Saturday, October 31, 2009

Craft2wear exhibit

Today is the last day in DC, and I went to the Craft2wear show at the Smithsonian. There were several very wonderful exhibitors. Go to the above link to see some examples.

Just what I needed to get myself ready for the "One of a Kind" show in Chicago... I sure hope I get to see some of you there. Let me know if you will be there!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The National Portrait Gallery and the father of the home sewing machine.

I recently went to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. Of course, there were many wonderful portraits of famous Americans and others, but the first portrait that the guide talked about was one that should be of interest to all you fellow fiber artists: Isaac Singer (yes, that Singer)

Turns out that Mr. Singer had quite the life! He was a flamboyant man (check out his clothes in the portrait) who was also a polygamous. He had five wives (a few at a time) and 19 children. And  a complicated life filled with scandel and lawsuits.

Although he did not invent the sewing machine, he was instrumental in the fact we all have them in our homes now. He invented several improvements to the existing machine that helped it become appropriate for domestic use. But even that was not the true basis of his success (he left an estate worth 14 million dollars when he died). He also "invented" the trade-in and  time payments. It was these two marketing ideas that made the machine available and affordable - and upgradable.

He and his competitors were also the first to get a "group patent"; something that has since been used in the development of many major advances.

Who would have thought that a trip to see some paintings, would introduce me to the patent and process of the home sewing machine! (Oh yes; the painting, by Edward Harrison May, was also very nice)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Watch out Windy City!

I am going to be showing in the One of a Kind show in the McCormick Center in Chicago December 3-6. I will be showing in the Etsy Pavilion within the greater show. It should be a huge show, so I am a bit nervous, but far more excited!

I really have been working on preparing my stock of recycled sweaters for this show. I have been shopping like crazy for all materials, then surgically separating the sleeves from the bodies and sorting them all by colors and materials. The shelves look pretty nice for about a day after this is done ( before chaos sets in again).

After this sifting and winnowing is completed. I spend sometime just looking. I look for a texture, or a pattern, or something that sparks and idea for a color combo or style for a new reconstructed sweater. Copius amounts of coffee are consumed during this period, and the neat stacks become piles of potential.

Then comes the bundling. I know aproximately how many sleeves and bodies are needed per item, so I start putting bundles together (think of it as priming the canvas, or squeezing the paint onto the palette). Each of the bundles of recylced sweaters shown here are awaiting their turn to land on the "blue lady" - my dress form  -  to be arranged, cut, pinned, stitched, sewn, washed, photoed and presented as a new and glorious reconstructed garment to the [hopefully] buying public!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Orders like this will keep me out of trouble!

I just finished this wholesale order of multitudes of scarves and cuffs....
There is a new shop opening up in Minneapolis (details to follow!) that will be offering these items of mine. It was a challenge to go into "production" mode while still thinking with the One-of-a-kind spirit and freshness. But I think I did it! It will be very interesting to see how these go over - especially during the holiday season.
I must say that I am glad I didn't have to take 5 individual pictures of each of these items (like I do for an Etsy post!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

A couple of new custom projects

I just finished these two custom projects. The one on the left is all wool and just warm and swingy! The customer had seen a one on my site that had been sold, and asked to have a similar one made. She is very pleased and I am sure will get a lot of  enjoyment wearing it this winter.

The one on the right has more cotton and is so bright it just makes you smile. The  styleis inspired by others I have done, and the colors by the customer and some buttons she provided for inspiration. She said she liked dots and wanted a variety of colors in the coat. Shopping for the materials for this one was a challenge. I never know what will be available when I go "hunting" but fortunately found what we needed for this one!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Epicenters of creativity in WI on a fall afternoon.

So, I am in my car on my way home from my new found tax person, listening to the final installment of "Death in a Prairie House" on NPR, driving past three major creative displays. Just makes me think how wonderful and diverse creativity is.
First I go past Taliesin, the "Shining Brow" of Frank Lloyd Wright, the bastion of Prairie Style architecture, the love nest of he and his illicit affair, the Hillside School, or the scene of Wisconsin's most notorious mass murder - depending on how you want to look at it. Any way you look at it is a beautiful setting actually enhanced by the buildings set into it. It must have been quite the scene back in the early 1900's when FLW and his entourage were interacting with the locals. It has been and continues to be an internationally recognized epicenter of creativity and attraction - based on the creative vision of one man.

Down the road is Alex Jordan's House on the Rock. When I was a kid, my father worked with Mr. Jordan on planning the highway access to this site. It was just a house back then, admittedly a spectacular and peculiar house, but a house. We went into it and wandered through the rooms, sat on the rocks/chairs, marveled at the water features and admired some of the unique, but tasteful adornments scattered through the rooms. It has come a long way since then! It is now an almost indescribable … event… attraction… monstrosity… curiosity - again you can pick the category depending on your viewpoint of the attraction and of Mr. Jordan. It is also an epicenter of creativity and attraction - based on the creative vision of one man.

If you the go south to a small town named Hollandale, you will find Grandview. Nick Englebert was a dairy farmer who evidently had too much time and creativity to just sit on his porch in his down time. His yard became a sculpture garden of delights. He erected a variety of mosaic and concrete sculptures that expressed his love of his new homeland, some political commentary and general beauty. I would guess that his wife had a hard time keeping dishes in the kitchen, based on the number imbedded into the concrete! This is an example of my favorite type of art. Art that was made just because the maker had to make it. No gallery, no stylistic movement of followers, no intent for commerce. Just the base love of creation and the absolute inability to avoid giving into that urge. Koehler Co. “discovered” Nick and has elevated his art to gallery status. Much of it now resides in the Koehler art gallery and the originals on the lawn have been replaced by reproductions. I like the remnants of the originals that remain - weathered and disintegrating - but where Nick intended them to reside, surrounded by his land and home and the grass and flowers.It is the third [and my favorite] epicenter of creativity.

Now I will go home to my little epicenter and get back to work - rejuvenated and rejoicing in the number of forms and functions creativity takes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The ultimate recycle possibility

A new yarn shop has opened in my town. It is The Cat and The Crow. I have started going to the open knitting night there, and there are a few spinners (including the shop owner) in the group. I was telling them about my piles of beautiful serger cut-offs that are left after my making, and I expressed the wish that something could be done with them. First for a better recycling, and also just because they are beautiful! Well one of the spinners thinks she may be able to recard the pieces and make them into a recycled yarn! That would just be the best - and complete the cycle for me.

I buy the old sweaters to recycle, then make my reconstructed sweaters, Then I decided that I would make repurposed cuffs from the "leftovers"... well there were still pieces left, so I started making upcycled scarfs from them. So now just about all I have left are these serger scraps - and if they could be made into yarn that would just be perfect! I will keep you posted.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reconstructed Garments in Europe

My friend just came back from Amsterdam, and my son from Germany. They both brought pictures back of the reconstructed garments they say in the boutique windows there. Interesting to see they trends in Europe - always edgier and sooner than here!

Here is a taste of what they saw! The grey sweater dress is from Amsterdam and the other from Germany.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A day well spent

Yesterday I had a great day with some of my girlbuddies! (or as my husband calls the the quilting crones!) Either way a great group of women who have learned many of life's lessons and still enjoy this world.

We took a drive a ways down the road to a small town called Paoli, Wisconsin. This town is literally an intersection, but is home to some of the finest art around the area.

We started at  the Artisan Gallery. I was astounded at the work of Leah Evans - a fiber artist with impeccable workmanship and beautiful design interpretations of topographical maps.

The gallery was filled with beautifully crafted ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and photography. Most of the artists were local artists.

From there - being Wisconsin and all - we had to stop at the Paoli Cheese house. a very small and filled to the brim store. Here we purchased some smoked stick cheese and sampled chocolate cheese to give us the energy to continue!

Next on our list was the Zazen Gallery. The owner was there and we had a great talk about his art and process. Wood furniture that defies description, so make sure you take a look!

After a few more stops and shops, we headed back to the Artisan Gallery to have lunch in the cafe. The food was good, but it was even better because as we ate we were seated under my friend, Chris Gargan's, landscapes of the area. Chris and I have been friends since high school, and his art just keeps getting better and better... he is truly one of the most dedicated artists and teachers I know.

It was a great day, good friends, good art, the season's first snow! Evidently a Minneapolis travel writer recently had a similar day - here is his article.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Free Shipping - WORLDWIDE!

This is another Promo weekend! Free shipping anywhere in the world on purchases made before midnight Sunday. It would be so nice to get to 'meet' more of my international customers! SO check it out at jill2day

Serger Frost

It is 29 degrees here in Wisconsin this morning, and Iwhen I took the dog out it looked like Jack Frost had used my serger to trim up the edges of everthing. It is so beautiful with the glistening frost on everything... and then the golden sun came up and gave it all a glaze of orange.

Yesterday was a very good day in the shop - again on one of Etsy's promos, so lots of new visitors and convos, and a couple of sales!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Piecing... it is not just for bed quilts anymore!

I recently made a sweater coat for a customer who works in the furniture industy. She sent me this clipping of an article she had from a trade magazine that shows how the "Handmade", and more specifically piecing, is influencing the furniture industry. I personally love the quote in the call-out:
"In the right hands bits and pieces, scraps even, can be turned into a masterpiece."
This made me think back to all of the places that I have seen this trend lately.... EVERYWHERE!

Evidently with the economy and the return to "nesting" economy and craft, Even the most elite have found the comfort of what many of us have know for a very long time:
handmade is artistic, ecological and just plain nice.
Coach tried it out a while a go and is still using piecing in their items:

The runways of Ralph Lauren were filled with this "new" style in the NY shows this year. Pieced wools and pieced sweater knits were comibined with day looks and evening looks...

Hey - those of you who have found jill2day are right on the cutting edge!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The start of it all - coming to a publication near you!

Months ago there was a challenge put forth by Stampington Publications for cuff designs. I had never made any (or worn any) before, but had always found them facinating. Having been recently laid off, I had a lot of time on my hands so I gave it a go. I made three or four and sent them into the challenge. A couple of days ago I found out that one of the designs will be featured in an upcoming publication of Altered Couture!! Here is a preview of the cuff that will be featured.

I am very excited about this opportunity. That first foray into these cuffs started a ball rolling that has lead to my Etsy site featuring not only cuffs, but many other types of reconstructed, repurposed and recycled clothing - and now some wholesale and show opportunities... you just never know where things will lead!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Etsy Business Forum topics and life

Fellow Etsians, don't miss two threads in the Business Topics this AM (some very interesting ideas and points about balancing Etsy and life):
1- if you turn off the computer...
2- sell employment breakdown...
I also added a topic this AM to which I would love to hear your respnse:
3- who/what is your backup?

I love everything about having an Etsy shop - but, although I know self-employment is, by its very nature, all-encompassing, I didn't think about how much more true that is for a 24/7 world-wide shop! Finding that sweet spot between great customer service and response and having some downtime for yourself and your family is tricky!
A couple of things I try to keep in mind are:
  • Turn off the cumputer during creative time.
  • Good communication - let customers know you are thinking of them - even if it is not the minute they contact you. (scheduled regular times to communicate are as good as instant response for most things)
  • My Etsy shop - or even the purchase someone made there - is not necessarily the #1 priority for the rest of the world!
  • My back can only take so many hours at the sewing machine
I try to have a schedule for my self and my shop.
7:30-9:00 - On computer (drinking coffe): update blog, check convos, check GA, respond to overnight sales, plan day
9:00-9:15 - Turn off computer and get ready for work (I needed to add this 'cause I was still in my robe at 3:00 pm some days):get dressed, comb hair, etc
'til 1:00 - Studio time (trained myself ala Pavlov to pace according to NPR radio): work on new stuff, uninterupted.
1:00-2:00 - HEALTHY lunch while checking computer (also started after finding I was forgetting lunch and eating crap at 3:00): check for new convo, sales, renews, etc
2:00 - 6:00 - either back in studio, photosessions, or supply shopping/idea research: I try to consolodate getting out for supplies and ideas on Tuesdays and (if needed) Thursdays. Photo session are usually on Fridays for sure, and as needed otherwise.
Evenings are variable; Amazing Race, House and Project Runway allow me opportunities to retouch photos, update spreadsheets, etc while watching and not feeling totally guilty!
It would be nice to take weekends off, but for example this past weekend, Sales were great early Saturday, so needed to do some quick replenishing (not a bad thing!), so they tend to be just ad hoc, but with time for Jon for sure! I also have to schedule a walk in the middle of the day. My back is starting to feel the hours of computer and sewing machine time - and Gina (my dog) is feeling neglected.

Well off I go - must keep to schedule!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Local Color - Madison WI

I have the distinct honor of living in one of the finest areas of the US. Madison Wisconsin is my home town and, although I have traveled a lot, still my favorite town. The reasons are many, but at this time of year the Farmers Market is alive with the abundance of the midwest. Flowers, fruits, veggies, organic meats... and - this being Wisconsin - every kind of cheese you can imagine!

The colors this morning were amazing! Even the pumpkins have evolved from the same old orange to a pottery-like variety of "glazes".

The gardners were harvesting the straw flowers, glads and  so many others, while also getting ready to plant the mums and other fall plantings. The peppers were amazing - every color and every taste from hot to sweet! One of the great benefits of being a university town, is that the visiting students from all over the world end up staying or at least their various ethnic heritages influence. Consequently there are always new and interresting edibles to see and try.

Finally, Madison is the site of what (in my humble opinion) is one of the most beautiful goverment seats in our nation. The WI state capital. Here is one outside view, but the inside is what is truly remarkable with the marble and murals. ( The model with the fall foliage is me - nice to meet you!)
Time to go home now, with my carmel apple, goat cheese, pumpkin flax bread, one pound of a mix of 10 varieties of tiny potatoes, wax beans, and leeks!