Friday, December 28, 2012

Textile Friday: Focusing the Naval Gazing

               This past year, I've done a series of Friday topics that interested me. Favorite designers, companies I liked, how-to-guides, places to source fabric and trim, my grandfather's advice to me, and anything else that wandered across my navel. This coming year, I would like to focus on a practical topic: taking care of your clothing.
               As someone whose learned the hard way, the average customer today (myself included) just getting out of college or venturing into the better brand market simply is generally not equipped with the knowledge to make their clothes last and get the wear out of them they deserve. Most of us throw away 90% of the life of our clothes not because we hate the color or they don't look great on us, but simple things like the wrong laundry detergent or sewing on a button. That was fine when I was in college and my entire clothing including my shoes was worth maybe $100-200 (Did I mention that I was into grunge in college? My grandfather lived in horror of my ripped jeans and politically incorrect t-shirts.). It was devastating when I got out in the professional world and suddenly I was expected to know how to put myself together. And judged for not doing so. Then I finally sucked up the money to buy great designer brands only to ruin them in the space of a season. The worst was this yummy Theory suit and shirt that just hugged my butt like a glove.
                Actually, it got ruined sewing on a machine. I dropped machine oil on the pant leg. My lovely suits weren't made to stand up to the rigors of actual work. And then I met Nash who is like a walking disaster for everything I owned. Between that, sewing, and 20 lbs since we started dating, I struggle all the time to figure out how to make my tastes match my wardrobe. If you have lovely clothes and never struggle to mend buttons, get out weird stains, fix odd tears, or what to do with a few extra pounds, good for you. If you're like me and these are regular things you encounter, then I hope you enjoy this coming year as I offer up the wisdom of how to juggle your clothes with an active lifestyle. A year of idealism meets reality.
                So next Friday, let's get started on an adventure.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year's Resolution: Finished My Spring Look Board

                Ha, finished my look board for the spring collection. This was an incredibly hard thing to do as I'm still getting used to correct croquis and flats, but need to get better at clearly communicating my ideas without shipping physical samples. It's somewhat funny to me that from an industry prospective, people are always MUCH more interested in my sewing/construction abilities than drawing. People outside the industry, it seems to reverse itself.
                There's 8 looks, 21 pieces, and 7 accessories to make. A number of the accessories have already been made so I'll start posting them to Etsy in case you see something that catches your eye. Everything (EVEN THE THREAD) is recycled from the factory floors of North Carolina and reuse centers I've gotten in the past year. Something which makes me feel good knowing how much is just thrown out in the industry. I hope it appeals to you too. The chance to turn them into one-of-a-kind creations and save the environment a little at the same time.
                 I've decided to do one look every two weeks for spring which means I'll get done either late March or early April depending on how things work out. Hopefully this will be fun for all of us, though I'm nervous about the corsets of which I've included 2 (a full-corset and an under-corset) as that's the only thing I feel is pretty ambitious. I do have an ace-in-the-hole there as my girl friend Heather is a corset maker so if push comes to shove I will end up begging her for help.
          So here's the first look, sketches are pitiful compared to the real thing. Let's breath some life into her why don't we?  Ready for a little adventure?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New How To Make A STRONG dog leash

       I'm been thinking about this for awhile now, and finally got around to posting a new how-to-make-an-ultra-strong-dog- leash on Instructables. This is for a basic dog leash kit you can buy from Tandy's leather and assemble quickly for under $20 (mine was $8 on sale, I think it's $19.95 full price). The thing is practically indestructible which is a first for the husky. You can see Chino modeling his leash with pride. And no, he hasn't been able to break the sucker. I generally avoid kits like the plague in favor of either moding my own or buying out right as kits always seem to eat up hours of time because of missing parts, bad instructions, or end up costing me twice as much as I originally planned due to "forgetting" small parts requiring a second trip to the store or extra parts. Sewing patterns are the worst for this.
          This kit surprisingly had none of those problems. It was clearly marked, easy to assemble in a few minutes, and probably took 20-30 minutes of actual work to put together though I took the weekend to make it as I let it dry between coats. If you have a dog and want to make a great leash for him, I suggest using this leather kit process to make a one of a kind holiday gift for him. You can also paint or carve the leash to your heart's content, but I stuck to the basics. Now you too can make one for friends or family and look cool in the process with a handmade gift that didn't take hours to assemble. Happy holidays, I hope you are also having a nice holiday weekend.

PS- That's my dad modeling the leash in the first picture. Wow, that was a nice day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Why stand back up? Hope.

              "Fall down seven times, get up eight." ~Japanese Zen Proverb (Also most major religions)

              "Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope."  ~Annonymous
              I've been thinking a lot about adversity and what is the difference between what breaks one person and builds another up. We've been through a tough couple of years as a nation. And while I initially thought I would have a host of depressing stories from my friends and family (and yes, I got some of those at first), what I didn't expect what all the stories of hope I heard of what happened after.  People who found in themselves and those around them an inner strength they never imagined. 
             The word that keeps coming up in the stories they tell is "Hope." 
             I like that, and 3 years after the Great Recession as we stand back up, I think it's what I want to give to those I know this spring. The always darkest before the dawn gift. The idea that you can stand back up, dust yourself off, and find opportunities around the corner. So for spring and everyone having a great year, a little piece of hope for you.

PS- I saw this lecture on TED about actually helping people involves listening to them and actually doing what they ask. I think this is a great speech about the difference between pretending to act and actually making a difference.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Textile Friday:What stories would you like to tell?

     Next week is Christmas and it's got me thinking about where I want the blog and myself as a whole to go. Nash and I have 4 days off together, the sheer luxury of getting to spend a couple days with my favorite person in the whole world is my definition of holiday priceless. It is also something that doesn't involve a lot of money or a fancy ____ (insert expensive toy here).
      Makes one really think about Christmas and the holidays in general if my favorite gift of the season isn't something you can buy. I keep circling back around to the why's lately instead of the how's. Everyone always asks how you make x or y. How did you come up with the idea? How did you line this bag? How does this shirt wash? How long will it hold up? How can I wear it? You name it.
      Me? That's not the interesting part. I already know the answer to all those is: It's the work of MY hands. A lot of work. And hopefully, if I do my job right, those questions will be answered as a matter of course, if's my job to cover the hows effortlessly so you never think about them. What really interests me is WHY.
      Why is this piece important? Why is it worth making? Why is it beautiful? Why does it inspire me? Why does inspire you? Why does it work for you? Why did you need it? Why are you here? On this blog? In this town? On this street? In today? The why questions are the hardest I think to answer. Partially because we're taught not to answer them. And partially because why often asks more questions than it answers.
       That might be art in general. And beautiful pieces especially.
       They tell us stories I think.
       Like the hauntingTracy Chapmen song.
       And for me at least, for spring, I feel that the question is a worth answering. And being Irish, I find it easier to answer hard questions with stories than pat answers. Because little in my life has had pat answers. So for you too, one great question! And today, may you stop with 2 year-old wonder and ask why.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Finishing Up The Year: Free Sewing Machine

               Alright everyone, finishing up the year's paper work. I know there's another two weeks til Christmas or two and a half months til the next season change in February, but we already almost sold out of Beloved. It's been so nice to see people enjoy something personal for us that came out of our love and wedding this past fall. Thank you everyone, when you give a piece of your soul to others, you never know how it will be treated. This week, I'm giving away my home sewing machine as I got an early Christmas present from Nash of a vintage Nelco. I'll be using it next year to do some posts on realistic home sewing repairs. The machine up for grabs is an old Commodore de Luxe sewing machine in working order which does straight and zig-zag stitches in a traveling case. This is a high shank model. It does normal, silk, and embroidery stitches. It comes with thread, box of attachments, and spare bobbins. This is a great starter machine for someone looking to pick-up home sewing.

Attachments Include:

buttonhole foot
quilting guide
hemming foot (1/4")

              If you're local in the area and interested, just e-mail Nash at: You can pick it up any time. Hope this helps someone. Have a great week!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Thanks Everyone For A Great Show!

        Wow, I love our new location at the Visual Art Exchange for the holiday craft show. Lots of fun all around and I am making a mental note to bring some more cash on me for next time so I can buy holiday gifts for people. Especially this monkey cup warmer! Too cute! May you have a lovely holiday week too!

Friday, December 7, 2012

This Little Pigment

                    I love artists who combine different mediums. Andie mixes hard metals with delicate watercolor pendents to create mini works of art. It's a lovely Victorian heirloom craft back when sweethearts would make mementos of each other to hold close to their heart. Andie takes a modern twist on this beloved art and reinvents it for today. Acorns, fish, beloved pets, and whimsical craft.
                     Since I love dogs, I pulled this pendent out of her shop. I invite you to look through her shop and find something you like or commission your own Objet D'Art. Have wonderful day and see you at the show tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stick Staff Cane

                 To work with wood, you need a good sense of humor and patience. It splits, fractures, and twists in all kinds of directions. You can either fight the wood, or learn to work with it. Woodworking forces a type of inner character polishing that I love in Nash. He's gets a sense of inner assurity and peace when he pulls something out of the grain. Al is the same way. He's a quiet man with a cane who you talk to and feel relaxed chatting with. It is only later, as you see what he creates spill across his table that you realize what wealth his inner mind is. Every time I meet him, he's dreamed up something new. Last year it was dragon canes and whistles. Then mustaches. Now, it's custom Santa whistles.
                 If you love wood or one of a kind crafts, check out this traditional art at his booth on Sat. I'm sure you'll be delighted. 


          I love conversations that begin with, "I sell on Etsy to feed my craft addition." Katie makes a lot of great arts and crafts. Every time you drop in her shop, you see something cute, you just didn't know you needed it yet. Take this to die for monkey kozie, perfect for keeping your beverage warm with a smile.
          You know you need it!
          We can all thank her mom for introducing her to photography in high school. To many more new creations and a great day! You can check out her shop here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Harvaitt Design

                   Modern art is the basis of almost all fabric prints produced today. The idea is to inspire instead of slavishly copy an original. It's a concept that is addicting to find beauty in the everyday. Harvait Designs is well-known in the area as a geometric artist and interior designer who loves cityscape skylines and quirky animal paintings. Christine paints bold acrylic colors across the canvas. My current favorite piece of hers is the cheerful squirrel on right. Because I love squirrels and yellow, but it's likely it says something else to you. Modern art speaks to all of us in so many different ways and times.
                    It is gift you can look at a hundred or thousand ways and see something different each time. I like that. So I encourage you to look through her shop and blog if you want a little serene in your day. May you see something new each time you visit her.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Li Sashay

                  Hey everyone, welcome back from the weekend. Today we were supposed to tell you all about Li Sashay, but really it's pretty simple for us. Li Sashay is a labor of love for both of us. It exists because we love making women beautiful in their lives with the work of our hands. I could spend all day telling you the hows and the whys, but instead I'm going to go eat dinner with my husband. If you are a woman, may you hear that you are loved today. And if you are a man, please go tell a woman in your life how wonderful she is and how much you love her.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wired, Twisted, and Stoned

          Whimsy is a fun element in a designer. Elizabeth is one of the best I've seen at cobbling together funny stories and random bits of metal and glasswork to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Just check out her charming necklace, gambler's lucky charm which has little mini-dice scattered in it.
         I've tried to think of a serious story to tell you all week about Elizabeth as she leads a local jewelry beading group, but honestly like the jewelry, Elizabeth is a blast hang out with and grab a drink while she makes you laugh with quirky tales.
          She's got this lovely ability to see the best in the world sideways which is entertaining. Of all our members, she's probably grown the most in the past year and her art reflects that. If you get a chance, drop by her Etsy shop here and check out her work. The names are great.

Textile Friday: Additive vs. Subtractive Dying

           Some of you all may have seen this before as it's been out for a couple of years, but lately I seem to be getting a sleuth of questions about dying. Dying is one of those topics that drives everyone in textiles CRAZY because your computer screen NEVER matches the actual fabric/in person. This has to do with how the color is created. On your computer screen the color is generated by adding different colored lights together (Named aptly enough additive dying). In fabric, the color is created by SUBTRACTING colors (aka- subtractive dying). While adding and subtracting always end up with the same number on paper, in real life this rarely happens as all additive colors together make white while all subtractive colors added together make black. Kinda hard to meet in the middle there. This is further complicated by the fact that colors often have vague or non-standard names like tan, black, or gold. What is a true color in any shade may vary from region to region or even season to season. One year's perfect forest green may be another year's hated pea soup. While pantone has been used for a long time in the printing industry to make sure everyone is one the same page colorwise, they have more recently created this stellar ap for $10.00 (A lot cheaper than the $100 plus printed sample books) which helps you bridge the gap between the two worlds. Best of all it can work from photos or a variety of color sources so you can archive, e-mail, and shop making practical application functions like making sure all your bridesmaids have the same color wedding dress or getting your florist to pick flowers that match your wedding colors. A huge gift for designers in every field and brides-to-be as you can finally coordinate color anywhere in the world. I think this is a vast step forward as color will so often make or break a design and it is also one of the hardest elements to pin down without being in person. I am passing this on to you as a gift for the week as it was given to me. Now have fun going out and designing!
               I hope this takes some of the headache out of color matching for you.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Girl With A Curl Soap Company

         For a busy gal on the go, there's few things as luxurious as stopping to take an hour long babble bath til you're all pruny and relaxed beyond measure. No angry bosses. Or screaming kids. Just a slice in time to pamper yourself and recharge. Great handmade soap is a gift I never really appreciated until I was out on my own working full-time with too much to do and too little time to do it in.
        Which is why I'm really glad to know Nicole. She runs the lovely Girl With A Curl Soap Company right up the street. If you see her at a show, you have to drop by and just smell for a few minutes. Even better, pick up a bar of heaven that won't break the bank.
         It's hard to pick a favorite of hers, but I'm partial to her rosemary mint with tea soap. She also makes a great grapefruit soap. I'm looking forward to trying some of her guy's soaps for Nash this year. Now you know where the profits from my arts and crafts shows go.
        Check out her Etsy shop here. Have a great day and see ya tomorrow.

New Tin Craft Instructable

      A warm thanks to Nick Wentworth and the Acorn to Oak Handmade Etsy Team for a fun time this week. He put together a great Instructable for anyone who missed the meeting due to rainy weather. Thanks everyone who came out it was lots of fun. I must say this was one of my favorite team meetings so far in terms of how easy tin art is to do successfully with little or no practice. I love easy new crafty projects!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Poppy and Purl

                  When I was a kid, I loved to read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. My brother and I loved pretending we were Max playing outdoors. We built a fort of drift wood down near New Bern and raced out every day our mother would let us go covered in Skin' So' Soft to explored fields of wild reeds and climb the wild bent oak trees. Eventually, like all children, the tomboy grew up and got herself a job, but when I get to hang out with Christy and see her hand-knit custom hats, I am transported back to that time when things were simpler and anything was possible. All you needed was a good hat and a long driftwood stick to slay dragons, go built forts, or have an afternoon tea party with your favorite stuffed bunny.
                 Because anything is possible when you're a child. I think sometimes we forget that when we get older. That easy happiness.
                  Christy makes these great custom fruit and vegetable hats for both adult and child sizes, plus she takes custom orders by request. If you have not yet gotten to laugh today, I say click on her shop link for her Etsy store. You'll be glad you did. You can see her newest stuff at the holiday show next week! Have a great evening everyone.

Liz Moran

           The first time I met Liz, she had a couple paintings tucked under one arm and a smile on. I can't remember where she was coming from, but she smelled like the best coffee shop you'd ever walked into. Even today when I walk into a Starbucks, I associate the smell with her. Fresh roasted beans and fluffy pastry. She's a got a great smile and her paintings match the warmth she has in person. There was one that was simply amazing. It was this huge scarlet rose. I managed to beg, borrow, and plead to keep it for a few months to decorate our office building as you walked in the front door to our building, you would turn the corner and there it was. Better than a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. It's since sold of course, but the warmth of those months remains in my memory.
            There's something about painters that when you see a really great painting you feel as if they gave a part of their soul into the creation of the work. Liz's work is like that so I selfishly believe there's a long career for her so I can see a lot more of her inner beauty. She's grown and evolved as a painter since that first oil rose canvas and evolved into different mediums, but the warmth remains. And the great color. All her works have great color in them.
        Right now she's into doing these scrabble tile necklaces which like the one above named aptly enough: "Fire." I encourage you to check out her Etsy shop and maybe take home a piece for yourself. You'll be glad you did. For her latest work, drop by her booth at the holiday show next week. 

PS- And although I know she'd never say this and will probably shoot me for saying this, if you're a gallery owner looking for a promising artist with a great heart and smile, drop her line at: You'll be lucky to work with her.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Art ' n ' Silk

           Certain people, if you're going to do something crazy or you don't know if you can pull off, you want them in the fox hole with you. Shannon and I have collaborated on more projects than I can count and had a great time doing it as well as sharing office space. She's a dyer, I'm a sewer. It's a good combination.
             She does lovely work in silk and cotton custom printing and hand painting one-of-a-kind pieces of art either by order or from nature.  She also teaches silk printing as one of the instructors at Techshop RD from time to time.
            If you want to get a unique gift for someone in your life who loves custom scarves and silk, I recommend dropping by her booth next week. She also does great custom cotton tees. Check out her Etsy shop here.

Woody Tatt

        Some people, you don't remember the first time you met them, just that you turned around one day and you were friends. Kevin is like that, he's a tinker by trade, a jack-of-all-trades. I can't remember the first project we worked together on, but my favorite one to date was a 3D printer class we both took back in March. He's just a lot of fun to work on a project with. Always full of information and ideas.
        This picture of him bent over a machine with a screwdriver in hand is totally him. He also exemplifies a new kind of craftsman, one who is inspired by the past and unafraid of the technology of the future. The name for it in our circles is Technocraft. He makes these beautiful hand dyed and laser cut wooden bracelets and earrings from traditional wood cuts in the 12th and 14th century. A marriage of old and new that I find inspiring.
           If you haven't seen his stuff before in one of the shops downtown, I encourage you to check out his Etsy shop for a small taste of his work. Have a great morning everyone! I'm so excited to be sharing these great artists with you.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Melsie Glass

             There are certain people I just like being around. I always walk away from hanging out with them feeling better. Melanie is one of those people for me. She mixes a background as a corporate warrior before she walked away to pursue her craft on glassmaking with the whimsy of an artisan. Everything she makes is meticulously crafted with an attention to detail, while still having a lot of fun in the process.
              Whenever I have a long day or am feeling down about my craft, I wander over to her shop and a few minutes later I find myself chuckling. Just take her latest Christmas necklaces. Totally precious. I hope you have a chance to check out her booth at the show.
             And a warm congratulations to her for being picked for the VAE's retail incubator program in 2013. You completely deserve it!
             Check out her Etsy shop and look for some new pieces at the show in a few weeks.


Holiday Arts and Craft Show: December 8th from 11 am- 6 pm

            Welcome back from all that delicious turkey last week! We had a great time being off. Nash and I so rarely have a couple days off to enjoy each other's company. We made the most of it. I hope you had a great time too. We're getting ready for the Holiday Arts and Craft Show at the Visual Art Exchange next weekend which promises to be a great show. Much thanks to Etsy and all the other news organizations who have been featuring us. Wow, thank you!
             I've been getting a lot of general questions about who these other great artists and crafters we are doing the show with are so I went ahead and composed a full list of everyone who is slated to be in the show like we've done before from the Acorn to Oak Handmade Etsy Team. You can snoop through their shops if you want to click the links on right. I'll also be doing daily write-ups featuring a shop a day leading up to the show so you can learn a little bit more about what inspires and drives each person to create their work. I love seeing the faces behind the handcrafting. Have a great day! I posted up a video Melanie did from last year so you can get an idea of what's available. Thanks Melanie!

 Vendors for Holiday Arts and Craft Show

1. Dara and Nash Page of Li Sashay
2. Tricia McKellar from TriciaMcKellarPhoto
3. Hal Papan from stickstaffcane
4. Emily from LunasCorner
5. Christy from poppyandpurl
6. Brandi Moody from Ever So Lovely
7. Katie Garcia from Kirara
8. Melanie from Melsie Glass
9. Elizabeth L. Strugatz from WirednTwistednStoned
10. Andie Freeman from This Little Pigment
11. Liz Moran from Liz Mos Loft
12. Nicole Boyd from GirlWithACurlSoap
13. Kevin Kahler from WoodyTatt
14. Christine Harvaitt from Harvaitt Mertz
15. Shannon Talton from Art n Silk

Show 11 am - 6 pm

Location: Visual Art Exchange
               309 West Martin Street
               Raleigh, NC 27601
              (919) 828-7834

Monday, November 19, 2012

This Week I'm Thankful For

         Thanksgiving is just around the corner this week and I'm busy getting ready for Nash and my first official holiday together as a married couple. I bought all the traditional things to make Thursday: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. The entire thing will either turn out well or blow-up with smoking turkey wreckage in my kitchen. Oh well, what's life without a little adventure.
         A number of my friends and family have been doing this daily, "I'm thankful for..." this month for the season which I've really enjoyed reading on Facebook. Seeing the things small and large that matter to my friends has been enlightening. It's also caused me to ask myself what am I truly thankful for. My own list would be embarrassing to post here, but can be summed up by saying, I'm am really truly grateful for the family and friends in my life. And for Nash, I love having someone to wake up to every day who the first and last thing I hear is, "I love you."
         So my question to you this week is, what are you grateful for in your life?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Textile Friday: The Color Of Your Heart

        Wow, sometimes in fashion you get to see something beautiful and unique that takes your breath away a little. This week, I ran across one of those moments, which I am now sharing my joy with you. Watch this beautiful video of this leather and e-paper dress that responds to the beat of it's wearer's heart by changing color. Produced by Studio Roosegaarde, this is truly a modern work of art. I love how there's always something new in this business. An unexpected thrill of something yet to be discovered or surprised by. May your job excite and fill you with wonder too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

3D Printing to Metal Pouring Owl Project ~ Evan Daniels

          This weekend was a fun time at Techshop RD. They had a big open house with over 300 people in attendance. While there was a lot of amazing talent in the place and great instructors, my favorite demonstration of the day was 3D printing to metal pouring by Evan Daniels. If you want to watch the process step-by-step head over here.
           Evan promises me he is posting an Instructable on his page eventually so I'll leave it to him to tell you the technical details. Mostly, I loved seeing what you can do with 3D printers in a reverse life-hack. This is the first test run of an owl Evan printed on his 3D printer from Luis's class back in March for Plastibots. You can see the print resolution was pretty good on the sample left. It's shockingly easy to make sand molds from PLA 3D prints simply by making the mold and then melting it out in an oven at 400 degrees for 4 hours. You can see all the goo dripping out below the mold as Evan demonstrates here how simple the process was. The final owl is pictured above. You can see some sand stuck to the mold around the feet for some reason (however...not bad for a first run!). The detail overall was shockingly good in raw form before clean-up. 
            I felt so inspired seeing him work. Evan always leaves me feeling recharged with a new sense of energy and possibility. Great stuff! I feel can't wait to try my hand at making some custom clasps and cool coat buttons. Anyone else getting some ideas for stuff they would like to try in the future?

Have a great day people! I hope that you are inspired too.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 27th: 7-9 pm: Claire Fraiser and Tinkers

           I have a short list of old and dear friends I can count on one hand, maybe two, of people who have known the real me for years and still love me for who I am. I am a terribly flawed person, and don't think I understood at 14 or 16 how much that would mean to me years later, but it's something that most days floors me a little.
          The second half of this gift is you get to see these people you knew as fellow awkward teens turn into beautiful interesting adults. Or maybe I was just the awkward one. Anyways, one of these people for me is Claire Fraser (you can see her here holding this sweet bear skull at an auction appraisal event at right). She is one of those cool people who while I was busy being a tomboy and getting into all kinds of trouble, managed to snag herself a cool degree in art history and today works as a cataloger or art appraiser at Leland Little Auction and Estate Sales (Claire I apologize if I have not given your job adequate billing here as I know you are super smart and do a lot more than that.).
           I am letting everyone in the group meet her for a night to  meet someone who sits on the other side of the gallery world from us artisans and craftsmen. A lot of people seem to make applying and getting into galleries a black box process and put many of their personal bias into the process. Instead you really need to understand what drives a gallery owner or staff to pick particular works of art and come up with a number. A critical eye is necessary for both sides. As many of the group expand their adventures into stores this new year, I would like to make it easier for everyone to understand where and why those sales commissions disappear to. Plus I get to buy a good friend beer for a night!

7-8 pm: Claire Fraiser (A Day in the Life Working in An Auction House/Gallery): Take a step behind the fun and fascinating curtain of art auctions and gallery adventures with my good friend, Claire Fraiser. She works at LeLand Little, a wonderful local auction house with an amazing reputation for quality and taste. Learn from an insider's perspective what does and does not work. Get yourself acquainted with a local art dealer with a great reputation.

8-9 pm: The Art of the Tinker (Soda Can Art): One of the oldest trades, tinkers are the stuff of legend and folk lore as the village gossips plying their wares from town to town repairing pots and bent forks. In modern times, you can make awesome art from tin and soda cans you have laying around the house with a few simple tools:

empty soda cans
paint (optional)

We will be making custom Christmas ornaments and lanterns for the holidays to take home. Please feel free to bring in empty clean soda cans you can manage to find and plan to take home extra goodies! The picture here is from a great Instructable on how to make tin can butterflies.

As usual we will be at:

Roth Brewing
5901 Triangle Brewing
Raleigh, NC 27617

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Textile Friday: Deconstructing A Master, Viktor Luna

               This past week, I sprang for a luxury in the midst of all the seasonal chaos. The up and downside to being sold out. One of my favorite designers I love to follow had a sample sale, Viktor Luna. Sample sales are great because they let you peek inside the mind of designer before the piece is so polished by production that it's almost impossible to see the individual flavor behind it. If you've never met Viktor Luna before, I encourage you to go over to his homepage. You'll see him smiling in all his photos and his clothes have this matching happy sunny vibe. I wanted to see what that happy smile translated like into fabric. Just look at this gold military inspired shirt from two seasons ago. The color and fabric were crazy, but the tailoring and construction were beautiful. I took tons of photos with notes here.
            Dress shirts are a fairly standard item so I doubt there's any chance of someone ripping Viktor's design from the photos, but as always, please respect other designers' work. Mostly, shirts are an item that requires a lot of skill to pull off so I feel seeing one allows you to get a measure of a designer's ability without threatening their overall collection and ascetics.
            First off, after the shirt arrived, I took it out of the package and hung it on one of the mannequins. The fabric was much heavier than typical shirt weight I was used to which had to be a mess to sew, but I was impressed at how Viktor pulled it all together. Everything was folded and french seamed which seemed like total overkill, but who am I to pick on another designer's attention to detail? I was especially taken with the little details like his button placement (flawless) and buttonholes which are much harder to do than they appear at first glance. You can see the shirt unbuttoned here inside out is still as flawlessly finished as the reverse side. The bottom button on my form pulled slightly, but I think my form is a size bigger than his so the hips are probably pulling it, not a flaw in his sewing.
      Also, the darts were great.  Perfect at the bust and back. In general, I only found one pull out line in sewing to construct this entire piece on the left cuff. I like seeing that confidence in sewing.
       Which leads me to the two major areas for improvement in the piece which were really the opposite sides of the same coin. Samples are never perfect, that's the nature of the beast. It's an opportunity to see one's thoughts in thread before sending the final piece into shops. There was unusual fabric and thread construction which hurt the overall quality and ruined the level of construction in the piece. The fabric was heavier than typical for a dress shirt which made it harder than necessary to sew for the designer and poor draping overall. It also contributed to overall flaws within the piece. You can see him struggling to make it work (and he has great sewing skills) in the thread tension. The needle kept skipping from under tension on the top and sometimes his folds at the cuffs and collars didn't even up quite right. This probably could have been fixed by better thread and a different needle, but samples are where you learn for next time. Overall, very pleased and enjoyed looking at this lovely shirt. Thank you Viktor. Best of luck on your travels! I'm sure you'll do well.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fashion is the Icing. Life is the Cake.

            "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." ~Thomas Edison
             Wow, it's been a great week. We're busy sewing away new surprises for next week and stocking local shelves. This is the busy time of year. Hopefully everyone got a chance to get out and vote yesterday in the weather however you voted. I've been thinking a lot about fashion and crafting lately when the latest project is busy dancing through my fingers. About what makes a successful project and and unsuccessful one. Thomas Edison was a big believer in the idea that art and inventions must something people actually want. He's quoted as saying, "The value of an idea lies in the using of it."
           There's a separate catagory in fashion for designs that serve a function called utilitarian fashion. Kinda like a spoon can be beautiful, but it also serves a very specific purpose. Besides the backstory to the Matrix ("There is no spoon."), getting things from your plate to your mouth is an important function of silverware. In our disposable culture of anything goes, I think I may start filling my office with straight forward classic designs to remind me to serve my customers in everything I do. Even if it's as simple as a spoon. Because fashion for designers is a way to share your life experiences and ideas with customers. Real products are where it's at.
           What is real for you in your life?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Textile Friday: La Bricoleuse and Rachel Pollock

                 I love reading. Give me a good book or blog and you're guaranteed to make my week. One of my favorite blogs to read is La Bricoleuse which comes from the word for "putter around." When I originally started reading her, I thought that the blog would be all about hats from her millinery background. Instead it is lovely backstage pass to the world of theater and costume as she teaches at UNC. I always feel supremely refreshed and inspired when I get done reading one of her posts as if the cobwebs of daily routine have been shaken away. She exposes one to so many of the masters of the craft, new and old.
                 But sometimes, she does hats! This past month she did a expose of her time in England studying hat making (yum) and think the post is really work sharing here. My favorite part was how many video links she included! I'm a visual person where a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth 10,000. So let me share my fun with you. Enjoy! I have gotten to share one of my loves with you. Next week hopefully I have a wonderful surprise if everything works out.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall Shows: Craftland and Acorn to Oak Handmade

              I love to watch Nash smile at me. He's got a look just for me, that's mine alone. He has sea eyes that change with his mood, and for me they turn a brilliant shade of green. It's often accompanied by a soft quiet, "I love you." I would probably walk naked barefoot in the snow for ten miles for that look (and we all know I hate cold weather.). Thankfully for the eyes of little children everywhere, that level of sacrifice has not been required. There's an even better version of this whenever I wear lace or leather and he sees me. His eyes get gold flecks of happiness in them.
             This season we are sold out until at least January with a particular client doing private label work in utilitarian fashion which is saving lives. I'm really enjoying it. It has given me some unexpected flexibility to follow Nash's smile and make a collection simply to make people I know happy. And hopefully see some more happy Nash eyes. It is my wish for you too to see you loved one's eyes light up this season.
            We will be showing at two holiday shows as well as posting a small selection online. I want to stress that these will be very limited edition collections with a small sampling of looks and pieces so hopefully people will enjoy their pieces of art as much as I did making them.

Craftland, The  Scrap Exchange, Durham, NC November 16th- January 18th- This is an annual holiday collection of local artists and crafters focusing on reused and recycled items. I will be showing a small collection of handmade accessories there.

Acorn to Oak Handmade Etsy Team Arts and Craft Sale, The Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, NC- December 8th from 12-6 pm- A one day show of fun looks and custom designers here in the Triangle. I love the variety of this show our team puts on semi-annually. This time we are partnering with the Visual Art Exchange in downtown Raleigh which promises to be a fun new twist.

For Everyone who is local, can't wait to see you at one or both shows. For everyone else, please feel free to follow online. We look forward to seeing you this season.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Textile Friday: The Village of Yesteryear

            One of the things Nash and I really love, are vintage arts and crafts. Nash is a history major, while I have no reasonable excuse. We often talk about traveling Ren Faires in a few decades with custom blacksmith suits of armor and my indulged love of Victorian and period costumes. That however is a long way off.
             There's many showings of traditional crafts in our state for which I feel lucky. My favorite is the Village of Yesteryear. It's an annual show put on at the NC State Fair for the past 60 years and hosts a ton of local friendly talent. This was my first serious exposure to the arts and crafts. This loom you see here was the first time I ever saw textiles being woven. My girl friend Charlotte Robinson would volunteer at booths when we got older weaving fabric on this particular model, but the magic of it stays with you no matter your age. There's something about a loom to a small child where the shuttle drifts back and forth at eye level for a toddler, the petals pumping, the harness and threads moving back and forth, that is simply magic.
            Even today, I love to sit and watch textile machines work. There's something musical about the rhythm of a master going about his or her task that soothes the soul. Beat. Beat. Beat. Brush. Hammer. The entire building pulses with a steady happy vibe.
                 It makes me eager to put up my knitting again or craft around the house when I get home. I always feel at peace when I'm making something. I wish that translated over at ALL to the rest of my life. Well, have a great day everyone. See ya next week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DIY Paper Kite Tutorial

       Thanks everyone who came out to the Acorn to Oak Handmade Etsy Team meeting on Tuesday night for our kite making tutorial. Thanks to Nick Wentworth (and his Dad), we have a cool instructable for you to try your hand at if you missed the meeting and still want to make your own. The windy October weather around here is perfect for kite making and flying. I love quick and easy crafts like this in which most of the ingrediants or tools are lying around your house and can be quickly assembled to provide a great distraction for a sunny afternoon. Have a great day and happy flying! :-)
   Also, congratulations to everyone getting hired and married this month. It seems like it's been a good busy month for a lot of people. It is nice to see friends and family doing well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Custom Order: Bronycon Messenger Bag

           Today, I wanted to release a fun project I've been working on for a friend for Bronycon. Charlie was inspired by the stained glass windows in My Little Pony. Most of our custom orders are created to make my customers smile and this one definitely hit the mark. I was going to take more, but Charlie made off like a bandit with his new prize! Hopefully you can see the custom leather graphics we did based on his sketches below.
             Custom orders are always a favorite. I do need to start posting more requests online. Roughly 2% of the work our shop does ends up on the internet, the vast majority of it is sold directly to buyers. I'm horrible at taking actual photos as the making part is my favorite!
             But, sometimes...I have great friends and customers who let me take photos. So today...a custom bag for you to see. :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nash Having Fun Sparring

       This week Nash is taking over to add some fun to your day. Last week, he put together a bunch of sparring practice weapons with his groomsmen (So Hot!) and so this week....he is posting up How-To-Guides on Instructables for people who want to make their own practice weapons. Because you can never have enough wearpons! I hope you enjoy too! And if you want to join in the sparring...just listen for the sound of clashing on a Thursday night near NC State Campus. Have a great day everyone!

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 23rd:Online Licensing for Fine/Graphic Artists and Kite Making

        This past weekend, the VAE had it's semi-annual "The Business of Being An Artist." As usual, they're a great group! This week we are focusing on paper. The first is part is for my fine artists friends who constantly ask me how they can make a living of their art.

October 23rd from 7-8 pm: Online Licensing for Fine/Graphic Artists aka Cafepress (The New Guards): Traditionally, graphic artists were part of the Guild or worked either free-lance or as part of a firm. Graphic and fine artists have a distinct advantage in the arts and crafts game in that their works are copyrighted so you have a lot of options for licensing which means you can build up a revenue stream overtime which generates income for you even if your latest work was not a hot seller. We will talk about the latest online trend, which is corporate licensing by online print firms for profit. The big player in this game is called "" However, we also have local players like Spoonflower, etc. We will talk about rates, the two major types of art buyers, how to take good photos/make online sketches for print, and online graphic sales. I hope this will help all the painters, sketch artists, and other traditional fine artists understand how to build an online shop for free without having to invest in purchasing a lot of physical inventory. This is an adjunct to traditional outlets. This is especially good as most artists can not afford to invest in a lot of inventory sitting in a warehouse somewhere taking up space.

October 23rd from 8-9 pm: Traditional and New Kite Making: Kites are one of the oldest and simplest toys to make. They are also something that make everyone smile. All you need is string, crepe or tissue paper, wooden sticks (dowels or bbq skewers are recommended), glue, markers, wire (optional), and imagination. Like the band, if you can dream it up, you can fly it.
       Can't wait to see you for a night of mayhem...and feathers welcome!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One Hour Wedding Dress: Speed Sewing

        So sometimes, life catches up with us. This past week we got married which was a lot of fun and very crazy at the same time. One of the big challenges was a last minute dress to throw together as the one from my grandfather got lost in transit. As some of you know, I do not sew silk as a general rule as cotton and linen are much more common around here.
        Crank out the sewing machine, a bunch of vintage lace, and handfuls of bobby pins for a simple tea length dress. Thankfully, I found this little book on Amazon called Sew A Beautiful Wedding by Gail Brown and Karen Dillon. If you've decided to DIY your wedding dress, I really recommend using it as it's packed FULL of practical advice on how to actually sew a wedding dress that looks good. A normal bridal pattern will leave you with yards of ruined silk as it's been half-translated from German or Chinese in this depressing gibberish. Surprisingly, it only took me about an hour to make mine with this great little treasure (the photographer took pictures of me sewing it an hour before the wedding) and while there's things I notice like I should have hung up the dress overnight before doing the last layer of the hemline and pinned it on me for my bubble butt...overall very pleased.
          Yeah! BTW, I would NOT leave this to the last minute if you are making your own dress. It normally takes people 2 to 4 months to sew a full wedding dress with good reason. Have a great day everyone!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

3D Printer Workshop Offerings In October and November: Plastibots

    Hey guys, so I've been absent for a while so lots of great posts and updates to do. Hopefully you have also been off enjoying the perfect weather too. It seems like it's been a great couple of weeks for everyone. For everyone who missed the spring 3D Printing Workshop, Luis Freeman is finally hosting another 3D Printer Workshop (Yeah!). You can sign up for one of 3 classes this fall or buy one of a limited number of printers. I believe one of them is already sold out, but the other 2 are still available. We really love his printers as they are trouble free and easy to fix compared to normal 3D printers. He also hosts the local 3D printer meet-up group so you know that you have plenty of people to hang out and use as resource afterwards. Please, remember to sign up EARLY. Luis always has a wait list.

The times are:

Express Weekend:

October 12th from 6-10 pm, October 13th from 12-8 pm, and October 14th from 12-8 pm

Workday Workshop

October 22nd from 6-10 pm, October 23rd from 6-10 pm, October 24th from 6-10 pm, October 25th from 6-10pm, and October 26th from 6-10 pm

2 Weekends Workshop

November 3rd from 1-6 pm, November 4th from 1-6 pm, November 10th from 1-6 pm, November 11th from 1-6 pm

Have a great week everyone!