Friday, September 30, 2011

Textile Friday: Arduino's Bright Lights

Today we're going to talk about electronics for the rest of us. I am not a computer programmer. I did fairly well in math, but the idea of programming makes me feel as if my eyes were bleeding from pain. This is a common feeling for most people.

A few years ago, the art industry was revolutionized by a small Italian company called Arduino. Arduino was originally developed for interactive museum displays and the key word in everything they do is SIMPLE. It's programming a monkey, or myself can do. It has been adapted by the fashion industry due to it's simplicity. There are several major companies if you came to the Arduino talk last weekend, but the most famous is called the LilyPad. LilyPads are sold on Sparkfun and run between $15-75, average $20. They have a battery, breadboard (controller), conductive thread, and can be wired to a number of sensors and actions. By wired, I mean connected with a simple thread and needle from one piece to the next. Dead easy. The most popular are LED lights, but you can also add buttons, switches, bluetooth, vibration motors, buzzers, and sensors for temperature/motion. I like the simplicity of the outfit and that if you can thread a needle, you can make this system work.

This is one of the new and interesting new developments in the industry. Most people get transfixed by the flashing lights and miss the more important applications in the sensors and bluetooth. Now your purse can recognize you, your workout clothes can help regulate your work-out for a custom regimen, or your curtains can act as motion sensors to protect you from errant burglars. A million and one applications that we have barely started to scratch the surface of. I look forward to seeing this technology develop.

If you would like to come learn this technology yourself, I invite you to our local monthly Arduino Club Meetings either at SplatSpace or Techshop RDU.

Note: Lilypads are available for purchase on Sparkfun which is a great website.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Photos from the Hello Etsy Up On Flickr

Hey Everyone, welcome back from a wet and rainy weekend. It's been blowing rain through and the grass in our front yard has been soaking in the moisture. The photos from the Hello Etsy Event have started pouring in. I hit my account max today so you can find the first half on my flickr account and the rest will be up in a few days when the new month hits. Not a bad problem to have. It was amazing how many people braved the awful weather to come out. We loved seeing each and every one of you. Thanks so much for making a difference and frankly having a lot of fun with us. To good art, food, beer, and friends. Thanks so much for being a blast. I look forward to our next month meet-up and seeing faces both old and new.

If you missed the meeting itself, we will be making a short video for you to watch in a few weeks for you to have fun looking at hopefully if all goes well. These videos always seem to take so much longer than anyone expects to put together. Also, if you feel you missed getting to see any of the talks, they are up on the Etsy Stream in the Online Labs Section. We absolutely LOVED the one by Moo's director Lisa Rodwellon. She is the rare type who is full of specific details on how to make your business work instead of the despairingly touchy feel crap that public guest speakers so often throw at their audiences. Lisa stood out as a practical breath of fresh air. There's an old saying that a people will die for lack of knowledge and it is well worth your 20 or so minutes to listen to her real practical advice on the business of business on a budget. I am posting up her video so that you can look at it here if you have trouble finding it.

Please, watch this morning with your coffee. I think you'll be glad you did.

We look forward to seeing you on the blog later this week as we release new surprises for you.

Watch live streaming video from etsy at

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Textile Friday: Handmade Industrial Tribes

Well, we just had fashion week and it was pretty awesome to watch the sheer variety come down the runway. Everyone seems to be following a concept that could be summed up as "tribe." The interpretations were however all over the board. Tribes mean different things to different people. For some people it meant literal tribes such as the African warrior or Scottish tribal chiefs. You saw plaid prints and lots of leather. But for others the tribe had a more metropolitan feel to it. It is as if we all are looking for a little toughness to survive the concrete jungle fall is in the process of blowing in.

My favorite collection was by Alexander Wang. He always pushes the edge to give you something unexpected and beautiful in my mind. The juxtaposition of industrial laser techniques and workmanship were really pivotal. A new spin on an old idea.

I'm excited to see this technology really take off with the Greensboro conference on industry trends coming up in a few weeks.

So my question for you today is: "What is your tribe?"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Etsy Muscle Cars Meetup: October 11th

Hey Everyone, thanks for a great month. We had a lot of fun making shoes and hosting the Hello Etsy Meet-up this past week. We enjoyed seeing a lot of old and new faces. Thank you everyone who braved the rain to come out. We will be posting pictures on facebook and flicker to share our happiness with you.

This coming month it has finally gotten cool enough to head out back and talk about steel. John Pasemann runs a local auto restoration business out of Durham called US Car Tool. He is going to talk about the famous eBay as well as showing us some of his kits he designs and cuts on the plasma cutter. One of the things that I love that he does is create "car stories" or visual updates of the progress his shop is making for car owners to see online. That way you can check-in along the process.

As a powerseller on ebay and owner of a successful shop for almost a decade, he has unique and practical wisdom to give on how to actually make it in the area. I encourage you to come out and handle some of his kits, watch him cut on the plasma cutter, and have fun drooling over some vintage cars.

Please note we are only doing one speaker this month to focus as metal-working tends to take a while and we want to actually let you see him making some of the stuff.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Carl Frega: Electronics Repair

Electronics are a new hot field a lot that's rapidly growing with the DIY crowd. There's an amazing number of parts you can use to create wonderful robots, quirky creations, and just have fun with a basic Arduino board and left over electronic equipment. If you are familiar with Techshop's bin wall then you know that there's a host of spare parts floating around Techshop just waiting to be transformed by your imagination. Carl normally does computer repair, but he is dropping by Saturday, September 17th from 3-4 pm. You can hear him talk about using found electronics in a practical fashion. One of his big favorites are laser printers simply because they have so many cheap, useful parts and can be picked up off the scrap wall for free.

If you like his talk, feel free to come back for a basic class in Arduino programming or drop by the second Monday of every month from 7-10 pm to share dreams with the club. Can't wait to see what you dream up.

Look forward to having you this weekend for the DIY Summit.

Textile Friday: Wind Energy

I've decided to start a Friday blog series about thinking outside the box for textile design. This is mostly to educate you the customer about what textile design is. Li Sashay is a lifestyle company, we design to fit our clients lives. It often surprises people to realize the twists and turns that fabric takes beyond our daily clothes. The same technology brings you the shirt you put on in the morning, covers your chairs, and also flies into space.

It is easy to forget fabric because it comes on so many journeys with us. One of my favorite projects is for a lovely local company Windlift that is building renewable wind energy with kites. You can see the Linkleading edge we just finished replacing (did I mention research involves a lot of crashing?). Each kite produces enough energy to power a base around the world. Be it a military outpost or a hospital. While a kite may seem like a simple thing, using it is the type of thing that will reduce oil consumption by thousands of gallons per week on site and that's huge. It is my hope that all of us will have helped to improve the planet a little with this project. Have a great week and check in next week for changing face of fabric.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adelaide Siegl: Triangle Loom Weaver

Today we are drawing a little from my Irish heritage to talk about Triangle Loom Weaving. Some of you at Techshop are more familar with Adelaide and Chris's train models they create, but Adelaide is also involved in a number of local knitting clubs and circles. She is coming to talk to us about weaving this weekend. For those of you who are not familar with this frugal traditional method, triangle weaving is awesome because it is a zero waste process. It also uses 2 threads instead of the typical 1 so it's very fast compared to standard weaving. In an hour you can normally finish 1 of the smaller looms pictured here. This size can be turned into a clutch or make-up bag. I really like the idea of using scraps of yarn left over from other projects and making something beautiful.

Adelaide will also be showing some of her larger looms and works which make lovely scarves and shawls. She will have finished looms available for use and you may take a completed one home with you for $20 or a kit for an unfinished loom for $15.

I hope to see you during her class Saturday, September 17th from 10-11 am in the conference room.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Todd Hartzell: Master Wood Turner

I love eating off wooden plates and bowls. There's something very organic about the texture under your salad or winter feast. Todd Hartzell makes some of the most beautiful local wooden hardware I've seen for the tabletop as a foodie. In his defense, he does many things beautifully, but I find his bowls, plates, and pepper-mills the most pleasing. He has his pieces in a number of galleries in the area, but he will be dropping by to talk Saturday, September 17th from 1-2 pm on his long-time love: finished wood. You are welcome to come bring a few pieces of your own to display as a local artist at whatever stage you are in your journey and maybe pick up a lovely piece or two of your own to keep.

Have a geat day and I look forward to seeing everyone this weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

John Galante: Local Chef and Food Lover

I love local cuisine, there's something about food trucks and sidewalk stands that just make my mouth water. You can smell the hot, warm scent wafting towards you a mile away. While there's a lot of good cooks in the area, John is the only one whose ever made me cry the food was so perfect. It's a marriage of spices, meat, and crisp vegetables. John is a culinary wanderer and we are all blessed to occasionally get invited along for one of his adventures.

You have to love the old school cooks who have their own garden so everything comes to you freshly picked and hours new. For those of you who have not yet gotten to try his BBQ tacos or pulled pork sandwiches, I encourage you to drop by the kitchen Saturday for lunch at 12 pm til he sells out. The BBQ tacos are hands down my favorite. Incredibly simple on the outside, and something you can't put down once you've tried one. Best thing I've ever tasted and that includes a summer abroad in France. He will be serving plates for $3-5 each and slices of his famous jalapeno chocolate pies. I hope you get to delight your senses on a budget.

Note: When John is not exploring new sights, he works as the manager of WingZone down on Hillsborough St.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day One: Newly Redesigned Leather Labels

The first of our designs I am releasing this fall is our new leather labels for the season. They stand as a wonderful symbol of quality on our high-end couture pieces. These labels feature several specific improvements this season to stand up to a host of abuse and still look good.

First the labels are mineral dyed instead of vegetable dyed. This is a much higher quality and won't run or bleed the way traditionally finished vegetable labels will. I picked MBA quality cowhide this season. The leather is a lovely buttersoft that helps the textures pop in logos. Beside being resistant to bleeding, mineral dyes also create a better texture for the customer. The finish lacks the traditional wax, oil, or plastic feel used in vegetable dying. My favorite part is it sews easier making it a joy to work with.

Second, hardware. I have really fallen in love with hardware as a way to up the quality presentation for customers. You can either do rivets (traditional) or eyelets which goes great for things like: bookbinding, jewelry making, luggage tags... anything that would have a leather or silk cord go through it.

I've narrowed it down to the 8 colors on trend for the season that take etching the best for readable tags (most important for brand logos). You can order a kit with a selection of leather and hardware for $10 off Etsy all fall:

I encourage you to order yours today. Have a great week. Check in next week for Day Two.

Nash Page: Blacksmith

Today, I'm headed down to the forge to show you some fun pieces from my wonderful Nash who just did of armor for an Avalon Event. While most people know him for his fun wire jewelry, he also teaches blacksmithing as well as doing a fair amount of custom work. Nash is awesomely fun to hang out with and goof around. I hope you get to drop by and create fire with him at the forge. You can watch him at work this Saturday, September 17th from 5-7 pm.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chuck Frank: Master Jeweler and Woodworker

Jack-of-All-Trades is what pops to mind when you think of Chuck. He is heavily involved in teaching woodworking classes at Techshop as his second career. His first having retired from being a master jeweler after 30 years of hard work.

I am so pleased to have him come talk to us twice at the DIY meeting in a few weeks. The first is about something...frankly...I just agreed to it because it was awesome. Chuck will be demonstrating wood turning on the lathe from Saturday September 17th from 1-2 pm and you may enter the raffle to win one of the bowls he will be giving away on site. Each bowl is made from reclaimed timber from local wrecks right here in North Carolina along the coast.

Because PIRATE WOOD is awesome. (The bowl on left is made of this cool wood.)

You can also drop in on his guest lecture from 4-5 pm on how to make high-end jewelry. This is a 30 min slide show presentation Chuck put together for his masters. If you are familiar with jewelry making or want to learn more, he will be taking questions. I hope you have a chance to learn from this wise elder.

Have a great day and we hope to see you next weekend.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ruthan Freese: DIY Queen

I've never met a project Ruthan wasn't interested in. There's an amazing variety of DIY out there and if you're looking for an adventure, Ruthan is the friend invite. A good number of our late night schemes overlap as we both have a love of fabric. One of her latest ventures is custom bleached t-shirts.

They're fun, quick, and easy to make. All you need is a t-shirt, some bleach water, and a few minutes. I hope you get a chance to drop by and see her.

She will be guest crafting Sunday, September 18th from 4-5 pm.

You are welcome to drop by. We are asking you to bring $5 to cover the cost of your t-shirt for each one you make.

Have a great day and we look forward to having at the event next weekend.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mike Natale: Master Brewer

Some people, you know just because they make you smile. Mike is one of those guys for me. While most brewers will tell you about the age, the season, or the complex history of beer, Mike doesn't do this when you walk in the bar. Instead, Mike will smile at you, slide a glass of his Raleigh Red across the table and tell you he makes a beer for people to drink. And that I think is what draws people to ROTH night after night.

A beer made for you to drink.

We're incredibly lucky to have him come talk to us Saturday, September 17th on micro-brewing and hand out free drinks. And you're welcome to wander next door afterwards enjoy the beer, food, and laughter. He's running a special all night just for us of $2 Raleigh Reds. This is probably the point to mention to you that it's my favorite.

To good beer and better friends. Can't wait to see you all next weekend. And if you get a chance to talk to Mike, tell him, "Hi, and that Dara sent you."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ella Brooks: Assistant Fashion Designer

It is said in business, you should always try to hire people smarter than yourself because they will surprise you. Ella fits this category beautifully for me. She's a rising senior in the textile school at State and a wonderful person. While most days find her creating fabric monsters or commercial accounts for Li Sashay, she occasionally moonlights as the future talent I know she is in the process of becoming. I'm looking forward to following her career and seeing her continue to grow. If you haven't gotten to know her rising talent yet, I encourage you to check out the music video we made of the summer for saving the environment. That's Ella, holding the bag with a smile on her face.

She will be hosting the evening Etsy Berlin streaming event at the DIY Summit Saturday, September 17th from 5-9 pm. I encourage you to come out and talk to her about her upcoming hopes and dreams.

Look forward to seeing you all next weekend.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Evan Daniel: Metalworker

Roth Casting 02-11-11 (12) by MarkInRaleigh1
There's something magic about creating metal scultpure out of soft sand. I love watching Evan spin his wizardry. You never know exactly how your piece will turn out. There's an element of surprise in all good creations. The hold your breath moment. Evan has completely mastered it. I love going to his public pours once a month where he takes the rest of us uneducated types who come tottering out with a sculpture to make a mold of in random assortments of wood, clay, or plastic, and in a few minutes you have wonder.

He will be demonstrating pieces for the pour, September 17th from 7-9 pm and telling you how to create items that pour well. I invite you to come watch him and perhaps take home a piece of your own. We will have clay available to craft your own creation. You may come back for the next public pour Tues, October 11th for the Etsy Meet-up when we make them into metal sculptures.

Note: In his spare time when not doing metalwork, Evan is busy teaching and working in the area.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Falling in love with Raleigh

We're having fun this week getting ready for the Etsy DIY Summit and looking towards the fall season. After some bantering back and forth, we've decided we loved doing the 40 days of design with you over summer and want to continue the trend for fall. We're concentrating on refining our looks for you the customer with the holiday season in mind and have boiled it down to 30 unique ready-to-wear creations. You can drop by our online Etsy store as we post each new gift at the beginning of the week. We hope you love wearing them as we did making them for you.
In other news, we've been pleasantly surprised at the huge number of people who signed up this month for the Acorn to Oak Handmade group. We've had over 400 people join in the last month which has been mindblowing. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And welcome! We love sharing our experience with you.
As an added fun part, we have decided to share with you some of our upcoming guests artists who will be speaking at the DIY Summit. These are wonderful members of our local talent community and a great resource for adding smiles to my day. I hope you get a chance to come hang out with them and see their work in person.