Thursday, September 23, 2010

i've been holding back...

tablecloth skirts!

lots of new bags!!!

i have had a crazy summer! I started a job as a full-time seamstress for an interior design shop, we got holy!holy!h0ly! up and going again, and a non-stop stream of visitors. I have only 6 weeks before we leave on tour, with a new full-length album and touring/living bus. I'll fill in more later about my summer and our up coming nomadic lives.

check out the etsy shop for new clothes and bags!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

coffee sack madness

I think I'm entering into "the zone." The sewing zone because I'm on a roll and I don't want to stop. I spent the last two days cleaning up my studio and making bags. I added a much needed table and it's nice to have a some what clear floor space. A lot of things have happened in the last week...
This weekend was the Alberta Street Art Hop and it went fairly well for me, but great for Sara. I recently shifted from focusing on adult bags, due to people request for kid bags, and then started working on my kids re-purposed clothes. So of course, once I'm in good supply of kids stuff, everyone wants them in adult sizes! So for the next few weeks I'll be working on making new "kid" bags, but with longer straps and I'm still seeking out more table clothes and bed ruffles for larger sized clothes.
Here's the truck applique Sara and I made for my friend's nephew's bag.

The very first bags I ever made were out of coffee sacks and I spent a good year solely working with burlap. Now that I am going into my 4th year of bag-making, it seems I go through phases where I don't even want to smell or look at burlap because it spreads like a plague throughout my studio... I turn into the hairy burlap monster. Also, the kids love collecting the green coffee beans in the bottom of the bags... leaving them all around to be stepped upon.
I have been wanting to sew more coffee sack bags and due to the attention they received this weekend, I've been cranking them out.

I was also approached by a woman, who works for a roaster, willing to supply me with as many bags as I need for FREE! I have been in a little of a dilemma, since moving back to Portland, concerning coffee sack availability. Most of the small roasters... and even the larger ones, seem to hate dealing with giving away there burlap sacks. Portland crafters/sewers are really into using re-purpsed materials, but I never thought it would be this competitive for supplies! When I finally decided I needed coffee sack bags, I called ten roasters and only five of them would give me bags. I drove around for three hours to get maybe ten sacks. Compared to my supplier in St. Louis, where I got anywhere from 30 -500 bags at one time, Portland has been a pain. So I am thankful that my struggle is over and I don't have to waste anymore time running around in circles.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my brother, Ben, bought me an old Singer sewing machine. Here's a quick shot of it below. It's purrrrty...
Singer Model 66 (circa. 1919) someone added a motor to it later on... no complaints!

Back to work!

Friday, May 07, 2010

a rest

Almost every time I go to upload photos from the camera, I find pictures the kids have taken. They usually steal the camera early in the morning before I get out of bed. The one above in by Whitman. The kids both have crazy hazel eyes and this shows just how many colors are in them.
Sara and I have two big days coming up this month. May 15th is the Alberta Street Art Hop and then Last Thursday on the 27th. At the April Last Thursday a lot of people stopped to look at the tablecloth clothes, but were sad that I didn't have any adult sizes, so I am going to have to make the rounds at the thrift stores and try to find more table clothes. I hope to make adult versions for later this month.

I've been taking a short break from sewing and today made a large pleated bag out of some fabric I got from SCRAP a couple of weeks ago. It took me awhile to find the right match for the yoke and strap fabric, but I think it turned out great.

For the Alberta Street events, we share a space with my friends Ali Cat and Karl, who a part of the Dandelion Collective. They distribute anarchist literature/zines on a lot of DIY projects and themes. Ali Cat is am amazing artist, working mainly in screen printing. I'll be doing a blog on her art soon.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

tablecloth clothes

The tablecloth clothes have turned out great! I really want to give away all of the kids clothes that are store bought... but I still need to acquire certain skills, so shirts are next on my list to learn how to make. here are some recent pictures of the skirts and pants that I have been working on. I'm going to turn some of the pants into bloomers and work on a pair for myself as well!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fair's 6th Birthday!

Our first born turned 6 on Monday and I'm really not too freaked out about it. I did wait until I was in my mid-twenties to have children, while a few of my friends had kids before they exited their teenage years. People always say that Fair looks like an elf, imp, changeling child and this picture really does capture her "everafterness" I got the idea of making fabric birthday crowns for the kids from amanda soule, off of her amazing Soulemama blog. The kids love them and they can be used until they can't fit them on their heads and even then they can be passed down the line...

Our friend, Navae, eats mostly raw foods and makes the best and healthiest dishes. Above is her raw mango and peach cobbler with cashew butter topping. Many people want her recipes, but like Michael, she really makes them up as she goes and based on what she has around. She has mentioned putting together a cookbook... well "un-cook"book. She has three little ones and her time for projects is limited. Speaking of her little ones... Fair got married to her oldest, Micah, at the birthday brunch. The picture below is of their post wedding carriage ride. I would be very pleased to see our families merge in the future...we'll see if their love survives the teenage years!

Every Sunday we host a brunch and it's usually a full house. There are typically 6-10 kids and sometimes up to 15 adults. Since our friends are diverse in their diets, we prepare vegan, vegetarian, and local meat dishes. The goal is to have everyone bring ingredients and then cook together. The kitchen is crazy and Michael and Mara are the cooking gods so I usually keep friends company and do a lot of the pre and post clean-up. This Sunday, however, Michael got out of cooking and I was in the kitchen helping out. I wasn't able to join many conversations, but I did get out of dish duty!
Fair got to spend time with some of our favorite people and received some great gifts. My favorite was Mara's journal, all handmade down to the binding. I'll post a picture of it soon. Whitman got a few gifts as well... people who are around kids a lot know the possible crisis of younger sibling jealousy on birthdays. I always make a little something for the non-birthday little ones. I had a great time and Fair really loved the whole day. Thanks to everyone who helped make the birthday brunch wonderful!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

a work day

the house today was filled with sounds of working... my sewing machine buzzing, ben and michael pulling up flooring and hammering and to kids trying the stay busy and out of our way. They did a pretty good job. I'm almost finished sewing the tree bags and from the looks of the studio, in the picture below, I haven't been keeping up on the organization end of things. I always find my self leaving piles of unfolded fabric and an ever-growing collection of thread pieces at my feet.

We have agreed to do as much renovation work as we have the skills to do, while we are staying in the house. Today we began to redo one of the upper bathroom floors and start the dismantling of the stair case. All day long both Michael and my brother, Ben, commented on the "creative" way ( meaning cheap and seemingly lazy) the house has been worked on in the past. My brother is a perfectionist and managed to beautifully renovate his old house by himself. This pretty much shocked the family, since we had no clue he had those skills. He just says it's common sense and he has had many conversations with contractors. I think he's hiding something...

Whitman asked today if he could do some "stitchin'" and I was more than pleased! He sat down at my feet and stitched away, not once needing my assistance to untangle thread or getting frustrated with any of his mistakes. I thought his design looked like some abstract bird head, but he said it was a "haunted L." The video below is pretty cute. Fair spent most of the day building her own cozy reading nest while keeping her madeline dolls company.
We ended the day with another one of Michael's famous soul food meals. After a full day of work, my stomach is full and now it's time to settle down with the kids for an episode of BBC's Robin Hood. Once the kids are asleep, I'll resign to the studio again in hopes of finishing the bags.

Monday, April 12, 2010

my day in a glimpse...

Fair and Whitman are really getting into activity books. We have been working on lots of decoding puzzles, word scrambles, and even how to understand maps. We were given a kids atlas to the U.S. many years ago and Fair is old enough now to work on most of the activities on her own. It was nice watching the kids work together, without fights. Fair assumes the role of reader and actually gives Whitman a chance to get the easy answers.
Fair went out with Michael today to canvass the neighborhood for his job with B.A.R.K. She's really proud to go out and help daddy protect Mt. Hood National Forest. She says it was fun, but the lots of walking was not so much fun... They did come home with a dozen fresh chicken eggs from some friends they saw along the way.
I also got to witness an awesome transformation of Sara's daughter, Sophia. She's been asking for a pink mohawk... and today was the day!!! Not pink yet, but the most dramatic part is over...

She has the attitude to suit...

Sara and I started working on the next kid's bag design. This is the blood orange so far... Sara took it home to do the stitching and I'm excited to see the outcome! I spent most of the afternoon cutting out fabric pieces and tonight the sewing will recommence!!!!


Friday, April 09, 2010

Whitman's First Poem

I love you: Spiders you mother
you airplanes don't fly (junk)!
sticks aren't real, now leaves don't exist.
Trees die every day. Is a myth and
Ghostes don't exist.
That's a myth.
Fences aren't real, but people don't like fences.
--Whitman 2/28/2010 (age 4)

as recorded by our friend Matthew, at one of our Sunday brunches.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

tree applique

last night sara and i started working on our first applique. I have never spent much time doing hand stitching, but I thought I'd give it at least one shot. My intention was to use a blanket stitch, but some how ended up making an interesting cross-stitch. Even though it was started by mistake, I decided it was pretty neat and kept with it.
This is a simple tree design for one of the kid convertible bags. I think I will stick with my machine stitching for future appliques and use hand-stitching to accentuate certain parts.

Fair has come a long way on her own stitching. I am only threading her needle and tieing off the ends now. Pretty soon we will be seeing her own works on some bags...

MamaNature Creations : Sara Brown

Shortly after our return to Portland, I reconnected with an old dear friend, Sara Brown. Sara and I share so many common interests and aesthetics. I have always wanted to have a partner in crime when it comes to making art and bags. That desire was shortly fulfilled when Angie, my crazy talented Peruvian dreamer, popped into my life in Missouri, but we both ended up relocating. Now I am determined to bring Sara and I's fires together.
Sara is an amazing graphic artist who incorporates motherhood, nature and spiritual awareness in to her work. It may sound a bit too new-agey, but the way she pursues her art through intense color, expressive lines, and a complex weaving of forms is amazing. I was only able to find photos of a few pieces, but more will come.
The plan, so far, is for Sara to create applique designs for my fair ophelia bags and to collaborate on some more time consuming hanging wall art. The hanging art would incorporate both Sara and I's artistic styles with a combination of fabric and handmade paper/pulp with hand and machine stitching. I'm really excited about starting on our work together.
Sara is a mother of three and has spent the last 11 years of her life focusing on her children. It is so difficult to find a means of subsistence when you are not willing to sacrifice your time with family and being steadfast in your beliefs. I hope by working together we both will be able to foster each others expressive capabilities and create a situation where we will be able to continue to keep our children near and out of day-care.
I have been lucky to have a husband who constantly reminds me that we are on the right path and despite our lack of financial security we have our passion and we will never stop celebrating with friends and family through art, music, poetry and always amazing food. Sara has been a part of our family for some time and now that we are living in the same area I am excited about the possibilities...
here are a few examples:

much love!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

tablecloth skirt

here's a better picture of fair and her tablecloth skirt I made. The shirt coloring is also the result of one of our home dyeing experiments with a mixture of onion skins and tumeric. I used tap water for rinsing the shirt and some mineral deposits can be seen on the front side. I found a book on natural dyeing and it said to only used distilled water... next time!!!

bolsas por los ninos

After a month with no sewing machine, i finally paid off my debt for the tank of a machine, the Singer Slant-o-Matic 401A. One of my dream machines! And the four kids bags that were inches away from being finished are done and posted in my shop.
We had a little photo shoot with the kids and i'm off now to continue on the bed ruffle and table cloth skirt adventure. Fair is wearing a green tablecloth skirt in the pictures.
Fair and I are also doing natural dyeing with onion skins, tumeric, etc for the mass of white fabrics I recently found. The outcome so far has been stuning and gives the skirts a great vintage quality.
i'll show off my new machine in the next posting and show our adventure at the anti-police brutality protest we went to yesterday. Portland has a horrible track record, just a few weeks ago an unarmed man, Aaron Campbell, was shot in the back.
my husband's radio show segment on the protest, on BURN