Friday, October 30, 2009


I'm going to be teaching a class at Craftland on November 7. I'll be showing crafty people how to use potatoes to print on textiles. (You can sign up for it here.) We'll make a set of nice cloth napkins. I was thinking that this weekend I would do a few examples and refresh my memory. This morning I pulled out two of my favorite books on printing by hand. They're not only informative, but the photography is so gorgeous, the instructions clear, and they're inspiring just to flip through. The first is Lotta Prints by Lotta Jansdotter, and the other is Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin. Pick them up if you need some inspiration, or have some boring things hanging around the house that you want to make prettier. If you don't trust your design skills, no worries, both books come with some stencils to use.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Barter

Over the summer I had a good friend, Kara, come spend a weekend in Providence and she brought us a gift of the best granola I've ever had. When it ran out, I'll admit it, I immediately needed more and had to ask for a shipment to Rhode Island. Kara suggested, rather than payment, we barter. I sent her a pack of my Mahalo cards and received an awesome bag of granola. The word barter has come up a lot during this recession, and rediscovering it as a valuable part of our economy is in my column of good things that have come out of this difficult period of time. (Be forewarned, Kara, we bought a special vessel just for the granola, so hopefully we'll be doing this again!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Arizona Travel Journal

Here's a shot of what I brought with me to Arizona in my art supply kit, and a few shots from my journal. I'll admit that I wish my watercolor skills were far better than they are, but for me it's more about absorbing the view and taking it all in, than about painting a perfect image. This first photo is of something I always enjoy, little swatches of the colors I'm looking at.

I always try for window seats on planes, I'm fascinated by the perspective of the landscape and how humans have settled into different places. Arizona was gorgeous to fly into. Miles and miles of desert, mountains , canyons, volcano cones, and then suddenly the suburban sprawl starts. On the way home I packed a few essentials so I could do a few little sketches as we flew.

The view of suburban sprawl from the air, always makes me think of the opening credits of the TV show Weeds. See what I mean, here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Arizona Biltmore

On last week's trip to Arizona, I had the pleasure of staying at an amazing resort, the Arizona Biltmore. From its Web site, "Built as one of Phoenix’s first resorts in 1929, the Arizona Biltmore was constructed in grand form by brothers Albert, Charles and Warren McArthur. Frank Lloyd Wright served as the consulting architect, and the Arizona Biltmore remains one of the only existing hotels in the world to benefit from his influence." The hotel is rumored to have opened just minutes before the stock market crash in 1929 and gives you the sense that you're stepping back in time and should be ordering martinis.

Wright was only a consultant on this project, but his influence is everywhere. Upon walking in, one of the first things you see if a stained glass that he designed which was executed by Nino Greco.
The low ceilings give the resort an intimacy that most hotels lack. The center courtyard with its perfect view of a mountain, makes the resort feel as if it was truly designed for the space it's in. It doesn't seem to dominate over the land, but instead shows off its beauty.

As a textile designer, I have a great appreciation for surface design and repeating patterns in all their applications. This hotel proved to be one of the best examples of great surface design. The hotel uses one tile pattern throughout all the buildings in the resort. The tile was designed by Emry Kopta, a southwest sculptor chosen for his ability to capture the spirit of the southwest. It was inspired by the pattern on a palm tree, at the point where the fronds have been cut off the tree. While interesting on its own, what I loved was how this one tile was used throughout the whole building in different ways, creating many different patterns. In some uses, it almost seems like it's a different tile. I couldn't help but think about the hours that were spent designing each facade using this one tile. The attention to detail in this building is something rarely seen today, where hotels all seem so generic.

Another detailed used throughout the hotel were the Biltmore Sprites, angular sculptures designed by Wright and seen often as a pair, but sometimes standing alone. I got home and did a little searching to find out their story which you can read here. (It's interesting, and involves prohibition!) It was a very relaxing trip.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Relaxed & Refreshed

Got home last night from a relaxing few days in Arizona. It felt good to feel the sun, drink some poolside cocktails and read a book cover to cover. I'll confess to checking my email a couple of times, but in general I stayed away from the computer. Now it's time to get back to my regular routine. More photos later!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Something about blogging the project I really wanted to get done gave me the extra push to actually get it done. As predicted, it didn't take very long, just needed to do it. I used a colorful map for the covers and sewed it together so that one side is upside down, giving the book 2 fronts. I'm happy with it and psyched to fill it.

I'm going to unplug while away and not even bring my mac. I'll report back on Thursday with some photos from the desert and hopefully some inspiration.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Cobbler with no Shoes

Saturday I'm heading out to Phoenix, Arizona to join D on a business trip. I'm excited. I need a break and since he'll be working, I'll have time to myself to lounge around and do nothing. (!) I'm purposely not bringing my Mac so that I maximize the relaxation before the holiday crafting madness sets in.

Not surprisingly, I have no appropriate journal to bring. When I went to Colorado in April, I didn't have a good one to bring, but I brought one that I liked the inside, just not the outside (too Christmas-y) with plans to rebind it. Since I have plenty of room in that one to last me through this trip, I thought I should combine. The plan (if I can get this done by tomorrow) is to have Colorado on one side and Arizona on the other, but bind it so that one is upside down, so each starts from the front, depending on how you hold it. This is the plan, we'll see if it gets accomplished in time. If not, it'll just get rebound when I get back, but I'm determined to do it before I leave because I could see this project never actually getting finished if I don't. I'll check in tomorrow night and let you know how I did, and what else I have packed in my travel journal kit.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grand Reorganization

I went from having a desk in the corner of my apartment to having an actual room that I can call a studio and I love it! Yet, I do find that I am constantly tweaking how it's organized to find the perfect solution to having a lot of stuff in one room, and a room with a loom smack in the middle of it! I needed to have a grand reoganization before holiday making kicked off, and this weekend I feel like I accomplished it. It involved a new shelf in the closet and emptying a few boxes of yarn from the basement, it serves me no good down there. I feel like it's looking better. Now to get busy making stuff! I officially need nothing more in here!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walk the Walk

In college, I had to take a class called History of Textiles and Costumes, with an amazing professor, Sigrid Weltge. It was one of my favorite classes, and our final project was to make a book full of images of fashion today, next to images of their historical inspiration. Lately, I've been noticing a current trend that I would include if I were working on this assignment now.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's seen guys walking around with pants hanging below their asses. I mean, pants had been low hanging for a while, but the other day I was walking behind a guy and couldn't help but notice that the pants were literally sitting below his ass cheeks.

How could these possibly stay up? Then I noticed the way he’s walking. Having his pants hang this low forced him to walk leaning way back, with his legs spread apart, and with his hand on his front hip, holding up his pants. Of course, then I notice that everyone wearing pants that low, also have the walk to go with it. It comes off as arrogance, but really, I’m convinced it grew out of necessity to hold their pants up.

This got me thinking about how fashion has never been solely about the clothes. This is far from the first example of people having to modify the way they walk to accommodate the style of the day. The first example that came to mind was women with bound feet. While having tiny feet was socially important for a slew of reasons, what was also important was the sway with which women walked on their lily feet. So important that even women who were too poor to have their feet bound (because they had to, you know, walk around to survive) would try to emulate the sway of women with bound feet to appear of a higher class.

Another example is Paul Poiret's hobble dress. This particular dress was so narrow at the bottom, it was sold with hobble garters, shackles essentially, for women to wear so that they wouldn't take too long a stride and rip their seams. This resulted in a very fashionable hobble that women walked with when wearing this very fashionable garment.

As with every trend, they often become more and more extreme, until they become ridiculous and crash and burn, to be replaced by something new. I'm hoping this proves true for this current trend, because I don't want to see how much lower these pants can go.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Series

Trying to start back up on my Monday journal keeping series over on the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team blog. The series is about ideas for filling up gorgeous blank books. This post talked about incorporating what you hear into your journal entries. Read it here.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Just when you thought this project was laid to rest, comes the finishing. This is usually a step I should do right away, before I lose steam. The weaving is usually a lot more fun than the finishing, but still, it needs to be done.
In order to decide how to finish my placemats, I pulled out a book that is a standard on any weaver's bookshelf, Finishes in the Ethnic Tradition. I'm thinking I like the fringe, which I didn't think I would, so now I'm trying to pick a finish that would also let me keep the fringe, but without the fabric falling apart and fraying. Finished photos to follow when I'm done!

A few other things, I'm the featured member this month on the Arts in RI blog! Read the interview here.

Also, if the weather cooperates, I'll be at the Providence Open Market tomorrow selling some books. Here are the details. I really hope it doesn't pour, which is seeming kind of likely.

Lastly, I'm happy scarf season is in full swing. I'm wearing this one today and I love it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Get Creative

I've been having a bit of a creative block lately. I think it's partly because last week I was busy, and then this week I'm working a lot at Craftland. Still, I need to get those creative juices flowing and also design some new product. I decided to take my own advice and unplug, open a new blank book and start brainstorming. I pulled out a book I've had a few years, one I bought at Craftland in 2006 (by If'n Books & Marks) and got started getting creative. Hopefully it works!