Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Booth Babes and Trade Shows- Allegra and April

       Today we are visiting with 2 of my favorite models for tradeshows: Allegra and Apil. Both of these women have great personalities for doing events/new product releases. Allegra's tradename is more commonly know as the Chainmail Chick. April is wicked good with custom make-up for events. If you need to hire someone to help you market a new product or try out a concept, I highly recommend both these ladies.

Don't worry, they will be making more presentations on the blog as the spring season progresses. Especially as Animazement rolls around. We need more spunky little fire pixies. Both of these girls are very thin and petite so they are ideal for accessories and catalog. If you are doing American sizing...that's a 00. I find accessories do really great on them, especially hats.

Have a great day and see you back tomorrow when we explore the theater.

PS- For any Acorn to Oak Group Members if you are local in the area, these young ladies have very reasonable event rates if you plan to do any major events this spring, be sure to stop and talk with them. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Behind the Scenes With Local Model Talent

          This week and next we are getting ready for an influx of local modeling talent for our spring collection. The Acorn to Oak Co-op as a whole is doing an artists meeting live models March 10th from 1-4 pm at Umstead to work on sprucing up our online shops. Li Sashay is putting in some last minute touches ourselves. I'm excited to see this partnership unfold and hopefully add a little more beauty to the world. I love photographing clothes on live models. It's like activating the intrinsic magic of fabric to make people beautiful. You take the layers of folded fabric off the shelf or out of your drawer. Next put it on. Voila! A newer, more beautiful you is born. Flaws minimized, inner beauty on max.

          First some of the guys, up for you today we have 2 of my favorite male models Sergei and Brandon . Both are musicians. I love working with musicians as they always seem to be able to make me laugh. Some of you might remember Sergei as the Chippendale model from last year's Halloween party. I honestly debated the merits of just posting up a picture of him shirtless for today...yum, yum, yum. It seems unfair to reduce one of Nash's best friends to a piece of delectable meat. Well, I'm probably going to hell for this but hey I hope this brightens your day (Please forgive me Sergei.). Sergei is an amazing cook, engineer, musician, and just plain beautiful. He's also funny, interesting to talk to, and a great guy. One of those rare 10s who seems unaffected by it. He's currently single, 23, and moving to NY in a few months so ladies...j/k. Anyways, he's 5'10" and a size medium. 39R if you're doing jackets. He will be available to help with photographs and is athletic so if you need him to do flips, or fake sword-fight, etc. this is your man. If you are using him to photograph ties for Father's Day, a standard or skinny width looks great on him.

     Second, I have Brandon who I chose simply because he makes me laugh. You can check out Brandon on youtube as he has a number of videos up. My favorite is this quirky car commercial audition where he impersonates different types of car owners. Pretty funny. These guys are about the same build so I hope that we can get a number of shots of them clowning around. Funny t-shirts? Quirky sayings? The sky is the limit.

Alright, check back in tomorrow for more models. I will try to post all of them this week and next. Thank you everyone who is involved in being a part of this.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Textile Friday: The 2 W's: Water and Walking

         Today we're going to talk about a sensitive topic, a girl's weight. I've put on a few pounds myself the past few years since giving up working retail and like most of us it's beginning to catch up with me personally. It does little good to have a closet full of beautiful clothes I can't wear. My grandfather's advice that the best way to look good on a budget is to build a good wardrobe relies on the idea that one is already exercising the control  to maintain their weight in the first place.

         The simple fact is that as Vogue or any experienced designer will tell you while there's a lot we can do with clothing to bring out your best features, being thin/your ideal weight is an advantage over almost everything else. 10 or 15 lbs. lost will do wonders to your posture, walk, and fit. So how does one lose the weight? The million dollar question? The answer generally lies with water and walking.  That's the Weight Watchers joke that the 2 W's stand for Water and Walking. There's a lot of truth to that simple answer. Substituting water for calories helps you gradually lose weight. And walking increases your base metabolism. So this week I dug out my old water bottle and sprung for a new pair of tennis shoes from the shoe guys downstairs. It's not sexy or instant like the diet ads, but real beauty often takes work and time. I've got to slim down a bit by October to fit in the wedding dress my grandfather gave me. A worthwhile goal in my book. If you've been meaning to drop a few yourself or been putting off taking the plunge, I invite you to join me as I work on an adult perspective on beauty.

         Next week, we'll go over how to build a wow wardrobe on a budget. This is old advice from my grandfather, I hope it will help you as much as it has me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

March 10th Photoshoot and Catalog.

           Alright everyone, we're looking towards the March Acorn to Oak Team Line-up. This month we are focusing on 3D Printing Workshop for our Tues nights and taking our shops to the next level. The 3D Printing Workshop is already sold out, most exciting. It's nice to see members taking an interest in the happens and future of making. Luis Freeman is now joining our office team so you can see him around the new studio space if you are interested in talking to him about 3D Printing come knock on the first print room as you go in on the left.
         To work on our online shops, we will be having a model photoshoot March 10th from 1-4 pm at Umstead Park weather permitting. Rye is putting together our spring catalog which ties directly to our online Etsy shops so this is a great opportunity to spruce up all our online presences. I'm as guilty as anyone of this and hoping that focusing on this spring will help both our fellow artists and customers. I would love for people to see more fully how they will actually look in our clothing and accessories. We have roughly a dozen models lined up to shoot, some traditional and others selected because they struck my eye as being photogenic. Beauty comes in many sizes, shapes, and packages. I can't wait to see what comes of this partnership.
         I will be posting up brief bios and photos over the next few weeks leading up to the March 10th to wet your appetite and then you will get to see our new spring collection starting afterwards. I've been inspired this spring by summer vacations with my family growing up in North Carolina. It's such a rich, beautiful state. I hope you enjoy sharing in my joy this spring as the economy begins to recover. Happy Tuesday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reminder Art-O-Mat is Coming Tomorrow

Hey Everyone. This is a last minute reminder that Clark Whittington from Art-o-Mat is coming to talk to our group tomorrow. We hope you can make it and check out his cool art vending machines. The address is:

The Conference Room
Techshop RDU
5905 Triangle Drive
Raleigh, NC 27617

I will have samples for artists on-hand if you would like to take stuff home to try out. I have roughly 100 boxes and 15 laminate pieces to give out as samples for artists who are interested.

Clark will also be handing out prototype kits after his talk which are a basic how-to get started and his form to make sure he has enough info to put you in his database and pay you. Super important things for you as an artist. I hope a lot of people get to take advantage of this oppertunity to grow their business.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Textile Friday: Wisdom and knowledge

"Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
English preacher (1834 - 1892)


           Today we're talking about why and how. One of the biggest mistakes I tend to make is getting caught up in the how something is created and missing the why I am creating the item in the first place. Going over the books this past week as we unpack the new space, I've been struck by the fact that knowledge is not the same thing as wisdom at all. As the business has grown, I'm forced to look at the difference between knowing how an object is constructed, and being wise enough to see if the overall project is actually something worth doing. It's something I still fail at. As a consummate tinkerer there's few things I love more than someone stopping me and asking if I have 5 min to go over an idea with them. Little happy bells of possibility go off in my head.
          Designers are paid to see trends and possibilities. To look beyond what is and see the past and future. Success is marrying this possible future or product to the everyday realities. It's not easy, we all make mistakes. I've got a host of tossed designs that have never seen the light of day, or did and flopped. Take Pieceables, my next great invention in modular fabric...that no one wanted to buy. One of the best pieces of advice I got from an established designer was, "Art that is wearable sells."
         It was one of the simplest pieces of advice I've been given and a standard to live by.

It is also advice I have to work to stick to. The details are easy to get caught up in. You can watch the TED talk here of someone saying this much better than I can. Have a great weekend and see you back on Monday.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wiring Done on the New Studio

     The sewing machines are up and running again after a week of silence while we moved to our new studio space. THANK YOU everyone who has been so understanding while we go through this expansion process. Growing pains are hard, but necessary part of running a business. A special thanks to my old office-mate Matt Santelli for finding our awesome new space. I must admit, all the extra space makes one feel a little giddy. We finally have separate rooms for things like fabric cutting/printing and the air compressor for which my ear drums are thanking me. There's still many things to do and hang, but the bare bones are there. What a hopeful way to start the year. I hope that you are also doing well and look forward to continuing our journey with you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Corian Art with Jeff Sgroi

       Today we are peaking into the workshop of a fellow Etsy Team Artist, Jeff Sgroi. Some of you remember  Jeff who designed some wonderful 1950s Art Deco Corian counter-tops repurposed as wall art. I wrangled him into showing off some of his pieces last year for our June Etsy Meeting because they're amazing in person. You can now finally get one of your own over the next month during his Kickstarter campaign. I love the idea of something I use every day, my countertop, becoming something unique to hang on my wall. Jeff created his art called 3TONE to honor his Dad's passing last year for Father's Day. I personally think they're a great gift for Mother's Day for all those moms who love to cook.

        Perhaps you have your own story to tell of a newspaper clipping or childhood memory that meant a lot to you with your own family. Now you can immoralize it for all time. You can pick up one of your memories for roughly $80. I love the whole newspaper meets stone feel of these. Have fun checking out some local talent.

        Have a great day everyone and see you back tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rachel's Hat Machine Repair

      Go check out La Bricoleuse's blog post about her hat machine repair: http://labricoleuse.livejournal.com/168679.html. There's some great before and after photos as well as showing the machine at work for speed and final product testing. I love this concept of using 3D printers to repair old treasurers. Can't wait to see what other people make next week when we have our next free jam session.

      It was awesome fun to have her and the photo comes reprinted from her blog. Pretty cool piece of equipment. :-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Flat Annual Membership Fee Starting in April

This spring I'm taking the lead from some of my other girl friends who run Etsy groups in other parts of the state. They have moved to charging a flat annual fee and having free meetings which is less paperwork for everyone involved. We are doing the same starting May 1st. The Acorn to Oak Handmade Team membership will be $20 starting in April and last 1 year. All events and weekly meetings will be free effective May 1st as long as you pay your dues. To apply simply click the paypal button and you will be charged a flat $20 fee to cover annual supplies, events, and a small administrative fee.

We will start collecting memberships now, they will be due in April, and you will be late in May. If you are planning to participate in the kids summer camp, please click the family link at check-out so we know to contact you directly as summer gets closer. Participation in the camp is free at this time.

You are welcome to support the group even if you are not in the area. We will be happy to add you to the mailing list for our monthly newsletter. 


Friday, February 10, 2012

Textile Friday: Made in America

         I've been thinking this spring about the US textile industry as a whole. A lot of people in the textile industry like to point out that manufacturing has been decimated the past decade. As a whole, the textile industry has lost over a million jobs or 60% of it's workforce. North Carolina is a textiles state traditionally and we have been very heavily hit. But this post is not a doom and gloom post, it is the opposite. We have almost 1,500 textile factories with close to 500 workers in them plus a host of smaller shops dotted all across our state who are doing great is this economic downturn and tough economy. Every designer out there has to keep this in mind as they seek to be successful. I have a lot of friends who have cut their losses and gotten out. NC State's design program is a shell of it's former glory in the 1980s. I wince every time I talk to a professor or teacher and they say, "Oh textiles? Really? I didn't think anyone was actually making a living at that."
         To which I privately think to myself, "You know that the textile industry has actually maintained a steady market share since 1978 and I've actually worked on a number of factory lines. There's plenty of people out making a living, a good living off the garment industry." I've worked for billion dollar companies that only had 7-9 seamstresses. What has changed drastically is that the work that used to take several thousand people, now only takes a handful. And they're doing quite well, thank you. After some specific machine investments.This spring I have decided to feature some of the local US textile companies making a living, a good living, putting out a product(s) worth buying. I would like to stress that all these companies have taken different approaches and are locally available for purchase in the Triangle area. I love reading and supporting men and women who have found a way to make their idea accessible to the masses such as myself. So, if you want to support your local fellow designers, share this story with a friend and maybe pick up one yourself. I don't have all the answers, but let's look at what some other companies are successfully doing.
       Today I would like to talk about the Darn Tough Vermont: Running Socks Company out of Vermont. These guys make awesome socks that are so tough they come with a lifetime guarantee. They also manage to pay their employees well with benefits and use superior quality wool that is incredibly durable. You can pick one up locally at Bull City Running Company in Durham, Tobacco Road Outdoors in Apex, and Townsend and Bertram in Carrboro. There's a number of sock manufacturers in the area, particularly out of the Burlington area, but I don't know of anyone else who's making socks of this quality. They're reasonably priced in the $7-20 range depending on type etc.
        Nash and I both do a fair amount of walking and these socks also make AWESOME Sock Monkeys. I mean like rockin' sock monkeys. Looking through the modern sock factory, you will notice something very important, a lot of machines to not a lot of people. Machines are much much faster than people at repetitive tasks which allow you not to wear out your employees. Good equipment can help with repetitive wear/injuries helping the people who work for you stay safer and healthier for longer. People like to be treated like people, not machines.You are responsible both to your customers and the people who work for you to make both their lives better. Darn Tough is answering this call in a modern age. For that they have my admiration and respect.
           Many of those machines will be computer driven. If you want to hand-knit socks, you can certainly do so and they look great. Nash has a pair of hand-knit wool socks he got as a Christmas present that rapid wolves could not pry out of his hands. You  generally make one sock per day if you're a knitter, putting a handmade item in the VERY rare gift category. About twice as slow as scarves for me. A professional knitter in the 1700s would produce 12 socks a week or 6 pairs which I find frighteningly fast. See the YarnHarlot's blog for more info if you want to learn about hand-knitting socks which is where this picture is reprinted from. She's also a fun fellow knitting addict. The first month I started Li Sashay I tried to...gasp....make a living hand-knitting scarves. Several stubborn weeks later (and cramped hands), I gave up that idea, but I still knit for fun. For me, I love designing, but I also struggle with how to affordably give it to friends and family while paying employees. Good tools seems to be the answer I've found and a number of other designers. So go check out the couple minute video and feel a little inspiration for your day. American made is still out there, doing just fine thank you, though perhaps not in the way you envisioned.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Etsy Meeting Recap: 3D Printers and Origami

        Hey guys, wow...what an exciting Tuesday! My happiness is still buzzing from earlier this week when Luis brought in all his 3D printers. So much fun! I loved to see everyone visit and test out the models. You can really feel the excitement in the crowd as everyone suddenly realizes how fast these babies print.


               There's something magical about designing something in a CAD program on the computer in a few minutes and seeing it grow right before your eyes. While there are a LOT of different uses for these, my favorite one of the night was by Rachel Pollock with the UNC Grad Design Program. She used one of the printers to print out custom new feet for her hat-sizer from the mid-1850s. Besides making a lot of her students very happy, it was the kind of practical application I had not considered that 3D printers will enable you to refurbish or fix old machines by making parts for them that no longer exist. You can see her here chatting with Luis as they go over the design. She made the feet in the computer labs using AutoInventor in a few minutes apparently and it worked just fine with only 1 minor adjustment off the bat. Let's hear it for us normal designers who don't spend our days trapped being a screen on solid works.
           We all know I'm getting mine to print custom zippers, buttons, and hardware, but it's mind-blowing how many different applications 3D printers have that was not readily apparent to me at the beginning. I can't wait to see what's made.
          A reminder to everyone else, if you have not used a 3D printer before, openscad is compatible with any major CAD software program and freely available off the internet. STL files are particularly easy to use with it. If you would like design something small (2 inch cube or smaller) over the next few weeks and bring the file in to the next meeting on the 21st, Luis will again be on hand to demonstrate and print out parts. As you can see we have a BUNCH of machines so we can print multiple items at once. They're remarkably stable compared to the versions I've seen commonly available a couple years back so you can put 3-4 on one table and have them going at the same time.                    
           Common printing resolution is 0.4 mmm layers, but you can go do to 0.1 mm layers for resolution if you need fine parts detail for engine blocks and rotating parts. Please, come test these out in person. Luis has a bunch of different ABS plastic colors for you to print with sitting in different machines. You'll love it.

Have a great day everyone and see ya back tomorrow.

PS- All photos are complimentary of Rye Dewalt. Nice to have a fellow guest blogger back this week helping out.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day Twenty-Five: Maker-Faire NC Shirts

            Today, our shop is busy catching up on orders. We have literally doubled our sales volume in the past month from Christmas which is a first ever for a January in my dozen plus years in the apparel industry. It is certainly a nice thing to see the economy recovering and a bit exhausting. Still, I would not trade a minute of the muscle aches and sleep deprivation for getting to do something I love. Let us hope that this trend continues. It is nice to see my customers and friends doing so well.
            One of these fun little jobs is for my friend, Jon Danforth, who you may remember from last year for Maker Faire: North Carolina. This year instead of hats we're having fun monogramming Dickie Shirts. You will get to see them on the staff this year.

Always love to support my fellow makers. Have a great weekend and see you back next week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Textile Friday: 3D Printer Class in March

        Today I am pleased to bring you a guest blogger, Rye Gewalt, who some of you may remember from the summer Hello Etsy Event. This past Saturday Rye and Luis hunkered down over a bunch of parts and built a fun 3D printer in a few hours from scratch that you can currently see by the front desk and will be available for members to try out during our weekly meetings this month. Like many fellow artists in the area, I have been interested in rapid prototyping for a while, but lacked the knowledge or engineer bent to work one of these wonders. Now...I am fixing that oversight in March. :-) Like a happy little kid in a candy store. I hope you get the chance to take advantage of this opportunity too.

   As some of you know, our March meetings are rather ambitious and these two guys wanted to go through and test the series to make sure everything worked. I am pleased to say the model was a smashing success and is sitting by the front door at Techshop RDU if you would like to check it out.

So who is Luis Freeman and why in the world is he teaching this event?

"Luis Freeman’s day job is at IBM where he is involved in engineering and supply management chains.   He has been building and designing 3D printers as a hobby since 2007 when hobby 3D printers were more a matter of conjecture than hands on reality. He has has built several dozen machines of increasing complexity and currently has six operational machines that will be used to make parts for the class machines..  His printers utilize proven techniques from the Mendel and Openscad technology. The photo below shows Luis with his Mendel Prusa based machine which is considered an ideal machine for beginners due to it desktop size and large 8” x 8” x 8” product capacity. It is easy for even less nimble fingers to work with putting parts together without being so clunky that smaller frames have difficulty putting it together.   

This class provides an opportunity to build your own fully functional turnkey 3D printer in a group environment with a the help of knowledgeable hands-on instructor and the collective experience of classmates with similar interests.  Reinventing the wheel is seldom fun, but figuring things out with friends can be quite rewarding.
Each student in the class will build their own fully functional machine, starting with assembling the Arduino based electronics and finishing with the final checkout and test of their full system.  The build process takes place during five classes spaced over a four week period starting on March 6th  as detailed below.  

Week One (March 6th from 5-10 pm): You start with your basic kit and go over the basics. There are generally 50-200 separate parts that need to be soldered to your ardunio card as shown here such as stepper motors, capacitors, and hook-up connectors. This generally takes 2-3 hrs. depending on your prior experience soldering and doing electronics. No prior experience is necessary, but it is helpful if you have taken beginning soldering with Dr. Britton at Techshop RDU or have prior soldering experience.

Week Two (March 13th from 5-10 pm): You go to work on assembling the outside frame of the machine from wood. This part can be easy replicated with a 3D printer. Next you start filling in the gears and assembly that will house the extruder head and flat base you print on. You will use a combination of 3D printed parts and ball bearings. All the pieces have to come together cleanly and smoothly to function in real time. Extra steel wool will be provided for sanding and smoothing the parts.You will finish assembling the inside of the machine in the next class so focus on smoothing parts here is important.

Week Three (March 20th from 5-10 pm) Install and check all the parts you spend last week double-checking to create 2 platforms: 1 for the print head and the other for the print platform. You must check the that x and y axis move smoothly for when the extruder is finally installed. You will also practice printing parts on some extra printers Luis has on hand so you understand quality control when you need to replicate or replace parts on the machine. 

Week Four (March 27th from 5-10 pm and March 29th from 5-10 pm extra time for programming): On Tuesday you will finally install the extruder and wire all the parts you have been working on the past few weeks together. This includes wiring the printer cards, brackets, endstop brackets, and spool holder. You should be printing off your printer at this point. Thursday is available as time overflow in case you need to catch up. Luis will be going over using Openscad to do CAD design on your 3D printer and printing test parts. This time is for you to fine-tune and better understand how to use, fix, and work with your machine. This is what your Mendal Prusa will look like without the wooden frame around it. The wooden frame serves to stabilize the design and cause your pieces to printer with finer quality details." 

by Rye Dewalt

Happy Friday Everyone. I hope this post has been helpful about the next big leap forward in design innovation. And thank you Rye for all the photos and help. Neither of us could have done it without you.

If you have not already signed up, we have 2 slots left for the class on Skillshare: http://www.skillshare.com/How-to-Make-A-3D-Printer-Class-with-Louis-Freeman/1324082886