Thursday, September 29, 2011

Creative Candy: KNITTA PLEASE

Since I've caught the knitting bug, I thought it might be a great idea to mention Guerilla Knitting. Also known as "knit graffiti", "yarn bombing", or "yarnstorming". The idea is credited to a group called Knitta Please, which began in Austin, Texas in 2005. However, if you search, you will find there are tons of knit graffiti artists out there, all knitting in the most unusual places.

The founder of Knitta Please and the movement itself, Magda Sayeg, is probably the most famous of them. She continues to inspire me with her touches of "cozy".

She has knitted sign posts, parking meters, concrete barriers, highway signs, and chess pieces:

One of my favorite projects of hers was this knitted/crocheted bus in Mexico City:

She was also asked to cover the AC ductwork at Etsy's headquarters and knit 318 fence posts under the Williamsburg Bridge, as commissioned by the North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition (NBart):

I was also blown away by this UK-based group, Knit the City:

These hilarious, masked knitters explain "our mission remains the same: to yarnstorm until we can yarnstorm no more or until the needles and hooks are pried from our cold dead hands. Or until it's time for a tea break." Unlike Magda, they wish to remain anonymous. Most likely because not everyone agrees with giant knitted squids placed on the founding fathers of Biology. (But he looks so cute, don't you think?)

The "why" of this artform, like all art, varies from project to project, person to person.  But anytime we can add a little "warm and fuzzy" delight to this harsh world, I absolutely welcome it. It is a fun and interesting challenge: what would you knit if you could? Now why not try to?

Magda Sayeg

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Indie Stylist to the Rescue

Hi friends. I've been a little absent lately on account of preparing for my trip to Iceland. I've been knitting a lovely new scarf, and I've also been trying to figure out what I'm going to pack. We will be going to a bunch of concerts and meeting up with some up and coming musicians, so I thought it might be a good time to improve my wardrobe a bit. But the question was: what on earth should I get for a trendy music festival in Iceland??

I've always been a huge fan of, but I never really knew how to translate the over-the-top looks in their look books to a more wearable everyday attire. I felt like this site had the kind of vibe I was looking for, so I tried out a ModStylist.

You can chat live or call them. The service is totally free. I told her I like vintage and menswear details. After several questions and answers back and forth, she sent me a whole list of items that could all be mixed and matched into outfits.  Here are the items I picked and I can't wait till they come in the mail. I know they will fit nicely with a lot of pieces I already have.

She also took my measurements and body type into account, so the sizing should be just right! Now I just need a good pair of boots and some tights and I'm set!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Creative Candy: LUCKY JACKSON

Just a quick note today about an artist I am loving right now:  L u c k y  J a c k s o n.

Lloyd Love by Lucky Jackson

I stumbled across this work by the fabulous Lucky Jackson in an article by Mr. X Stitch on Craftster. Please visit that site for the full interview, it is well worth the time (also check out her Flickr photostream). 

This phrase stuck with me entirely:

Most of my work features people. Circumstances has left me with none of my family photos from growing up and I love finding photos that can reflect my memories of my own past. I feel that if they speak to reflect my own past they must speak to others as well. I also love doing portraits of my cultural heroes. I grew up with a culture vulture father who instilled in me the love of all arts, music, visual arts, literature and movies. These figures have always been a huge inspiration that self expression should always be important, that if you are your truly unique self that everything will fall into place."

Ode to Tim Gunn, by Lucky Jackson, quilted, mixed acrylic paint, vintage fabric

Dropping In by Lucky Jackson, embroidered vintage fabric, sequin details

I'm hoping that very soon I can own one of her pieces (hint hint, hubby). There's something absolutely witty, nostalgic, and highly unexpected about them. Love!

Check back for another Creative Candy featuring Mr. X Stitch. His blog and podcasts are well worth a post of their own. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rorschach Tote

Now you can buy it! New Rorschach totes made by me here.

Hello Creatives! My idea for these totes was inspired by Project Runway Season 9. I have been watching it religiously since the very first season, and the challenge for episode 7 seriously got me thinking about: Ink Blots! This team challenge involved designing fabric, constructing five looks and creating the video for the backdrop. It was pretty obvious which team won, since the other "team" wasted their time attacking each other with senseless drama early on and then ran to their respective corners to nurse their wounds rather than collaborate. But I digress. The theme of the winning team was "chaos" and they chose ink blots as their inspiration. I was blown away by Viktor's gown:

and this dress by Anya:

images from

It got me thinking about the beauty of making ink blots. You can't predict how they will turn out, and different people see different things. It's a nice conversation starter. I started off with some research. The original 10 ink blots in the Rorschach Test with their interpretations can be found here.

Then I set off to my local craft store for supplies. For this project you will need a blank tote, an iron, textile paint, a paint brush, some paper towels, a glass of water, and a piece of cardboard the size of your tote. You might also want something to cover your work surface, unless you love the idea of splattering paint on your family heirlooms.

Start by ironing the wrinkles out of your tote. Then pour (lightly) the textile paint in random shapes across one  half of the tote. Forgive the blurriness: I was trying to pour and take a picture at the same time!

Fold the blank half of the tote over the painted half. Don't press too hard or for too long because the ink will bleed through the back.

Very carefully, unfold the tote. Immediately insert cardboard into the tote to prevent bleeding through.

Now you can use a paint brush to carefully collect the paint, or use paper towels. It is important that you don't have thick pools of paint, because these will dry very thick and you will see them when the paint dries. Wash your paint brushes in water.

Allow your tote to dry for 24 hours, then make sure you follow the directions on your textile paint to set the paint. This will ensure it stays put if you ever need to wash your tote.

Here are the three organic designs I made. I think they are all so different and fascinating.

Apparently I have a knack for making cute shapes even when I'm not trying to. This creature came about purely by coincidence. Now what does this say about my personality and emotional functioning? Hmm...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nan's Memory Quilt

One of my favorite jobs, prior to relocating to sunny Florida, was as a quilter for Barbara Rucci's company, Tender Threads.  The idea behind a memory quilt, which is a tradition going all the way back to the Mid-1800's, is that a quilt becomes a memorial of an event, a family, or a person. Sometimes memory quilts were constructed from tiny scraps of fabric that were left over from alterations or clothes too old or small to use anymore. This idea came alive to Barbara, when she decided to use her children's old clothes as a blanket they could use, rather than sitting in a box in an attic:

For a year I sewed her quilts made from children's clothes, women's maternity dresses, and even two beautiful quilts of men's shirts, used by a father who had died in 9-11. Memory quilts are powerful and are often a wonderful way to ease the burden of family members who have a hard time dealing with clothes left behind.

Just before we moved, I was faced with a similar situation. My husband's grandfather passed away and I immediately felt the need to make a quilt from the many shirts he had accumulated over the years.

When I began the project, I didn't take into consideration how different it was to have known the person, and this made it difficult. We found his place holder from our wedding still in his jacket pocket. But I also found that as I sewed, I got to know more about this man I'd only met a few times when visiting on the holidays and this made me happy. He had a colorful choice in shirts, and his experience in the menswear field was evident in the details of his ties, his handkerchiefs, and his pocket squares. I enjoyed all the little details of his wardrobe.

I completed this 3 x 3 mini-quilt as a practice run. It was very dark and while I loved all the menswear details, it made it difficult to make the quilt more flat and harder to upkeep as a real blanket.

When I set about making the quilt for Nan, I made sure that I chose a clear color story. I wanted it to reflect her cheerful and bright personality and be something that would fit in with the rest of her room. I also kept some of the menswear elements, like the sleeves and button-down front, leaving the collars and bulky handkerchiefs out, so it could be more comfortable and easier to clean. The backing, the binding, and the blocks were all remnants of Pop's shirts. 

I gave her the finished quilt on her birthday. She remembers all the places Pop wore the shirts in this blanket, and now she can keep herself warm on cool nights with something that has real meaning. 

My technique for the binding can be found on the Heather Bailey blog, Hello My Name is Heather.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Creative Candy: ART & FEAR

Just yesterday a musician friend of mine posted this video by Ira Glass on facebook, and it inspired me to write today's Creative Candy, which is all about the fear of making art.

You might think that the other creative people you know simply fell into their careers making a brilliant end-product with no struggle or fear that they could do it. But it is a skill built over time, and it took me a while to acknowledge that.

If you are like me, you may be frustrated that your abilities do not always match up to your expectations, and you may want to quit. Perhaps your interests take you all over the place, so you don't have a clear career trajectory. Perhaps you think this is a sign that you are not meant to be an artist or work in a creative field. That is what I have thought countless times, until I started reading Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

I stumbled across this book by mere accident when I was reading the monthly letter from Karin of the band Over the Rhine. I ordered it, and promptly left it collecting dust on my bed-side stack of books for years. During this time the usual thing happened: I faltered in my current creative occupation, I doubted myself, I got frustrated, I thought I sucked at making art, I quit my job, I became a self-loathing hermit. THEN I decided to read the book. I really wish I'd picked it up sooner! Everything we worry about: judgement, confidence, if our work is even relevant or good is covered in its pages, and it is a quick read. Read it!

If anything, it taught me not to get stuck in the words "meant to be" because they are irrelevant and far too dire! If you love interior design and can think of doing nothing else, then my goodness, do it! And when you hit a bump, just know it's normal. If you have multiple interests, like me, don't feel bad if you have no clear answer when people ask you what you do. Instead, celebrate your curiosity and the fact that you love so many things. Then do a lot of everything!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Paint Chip Love, Cont'd

 I told you I was obsessed! After posting yesterday I went back to the drawing board and made these:

I'm not sure what to call them yet. Are they stars? Are they snowflakes? What do you think? They're fun and fast to make. And no glue required! Here's how to make them:

Step 1: Cut each color swatch from the Behr Paint Chips. It doesn't matter which shades you use, I mixed them up! Start with any two. Make cuts as shown by the black lines below:

Step 2: link one with the other on the inside cut of the right side:

Step 3: Link the left side as you did the right. This will make the top paint chip bow at in a "U" shape:

Step 4: Make more pieces. I've found they work best in 6, 5, and 3 formations:

Step 5: link the pieces together at the remaining outer cuts. Make sure the color is facing the same way all around your circle:

Step 6: For more stability in the 6 and 5 size stars,you can add pieces to the center by making strips with two cuts (the bottom piece shown in step 1) and linking them to the straight strips (the top piece in step 1) by cutting each straight strip in the center. Link each piece as shown:

And Voila! 

I think I might hang them for the holidays as snowflakes. I was glad to make something that didn't have a function, since I seem to be so purpose-focused. These are just pretty, and sometimes that's all things need to be!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Mighty Paint Chip

I just had to do a segment on paint chips. I have been obsessed with them ever since I saw them posted as wallpaper on the blog Seven Of. For a project I created from paint chips, be sure to scroll to the bottom!

Reasons I love paint chips: 1. They are tonal. 2. They are bright and colorful  3.They are free! 
There is really a surprising amount of awesome things that people are making with paint chips. My favorites are these business card holders by Design Verb (for instructions on how to make them, follow the link),

this artwork by Annie Galvin of Wexford Girl,

these garlands by Mi.avril,

these gift labels shown on Tilly's Cottage,

and I am awestruck by this lamp shown on Design Milk!

Designed by Agnieszka Bartosiewicz & Krzysztof Rusc for Emocja

So with all this fabulous inspiration, I set off to challenge myself with a new idea for paint chips. Though far from being as inventive as the above lamp, I did manage to construct woven coasters, which I think will serve me well. They are surprisingly water resistant so far (I've been sampling the ginger beer with lemon):

Start out by cutting paint chips of your choice in strips of various sizes:

Next, use a pencil to trace a circle. Use any round item the size you'd like (I used a duct tape roll). Follow that line with a zig-zag stitch. I used red thread:

Next, trim the edge to 1/4 in. with scissors and erase the pencil line:

Done! Enjoy your ginger beer with lemon!

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