Thursday, January 29th, 2009
These are the predominant colors popping up in my spring palette, inspired by some beautiful photos that Shari took. Even though these are winter scenes, I like the lightness of them, the contrast of almost black with light grey/almost white, and the tiny bit of reddish gold/orange.
I’ve also been thinking about the softness and blur, and trying to figure out how I can incorporate that into fabric. I have a few ideas -now I have to test them out.
1. Untitled, 2. classic vermont, 3. winter shadows one, 4. Untitled
Thank you for the kind words about the project in Readymade magazine. It was very fun to do. Send me a photo if you make one of the scarves.
I added some ponchos to my shop today, along with a few pairs of mottled grey fingerless gloves. The ponchos are made of ribbed cotton, so they will work great for spring as well. I didn’t finish the scarves, but I’ll let you know when I add those. It should be in a few days.
Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
A few months ago someone from Readymade magazine asked me if I’d like to do a project focusing on recycled/reused clothing. This idea appealed to me because the concept of reusing is important to me (the garment industry is the largest contributor to waste in the US) and I thought it would be a personal challenge to make something that I liked and didn’t look “reused”.
I came up with two scarves -one made from men’s plaid or checked shirts and one from men’s wool sweaters. Both are super long and overdyed grey. The instructions are in the Feburary/March issue of Readymade.
The best part though is that when I finally tracked down a copy of the magazine yesterday (after several peopled emailed me about it -I didn’t even know it was out) I flipped it open in the store right to the page with my friend Tia from Silvercocoon and her husband and son smiling out at me! We hadn’t told each other that we would be in the magazine so it was a lovely surprise. If you don’t have a copy you should get one if only to see their wonderful mid-century house that they’ve made uniquely their own.
And the photographer for the article lives right over in St. Paul!
I’m going to raffle off the plaid scarf that I made for the article -just leave a comment below and I’ll choose a winner on Friday.
Oh -and this Thursday (1.29.09) there will be the last of the cocoon ponchos in my shop. And possibly some gossamer scarves in new colors….
Thank you for all the encouraging comments about my studio. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in my designer induced renovation stasis:)
Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
If you’ve been reading here for awhile you might remember me writing about the remodeling of our basement into a studio/playspace. A year and a half later and it still isn’t done. Or even started. As a designer I have the tendency to not want to do things until I can do them completely and exactly how I want. It’s hard working on dream projects for other people all day and then coming home and settling for less in your own home. I have a feeling this is common among designers.
So for the past 8 years our house has been in a waiting state. Waiting for money to do the projects we want, or the right time to move to the perfect neighborhood with the argument of “why renovate if we’re just going to move.” This fall I started to realize that with the economy the way it is we’re probably going to be staying put for a good long while and there won’t be money to do the projects we want. And I’m ok with that. We have a lovely, light filled, 1950’s house that is perfect for us. It’s not exactly how I want it to be, but it’s perfectly fine (as our non-designer friends like to tell us). It is a mess in little ways though -mostly things like missing trim, walls badly in need of paint and inadequate storage.
And I realized that it was making me unhappy and unproductive. The environment I live and work in really effects my mood and productivity, but for some reason I have been unable to do small things to change it. I guess the bigger picture was always what I was thinking of, and it was overwhelming so I did nothing.
I’m not sure what got me motivated -maybe an overall feeling of wanting to change things and “anything is possible” after the election. The post at Door Sixteen about “unfancy kitchens” was also very inspirational. Whatever it was, lately I’ve been doing all those little things I’ve been meaning to do -painting walls very white to reflect light in small rooms, putting up shelves for toy storage, installing new simple window shades to replace old drab ones.
And my workspace. That has been the most time consuming but also the most important. I’ve been working in a storage space in our basement, on a rickety table made of an old door layed across some sawhorses. It was dark and a huge mess of towering boxes and old paint cans. There was no where to lay out fabric or put my supplies and it was generally very depressing. I can’t believe I worked this way for so long! But I guess I was assuming that we would renovate the basement as per our perfect plan and so I did nothing to make it any better.
But during my recent fit of new year organizing and refreshing I decided it was time to make a space that I could work in efficiently and most importantly make a space that I wanted to be in. A place to have things around me that I find inspirational. And that I couldn’t wait for the perfect plan, but that I just needed to work with what I had. So I’ve been clearing out and painting and putting up shelves.
And now I have a place for both sewing machines, and storage space for fabric and a HUGE worktable. And a big white wall to paste things on, like blurry photographs (my current obsession), and artwork from friends. And it’s making me feel calm, happy and content. There is still a lot of work to be done. But just seeing the small changes and having some inspiration around me makes me want to continue to work on it.
There is something else making me feel calm, happy and content. Today is a huge day. The beginning of a new era. Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States today. I feel like I might burst with happiness.
Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
Way back in the summer Erin from Design for Mankind asked me to document one of my typical days for her feature the “Dailies”. I was quite flattered since I find Erin’s design site very inspiring and so I set out to document one of my days. It was very fun actually, carrying my camera around with me and taking random photos throughout the day, as well as making little notes about what I did and when.
When it came to actually editing the photos and writing something cohesive -well, that took a little longer. Anyway -Erin has posted my Daily from the end of August over on her site today. A typical day in my life is kind of boring but there are a bunch of summer photos so if it’s as cold where you are right now as it is here in Minneapolis (it’s -10F degrees!) being reminded of warmer days might be kind of nice.
Erin is also sponsoring a giveaway today. She is giving away one of my Cocoon Ponchos from the mere COLLECTION and if you go on over here and leave a comment she’ll put your name in the pool. She always throws some extra cool stuff in with her giveaways too.
And thank you all for the nice comments about painting with my son. The painting is up on his wall now and he is thrilled:)
Monday, January 12th, 2009
In the architecture studio I teach we talk alot about constraints and limits. I’ve talked about this here before as well (right now I’m too lazy to go find the link….). I think in all work setting limits to what you are examining is a good idea as it allows you to focus and explore issues in more depth. In a beginning design studio though, it’s especially important as too many ideas and issues can be overwhelming. The students often start out thinking that the constraints we’ve set are too limiting, but by the end realize how freeing having those limits can be.
I was thinking about this issue of process recently as my 4 year old son and I embarked on a painting project. We are redoing his bedroom and as he loves art, and painting in particular I wanted to have a special piece to hang up. I also wanted to begin to teach him about art and design in a way a 4 year old could understand.
I knew that talking about technique or composition or ways of seeing would be way over his head, but that he could start to learn about these things through the process of putting paint on canvas and seeing the result. This is where the idea of limits and constraints comes in:
- I decided to give him a large canvas so that he would have to take more time than he normally would. The large canvas also gave him a different perspective and made it necessary to move his whole body around the piece.
- Because of the large size, large brushes were also necessary, which had to be held differently and forced him to paint in a new way.
- Lastly, and most importantly I limited the number of paints he used. I chose two neutrals, grey and black, and allowed him to choose two colors. I had 3 gesso brushes of graduating size, and I put the larger two in the neutrals and the smaller was used for the bright colors. I knew this would automatically impose more limits on his use of color without me having to verbalize anything.
Typicallly when faced with a full box of crayons or paint palette, my son will make a drawing or painting by choosing each color one by one until he’s used all or most of the colors. Then the piece will be “done”. This makes for some beautiful and colorful work, but it seems to be more of an exercise in using all the colors than in making a picture.
It was quite interesting for me to see how he concentrated and carefully thought about the placement of the 4 paints he had. Early in the process, when he had some grey, black and a bit of yellow on the canvas, I realized how beautiful it was in combination with the white. Both his older brother and I commented on it, and I encouraged him to leave some white showing. Lately though he is very interested in filling the whole page with color or the work isn’t “done”. So in the end the canvas was filled except for a 1″ dot that he “left white” for me. I am proud of myself for not saying anything else during the process, instead letting the limits I imposed do the work of teaching.
In retrospect I think it would have been better to give him just one color choice and talk more about the white of the canvas as the fourth color prior to him starting. I feel like he learned alot about color and compostition though, and he had a blast through the entire process. And while for me the final product isn’t as important as the process, he absolutely loves his painting and was so excited for me to hang it on his wall. And I have to say that I love it too:)
Thursday, January 8th, 2009
Thank you all for the well wishes about the new shop! I have to say I am quite happy with Big Cartel. It is so much less time consuming to upload to and the ability to add options like color and size to each item is wonderful. For everyone who emailed me about the gossamer scarf, I am going to try to get more of the fabric and if I can, I’ll make up some more scarves. I’m thinking about a few new colors for spring as well. There are just a few items still available and the 15% discount SIMPLE will be in effect through Sunday. (I also love that I can add a discount code!)
This year I decided to try to use my camera more to document what I see around me, and so I am taking a photo a day and uploading them to my flickr account. There are many flickr users doing this and many groups dedicated to this project. I can’t believe one week has already gone by. I’m trying to focus on interesting light conditions and compositions that emphasize the light (at least for now).
Those are cropped thumbnails of the first week + 1 above (anyone else have a love/hate relationship with mosaic maker?), and you can see the whole set here. I like seeing all the images grouped. They don’t seem that interesting individually, but when juxtaposed with another image or in the set they seem to take on a new life.
I’m excited to see how this project and process will get integrated into my work.
Tuesday, January 6th, 2009
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and/or break.
I don’t usually commit to resolutions, but this year I’ve decided I am going to try to simplify. My home, my life and the way I work and live. Over the break I finished up some projects that have been hanging around, cleaned out several cabinets and made a few lists. It feels good to pare down and get rid of things I don’t need and clear away some piles that were hanging around. I know you can all relate.
One thing I want to do over the next few months is to use up a bunch of random fabric I have by making a few one of a kind items. These might be old designs I’ve offered before done in the old fabric or new ones. I’ll also try out a few new patterns in special fabrics. I’ll offer these periodically in my shop.
And speaking of the shop I have finally decided to move it over to Big Cartel. Their shop software is much simpler and easier to use, and I like that you can have items in the shop that aren’t for sale yet. From now on my shop will be located here.
I have a few things from the mere COLLECTION left, and I plan to put them up for sale tomorrow in the new shop. As a thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement this past year I’m offering a discount of 15%. Just use the discount code SIMPLE. Thank you all for your wonderful comments and emails. I so appreciate them and wish I had the time to respond to them all.
2009 is starting off as a wonderfully simple year for me. What have you resolved to do this year?