Friday, June 29, 2012

Textile Friday: Christmas in July Buy One Get One Sale

                   July is the traditional month of deep store discounts. It's my favorite time to pick-up new clothes and great deals. To participate this year, I am doing a July4th Buy One Get One Free off everything in our Etsy shop this weekend only. The coupon code is: July4th at check-out! Have a great weekend and happy cook-outs, barbeque, and fun in the sun!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

July Acorn to Oak Handmade Events: Websites and Banks

             Alright, I am so excited to see that our summer bootcamp is up and running! We had a great time at the first meeting where we went over the basics for the summer sessions. Now, we are going to talk about specific elements people get stuck on. For July, we have two meetings.

July 10th: Setting up your online presence/Microwave Crafts: When I was getting started, I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to get a website, store, blog, etc. and made a TON of mistakes. Some of what I did was good, other pieces were problematic. We will be going over how to do the website portion of your online website ($10-20 year annual cost): registering a domain (dreamhost, godaddy), using a web platform (weebly, ipage, wordpress, google, big cartel, shopify, etc.), starting a blog, making a facebook page, and linking it all together so it functions smoothly as a whole. This can be done easily barebones in a night, but it takes time to build up a website persona. Blogs often require several hundred or thousand posts to get a following over several years. Please bring your laptop if you have one as we will be doing this in real-time. I will have what has and has not worked for me and others. We will also be doing papermaking/stamping art with the shop microwave. Because paper is just so cool! Above is a stamp I made for my fabric from a really great blog for the Animazement talk in May. Look forward to seeing everyone there.

July 24th: Banks, Accountants, and Jewelry Kiln Making: There are two really good banks in the area for small business owners: Harrington Bank and Federal Coastal Credit Union. SCORE recommends Harrington Bank. I have more experience with Federal Coastal as you can open a business account with them for free if you have a $25 checking account. We will also discuss the other big players: BB&T (bad rep), Wellsfargo (new local player), and some of the others. With Charlotte being so close the good news is small business owners have the ability to shop around. I will also be handing out business cards of local area accountants we know: pricing tends to break down by gender. Men tend to ask for monthly retainers and women charge hourly rates. I'm partial to using female accountants as they seem to be more detailed oriented and charge me 1/2 a year what a male accountant wants to charge a month for the same percieved work. This is probably a lack of understanding on my part, but it can often add up to a couple thousand a year which is significant savings. I meant to do this back in April for tax season, but we ran out of time. Lastly, we will be using the jewelry kiln to do some beginning metal casting. This is a scaled down version of the free weekly pours Evan does at Techshop geared towards making jewelry specifically.

Look forward to seeing everyone this coming month. It's going to be a great time.

How To Get Us to Sew Your Stuff

                  This post is for Lauren, who asked me how designers put together tech packs for me to do contract sewing for them. So yes, our little shop does contract sewing in the area for locals who need private label work and others who are small designers looking to take the step-up from one-offs with their first big order. Nash and I are not rich. We sing for our suppers. While it would be nice to think that there's a VC or magic investment from a rich family member in the business, I've had to make my peace with the fact that there's no $10-40k check waiting in the mail for me to launch us to the next level or even over the highs and lows of starting out. Or if there is, would you please give me a call, because I've been waiting for that?
                   What we lack in money, I feel Nash and I are lucky enough to make-up in wonderful friends, family, colleagues, and businesses who love, support, and work with us. Some great partnerships have come from matching my needle to someone's pen or need. One of the most fun is pushing a fellow designer a little farther up the hill to the big digs. While I used to just tell people to bring in a drawing, I have become more selective over time. Our general minimum order is 100 that we accept for a product, the max is 10,000. We will do 4-6 colors per order at no extra cost, provided the fabrics are similar. Fabric can vary by content, weight, and color so different fabrics may require different patterns to cut them which means I can not just cut them in one go. Dark, heavy, and thick fabrics generally require larger patterns than light, thin, airy ones. Small orders under 500, a shop generally is breaking even on and paying labor, so I like to ask for the following:

1) Drawing- prefer technical with seams in Illustrator, I will also accept an actual sample in place of a drawing. (1-2 hrs.). You can also sketch one out on the back of a napkin with pen and ink. Both old and new school are perfectly acceptable. I want to see where your thoughts are.
2) Sewn Sample- this can be a rough prototype, something you've sewn at home, or a few samples you've sold at stores. If you have made less than 500, please be open to me cleaning up the pattern for a professional look. (5-6 hrs. typical if starting from scratch) I've also gotten all types of hot glue, paper, etc. Give me an idea of what you want. A picture is worth a thousand words.
3) Tech/Spec Sheet- think of the back of a sewing page that lists your sewing notions you will need, order pieces are sewn in, and type of seam sewn. I prefer the international seam system developed by the US military as it standard, I've also had clients cut out pieces of the sample and tape them to the page which is KICK butt. I've worked in factories where the assembly line would call 4 different seams: a hem. It was maddening. Either follow the standard industry names, pictures, etc. or give me a physical sample. Please assume I'm not as brilliant as you. Most of what I do is lightweight manufacturing single needle construction and serging. I want to have the tech sheet to calculate thread and time usage. If you are flexible on the construction methods for cost let me know and we can discuss different methods which will cost you more or less than others. (30-40 minutes)
4) Physical pattern- You should give me 2: a cut pattern and a marking pattern. If you are doing this in the computer, I expect an STL file. DO NOT give me a cut pattern in illustrator. Do your technical drawing in it, but you will drive me crazy if you try to send me actual cut patterns in it. NO, just NO. No exceptions. If you are doing it old school, I love oaktag or heavy cardstock. Heck, if you do it with the green back, I'll knock 3% off the price because you're that awesome and we now LOVE you for marking your backs. I also accept x's and marking one side to help with cutting. There is a great designer paper outlet in Cary near Crossroads 20 that sells lovely stuff as well as a place in Durham. This is not expensive and should take 1-2 hrs. to do. The patterns must be cleanly marked with a front and back via standard methods. If you are unsure how to do this you can download a free sewing pattern off the internet or pick one up locally, heck...I'll give you one. If you are doing sizing, you will need to give me the graded patterns.

This is all considered standard designer stuff. I will generally charge $50-60/hr. to fix anything here before going to the next part which is the actual sewing. About half my clients need no help, the other half require some piece of the above being done in house by me. I will tell you what needs to be fixed before doing it, I will not run up a bill just to run one up. I can hand it back to you to fix on your own time or you can pay me to fix it depending on what is worth more to you: time or money. Typical time is 6 hrs. to a day to fix issues/walk a client through this the first time. Generally, clients can learn these parts on their own or I can get you patternmakers in the area to do these parts for you. And if YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GRADE, DO NOT FAKE IT. Especially in Gerber. Gerber is crap and your finger should be slapped for that sloppy work. It is too inexpensive to have that done for you to have the headaches. The sewn sample is normally the longest, most expensive part. The tech pack is the least expensive. I will often forgo charging for it if the client has everything else.

How I determine Pricing From What You Give Me

Based on what you give me, I take the standard sewing rates, factor in thread usage rates, and add any extras such as printing, embossing, etc to give you a final quote. If there are any questions, I default to the standard. Generally sewing rates are determined by cutting $1-2 per piece and seams which vary between $.30-1.50 per seam, the average is $.70-1.00. I have a number of specialty machines which do some multiple functions like inserting a zipper in maybe 1-2 steps instead of a typical 7-10 steps. You are charged for the physical pass that the sewing operator is making to set the price, not the number of needles used. Handling time sets rates and is 80% of the contract sewing time. This only applies for large order contract sewing in which economy of scale is a factor. Small orders or one-off are charged at the normal American Guild sewing rates because you don't really get the speed or efficiency in small orders that you do over 100 or 1,000. The rates are readily available on the website. After you agree to an amount, Nash writes up an invoice which is good for 7 days, you must put down a full deposit up front. After that, the rates are subject to change. Sewing rates tend to be highest in the second half of the year and lowest right after Christmas. It's not a huge difference, but there are typical seasonal variations. General turnaround is 2-6 weeks after you approve the first sample. Especially for new clients, I will give a sample pack to make sure the quality is what they are expecting and allow for any last minute simple tweaks. It's helpful to have a proof before you have a hundred coats, pants, etc. sitting on your doorstep. I tell clients, one or two problem...anything more than that and I start charging my hourly design rate. It helps smooth over small fixes, while preventing getting bogged down in unnecessary changes and dithering. It's too easy to get so attached to one's design to the point of being unable to let it go to the public. I'm as guilty of this as anyone. We will often offer a 1 year limited warranty, if something breaks or a client returns it a couple months after they bought it from normal use(stuff happens), we will repair it at no cost. This is normally small stuff like sewing back on a button or replacing a clasp. It has to be stuff related to the sewing. I can hem a pair of pants, I can not change cheap fabric that unravels if you buy inexpensive stuff. I have some great resources in the area if you are looking to use people in this state, North Carolina is awesome for local resources. Most of my stuff has been out in the market for several years now with no returns, but I like people to know we stand behind our product. This is our way of trying to balance out the upfront deposit, you know you can come back and get us to fix stuff on the back end. 

Alright, I hope this has been helpful. And for those that are curious, now you know. Have a great day and if you are interested in having us make or manufacture some of your product shoot me an e-mail at:

Note: We do not do children's wear.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Big Thanks to Ruthan for Our New Signage!

              Wow, after 2 years... we officially have snazzy office signs. Now when you walk up the stairs you'll know where to actually go. Pretty awesome. These are long overdue, but I tend to invest in the obvious last and focus on the making first. Probably not the best idea, but I do have great sewing machines! A girl has to have priorities.
              Now customers won't get lost trying to find the studio which is great. The front office is our sales office and the back office is the sewing "Sweatshop." If you need to reach the sales office, please e-mail me at:
               We are currently booked at full-time capacity so we are limiting new clients and designers to clients we feel are a good match. Primarily, designers that are ready to make the jump from one-offs to short production runs for light garments and store owners interested in carrying a local designer. Our minimum order for short runs is 100, but we prefer to do 1,000 on accessories in 4-6 styles. Full deposits are required up-front. Average turn around time is 2-6 weeks depending on the order size. Current times are averaging around 2 weeks, but now that we're fully booked this may go to 4 weeks.
                Have a great day and look forward to seeing what the week brings. And Ruthan, you are awesome! Thank you so much! The signs look great. You are our hero! Whoot! Whoot!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Black Leather Pieceables in Etsy Shop

      Alright, we're on Day 17 for the summer Etsy boot camp and today we are putting in some of our new black leather Pieceables we unveiled at Maker-Faire. You can pick your own up online in our Etsy store for either for $11 for a small bracelet pack or $210 for a large pack for making your own armor. Great way to express yourself at the next upcoming battle. All the pieces snap together with a soft suede interiror and shiny spiky exterior so it looks tough while being comfortable to wear. The Samuri redefined for a new generation.

      100% Cowhide. Hand wash in cold water. Check in tomorrow we're making shoes and painting the town red.

You can also see various different designs we've made on Instructables.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tomorrow is Our First Summer Meeting!

          I'm really excited to say that tomorrow we will be having our first summer Acorn to Oak Handmade meeting to discuss local Triangle resources and Creative Cash. Whoot whoot! So much fun! I am really enjoying seeing where things go this season. Summer is always the sleepy time as the hot North Carolina sun.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Textile Friday: The Shop is Booked Solid

            Thank you our customers, we are booked full-time through the Christmas season. Wow, what a great feeling. We are also not taking any more artist and designer contract work, just straight sales, if you fall in love with a look. While I love artists and designers, I got into this business to make better clothing and textiles for everyday people ready-to-wear. After a year of thinking over the matter, I love designers, but you are my customer.
             The current designer craze is obscuring some hard truths that we have gotten older, fatter, and taller as a civilization. People twist away from the norm in different ways. In our rush to find the average, most of us, the irregulars, have been left out. Me? My butt is too big. My boobs too small. My left and right wrists are a half inch different. I have large hands for a woman. I'm a fat American. And worst for a lover of shoes is my feet are a half size off. If you're human, you have your own character list of defects. Even the models have the bits about themselves they don't love.
              These differences make you interesting, unique, and you. When I was a kid I used to love reading Sherlock Holmes and how the journey we take through life is written on ourselves. Why we make clothes, bags, and everything is to clothe you to your best. This does not mean we will not do fun projects, but we want everything the label does must answer the fundamental why question. :-) To the start of a great season.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Acorn to Oak Arts and Craft Sale/Swap this Saturday!

         Shannon has decided to throw an impromptu arts and craft sale this weekend as she has been busy the past few weeks cleaning up her studio and workshop.  We will all be meeting at the Conference Room at Techshop RDU. Feel free to come pick up a some great deals. We will have extra tables for anyone who also has extra supplies floating around the house that they've been meaning to swap or sell for a while. Can't wait to see what people bring.

When: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 10 am to 5 pm
Where: Techshop RDU Conference Room
            5905 Triangle Drive
            Raleigh, NC 27617
What: Arts and Craft Supply Sale/Swap
Who: Acorn to Oak Handmade Team
Why: Because New Projects are Fun

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 26th: Local Resources in Our Area Etsy Meeting

          Hi everyone, we will be meeting at Roth Brewing this coming Tuesday to drink beer and talk about local resources for artists and crafters in the area. Many people spend most of their time obsessively looking for better supply sources (aka- how can I get the best deal on x, y, or z) and miss the necessary business sources such as bankers, lawyers, guilds, SCORE, etc. Many of these are available for free or little cost as long as you are local in the area. Not everyone knows there is a local free legal advice for artists place in downtown Raleigh which is full of local lawyers who offer their services to local artists and crafters to help them run their business. There is no magic deal on fabric, buttons, paint, or brushes that will keep you in business or make you a success. Believe me, I know this from painful personal experience. The great news is that you are not in this alone and you have lots of people who want to support you and make you a success.
          Not everyone can paint a masterpiece, but there are a lot of people out there who want to see you paint yours. This summer we are focusing on the meta-skills to run an art and crafts business. While there are many people who will tell you what you should and should not do, there is one book we will be discussing which I think is necessary if you are serious about making money at the business of art. Some people have heard me mention it before and we have several copies in our library available for check-out because I think it's that important. The book is called Creative Cash by Barbara Brabec. It is available inexpensively on Amazon for $3-4 with shipping. If you haven't read this, I would encourage you to do so for the meeting. Look forward to seeing everyone there.

Please register on Skillshare. The event is free, but people who are here for the Etextiles part have already paid for their kits. You are welcome to come learn, but you will need to order your own etextiles kit off Sparkfun if you have not already paid.

Thanks. :-)

Free Weekly Give-a-way: Instructable Pro-membership!

          Wow, thanks for an awesome week everyone. It's hard to mention all the great things that happened. First, I would like to say thank you to our readers, our Father's Day couch transformation made the front page of Instructables! We are giving away a 3 month Pro-membership to one lucky reader as a thank you this week. Simply leave a comment on the blog to win. I will do the drawing on Friday and one lucky reader gets  it. Next, thank you everyone who came out to see us on Saturday at Maker-Faire. Best Maker-Faire so far! It's nice to see so many familar faces and meet new ones! Can not see what the Make Team dreams up for next year!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Couch Surfing Dads, Happy Father's Day!

                  This week, Nash and I wanted to have some fun and celebrate Father's Day. Every few weeks Nash's Dad comes to visit and sacks out on our couch. I think that men have a special love for comfy couches for lazy afternoon naps. Unfortunately, most new couches today are made with cheap foam which looks great, but is awful to relax on. To help dad's backs everywhere sleep better, Nash, Dejah, and I put together a short Instructable on how to make individual fabric pockets to house the springs and tie everything together to make soft old-school cushions. One of the important things to watch when going from foam to springs is that you reinforce the cushions so that there is little pressure on the wood to prevent it from splintering. Modern furniture is normally made with wood composite instead of hardwood so it is more easily fractured under long-term stress.

                    So thank you Dads everywhere for all the little stuff you do to make our lives better. Including never saying anything when all we have is a couch. Have a great weekend everyone! And thank you George. We love you.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Upgrading The Shop This Week: Leather Consew for Sale

        Wow, it's been a great weekend. I am so excited about Father's Day and some fun plans in the works I can't talk about yet for a shop upgrade. Yeah, shiny new toys and kick butt awesome projects it's amazing how much difference a month or two can make in this business. One of the new things Nash and I decided on this weekend is that with the new machines we are getting for the shop, we need to clean up the space and get rid of some of our duplicate machines. Namely our leather Consew 124 machine. It's a great machine and works beautifully, but we have two and my assistant does not do leather work yet so hopefully someone else can benefit from having such a lovely machine at their disposal.
         I have posted the machine on Craigslist for $500, a total steal. If you're interested, you can e-mail me this week and let me know. I'm also looking at selling our spare electronic Singer 591D that I've kept around for parts if anyone is interested in an extra head, table, or motor in working order let me know. The control box blew a fuse, but the rest of the machine is fine. If you know how to fix electronics or want to convert it to a normal non-electronic version, I'd be happy to let it go cheap. Hopefully someone whose a techie in the group will benefit, our sewing repair man was out Friday to look it over and test it out. Have a great Monday everyone and I have a really great fun project for you to look at this week.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Textile Friday: How to Build A Summer Wardrobe Style

         Hey everyone, we're back from a great few weeks getting the shop cleaned up and in order for summer shows. As a follow-up on how to build a general wardrobe which has been our most popular series to date (aka- advice from my grandfather), we've decided to do another wisdom series on summer wardrobes. Hopefully this will be helpful to you in giving general wisdom for summer style. Most of this advice is not new and I will try to mention the people that gave it to me as the series progresses. Many of these people are in the area, so if a particular topic interests you, I encourage you to give them a call.
        When building a summer wardrobe, you have 3 major considerations that you do not have during the winter seasons. Most of these have to do with the fact that people are more active and sweat more in the summer. One, your clothing must be stain resistant AND easy to clean repeatedly. Summer clothing gets a lot more abuse than winter clothing. Two, it must breath easily as you need to remain cool during the summer to prevent heat stroke. And three, it should travel well. Most summer clothing weighs a fraction of winter clothing, is cheaper, packs easily, and is wrinkle resistant. Active wear is a more common purchase than suits during the summer.
         Because of these heavy use requirements, summer clothing has a more limited fabric selection than winter clothing. It generally boils down to linen, cotton, silk, and polyester. For the past 10,000 years, linen has been the go to for summer wear due to it's light weight, easy-breathing, incredible strength, and ease in dying/resistance to fading. For many, it is still the industry standard for summer clothing and you will see it in better clothing, particularly resort wear. Some cultures have substituted silk for linen, especially Thailand and Asian countries. Roughly 300 years ago, the industrial revolution began in Britain, then moved around the world. It was fueled by a new comer, cotton when machines learned how to extract the seeds from the fluffy white cotton for processing. The fabric mills of the 1700s and 1800s fueled a world-wide appetite for cotton fabric as it was cheap, easy-to-clean, and dye. At roughly 1/20th the price of any other fabric on the market it is the basis of a revolution we are still feeling the effects of today. In the South, it spawned the saying "Cotton is King" due to how much money poured through this grape-vine. Cotton does not last as long as linen and is not as strong, but it is easier to produce. Also, it does not wrinkle to the same extent. The final fabric is polyester from the 1970s (often recycled plastic soda cans) which is used in specialty fabrics, particularly active-wear for it's cheap properties. Synthetic fabrics used in bathing suits, sportswear, and lower-end clothing is only meant to last a season or two before it sags due to poor resistance to the elements.
          As a general rule of thumb, most people should buy cotton as much as possible for their summer wardrobe and substitute in linen where they can afford it. My summer suits are generally linen so I won't boil in the sun, but my dress shirts are often cotton. Linen becomes stronger when wet so even the crappiest college laundry mat still leaves this stuff looking great. If you are worried about wrinkles, a 60% linen-40 cotton  blend works great and is the only blend I suggest for clients as it doesn't seem to tear apart like other blends. I never suggest summer silk to clients as I've yet to find any that launders well for our North Carolina weather. Better heeled clients love light-weight summer silks that are dry clean only, but make sure you can shell out for dry cleaning if you buy silk. You will generally pay as much in dry cleaning for a summer silk shirt EACH year as something comparable in cotton or linen you can wash yourself making them impractical for most people. You know me, I'm cheap at heart.
         The last summer fabric is polyester blends, this is generally used in sports, active wear, and one of the worst possible to buys on the market due to the fact that synthetic fabrics fade and sags in the sun. They are made to fall apart in 6 months, but I must say anyone who has ever put on a pair of hot yoga pants knows how cute they make your butt. It's like chocolate, so bad, and so good for you at the same time. I melt every few years and buy a pair. A complete waste of money, but it's like godiva chocolate...every so often a girl has to be bad. So there's your summer fabrics. Now that you know the basic building blocks, let's start building your summer wardrobe.       

PS- All this advice comes to you thanks to Brandon Mays who worked with me for 5 years in the men's department at Belks. One of the smartest people I have met when it came to fashion and making your clothing last. Thank you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day Four: How-To-Do Daily Listings, Batch Photography

     Alright, I'm posting more of Dunne's fly fishing keychains today while I work on getting ready for Maker-Faire next week. I am so excited about this year at the Fair Grounds. You always get to bring a little weird and a little fun to the local show.

     Today's post comes to you thanks to one of my team members and friends on How-To-Do daily listings. Many people get overwhelmed on Etsy trying to figure out how to work through actually doing listings in a timely fashion. The answer for most people is that they split listings between what is hard to do and what can be done anywhere. They will batch taking photos in good lighting and spread out the writing. Here's the process:

1. Make your craft: This part is self-explanatory, but build up several items to take photos of at once. I normally do 10-30 at a time once a week, but some people will do as many as 300 or as few as 5. When I was working full-time and doing this on Saturdays, I would have a larger number as I only took photographs once a month.

2. Take photos in the afternoon between 3-5 pm : While a fancy SLR camera is awesome, many people forget the basics that natural lighting, outdoors, and on a pretty day does a lot of the heavy lifting you for in terms of getting good photographs because you have less editing on the back end. You want to take 6-10 photos of each item in quick succession. Don't worry about getting the perfect shot, you are trying to get a feel for it. And you can edit later. Photos improve over time and time is something that comes through experience. If you would like to REALLY improve your photos, almost all the local arts and crafts centers in our area offer a 1-2 day course on photography 101. They range from $40-$4,000. The best in the area in my opinion are run by Chris Florio and they generally sell out months in advance. An undervalued photographer as he works most of the local shows and has a good eye, but doesn't charge the $1,000 a shoot many of the larger studios do. He also takes a limited number of product shoots for $150/hr. and is well worth the money. He is fiercely adored at almost cult status by the local models so you're much more likely to get a two-for-one special of awesome photographs and amazing models.

Time Estimate: 2-3 hrs.

3. Edit Your Photos: There's a lot of photo editing software on the market. The gold standard is Photoshop. However, if you don't that, then the next market standard is GIMP. It's free, easy to download, and installs in a few minutes. In GIMP you can crop your photos, add watermarks, and do any color balancing. Pisca photo service is also know for having great filters on their uploads. I'm super lazy so all I ever do is crop my photos, but I hate to tell people this because I'm probably going to photographer hell for this. You can do this over lunch, or in a sitting from your laptop fairly quickly. I will generally finish editing 200-300 photos in an hour, but many people like to take twice that time to add watermarks, etc. This has a high learning curve so you will get better at this and much faster REALLY quickly. Don't despair if the first photo takes you 30 min or an hour to do. The 20th will probably only take 2-3 minutes.

Time Estimate: 1-3 hrs.

4. Do Your Listings: Like making your craft, listings can be done anywhere, anytime, anyplace you have a smart phone, iPad, or laptop. Etsy can be accessed from your smart phone. Many people do the photography stuff one Saturday a month and then list 1-2 items a day which should take you 10-15 minutes each. In your description, you will need to simply fill in the tabs, write a description of at least 140 letters what tells you what the item is, what it's made of, who made it, size, and any care instructions. Doing 1-2 listings at a time also allows your mind to think about what you're doing instead of forcing it into a rut. I find that a little extra type writing helps my copy quality a lot.

Time Estimate: 5-15 minutes per listing.

5. Publish: Press the last button and you're done.

Now you know how most people around the area do daily listings. In general this will save you 2-3 hours per item in your shop and allow you to get more done in a week if you follow this method. Best of luck on your week and I hope this post has been helpful.

PS- All this advice comes to you thanks to Melanie from Melsie Glass.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day Three: Dunne Dittman: A Legacy of Fly Fishing

            June 16th is Father's Day this year. I love to hear father stories because so often when a person tells you about their father, they tell you passions that have been passed down to them from their dad. It may be their favorite sports team, their love of suits, or simple drink. This week and next if you head down to a local bar and grab a beer, you'll hear a thousand stories.
             Today, I will share with you one of the stories I've enjoyed hearing. Dunne Dittman is an Irishman of the old school. The kind of man that drives an old green truck, loves his dog, and most days of the week after his art, sits down to call it a day with a pint of beer before heading off for the night. If you're lucky enough to catch him on one of these brief stop-overs between work and home, he'll tell you about his dad. A part-time leather carver, once a year growing up he would pack up Dunne and his brother to go fly fishing in Wyoming.Cold water flies are tied with tuffs of thread, carpet, fur, and countless other fabrics to create a final snack to tempt the trout. As adults, Dunne's brother learned to tie flies on his own for salt water and the two of them hit the Gulf Coast to try their luck.
             If you talk to most fisherman, they'll talk about the deep water, the legendary storms, and the fish that grow with every telling. If you talk to Dunne, he will tell you about the shelf that runs hundreds of miles out from seas were the waves flow in shallow swells and a man can walk to the horizon in chest deep water with a reel in one hand fly fishing while the sharks wave by. It's an awesome silence.
             The twist in an afternoon's beer roughly ten years ago when tying his next fly his brother made him, Dunne stopped to look at the fly in his hand and thought, "What if I painted this?" Each fly is individually tied and designed by a fisherman from his own personal experience. This is a collection of his history and life experiences like individual fingerprints. A couple months later, having finished stretching his canvas, Dunne picked up his paintbrushes and started painting.
              Fast forward ten years, and Dunne's collection of custom fly paintings had grown one each year. Painters are slow artists. I think they run on silence and introspection. I love how they hang around our studios adding beauty to where I work every day. Cool paintings with a story demand cool design. For father's day this year we are collaborating to do a short-run of custom keychains of Dunne's paintings for the man in your life. Each piece is natural leather we have handcut, punched, and engraved a painting on each keychain. A small piece of art for your pocket. You can pick one up in our Etsy store for $8.95 with free shipping this month. Be sure to get one before they run out. A great piece of local art for the wild man in your life. To fathers and their children. May you enjoy the season and happy Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day Two: Arrows of Fate

           Today Nash is bringing another piece of his Samurai warrior leather jewelry. He's got all 50 clans that he's slowly working his way through. It takes time to design, cut, and set each piece. We've decided to alternate days we create new designs so you different tastes each day.

          Check in tomorrow as we go fly fishing for Father's Day.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Etsy Summer Boot Camp: Day One

           Welcome to a bright and early Monday, ladies and gentleman. Our Acorn to Oak team is working on improving our online shops for the fall season.  A lot of  fun behind the scenes work and for the 3 summer months, we have agreed to post 1 new item to our shops each weekday or 5 new items total a week. Some people are planning to post daily and others are posting weekly. I am really looking forward to tackling this challenge and seeing what everyone makes. I love getting to pump the juices and create magic.
            So today, monday, is the first day. You can see our fun corduroy newsboy hat for $28 with free shipping.

If you are coming here from the Etsy team, please post your daily listing here. Come back each day this week for a new surprises. I hope that you enjoy the summer's journey with us. If you are a maker or a lover of handmade goods, join us.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Textile Friday: Rami Kashou and the Paper Dress

                 I have roughly 25 designers I love to watch, most of them are over 50. It's an odd truth in this business that a designer at 50 is seen as just hitting their stride and designers in their 70s and 80s are not considered uncommon. It seems to take time to master the various elements and develop a signature style.
                 There's 3 major designers under 50 that I love to watch and I thought I would share a guilty pleasure with you while I work on filling client orders. We've got a lovely backlog I am enjoying getting caught up on after Animazement. Meet Rami Kashou. I originally got to see Rami Kashou on Project Runway, another guilty pleasure, on Season 4 back in 2007/2008 where he placed as runner-up.
                 Rami is one of those people who's story I can really identify with, he started in retail and after getting disenchanted with the selection, bought himself 3 sewing machines, and taught himself to sew by taking apart designer clothing over a number of years.  Again and again, you hear him talking about why he designs and it's because he finds women beautiful and sees them as muses. You can really see it in the way his clothing moves. Interesting quality for a gay man, I hope he eventually does men's clothes as well as I think it would be worth seeing too. My hairdresser Ray reminds me a lot of Rami. They have the same sweet smile and low voice.
                 Rami has a number of high profile clients, think Madonna at the Super Bowl, but a rich client is not very impressive. Instead, you should watch the clothing move! They're just beautiful. Generally few designers can do asymmetry, but he pulls it off. Watch his recent bridal collection for Bebe. He also has a line of paper dresses he does for Papyrus, a paper company, which is incredibility interesting. Few people have this ability to manipulate either fabric or paper.
                  His current weakness from an American perspective that he is growing out of has been mentioned by editors is a lack of color editing. Not his use of color, but his ability to edit his color story for American taste. American color stories are more limited than European or Milan resting around 40 colors vs. 280. Rami reminds me more of an Italian designer than an American one in this respect. I have yet to decide if this is an actual weakness or not. I think that Bebe this season is probably one of the better matches he's done and I think he would do well in Latin America clothing. But he's a young designer with an interesting road ahead of him. I wish him all the best and enjoy seeing what next object of beauty he designs.