Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Slow Movement

I'm ever-so-slowly readjusting myself from a loaded summer schedule. I feel like there have been so many things to celebrate, I haven't had much of a chance to spend time in my studio. And I KNOW I should be so pleased that I have so many engagements and friends to laugh with, and I am, but I just don't get that "on-top-of-it" feeling when I don't have a chance to be at home, alone with myself - to relax in my favorite spots, to make myself a meal that's exactly what I want to eat, to sleep in my own BED, to get to do exactly what I want to do, even if it's just for a couple hours. I really need that.

Recently, I've starting hatching a plan to become an advocate for The SLOW Movement, specifically when it comes to those of us creating our own businesses and working for ourselves.

How many times do you hear a story about a freelancer who talks about how busy and all-consuming their days are with work? Where even sleeping becomes a chore that's challenging to fit in? Where their nose is smashed so hard up against the grindstone that they even lose sight of the joy and pleasure they originally found in their work??

Maybe, right when I got out of college, I would look up to these go-getters, (I mean they're getting SO much done, right?) but now I'm finding my opinions are changing. Sleep a chore?? I LOVE to sleep!! No joke, it's on my list of Top 10 Favorite Things In The Whole World! Why would someone choose to live a life where this daily (indeed, necessary) pleasure is taken away? No, now I find myself disheartened to hear of all these wonderfully-creative people throwing away their life balance for meaty portfolios and whatever kind of accolades they can find.

Certainly one of my goals in being a freelance maker is to counteract the mass-manufacturing of cheap goods that have proliferated in our world, along with humans' diminished understanding of quality and craftsmanship. There is definitely a culture of people out there, like me, who want to produce goods and provide services that center around these goals. High-quality, small batch, handmade, ethical, etc. What I don't understand is why those of us who are creating these alternative businesses still hold themselves to the rigors and demands of big business - make it faster, make it cheaper, grow, grow, more, more, more. When are we ever going to stop??

What I say is this - you make a product, you provide a service and you keep pushing until you find that sweet spot, where your materials, labor and overhead are covered, where your bills are paid at the end of the month, and you provide a quality result that makes you and your customer satisfied. And that's IT. You take on what you can handle and leave behind the rest for another day or another person. For some of us, there will be more work, for others of us, it will be less. But at the end of the day, it will be just right for you. And we can all still make the time to include life into all this.

Is that too much to ask? And, yes, I did ask myself if this was just a way for me to rationalize my laziness ... and I say "yes" and "no". I don't think I work at a rate that I'm completely satisfied with yet but I'm working to get there while also balancing the other things I deem important that are outside of the realms of a career. To always be balance will always be a fantasy but we can actively work towards it everyday. No one but you can understand what is truly important in your life.

I really like to work and move around and have purpose to my days. I also like to cook dinner every night and hike the nature trails near my house and zone out for long periods of time looking at cool things on the Internet. I don't like stress. I don't like staying up all night because I have to to meet a deadline. So that's why I'm deciding to not allow the Maserati-speed that society keeps pushing us towards to influence me or my work - to accept that this might mean I have less dough in my pocket, or achievements on my resumé, but know that instead I'm choosing a healthy lifestyle. 

With lots of sleep.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summertime clothes-making

 No time to post, must get back to my studio and then I'm headed to Turkey for 2 weeks! Thought I would share some photos and a quick word before I'm off.

Now that the art show has closed, I have no other art obligations for the rest of the year. I'm instead using the time to work on my pattern-making skills and submerging back into the world of fashion. Working with clients on custom clothing and fleshing out my own wardrobe with original designs, means I have plenty of work to do!

Above is a custom bridesmaid dress made out of holographic spandex. This was a real learning lesson since I've never worked with a 4-way stretch before. New goal is to figure out how to accurately measure stretch factor before I make a pattern. Underestimated this fabric's ability to  s  t  r  e  t  c  h !!

A quick Hemlock Tee for myself before leaving on vacation earlier this month. The pattern came from Grainline Studios with some customization on the sleeve. As much as I want to stick to my own original patterns, I thought it would be a good education to see what others in the field are doing, and reward myself with less thinking and more sewing!

A friend's wedding called for some flower girl dresses. These were pretty easy to make -- the tutus only required matching lengths of tulle, tied around ribbon. NOTE: tulle will snag and tear on anything small enough to catch within its holes! Still, great fun to make, and the girls loved wearing them.

A shot from my family reunion last weekend, where I brought a custom cheetah print dress for my grandmother (far left). What a full circle, to go from having my grandma measuring me for dresses as a child, to measuring her! It fit her perfectly on the first try (WOW). I even surprised myself on that.

I won't be posting anymore until this summer slows down. Until then, enjoy your summer! I will be getting back to spending time with my friends and family and making some room for sewing and knitting, of course!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A lil' needlepoint house popped up on my desk to live with all the other important things that have found themselves here. I never thought I would needlepoint but I found myself in a store where they had the coolest designs (and ladies). They got me set up with some canvas and needles and -- uh, oh -- it's way addictive! Just what I need, anooother hobby :)


Y'ALL, the Carrack show in Durham was a-mazzing! It exceeded my expectations and renewed my confidence in this whole crazy idea of making a career as an artist. We are so lucky to have a zero-commission art space in our town. That's right, we got to keep all the profit from sales -- that's virtually unheard of! And for a place like Durham that's great, because people aren't shelling out big bucks for art and we can price more affordably, knowing that we don't have to share :)

So I'm gonna do my best to provide a virtual tour of the space. It was not easy to photograph, and my long shots all turned out terrible -- due to the strong light coming from the windows.

 This was taken on the last day when we set up a fabulous bloody mary bar and chilled. Megan is stressing over her to-do list behind the desk and Mack is striking a pose. She is the third leg in our best friend trifecta, and we couldn't have put on the show without her help. It was so great to be in our hometown because it meant we had lots of friends and family around to lend a hand -- and we needed it!

There are two long walls that make up the majority of the gallery, one in brick and one in plaster. I loved the character of this wall as a backdrop to our pieces. It was especially crucial for the off-white lace banners. Otherwise, we would've had to paint a backdrop to enable them to show up.

The "Aloof"s intermingled with Megan's Bleach series -- a sequential set of digital prints taken of dioramas she made from some original watercolor paintings. Does that make sense? They're so cool because you read them as paintings but feel the perspective she created, so you're not totally sure what you're looking at..and that's always fun.

Some people expressed that they would've rather seen all my work together on one wall and all Megan's on another. I disagreed with them and told them to get bent!

I'm thrilled to say that all my toothbrushes sold! Coincidentally, all to people who live in LA, so they're cross-continental now. I'm happy that others will enjoy them as much as I have.

Here we reach the end of the brick wall, bookended by another crochet banner.

Ah, the geodesic dome. Full of unfulfilled ideas Megan and I had for a collaborative installation. Sometimes you are just ready to stop and be okay with where you're at, especially with the temptation of sleep. Turned out to be a fun place to socialize during the reception so I considered it a success! It was meant to play off my ideas of domesticity and the home and Megan's caves...

Melting Skull didn't totally fit with the theme of the show but had to put him in there somewhere. He got his own wall that was a bit indented out from the rest.

 Other side of the room.

 Love these two next to each other. Hammered/Enamored and Mind & Space.

 Mind & Space II and Full-On Meltdown

Hidden Places (blue) with a collage of some of my smaller pieces. I showed 4 Tiny Houses and they all sold. I think I hit on a good idea with those.

Hidden Places (pink) with Eons, Hand In Hand and the handshake rug. A lovely collage of purples.

That's a wrap! My only negative was that the Carrack cycles their shows out every 2 weeks. That means lots more people get a chance to show each year but lots of "dang! I missed it" from folks. It goes quick!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My grandfather's laughter at this piece, once he figured out what it meant, was one of the highlights of the art show opening last Friday. Typically, those who don't already know what it means, tend not to appreciate its humor so I was totally entertained by his little-boy reaction.
We might even have gotten a little closer because of it :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Defining Success

My thinking of late seems to be maintaining a consistent theme: success. What does it mean to me and ... is it important?

A while back I made my frustrations apparent through a mostly negative blog post about, what I perceived to be, failed opportunities. Since then, I've been doing some soul-searching on where I'm going, what I really want, and I'm finding that I have a lot of preconceived notions on what "success" means. 
         For example, I thought that having people write about your work, buy your art, or even having lots of comments on your blog meant that you were successful. When you break that down, it means that I'm relying on justification from others to prove my worth. When I think about it, that doesn't seem to make sense. Only doing things for the approval of others? 

It reminds me of watching Project Runway (before I realized how much I couldn't stand that show) and how the designers that tended to fail were the ones who listened to the judges' advice maybe a little too much and changed their idea too frequently, to the point where it wasn't even their idea anymore. And then failing in the same ways, my senior year of college because of the same issues. That's why you hear so many people say 

trust your gut 
be true to yourself/your vision/your idea


so why am I not considering such sage advice when it comes to defining success?

Yesterday, I was watching a documentary on fashion designer, Marc Jacobs, and was so utterly struck by a comment the narrator made. It was talking about an earlier fashion show he did (if you know about his career, it was the grunge collection he did for Perry Ellis), he said, and I quote: 

"It was a critical success 
but a commercial failure."

What? So you're saying ... one of his most iconic lines, a show that I was taught in fashion school, the one that created a shift in the way modern women of the 90's dressed ... was a failure? I had to laugh at the dichotomy within this sentence. That's another point I've been coming back to this week       ..............       equating success with money.

I don't want money to have such a hold on me that it becomes the platform in which I make all my career decisions! Alas, I know too well that our society is built upon it but dammit! I don't want it to wholly dictate this part of my life; a career that I am attempting to build in the name of creative fulfillment!

So, I'm working on a new way to define success in my own career, in my own life, in my own heart.

My success is not determined by how many hours in a day I spend "working", or what kind of press I get for an art show, or how many people visited my website in the last month, or what OTHER PEOPLE are doing in their lives. 

From now on, I'm defining success by how excited I get to come up with an idea and see it through to execution, by the connections I make through my work, the observations I learn about myself that help me grow, my ability to keep a clean kitchen, exercising and eating healthy on a daily basis, staying positive and being a source of support for the ones I love.

My career is not my life, but it's a part of it, and I think I will be a whole lot more happy if I base my success on my own terms.


A quick snap of the art show as it was being installed in Durham last Monday. More photos coming soon of the completed space!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The second reincarnation of LOVE SIGNS is going up next week! Instead of last year, when Megan and I put up ever piece of art we had, we now have the luxury of picking and choosing from our fuller bodies of work. We're really excited not only to show in our hometown, but also to be at The Carrack - a phenomenal non-profit, community-funded art gallery where they are very open-minded in encouraging all types of creativity in the art world. Not to mention 100% of the money from sales goes straight to the artists! That means we can price our work more affordably because we don't have a middle man taking a commission. This is really an amazing resource from the local artist community.

It will only be up for 2 weeks so come out and see it when you can! We have some amazing events planned and we hope you will come celebrate with us!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Turtle Love in Appliqué

 The progress on my latest quilt commission has been minimally featured on this blog, so I'm giving it some attention now! But then I really need to get off the computer and get back to binding this guy. Guess what? Another t-shirt quilt! Surprise, surprise. It's nothing new that I wish for quilt projects that don't involve t-shirts but, dammit, it's just such a good way to clean out the closet and save all that clothing that we just can't get rid of. 

This quilt is of a more somber note -- it is a memorial quilt for a boy named Alex, who died too young from bone cancer. We are preserving all his clothing in this quilt, to live on the bed in his former room and be a comforting source of warmth for the family he left behind. I feel honored to be able to create a project like this for his loved ones. 

First thing first, I wanted it to be as happy as possible and be something that an 11-year old boy would find fun. I was so tickled when I found out that Alex loved turtles because turtles have always been my favorite animal. The one request that his mother had, was that she wanted a pouch somewhere on the quilt that she could put his blankie in. That triggered the idea for a big turtle in the middle with a zippered shell that she could use. I started by sketching my turtle on craft paper. When I finally was happy with that design, I took to the mind-bending task of breaking down sections into separate appliqué pieces and figuring out the order of how everything would be sewn.

 Starting with the shell, I cut a piece of fabric the full size and then broke down my kraft paper pattern into each shell segment, using them as cutting templates. Here I recruited the help of some fabric spray adhesive (I love fabric spray adhesive) to place each chunk. It helped that some pieces overlapped each other so that I had wiggle room for adjustments and knew that each edge would get well-secured.

 Then I powered through some intensive satin stitch work on my home machine. This was great fun because of the small scale. My biggest problem with quilting is how large everything gets, and wrangling foot after foot of fabric through the machine can get tiresome. Not to mention, I only have so much space in my studio. So it was nice to get to work on something little :)

 All the other pieces were treated in a similar manner, with the exception of the bottom of the shell, where the zipper went. Can you see it? I would've loved to hand-turn the body of the turtle with a traditional, invisible appliqué stitch, but time wouldn't allow for that. And it was pretty nice to get this whole project done within 2 days, especially since I've hardly any experience with appliqué, I kinda surprised myself with my ability to put this together! I used yarn french knots for the pupils and a sliver of Ariel's hair (from a Little Mermaid bedsheet) for the mouth. I'm totally thrilled with the results and feel like I achieved exactly the look I was going for.

Here I am, getting the quilt quilted on a long-arm quilting machine. And as soon as I finish the binding, I will get full shots of the completed quilt up in this blog! Can't wait to share this with Alex's family and all of you!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Trials & Errors

Today I find myself reflecting on a week's work of disappointments and misdirected energy. Yesterday I gave my second ever attempt at setting up a booth and putting my shit on the table. Nomad, a women's eco-clothing boutique started by Gaia Conceptions in Greensboro, had a grand opening festival in their new parking lot and invited me to set up a booth. I normally would never consider such an offer but I really like Andrea, the owner, and I really like her business model and this amazing resource she is bringing to the community -- and it was FREE. I figured "why not?" I've been working on small-scale pieces and had art prints and postcards lying around the house.... I could fill a table.

And I did fill a table -- filled a whole 10' x 10' chunk of asphalt! I did rather enjoy a bit of decorating and was pleasantly surprised by my mother-in-law's fun tent that I unfurled for the first time on site.

Throughout the 7-hours I was there behind that table, I gave out less than a dozen business cards and sold a whopping 7 postcards...ok, ok, I knew I wasn't going to sell much, and I saw it as more of a 'getting-out-in-the-public' sorta opportunity, but it still felt disappointing realizing that
1) this was not an appropriate venue for my work and 2) I just wasted a whole day focusing my energy in the wrong direction. I STILL really enjoyed being there, I mean it was a waste strictly from a business p-o-v. As Adam drove us away after helping me pack up, he stated that he "knew that wasn't going to be the right outlet for me". I suppressed the instinctual...

...but what really bugged me was that this was the second time in one week that Adam was saying this to me. Wanna hear more? Ok, I tell you :)

I applied for a spot as a member in the prestigious Piedmont Craftsmen Guild, based in Winston-Salem, NC. Not a huge undertaking but you pay a fee and submit photos of your work with descriptions of your techniques and materials. If you make it past that first part, then you go on to exhibit your work at their huge fair in November. I was looking to find any new venue to show my work so I entered. I didn't get in - not too bummed at this point - but then I asked for feedback and got a healthy dose of criticism. Lemme tell you, that shit is HARD TO SWALLOW! Once again, I talked to Adam about it all and he gave me the same 'I knew all along it wasn't gonna work' comment. 

How is it other people are privy to what's best for me and I'm learning this all in hindsight?

I've always been in the "at least I tried" party but now I'm wondering if I'm not being discerning enough out the gate. My fucking problem is that I just can't seem to wrap my head around where I lie. Am I with the crafters or the artists? The week's failures have got me thinking that I'm not in the craft category anymore, I guess I need to start convincing the art ya-yas out there that knitting is a viable art form...wish me luck.

+++++ ON A POSITIVE NOTE +++++

Skram Furniture, my occasional employer, asked if they could take "Ain't That Some Shit!" up to NYC with them to show in their ICFF booth! I've been following the #icff hashtag on Instagram to see the photos people are taking of it.

International Contemporary Furniture Fair is a huge, awesome, annual event stuffed with the most amazing, latest design work from all over the world. THIS IS A BIG DEAL FOR ME! I mean, New York City is the mothership for all artists, people live there that understand....and are willing to pay for art. Also, it's hung above a gorgeous new credenza that my boo berry Adam worked on; we've been calling it the Rorschach piece.The show goes from May 17th-20th. 

It's up there now and it's for sale so 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"BORED" and Alone

Got some new knittings to share this week. 

Find them painfully befitting since I've been holed up in my house, desperate for conversation, a little variety, or at least somewhere or someway to be active. As much as I love knitting, when you find yourself on the couch with the needles for hours at a time everyday, your body starts telling you that you're not meant to sit on your legs for this long.

Went to a great exhibit at the Greenhill Center in Greensboro and was blown away by Noé Katz, particularly his sculptures.

I thought this one was especially fitting of the state-of-mind I've been in lately.

Found the back of this piece inspiring, with the way that the lines sorta echo themselves. So of course I had to explore this idea more...

Flipped the design and knitted it all over again. But this time pulled the tails of my yarn to the front instead of the back. Was unsure if this was going to look good but convinced myself to keep going and just at least see how it would turn out. If it was bad, I at least experimented and it would go into the basket of reject ideas. (It's true, I have experimented so much with color knitting that I have a basketful of failed projects. Hey, maybe one day they will find a new purpose.)


...found some more images from the PA show. Realized they're some pieces that have not found their way on this blog yet.

Tastee food spread from zee party! Doesn't little toothbrushes there look great on a stand?? I'm calling that one "Real Intimacy" (8" x 6 ¾") Also you can see the postcards I had printed up with my contact info on the back. No surprise, that at a dollar a pop, they're my bestsellers!

"Real Intimacy #2"
 in x 7  in

Love this little guy. The cherry wood frames it beautifully.

16 in x 7 in

This was inspired by a letterpress print Megan made with the word "Eons". Since we are showing together in June, we having been finding ways to respond to each other's work, consciously and unconsciously.