Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tomorrow & Tomorrow & Tomorrow

Ahhh, tomorrow. So much gets put off until then, and sometimes, for some of us, it never arrives. Luckily for me, my tomorrow is beginning today. Today is my lucky day, because I think I found the ticket to finally getting some help figuring out some of the things I need to get done...metaphorically...tomorrow.

One of my TagTalk cards from my etsy store

But first, I wanted to post one of my new Magic Baby designs. I love making jumpers, capelets, overalls and the like, but I really love making outfits. You know, matching jackets and skirts, or a top and leggings, a kimono jacket with matching overalls...things like that. Admitedly, they are slower to sell, probably because they are more expensive. In making outfits, though, I try to maintain my commitment to unique, one-of-a-kind styles, which are also highly functional for babies and their parents:, so I try to make the pieces both adjustable and reversible.

My newest Magic Baby outfit, a soft-waisted fairy skirt with a reversible jacket
It's been fun getting out my fall fabrics to work with. For this design, I have pulled out the wonderful star-sprinkled twill for the jacket. It is paired with pinwale corduroy and matching cotton for the details. As you can see, I haven't finished the reversible jacket yet. I have made two matching covered buttons for the jacket, one for this side, and one for the reverse. Tomorrow, I just need to make the buttonholes, then sew them on. The jacket has roll-up, adjustable sleeves, a cute bottom ruffle, and a shaped neckline echoed in the fairy skirt peplum. The back is here, on the left. I appliqued matching corduroy edged with piping to the jacket neckline. Cute!

The back of the skirt peplum dips lower than the front, and is finished with trim and matching covered buttons. The skirt waistband, which you can't see here, is a nice, stretchy soft knit.  I love it!

Because all of my designs are produced by me, and are one-of-a-kind in terms of the fabrics used, I have been really trying to figure out how to expand my design presence. I don't want to mass produce, so I've been thinking instead of how to develop my designs into patterns. With over 25 years and a substantial reputation designing, making and exhibiting art quilts, a solid selling book under my belt, and now my work in designing baby clothing, I want to find a way to reach a larger audience. Enter my friend, fellow artist and tech-guru Shannon Okey.

I first met Shannon when we were both doing book-signings at the Sewing Expo in Cleveland. We were seated next to each other, and I liked and admired her from the moment we met. If you are a knitter, you probably have some of her wonderful knitting design books. I later discovered, by comparing our linkedin profiles, that we have similar backgrounds, the strangest one being that we both speak German! Anyway, Shannon is younger than I am, and I am in complete "I'm not worthy" mode when I see what she does on the web. I had been planning to call her next week to ask for help, when, today, in catching up on blogs I follow, I read hers, and immediately signed up for one of her new online classes, e-book basics. My goal is to learn how to create my own pdf pattern files, teach my honed-over-many-decades workshops online, and generally try to upgrade my knowledge of the online world. Starting a blog and my etsy shop were first steps. Thanks, Shannon, for giving me a "ticket" to my tomorrow.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Marshmallows...As a Food

I really wanted to do something meaningful today. I just can't get my head straight to work and be creative. Today, I just feel like sleeping, or reading quietly, or doing something that does not make my head hurt.

That is how I came to be looking through some old files on my computer, and ran across this delightful picture, an ad for "Cooking and Eating Dilling's Marshmallows" a food. Since there are no instructions included, I have been half-heartedly thinking about a) a food and, b) how one might go about cooking marshmallows. The only way I know to cook them is to roast them over an open fire. In my mind, that is not exactly "cooking." That is, in fact, only roasting: charring the outside of the marshmallow until it threatens to drip off the stick.

If I had a bag of marshmallows right now, I might be tempted to just sit and eat them. That is how I feel today. Being a creative person is hard sometimes. I think this is, in part, due to how the creative brain is wired, and how sensitive it seems to be by nature. That sensitivity occurs in at least two forms: internally and externally. The creative mind is internally sensitive, because it is highly trained, and perhaps inherently so, to pick up on cues, to interpret information differently, and to set to work playing around with that information. A creative person is also sensitive externally. By that I speculate that creative people are sensitive people, who respond with heightened reactions (overly sensitive) to external stimuli. When this happens, we feel burned out, empty and unproductive. That, at least, is how I feel.

How I long to go into my studio and make something. I just don't have it in me today, and I've decided not to fight If only I had a bag of marshmallows to keep me company.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Whooping It Up

With my hubby off to band practice, I find myself with a few hours in a quiet house. This is a rare thing when both of us are working at home. I have a long "to do" list, like most of you do, I'm sure. Instead of tackling the garden weeds after a nice rain, I decided to look through my blog posts. This is my version, for today only, of whooping it up!

First of all, I just wanted to say a quick "thank you" to those of you who read my blog, even on occasion. In looking through my own past posts, there is some meaty subject matter there, if I do say so myself. I appreciate my blog readers immensely, especially knowing that most of you, like me, have very full plates in your day-to-day lives. So thank you all for taking the time.

I was going through old posts, because I had a sneaking suspicion that I have left many loose ends. Indeed, that is the case, as I read my own promises of "more to come" in future posts. In reality, I have found that life sometimes interferes with good intentions. Most often, though, I find that I am so busy trying to stay focused on the work at hand, the real, palpable work within my studio walls, that I often don't take the time to "document" what I am doing so I can easily post it here. Sigh. Such is life.

Altered Books workshop I taught in July

In the spring "post wedding" (please see my previous posts on this subject), the summer lay ahead, and promised to be a busy time. Now, as August comes to an end, I can say that this summer was very busy, indeed. Having not blogged about each event as it happened, I can only offer a brief overview of the highlights here.

I had a terrfic group of students in the Creating Altered Books workshop I taught at my local arts center. I brought along a stack of my own altered books to show what I have done over the years in this fun medium.  

Writing in a journal is a great way to sort your thoughts

In early August, I presented a Creativity Workshop at the BayArts Women's Retreat weekend. This is probably my favorite class to present. Students only need simple tools, a journal and a pen, to work with in blowing their minds! I have spent at least a decade devising methods to help my class participants find their way back to their creative cores. The methods have been tested with many age groups and in many settings, and are very effective. It's gratifying for me to see the light bulb going off in my students' heads as they work.

For those of you in the area, I have two fun workshops coming up for Fall 2010, both at BayArts on the lake. In October is a family friendly workshop, The Family Journal Night, in which participants will learn how to hand bind a Japanese stab-stitch journal and consecrate it.

Detail of my hand bound journal and the spine

I customized the spine of my journal by adding spacers made from an old deck of playing cards. Adding spacers prevents thick pages in the journal from interfering with how the journal closes.

In November I am teaching Image Transfer techniques. Transferring images using a half dozen or so techniques is very popular right now, but I learned the basic methods while still in high school in the 1970s, and more in my freshman year of college. I have been using various techniques in my artwork for three decades now. This is another class that is really fun to teach, since the results are instantaneous! If you're around Northeastern Ohio, I hope you will join us!

One of my collages incorporating image transfers

As for the rest of the summer, there was a lot of live music, two class reunions, and lots and lots of sewing. My ongoing challenge for the months ahead is to continue to try to figure out how to balance it all. If you have any insights, I would love to hear them.