The Ampersand Vessel Challenge

The Ampersand Vessel Challenge

My art group called  Ampersand or Amps meets every two weeks. At a recent meeting my friend Juline Beier presented her solvy pieces- cylinders made of solvy and stitched newspaper dipped in wax. She is always pushing herself towards more volumetric shapes like her beautiful delicate flax bowls. So, when we were critiquing the rolls I challenged her to make a bowl in the solvy/newspaper/ wax technique. And immediately she challenged me to do the same with my stitched-pieced-with-scraps solvy work.

The challenge was on!

First I made a pattern, a slightly awkward process, draping over a salad bowl. Then selected a variety of scraps and then sandwiched them between the layers of solvy, went to work stitching. I don’t give myself much time to work this way. And so it was fun to feel my way forth- where to make more lacey places, where to leave open areas or closed. How to attach the bottom…Questions answered through doing. I am pleased with the results and would love more challenges to do this work so that I might develop my skill set. I’m stoked on the vessel-ness of it.

Studio 64 Pop and Sale

Studio 64 Pop and Sale

Last weekend was a gathering of “makers” hosted by a woman I met through my jeweler friend Francesca, whose is also named Fran. The space is exciting because it is still raw. Fran is an architect and her partner at the studio is an interior designer. Their spaces are developed but the large show space is not, which lends it an air of on-the-fly fun. It is a space open for classes, workshops and whatever keeps the child in all of us creating and alive. Not too “professional” or closed up.

I didn’t know anyone before signing up for this besides Francesca. And that was the interest for me. New blood, new ideas, new connections. And possibly new clients!  Which did happen. And mostly it was a very pleasant way to come together and spend a Saturday eating delicious offerings and greeting new faces. Isn’t that what it can be about!

Fall Colors in the Basket

Fall Colors in the Basket

It contains projects all cut out from last year. The gem colors- garnet,  amethyst, and citrine dupioni are cut into the 1910 tunic shape with some Cecille tops thrown in.

The time is now to finish, embellish and stitch those puppies.

Sometimes I challenge myself to finish the old before going on to the not-yet-started and therefore more up-to-the-moment exciting piece. As in delayed gratification; creating momentum by luring myself with greater pleasures.

By the time I finish the tops and tunics they will shine like polished gem stones and will have inspired me to more creative heights.

Mad Re-do Production

Mad Re-do Production

Racing to finish some new re-dos for my goddess-trunk-show-traveler Pat Henderson. She wanted more fall colors. Did I say I love shopping for men’s shirts? I love the quality and color of the fabrics, the boxy cut. I love cutting them up to re-invent them and making them conform to a female figure. I have dip dyed some of them. One I left large and am making a tunic in the Japanese style of peasant clothing. I am using some of my beautiful African Indigo as edging and of course, layering with organization…

What I did in New York!

1. Visited designer friends doing their Spring ’15 shows.

Catherine Bacon was at the W Times Square in the 48th floor. The views alone! She knows how to create an inviting space, with a calm yet productive energy. Her collection was integrated, balancing light and earthy tones, some pale, some rich, with elegant attention to detail.

It was nice to see one of my yardage pieces made up into one of her art-to-wear kimonos.

Stopped by Xiaoyan Lin and Susan Kirschner’s rooms.

Xiaoyan has been moving in a new direction using silk screen patterns to embellish the fronts and sometimes sides of her shirts. She has employed me to make the screens for her so I was interested to see how they looked. She stretched the usual 8x11 format by extending the screen to create a long border, very fun stuff.

Susan was busy when I stopped in but a brief glance showed her whimsical touch with color and fabrication.

2. Another mission was to connect with the new owner of the Santa Fe Weaving Gallery, Elise Nye.

Through the magic of texting I found Elise in Jill Heppenheimer’s room. Jill is the woman who owned the Gallery till very recently. Elise is younger than Jill and me, and I wished her well in her new venture and will soon send her a box to select some garments for the store.

3. Visited with my friend Annie Brumbaugh.

I have known Annie since 1975 when we both lived in Marrakech. She is a talented and wise clothing / image consultant. We always get into trouble when we are together. She knows all the independent manufacturers and we just effortlessly glide past to try this on and that, making dents in my pocketbook. Cydwoqs ( handmade shoes) has a store in Soho, High*Way sell a better quality Baggalini®-type bag,  Pan American Phoenix on Madison Avenue has beautiful Tasxco silver bangles.

And then there was Mary Jaeger. Mary is precise. She has a Japanese sensibility which her studio reflects. She knows how to make Shibori accessible.

She was at the Palo Alto Show in April but I wasn’t able to connect with her, though admired her wares from a distance. So when Annie said she wanted to visit Mary because she was moving her studio (the raising of the rents), I jumped at the opportunity.   The first visit was harried. I had Cyrus with me. The reason for my trip to NYC was to caretake him while my daughter Tamara was meeting filmmakers for her SF Film Society job. Mary was so great with Cy, but it wasn’t a fulfilling moment! But I did manage to buy a tee and got to look around and lust.

It turned out a couple days later we were walking right by and with luck I grabbed another moment with Mary. This time I was able to be quick and concise in my choices.   I loved talking and commiserating about being a small long time artisan in the world of new DYI-ers and young monied folks. As well as the struggle to maintain studios while striving to keep the creative juices flowing.

Sunday in the Studio with Francesca

Sunday in the Studio with Francesca

In the spirit of keeping the creative force going I signed on for a mid summer show with my longtime friend Francesca Lewis Kennedy. When I first met Francesca it was in the Design Network days ( mid ’80s) and she had a business making hip leather clothing. I was making clothes and working with interior decorators, but needed more income and was helping her with her leather samples. Every little bit helped.

Fast forward 20 years! Children grown and change in career. She is now compiling jewelry elements and texturizing metal into bangles and anything else she can conceive of.

I like to share my space with friends and see what happens. This was a shot in the dark given the mid-summer and all. I was focusing on re-dos. Thinking of course I would finish all the ones I hadn’t got to. Hah! Best of intentions.

Anyway—more cleanup and prep for another show. Day of, hour of. Not a peep. We chatted and stayed calm.

At noon a client friend of hers came. She had seen my ¾ Kirin in Navy wool and had to have it. She also tried on and had to have the last piece I finished for this show, a beautiful pieced cotton indigo EF vest. Not bad for a first sale of the day, and very confirming that what I do has merit and beauty. (Yes- one always has doubts).

In all it was a quiet and sparsely attended show. But everyone who came bought something, was appreciative and added to the present sweet quality of the day. It was a productive and informative way to spend a Sunday, catching up with a friend and sharing our wares with the world.

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