Decoding contemporary art and hand-crafting matters.

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Quick Tip: When You Need Your Stitches to Disappear…

…use silk thread to sew with. It is pricier than cotton, polyester or rayon, but it has a wonderful stitch quality.


On Occasion, I Have Been Known To…

…watch entirely ridiculous episodes of obscure reality TV shows at 3 a.m. while working on repetitive crafting tasks. These include cutting out paper for card-making class kits, doing machine cross-stitch embroidery (while stuck on a metallic thread color change), or knitting a scarf. That is all.

Antique Inspiration: PBS’s Antiques Roadshow

Another Monday night in, viewing Antiques Roadshow on PBS. Aside from the historical insights and offbeat family lore, one of the delights of watching the show has to be the items destined for appraisal themselves. Whether it’s an elaborate Tabriz rug, early American pottery, Native American basket weaving, European dolls, or one-off pieces that could almost be described as precursors of “outsider art,” the show runs the gamut of decorative styles.

Two of my favorite genres are the fabulous vintage jewelry pieces, and the graphic impact of poster art. Sometimes an object will stay with me, and my mind will wander until I start to devise a project of my own. If inspiration is like a gas tank that needs to be filled in order to run the car, as it were, then hanging out with Antiques Roadshow is one of the many ways I prefer to “fill up.”


Bonne FĂȘte – un Jour Plein D’inspiration Artistique.

C’est tout.

Antique Inspiration: Lover’s Eyes Miniatures

I just read an article in Salon that captured my heart. It’s about a new exhibit in Alabama that depicts ancient love tokens once exchanged by rich European lovers, the “eye miniature.” Because they only feature a hand-painted image of an eye, it’s practically impossible to identify whose enigmatic gaze is peering back. It’s an obscure tradition, but one that is still pursued to this day.

I adore antiques on so many different levels: they are a gateway into our past, feature craftsmanship often long-abandoned, source materials that are often impossible (if not illegal) to use, and are a fantastic inspiration for contemporary craft and design.

Here’s more about this very particular art form:

Events: Imprinted Sportswear Show Long Beach, Jan. 20 -22, 2012

The Imprinted Sportswear Show in Long Beach, CA, started today. If you’re into manufacturing decorated apparel (whether your firm is cottage-industry sized or much, much bigger) then this is the show for you! You can catch up with what’s new in equipment, supplies, techniques and trends. They have a ton of classes on both business and technical considerations, and a show floor with freebies. Woot! There will also be other regional shows this year in Orlando, Atlantic City, Columbus and Las Vegas.

Thank You…

You gave me strength, intelligence (both street smarts and book smarts), endurance, wisdom, and countless other gifts too numerous to fully take an accounting of. My love of language was fostered by your foresight. I will never forget and live by your example every day. Thank you.

Events: Road to California Quilter’s Conference, Jan. 19 – 22, 2012

Today marked the beginning of the Road to California Quilter’s Conference in Ontario, California. I’m not a quilter per se (I consider myself more of a mixed media artist when it comes to this discipline), but I really enjoy events such as this for unexpected discoveries. As a journalist *and* artist, I am curious about practically anything creative, and I’m one of those life-long learner types that seeks out new ways of thinking.

This is a show where you can find tools, material, wool roving, and other creative necessities that can give depth to your work and only make it better. It’s great to be exposed to interests outside of your sphere of knowledge: oftentimes it’ll lead you to new and exciting crafty pursuits. Although I’ll spend more time driving to the event than actually attending it, classes I wish I didn’t have to miss include the “thread doctor” technical discussion, and the thread painting instructional lecture. Perfecting your skill set helps open you up to more challenging projects – which helps keep things fresh and avoids derivative work.

Dark Today for Internet Blackout Day

Quick Tip: Know Your Dye Lots When Shopping!

If you are busy working on a project that is fairly large, don’t forget about dye lots! For anyone not familiar with the term, a dye lot commonly refers to the batch number yarn, fabric, even paper will have been manufactured under.

Have you ever worked on a design that was compromised because you couldn’t get enough similar materials together to finish it? Personally, this has happened to me in various ways. Once, while constructing a costume, I had to hit up several locations of the same sewing retailer to find blue fabric that matched up perfectly. The SKUs (product numbers) were identical, but the manufacturing process differed enough that one bolt in one place was green-tinged, while another one elsewhere was more grey. There was also the time I was teaching a paper-crafting class: while prepping and cutting pieces of the kit, I discovered that although I had multiple sheets of the exact same pink paper – bought off the rack in a huge stack from the same shop – there was a distinct color difference. Some were salmon, while others were more pale pink. Quite a bit of fancy cutting had to happen before I could finish the kits, because I couldn’t match the pink I selected with anything still available in-store. Yikes!

Whatever your project may be – matching curtains, hand-decorated team T-shirts, an elaborate sweater, or a huge princess outfit – always procure enough supplies to get the job done. It’s even a good idea to measure your fabric (or paper) to your pattern before cutting, just in case there isn’t enough. That way, if you’re short, you can always try to source more, or choose an alternative that will be in ample supply. It’ll avoid any last-minute 3 a.m. freak outs when things don’t square up – and trust me, that’s not a place you want to be!



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