Making yardage for Catherine Bacon’s art kimonos!

Making yardage for Catherine Bacon’s art kimonos!

Making yardage for Catherine Bacon’s art kimonos!

I make fabric for Catherine Bacon about twice a year. When I was doing yardage for her a couple of years ago, it became more full-time than I wanted. I liked having a steady paycheck, but I missed out selling at other venues ie: the Santa Fe Weaving Gallery, and at the Acqua hotel sales.

As I do love keeping my hands in many pots and in keeping with how Catherine’s business was changing, when she decided to hire surface artists to make one of a kind yardage for her Art Kimonos, I jumped at the chance.

She sends me old remnants of her double georgette, this time in “butt ugly” colors (her words). I love the challenge of painting them into something beautifully mysterious at the same time using up the old fabric from previous collections.

In the past I have planned the fabric to fit her pattern, motif-wise. This time I painted and screened a design not knowing where the pattern would lay. That was a holdover from the Diane Ericson/ Gwen Spencer way of working at the Taos Design outside the Lines 2015. Very freeing.

I would love to see how they turn out. However, Catherine doesn’t usually document each one. That’s another reminder of the fleeting connection I have to these wonderful pieces.

Yemi & The Photoshoot

Yemi & The Photoshoot

Yemi & The Photoshoot

It had been a long time since I organized a photo shoot. It’s difficult to find a model who would resonate with my clothing, a photographer who has a feel for the clothing along with an eye for design.

A while back some girlfriends and I visited G-rdano a local designer’s shop in Sausalito and there was a striking young woman working in the back, cutting yardage. She was a good height, had a modern flair, and a lively presence. She said she did some modeling. Hooray! Info was exchanged.

But I didn’t call for a while for lack of pieces on the rack. So when I worked up a new group of pieces I Had the forethought to give her a call. We did a pretty informal shoot with my camera and afternoon light, which, it turns out, in my building just doesn’t cut it. Plus my camera is slow, too little resolution, etc. The photos were pixilated and unusable. I had to reshoot the pieces on the mannequin.

However, my brother said he’d be willing to come down and do the shoot for me. Now, Mark does my website, all the evites for my shows and the designers shows. He’s got vision in terms of trends and an eye for composition. I just needed to make something to shoot!


Getting ready for the last Acqua show I was steaming-cooking with gas as they say. Pieces fell into place.

The day was clear, the light divine. Mark and I scout a couple of locations inside and outside the building. Yemi arrives.

She has left her hair natural. It has volume and life. It frames her face, highlighting her large and beautiful eyes. I got excited. She was in a very spunky mood. Mark couldn’t keep up with her as she kept doing these rapid moves that were so fun and versatile.

A while back some girlfriends and I visited G-rdano a local designer’s shop in Sausalito and there was a striking young woman working in the back, cutting yardage. She was a good height, had a modern flair, and a lively presence. She said she did some modeling. Hooray! Info was exchanged.

Having a great model makes the clothing come alive. Yemi knows how to move her body to enhance the drape and cut of the cloth. The way she wears the pieces gives them a timeless and almost spiritual quality. This is clothing for all ages of women, offering beauty and style. I am grateful for my newfound team!

Cracked Open in Taos / DOL 2015

Cracked Open in Taos / DOL 2015

Cracked Open in Taos / DOL 2015

A year ago Diane Ericson asked me to be a guest teacher in Taos for her Design Outside the Lines workshop series. I immediately said yes. Why wouldn’t I want to be at Mabel Dodge Luhan House sharing what I know best with 20 women I had never met?

The excitement started building as I gathered supplies that needed to be shipped beforehand. Okay -I needed to make sloppy bags for holding scraps. Check. Okay -I need to bring all the Solvys. Check. I needed to pack what’s on my rack. Check. Okay -I needed to make some more pieces to show my technique. Check.

In the meantime my sleep is getting rattled. The energy is ramping up. It’s gonna be okay- I can do this, I remind myself.

After spending some days with my Albuquerque brother exploring Puyé cliff dwellings, I headed up to Taos via Santa Fe to see Elise and crew from Santa Fe Weaving Gallery. I met Diane at Mabel’s. We chatted and went to Love Apple for dinner. We share our life’s stories. A connection was made.

The next day the women start arriving. We set up the log cabin, where Diane has her store and we have our “products”. There we gathered in the late afternoon after dinner and introduced ourselves. My mouth is dry. 20 women.

But the room is cozy and we are all here for the same reason: to create, to share, to support the process of creativity and exploration.

Monday starts off with a bang. We do our demos. I am demo-ing my Pelt solvy technique, a thick dense composition of scraps, that could become clothing as in: what would the modern Neanderthal wear? In the afternoon, I demo the Dervish technique, how to lay out your fabric scraps with a pattern in mind.

Diane meanwhile is really speaking to the heart of playing/ exploring vs. the psychology of the workshop mentality, ie. I have to finish something to show what I did when I spent this time with myself. Doing vs. being.

What cracked me open was her talk about her “birthday” shirt. It is a special process she does for herself every year. She creates a theme for the shirt, in this case lightness, and brings that into play. She started by playing with paper airplanes, then folded airplanes out of cotton to use as a pocket, and stenciled

airplanes onto the shirt fabric. But it was really the way she talked about making time for herself and honoring herself that moved me. By the time I got up to present I broke out into tears. The thing was- that was perfectly okay. Everyone got what was happening. Everyone was right there, no judgment.

DOL is a safe place to be your most vulnerable. And as a result every one is open and supportive. Diane is a marvelous storyteller. She has comic timing. And yet there is room for the tender sharing of our hearts.

The time flew by. Some people made and completed items. Most did not. Most tried things out: stenciling, screening, pulling cording, making frogs, composing fabric, hand stitching. I made a purse/bag. I was happy to take part of the stitching process.

Next time I’ll be a student. Gwen Spencer, the very talented assistant said at the end to me: be a student. I’m taking her advice. I’m taking DOL in Taos where she’ll be the guest teacher.

The last day as we sat in a big circle I can safely say all our hearts were more open, that we were all bonded, all filled with new ideas and excited about the next creative step. I was honored to be a part of that experience.

Covering Pearl


I wanted to talk about my dress form. I got her from a woman named Pearl. She was from the Phillipines and did some sewing for me back in the 80s. She was a feisty woman who knew how to put me in my place! She had an extra dress form and gave it to me. It was a size 16 and a lovely old girl. It was about my size, which is good because I always like to make things my size! Size 16 then is about a 14 now.

Anyway, Pearl and I went our separate ways and after awhile when I went back to try to find her I was told she had passed away. I felt very sad that I had not been able to tell her how much her being there had meant to me. I decided to name the dress form Pearl and I think of her every time I use her.

But Pearl had become tattered and as I use her for documenting my clothing I decided to recover her. I painted some cotton muslin a soft grey, which turned out slightly mottled. Though I would have preferred an even surface, I thought in a way that it was more interesting and would create a suitable background for the clothing. It was satisfying to take her apart and drape the pattern from her, hand stitch the back seam up tight, nail in the top and all the nails to secure the waistband. She turned out very well indeed! I think Pearl would be thrilled at the fresh new form that was one of her gifts to me…

Pin It on Pinterest