We were up in Maine with no laundry facilities, so I had to figure out a fill-in project.  Luckily I'd brought along some Mokuba stabilizer and a selection of threads and yarns just in case.

I'd also brought along some samples of a sheer fabric with embroidered motifs in case I could figure out a way to incorporate it into a scarf.  Here's the result:

Floating Flowers   

I decided to cut out the flower and leaf motifs from the sheer fabric.  I used the large flowers as a fancy border and scattered the leaves over the length of the scarf.  Once the clear film was in place, I couched a fine sparkly yarn in lengthwise stripes.  I alternated stitching the yarns on the front and back of the piece to capture the leaves in the middle.  Then I stitched random swirls all over it with a light green thread to hold it all together.  

Stitching swirls instead of a grid was more fun and maybe a little faster, but I could only do it for a little while at a time.  It made me kind of dizzy - especially because you have to pay very close attention to what you are doing to make sure that you've caught everything.  

I love the lacy look it gives.  And...serendipity...look at how well it goes with one of my recent jackets.

Circular Thinking and Floating Flowers

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blue Skies & Rainbows

Thanks to my friend MJ for giving me the idea for the name of my latest jacket--Blue Skies & Rainbows--in a comment about my last post.  That one showed the fabrics and yarn I'd gathered before starting.

Here's the finished jacket.
 I cut holes in the outside fabric so that the great batik lining would show through in the front, back and sleeves.  I added some iridescent, hand-made glass buttons for accents.
I made this one while we were up in Maine last week.  It was such a pleasure to be able to work straight through on this one.

And while we were there we saw both blue skies and rainbows - a fitting cap to the project.  Here's one of the rainbows.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bright Colors on a Dreary Day

It's a gray day here in Maine.  The rain comes and goes, with periods of thunder and lightning.  The cloud formations keep changing; sometimes you can see across the lake and sometimes you can't.  It's kind of dreary, but there's always something to see.  A pair of loons just drifted lazily by, so I'm enjoying myself despite the gloom.

Here's the view from one of our front windows.  This was taken a few days ago when the sky had started to brighten a bit from what it is now.  Today we've got those same low dark clouds.

Here's my "view" inside today.  
I'm starting a new jacket with colors to brighten the day.  This is going to be another of my peek-a-boo jackets.  The bright blue linen is the outside; the batik stripes will be the lining, collar and cuffs.  I have cut triangular holes in the blue to allow the wild lining to show through.  (You can see my sample piece on the left here.)  I found a great nubby yarn in the right colors that I will add on the surface to bring in more texture and line (and help to hold down the facings of the triangles).  When I work on something so colorful and whimsical, I feel like I'm just playing not working.

It's a happy contrast to the one I just finished--Drama in Black & White.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wabi Sabi Project Update

One of the things I love about a cruise vacation is that I have forced relaxation time.  My two favorite relaxation activities are reading and stitching so before we left for Barcelona I loaded up several books on my e-reader and got a new stitching project ready to go.  I finished two books and most of a third while I was away and got a good start on my new stitching project.

Here's my stitching progresst.  I am not totally sure where this is going, but I'm trying to straddle a fence between traditional and contemporary embroidery, honoring the old but adding something new.  On the traditional side, I'm enhancing the leaf motifs with fishbone and stem stitches in varying shades of green and blue.  On the contemporary side, I'm stitching in words around the edges of the center design using a variegated thread in brighter colors.

Here's a closer view.  The words around the outside are meant to convey my thoughts on our Wabi Sabi theme as it relates to this piece.  (As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, Wabi Sabi is the theme of a joint exhibit that Sonja and I are doing in February 2013.)

So far it says:
New life to something old and treasured...
a treasure revitalized...
revered, revived, recycled...
rejuvenated old gem...

I plan to continue in that vein all around the edge.

Beyond that I'm not sure.  I'll let you know as I progress.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

From Barcelona to Maine

We got back from Barcelona late Monday afternoon and by Wednesday noon we were up in Maine--laundry done and groceries bought.  (Skipped the cleaning, that can wait!!!)  Took care of a few things at the studio and packed up what I needed to be able to do my work here while enjoying the views and sounds of the lake.  Aaaah...

We had a wonderful trip.  The weather was fine, the Mediterranean smooth, good entertainment on the ship, and good times with our son.  Barcelona was definitely our favorite city of those we visited.  Beauty everywhere, such a nice ambiance,  and outstanding food. Inspiration everywhere. Here are just a few pictures.
View of the Pyrenees as we came into Spain.

One of the Gaudi-designed houses in Barcelona, love those curvy lines

I loved this statue over the water faucets (my son Peter  on the left there)

Entrance to Gaudi-designed Parc Guell - more curvy lines and colorful mosaics

View of Barcelona from the undulating benches in Parc Guell
And about this...All along the street near our hotel were these glass cases 2 or 3 each for a number of fashion designers who had won some awards.  It went on for several blocks.  There were at least a dozen of these--with the display and an artist statement.  One of the artist statements stayed with me.  She said "I don't dress this way to attract attention.  I attract attention because I dress this way."  This way of turning things around makes me think.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wabi Sabi for Barcelona

Tomorrow I'm off to Barcelona for a week-long cruise on the Mediterranean with stops for Rome, Naples, Florence, Marseilles and Cannes.  Can't beat that!  It has been a busy week finishing up things here at the studio so that Sonja can manage while I'm away.

Today I finally had a chance to do a little for myself.  Whenever I'm traveling one of my main concerns is making sure that I have books to read and a stitching project.  For me, true luxury is time to sit and read or stitch.  Tonight I will load up my e-reader with some new books.  This afternoon I prepared a new stitching project.

I don't know if I've mentioned it here, but Sonja and I are working on a joint exhibit for February 2013 at the public library in Topsfield, Massachusetts.  The theme for the exhibit is Wabi Sabi.  One of the things that this theme says to me is timeworn elegance.  We are incorporating a variety of well-aged textiles into our art.

I started looking through a fabric bin a bit ago looking for a fabric to use as a base for what I thought would be a piece incorporating some of the sari ribbon we got recently.  This is what I found instead:

It's an old table-runner (?) that we bought at a flea market years ago.  It's a thin, very soft cotton (?) with some holes and stains.  When we bought it I figured that we'd cut it up and use the good parts in something.  When I saw it today, it immediately cried out Wabi Sabi to me.  The fabric is certainly timeworn, but I think the design is very elegant.  So, I've basted it to a length of flannel and I'm going to pick out some new threads and so I'm ready to stitch tomorrow.  We'll see where it goes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Drama in B&W

I have often said that my artworks/jackets are inspired by my fabric stash.  This time it was a pile of black and white cottons collected over the years - when I was making more traditional quilts.  As usual, I had many small pieces of a wide variety of patterns.  I realized recently that they would be fun to use in pieced insets for jackets.  It would be a good way to use up a bunch of really disparate fabrics.

Cutting them in strips and sewing them together randomly was a good project for the busy days last week when I was feeling fragmented  due to the variety of other tasks I had besides sewing.  I could work on this in short spurts without losing my train of thought and still feel like I was moving my art ahead.

Here's the results of that first step.  At this stage the various patterns have started to blend together, but some are still jumping out at you.  They worked together well enough that I could tell that when they were cut into strips again, the results wouldn't be so jarring.

This is step two (and three).  I had a nice large piece of heavy black cotton with a woven pattern leftover from a previous jacket.  This large rectangle will comprise the body of the jacket.  The back of the jacket is at the bottom of the photo.  

I inset strips of the pieced black & whites in radiating lines.  Then, thinking it needed something a little more, I went through my stash of ribbons and yarns to see what I might add.  I found a thin black & white ribbon with a very interesting texture  that worked well with the insets so I laid those down with a zigzag stitch.

For the lining and collar I've got a dramatic black and white batik.  You'll have to wait to see that.

For a little entertainment while you're waiting, might I suggest listening to the podcast of my appearance on Liz Smith's Makers in Business.  I'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Debut Night for Makers in Business

I am having trouble settling down today.  Yesterday afternoon I got the e-mail from Liz Smith that her new television program, Makers in Business, will be airing for the first time tonight.  It will be on Comcast channel 8 here in Lowell on Tuesday nights at 6:30 and Thursday nights at 8:30.  It can also be viewed online both "live" and on demand at  You can read Liz's official press release on her Mill Girl blog.

If you read my last blog, you know that I am the featured guest on this first program - which accounts for my jitters today.  We taped the program a couple of weeks ago, so my part has been finished for a while now.  I'm just excited and nervous to see myself in this way.

Truly, mine was the easy part.  Liz has done all the hard work conceptualizing it and working out all the details.  She just stopped by to let me know that she has come up on a last minute glitch which might mean that tonight's program won't be the totally final version - SO - you might want to plan to watch it again on Thursday!  Seriously though, this particular program will run for the next few weeks until Liz can complete a second one, so if you miss it tonight you'll have more chances.

While following all the behind the scenes on the program, I've been working away on another jacket.  I finished up Silver Spring yesterday afternoon.
This one has couching to accent various motifs in the weave of the fabrics.  The lining, collar and cuffs are a crinkled satin.

Here's a detail of the handmade glass button I used for the closure.  My photography's not the greatest, but you can sort of see how the sparkle and "texture" of the button pick up the color and texture of the fabric.  The loop closure is made from the same yarn I used for the couching, but I braided together several strands to make it thicker and studier.  Then I hand couched the loop in place.

This back view shows the diagonal pattern of the piecing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Makers in Business

Oh my!  My television debut is coming!  I can't quite believe it, but the show taped last night and it went great.  Here's the scoop...

My friend Liz Smith, of Made in Lowell, is putting together a new television show for Lowell Telecommunications Corporation.  The show, called Makers in Business, is designed to showcase local artists and help viewers understand just what it takes to succeed as an arts business.  And, (drum roll please!) I am her first featured guest.  How exciting is that.  She asked me to be her first guest because I'm so "cool, calm and collected" (who cares that the calm comes from age, I was still thrilled).

You can read all about how this show came to be in Liz's great Mill Girl blog. It's a great story and certainly shows how you never know where each little adventure will lead.

So we met up in the LTC recording studio last night about 6:30.  It was my first time in a television studio.  I had no idea what to expect, but it was all much easier than I ever imagined.  Liz had set up a little round table with two comfy chairs and mugs of water for us.  (Absolutely gorgeous handmade mugs, by the way - and which beautifully picked up the colors in the jacket I was wearing - and yes, Liz did plan that)  There were bright lights shining on us and three cameras behind the lights.  They also turned on a monitor so we could see what was being filmed.

During the set-up the crew made us feel so comfortable.  Once we were miked, we each had to count to 20 so they could adjust the sound.  Once they did that, they assured us that we didn't have to worry about whether we started to talk louder or softer, they could adjust either way.  Then they showed us what the picture was from each of the cameras so Liz could tell them whether to zoom in or out--so we'd know whether to worry about the position of our feet and knees, for example.

Once all that basic set-up was done, they gave us a count-down, Liz did a little introduction to the show and we started to chat.  It was so easy.  You couldn't really see past the bright lights so it was easy to ignore the cameras.  It really was pretty easy to pretend we were just having a conversation in a cafe and we each learned a little more about each other and our businesses.  

I got to impart a few words of business "wisdom" and to toot my horn about getting into the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen.  When the show is edited, a few of the great pictures that Adrien Bisson took of my friends modeling my jackets will be worked into it.

So we taped two 12-minute segments of the two of us talking, plus short closing and transition segments from Liz.  We were all done less than an hour after I arrived.  No redoing, no fussing around.  An awesome job by Liz and the whole crew.  Liz might have been nervous on the inside, but she was cool as a cucumber on the outside.  I know many of my friends will be doing this with Liz and they should have no worries.  It's fun...and did I say EASY.

But now that that's over, I need to get back to making jackets.  Here's just a teaser of the next one.  I'm putting together larger pieces of fabric this time and working with more dramatic diagonal lines.  I haven't figured out yet what I'm going to do for surface design to tie this all together.  That'll come when the basics have had a chance to stew in my brain for a bit longer.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Newest Art-To-Wear Jacket

Finished another jacket this morning.  I'm getting close to ready for my next product review for the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen.  I need to complete three more reviews before I'm a full-fledged juried member so I'm working my little heart out.

I'm trying to get better about documenting my work as I go, so I photographed it as soon as I finished it this morning.  Here's the completed version of the green silk jacket I'd started in my previous post.

Threaded Circuits - Size XXL
I called this one Threaded Circuits.  I had fun couching all those rectangles, but it sure was tricky.  I drew out each line with a disappearing ink pen, but sometimes the lines faded just a little too fast.  I'd get part way along a line and have trouble figuring out where I was to go next.  Luckily I managed to thing out okay each time.  I've been underlining each of the sections with silk organza.  That really helps to make sure that the couching lies flat.  It also makes the jacket more durable and less wrinkly...definitely worth the effort.
Threaded Circuits - Back View

I've set aside another selection of green fabrics for the next one, but first I need to take a break for some fix-up work.  I need to redo a couple of hems to get those jackets ready for the League review.  The hems are nice right now, but for the League they need to be spectacular.  So I'll fix them...