Tuesday, January 29th, 2008
UNIFORM Studio, tie front blouse & random fold skirt
The other day I went to plug in my laptop, and realized that the end of the power cord that plugs into the computer was hanging by one little thread of wire. I started to panic because in computer years, its pretty old -it’s a powermac from 2000. I figured I would have to hunt on ebay to find one. Luckily they still make replacement cords and they had them at the Apple store. So when I picked up the cord I was really surprised by the packaging. Bright green and grey! The color palette I’ve been working with for my new collection. I guess that makes me trendy.
Actually, I try not to pay a whole lot of attention to trends. Lately though I’ve been thinking about this dress and how this simple raglan style is quite popular these days. It’s a style that looks good on everyone, both children and adults. And it looks good in a variety of fabrics and textures. It’s probably my most popular item of children’s clothing. Because its so trendy right now though, I’ve been working on some new simple girls dresses and tops.
Although you can’t really tell from the photo the shirt above has square set in sleeves. The square sleeve is loose and casual like the raglan but adds a little more detail. The tie front adds volume and allows the shirt to be slipped over the head without a zipper.
The skirt is the random fold design from this past fall, in a new color. I also refined the fold pattern to have just three deeper folds, which I like much better. For the ACC show, I’ll have a combination of new designs and old ones updated in new fabrics. Originally I was thinking I would have a completely new collection, but my plans were bigger than the time available to work on them. Pattern making is so time consuming, at least for me. It’s been good to refine old patterns though, and the pieces seem different in different fabrics.
Did you notice my new model? I got a child sized form to go with my adult sized one. It has an offset pole, so you can use it for modeling pants. It’s great to be able to try things on the model as I’m working without having to run around the house trying to get the model to stand still.
Thank you all for your comments and emails -for the last month I’ve had my head down working to get ready for the ACC show and have fallen way behind on answering them -please bear with me.
I’ll be back soon with some good links and some shop news too.
Sunday, January 20th, 2008
Several months ago Kelly at Hoping for Happy Accidents wrote about a show of Martin Puryear’s work she had seen recently at Moma. I wasn’t familiar with his work but quickly fell in love after viewing the exhibit they have online. I think the way the simple forms are rendered in raw, natural materials strikes a beautiful balance between the two. The work has a lot of similarities to items crafted by the shakers.
You can see my two favorite pieces in the image above in my sketchbook. They are both made of wood and it’s amazing to me that he can take something as rigid as wood and make it feel fluid.
UNIFORM Studio, fluid neck dress, 2008
Those pieces inspired me to make this dress. I wanted to create a plain shape that would focus on a fluid, deep opening banded with a contrasting material. The fabric I chose for the band is a coated cotton that is as thin and crisp as paper and has a silvery sheen. Rigid and fluid at the same time.
UNIFORM Studio, fluid neck dress, 2008
Friday, January 18th, 2008
click on the image to see the texture larger
In the whole process of designing and making clothing, I think 50% of my time is spent looking for fabric. It is a challenge to find beautiful, natural fiber apparel fabric that is economical. An even greater challenge is to find said fabric in large quantities. Most fabric stores will have one bolt, which when new is aprox. 10-12 yards of fabric. This sounds like a lot of fabric, but 10-12 yards will only make about 4-5 dresses, depending on style. When I accepted the invitation to participate in the ACC wholesale show in Baltimore, one of the requirements was that each artist be able to produce at least 5 of each of their items. I think this is the thing that is making me most nervous (out of a long list of things).
So for months now I have been searching for fabric. When I find something I like, I buy it all, because chances are I won’t be able to get more. With apparel fabrics, it is extremely hard to reorder a particular fabric. Very little fabric, other than quilting fabric, is made for retail sale. Most fabrics are produced for clothing companies. They order their fabric and usually have some left over at the end of the season. This is sold at a low cost to fabric “jobbers”, who then sell it to retail stores. They might get a bolt or two of a particular fabric -maybe more -but each store will typically just order one. If they try to reorder that particular fabric, chances are it’s gone.
I started making these little swatch cards to keep track of the fabrics I have. Each one is marked on the back with tape listing the quantity and width of the bolt. I’ll use these at the show to keep track of how many items can be ordered from each fabric. I really like seeing all of the different colors and textures together. When I started getting ready for the show, the first thing I did was develop a color palette. This has really helped me focus when sourcing fabric. Although some of them look brown in the image, they’re actually all shades of grey w/ a bit of indigo and green. I attached the swatches with double stick tape, so I can move them around and test out combinations, which has probably been the most fun of all. Now I’m thinking I need to make one of those matching games with these swatches…
Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
Little things are fun to make.
Sunday, January 6th, 2008
Thank you all for the well wishes about the ACC show! I am trying to be calm and not let the nervousness take over. A few people were wondering about the dress form -I got it here. It’s not the industry standard Wolf, but I’m really happy with the quality and it was much more affordable.
This coil pot was a holiday gift from my 7 year old. When I saw it it made me think of how it embodies all of the things I strive for when making something:
The form is simple and based on a common object but the shape and proportion are just a bit off, which makes it seem more interesting and beautiful than the common form. The way the pot is made is what gives it it’s texture and beauty. The mostly monochrome palette allows the textures of the clay and the coils to be really present. I also like how you can see his hands in the work.Of course he wasn’t thinking of these things when he was making it. Maybe that’s the key -less thinking, more just making.
When I was 7 I made a coil pot for my father. He had it on his desk at work until the day he retired. It made me happy to see it there when I visited him. When I was at my parents house over the holidays I checked his desk. It’s still there, and it still makes me happy to see it.
Friday, January 4th, 2008
Isn’t it beautiful? I think my favorite part is the text printed on to the muslin (not sure yet what a collapsible shoulder is….). And the black cage part. The whole thing says Atelier. It is really well made, and when I look at it it reminds me of my mission to focus on quality and detail.
Right now I am gearing up to participate in a very large show. Last year I was invited by the American Craft Council to be one of their Searchlight Artists. This is a new program showcasing emerging artists/craftspeople and is a great opportunity to take part in one of their national shows for free. They design and set up a booth for all of the searchlight artists as well as provide publicity. I will be part of the wholesale show.
When they asked I was extremely honored, but also felt like I wasn’t ready and didn’t have the time to dedicate to it. I also wondered if what I do is really considered craft. So I declined. This year they were kind enough to ask again and I decided to try it. I’m still not sure if what I do is considered craft, but I think the American Craft Council is in the midst of a lot of positive changes that involve redefining what craft means today.
I am really excited and nervous and a whole lot of other things I can’t even define. And I have so much work to do to get ready. But I’ve got a serious new dress form that is making me really happy.
On a related note, this is an interesting article in the New York Times about the resurgence of handmade objects.
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008
click on the image for photo credits
These are recent favorite photos from flickr, but I think if I could go back 20 years, they would still be similar (take a look at my favorites from the last new year). That is quite comforting to me. Of course I’ve changed over the years, but I think that I also continue to be intrigued and inspired by the same qualities and phenomena that have always interested me. I keep coming back to similar ideas but try to explore them in new ways.
In 2008 I would like to be more conscious of focusing on a few ideas in my work and to continue to develop and refine them-rather than be overly influenced by trends and styles, let the process and material guide me. I also want to slow down my process. This past year I had so many opportunities to take my work in new directions and I feel like I tried to do too much and promised too many things that I just couldn’t deliver.
In 2008 I look forward to slowing down, simplifying, and focusing on quality over quantity. I also look forward to further developing friendships I have made here, making new connections with people, and continuing the dialog that ensues. Thank you all so much for your support, enthusiasm, inspiration, and most of all for taking the time to stop by and comment.
A very happy New Year to you all.