Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New Lacy Vest

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm taking a break from scarves to try some new things.  Here's a new vest I finished recently.  I just love how the colors work together.
It's made from fancy ribbon and squares of hand-dyed silk chiffon.  In winter I can envision this over a basic black dress or in summer over a cami when you need just a little something over your shoulders.

The stitching and assembly were a little tricky to figure out the first time, but I was so pleased with the result that I knew I needed to make another one.  This time I've done things a little differently, and so far it's been much easier.

Look for more of these during our Holiday Open Studios in December or call or e-mail if you need one sooner.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Still making scarves

Here are the latest two Free Lace scarves in my inventory.  They are headed to Dahlia's Annual Scarf Show tomorrow morning.  I've been having fun with items from my stash.  These use some colorful ladder yarns given to me by my new friend down the hall Julia Farwell-Clay and bits of hand-dyed silk chiffon (the red violet) and charmeuse (the green and blue).  As is often the case, Julia's "refuse" was my treasure.  The yarns she gave me fit oh-so-well with other things that I wanted to use.  It is so much fun to look through all the treasures to decide what will go together in the next project.

These are the last scarves for just a bit.  I'm experimenting now with some vests and tunics.  More on that soon.  Thanks for checking in.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Free Lace Scarves

A lot of water under my bridge since my last post just after returning from the LNHC Craft Fair in Sunapee, NH.  So much has happened that I have just not been able to stop to put fingers to keyboard.

I spent a wonderful week on Puget Sound visiting my sister, brother-in-law and niece.  My husband, son, daughter and son-in-law came too.  We had such a good time hanging out together and seeing the sights.

I made a couple of trips to Minnesota to be with my mom in her final days.  During the first trip she rallied and we were able to share some wonderful memories.  During the second trip she quietly slipped from this world and the family gathered to share more memories.

Since getting back to my studio I've been creating more free lace scarves, rethinking the business model for Friends Fabric Art (more about that in another post), and getting my head back into my manager's role at the Loading Dock Gallery.  It is a struggle sometimes to know where I am and what I am doing, but things are beginning to settle down again.

In a day or two I'll be sending a box of ten new free lace scarves to Dahlia for her upcoming Scarf Show.  Here are just a couple:
This one has great fall colors - greens and golds in the ribbons and bits of rust in the hand-dyed silk chiffon squares.

This one has a bit of sparkle from silver metallic yarns and color from hand-dyed silk charmeuse & chiffon.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sunapee Show Recap

After all the excitement of getting ready for and participating in the LNHC annual craftsmen fair at Sunapee, NH, I am having a fairly relaxed day in my studio.  I haven't reset my display here or even set up my sewing machine again, but I have fully unpacked my car and stowed things away at least so I have moving and breathing space.

As you may know, Sunapee was my first really big fair.  It was a VERY good experience for me and I have so many people to thank for helping me through it.  The Merrimack Valley Artisans really initiated me when I dipped my toes in the water at their show a couple of years ago. Several of their members who are also in the League of NH Craftsmen have continued to give me invaluable help and guidance.  I wouldn't haven't gotten through this without them.  Thanks Betsy, Tarja, Ritva, and Paula.

I also owe gratitude to all who stopped by my booth to chat, show support and to shop.  It was much appreciated.  I feel like I made so many new friends.  And, I renewed some old acquaintances as well.  On the third day of the show, the woman that I shared an office with back in the early 80s showed up in my booth.  She'd seen my name in the program, noted my Lowell address and came to find out if indeed it was me.  I'm sure it had been more than 20 years since we'd seen each other.  It was definitely a memorable event.

Here are a few other things that will stick in my mind from the fair...

 The photos of my friends and me attracted lots of attention and comment.  People could tell that the models were my friends and that they were feeling good and having fun.  They clearly got the message that I was making jackets for "real people."

It was fun to change the jacket display on the back wall each day and to hear what people had to say about them.

This great sculpture from Dale Rogers of Haverhill was right outside my booth.  It lent a happy note to every day.  I'd smile even wider when people stopped to pose by it and have their pictures taken.  I'm kicking myself that I didn't have Dale pose by it.  I think it really captures him.

Here's the wider view from my booth.  It was just amazing - and what was even more amazing than the view was the fabulous weather we had.  It rained only 2 days out of 9 and neither time did it rain all day.  And as you can see from the picture, people enjoyed the sculpture garden even in the rain.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dahlias, Mums and Connections

When I sit down to begin my next blog post,the first thing I always do is to check in on other blogs that I follow.  One of my favorites is Ann Williamson's.  She also creates one-of-a-kind clothing and I find her work endlessly inspiring.  I am definitely a fan.  This time I felt a special connection to her as her most recent post was about spidery chrysanthemums and shows many designs incorporating these flowers.  It touched a cord for me because today's post is about my most recent jacket which uses a fabric with these mums on it.  It's only the most tangential connection--our work is very different--but I felt it nevertheless.

Here's my jacket.
I call this one Dahlias and Mums.  Mums is obviously a reference to the colorful chrysanthemum pattern on the collar and cuffs.  Dahlias is a subtle thank you to Dahlia  Popovitz--a hand-weaver who has a lovely shop in Newton Center, Massachusetts.  She carries my free-lace scarves.  The last time I dropped off scarves, I came away with bags left-over bits of her hand-woven fabrics.  The pieces were too small for her work, but were perfect for mine.  If you look closely at this jacket, you'll see that most of the appliqued triangles are made of those fabric bits.

The background fabric  for this jacket has an intricate woven pattern with great texture that seemed an appropriate setting for Dahlia's bits of color and glitz.  I feel so fortunate to be the recipient of such wonderful gifts.

They make an appearance on the back as well as the front...

And even on the inside.

You can see this jacket and others at Western Avenue Studios First Saturday (Studio 304) at the end of the week, or visit me at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen annual fair in Sunapee, New Hampshire the first week in August (booth C12 in the Emerging Artists tent).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Using Recycled Sari Ribbon Again

At the end of last week I moved all my sewing equipment to our lake house in Maine.  We'll spend as much time as we can up there for the next couple of months.  The lake views are distracting, calming and energizing all at the same time.  My sewing machine sits on a card table in a corner of the livingroom with windows on two side.  This time of year the water's still high so I feel like I could reach out and touch it right from where I sit.  The view doesn't keep me from working though, and Monday I finished another jacket.

I incorporated insets of the recycled sari ribbon again in this one.  I used the technique of laying the ribbons over an organza base and stitching them down till everything held together.  This time I actually wove the ribbons together before stitching, but I hung onto my Wabi Sabi theme and left lots of crinkles and raw edges.  I also used quite a random weaving pattern based on how much of a certain color I wanted to show.  Since I was going to stitch over all of it, I didn't have to worry about the weaving holding it together.

Here's what it looked like before I started to cut it up.

And here's the jacket with the inset pieces.  This is the back.
And here's the front:

I call this one Sari Reprise.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Rhythm & Rhyme ~ Pattern & Texture

Tomorrow is the big day for me--the opening of our show at the Loading Dock Gallery here at Western Avenue Studios.  It's a joint show with Elaine Perra Renault who does these wonderfully intricate painted textiles.  She starts with prequilted cotton which she "primes" with a base color; then she adds patterns in each of the little sections.  All those tiny patterns add up to a larger design.   I love her work and she's been a delight to work with on this.

Our show title--Rhythm & Rhyme ~ Pattern & Texture--signifies both the process and results of our work.  For me my work is visual music and poetry with an ebb and flow and repeating motifs.  I'm pleased to share it.

My contribution to the show includes both my jackets and my free lace scarves.  I've been working hard to make sure that there are new works included that haven't been shown before.  But even the ones that some may have seen before look new when they are displayed in a new way.  It's very exciting.

Here's a preview:
 I hope visitors to the exhibit will see my jackets potential as wall art as well as wearable art.

Here's a sample of Elaine's work - A large dyptich called Galaxy.  You really must see it in person to get the full effect.

If you are in the area, we do hope you'll stop by tomorrow for the reception, or later in the month.  The show will be there through the month of June.  For details, check the gallery website or Facebook page.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Satisfying Week of Art

This is a rather unusual occurrence for me.  I have another jacket to share just a week after the last one.  For the first time in a long while, I've been able to spend almost all my studio time on sewing.  I've gotten relatively caught up on my administrative duties and I think our web site is finally fixed and working as it should.  It has felt so good to be able to just concentrate on art for a change.

I've gone for simple and understated in this one--a raw silk blend with couched perle cotton (Stef Francis, of course) and embroidered leaves salvaged from a fabric sample destined for the trash bin.  I call it Leaf Line.
 The details are subtle, but even the inside has not been ignored.

As I finish each jacket, I have started to create a scarf that picks up some element of the jacket.  That's what I'm starting today - a scarf to use all the leftover embroidered leaves that I so painstakingly cut from those fabric samples.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Art of Fashion

When it rains it pours - but I'm not complaining...it seems to be raining opportunities for me lately.  So many things are happening, I'll have no chance for mischief for the foreseeable future.

Here's the scoop:

Friday I drop off 2 jackets for the next League of New Hampshire Craftsmen show--Continuing the TRADITION--at the Gallery at The Craft Center & Headquarters in Concord, NH.  This show is billed as "A multi-media exhibition featuring the work of newly juried craftsmen."  It runs from April 19 through June 19, 2013.

Also on Friday, I'll be submitting 6-7 free lace scarves to the League for jurying.  I hope to be able to sell them in my booth at the League's craft fair in Sunapee, NH this August.

May 29 my joint show with Elaine Perra Reneault--Rhythm & Rhyme, Pattern & Texture--opens in the Loading Dock Gallery here at Western Avenue Studios.  Mark your calendars.  Our opening reception will be on June 1, 2013 5:00-7:00 pm.  Elaine does gorgeous paintings on quilted fabric that grab you from a distance and draw you right in for her intricate detailing.  I will be showing my newest jackets and free lace scarves.

Here's a preview of the jacket I finished most recently:
Just Fiddling Around
This one was created with another of Judy Robertson's hand-dyed fabrics, complemented by commercial batiks purchased at Portsmouth Fabric Company with my prize money from my 2012 Best in Fine Sewing Award at Craftwear last summer.

These were the opportunities that I knew of as of Saturday morning.  Then, Saturday afternoon during our monthly open studios, two more came up.  First I was approached by Elaine Wood who is starting a small artisan-made gift store in the Zeitgeist Gallery here in Lowell.  She asked if I would be interested in selling my art cards there - starting in 4-6 weeks.  That was an ego boost and a good reason to make more of those.

As if that were not enough, later in the afternoon the event planner for the Whistler House Museum of Art came in to our studio and asked if I would be willing to display several of my jackets during their June gala--The Art of Fashion.  Needless to say I was flattered and did not hesitate to agree.  

Luckily jacket ideas are backing up in my head, so I guess I'd better get back to the sewing machine...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Disaster to Opportunity

Another jacket is finished...
One of my goals for each creation is build in a small surprise, something you may not see at first glance.  This one has a couple of surprises, one planned and one unplanned.
Here is the front:
And the back:
If my design is working the way I think it does, you'll notice the diagonal stripes immediately.  But what you may not notice immediately, unless you are a Music Lover, is the fabric inset to create the stripes is all music related prints.  And it is not a fluke that there are 5 lines in each of the groups of added stitching, as there are in a staff of music.  These are the planned surprises.

There is also a surprise inside that was not planned.  When I'd nearly finished it - I just needed to stitch the hem lining to the jacket lining - I had an accident with it and ripped a good-sized hole in the lining near the hem.  Needless to say it was a heart-stopping moment.  Just replacing the lining was not a feasible option, the seams were all trimmed, graded and understitched - very difficult to redo neatly.

Happily with a little creativity and a helpful suggestion from Sonja, I was able to not only fix the problem but add a new design element.  For that surprise you'll have to see the jacket up close and personal!  My show at the Loading Dock Gallery is coming up in June.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Making the Most of a Yard of Fabric

In past musings I have often mentioned using fabrics created by my friend Judy Robertson of Just Imagination fabrics.  We vended together at the Quilt Surface/Design Symposium in Columbus, Ohio for several years.  Each year I bought a few yards of her fabrics to add to my stash.  While I've never been afraid to cut them, I am very careful where I use them. (I've heard that some are unwilling to cut them- they are just that beautiful.)  Except for our kimono project, I've used Judy's fabrics primarily for accent.  But lately one of her "stripes" had been calling my name for a jacket project.

The patterning in this fabric is so striking that I knew it had to be the central element of the jacket, not just an accent.  I had two yards in the same colors (Judy dyes each yard individually), but I really didn't want to "blow my wad" in just one project.  My dilemma was how to get a striking jacket from just one yard of fabric so I could save the other yard for another project.  Happily my fabric stash came to the rescue.  I found several pieces of fabric in complementing colors, some of which had woven patterns that also seemed to echo the dyed patterns in Judy's fabric.

So here's the result.

I've called this one Added Imagination in honor of Judy and her beautiful fabric.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sari Ribbon Finish

I knew I'd gotten behind on my blog posts, but I didn't realize just how far behind until I looked at my last one.  Since that post I've finished both pieces that I referred to in it, finished another jacket and free lace scarf, and am well underway on another jacket.  I guess I have some writing to do over the next few days.

February was the month for the joint show with my daughter, Sonja Lee-Austin, at the public library in Topsfield, Massachusetts.  Our theme was Wabi Sabi ~ Marks of Time, Use, & Weather.  It's a Japanese philosophy or way of life that encourages us to find beauty in things that are humble, time-worn, natural, and so on.  It's hard to put into a few words, but much has been written about it.  And we're finding that many other artists have been inspired by the concept.

Early on I knew that I wanted to do at least one piece for our show that incorporated the recycled sari ribbon that we've recently starting carrying in our shop.  It is wonderfully colorful--made from torn strips of Indian sari fabrics chosen at random and held together by a bit of back-and-forth machine stitching.  It took me a long time to decide just how I would use it, but the idea did not go away.  Here are the two pieces that resulted from staring at the hank of ribbon for several months.

First is the jacket I call "Tattered Jewels."  Squares and triangles of fabric created from the sari ribbon were reverse appliqued into the front back and sleeves.  It is finished with collar and cuffs of a beautiful hand-dyed cotton sateen from my friend Judy Robertson.  For the final touch I use some great hand-made triangular polymer clay buttons I found at the Quilt and Fiber Art Museum in Cedarburg, Wisconsin in January.  (It's a delightful museum if you're in the area.)

Here's the jacket from the back:
After finishing the jacket, I still had leftover bits of the sari ribbon fabric I'd created.  Needless to say I couldn't let them go to waste.  These all went into a piece I called "Sari Ribbon Dance."  I laid out the scraps on a background fabric and then went to town with embroider stitches and beading.

I know there are more sari ribbon projects in my future, but I don't know just what they'll be yet.