Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Brilliant Grandmother

My wonderful grandmother, Emme, was a painter. She was the greatest influence on my life, as I was growing up. She began painting later in life, when she was in her 40's. Her portraits and still life's have a quality that I love. She captures the mood, the quietness of her subjects as they pose for her. These were painted in the 1940's and are very evocative of the period. The light and shadow make up the structure of her subjects and thus have a slightly impressionistic feel.
My family and I are blessed to have many of her paintings in our home. They will continue to be heirloom pieces that will be passed down through the generations.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fabulous Bookcase

Recently I have been on a re-decorating mission at our house. The kids aren't little anymore and it's O.K. to have an adult space now. I began by taking everything away, repainted, stained the floors and then edited in a big way and only brought back what was essential & beautiful. However, what I felt we needed was one, unifying piece to hold our things in, that kept the look calm and grounded.
One day while out and about I saw this piece in a unique store that sold interesting imported furniture and objects. I immediately could visualize it in the room; my husband was more practical and measured and wondered.... but I prevailed and here it is! I enjoy it every day in that it keeps the space from ever looking cluttered or disjointed. The older I get the more harmony I feel I need in my surroundings...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Musical Cowboy

I'm still on the cowboy theme, (see following Treasury post) and here is a further example of Vintage American West barkcloth fabric. Here I have used it in a fabric collage picture. I do these from time to time and then make cards from the image. I am also in the process of a designing a nice way to mount this to sell as an original artwork.
After cutting various elements out of different fabrics I stitched them together and proceeded to add trims and brass charms to further enhance the composition. The vintage Lee riveted button was the final crowning focal point!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Front Page Treasury

It is always a thrill to be in an Etsy Front Page Treasury! Here, my 'Western Cuff' is part of TeaCupElephant's 'Hey, I'm No Square' treasury list.
It is quite a unique narrative piece, depicting a couple of cowboys. If you read an earlier post in this blog, on the history of barkcloth, it mentions how this American West motif was popular in the 1940's.
As of now the cuff has still not sold although it has many hearts on the Etsy site. I guess it is waiting for that perfect buyer to come along... (just click on the photo to see a larger image size).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Wraparound Cuff/Necklaces for Fall '08

A preview of new textile creations to come...
This photo shows a detail of 2 of my Wraparounds. They are strands of vintage fabric heartily embellished with hand dyed lace fragments, vintage buttons and trims. They wrap around the wrist 3 times for a bangle effect and close with a chunky snap.
They are also suited to draping around the neck as a necklace. There are many ways to make this flexible adornment 'your own'. That is what appeals to me about this design. By wrapping it in your individual style, or pinning something of your own onto it, this unique piece can be further personalized. They are lined with ribbon for comfort, which is the key to effortless style...

New Freeform Cuffs for Fall 2008

Here is a little preview of where I am at creatively these days... These are details of 2 of my cuffs laid side by side.
My textile work is becoming more freeform; I refer to it as 'me coloring outside the lines'. I am having a great time with this. It is very liberating in that I impose no rules upon myself! Keeping an open mind I dye some of my lace fragments and let the surprise outcomes take me where they may...
They seem to need less button adornments as well. One or two well placed exquisite pieces from my collection is all that is needed to make the final creation 'sing'!
If you see anything on my blog currently not listed for sale but you are interested in, just send me a convo through my Etsy site. I am gathering inventory for a show in September but I can part with a few if asked!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vintage Barkcloth Fabric

One of the primary elements of my textile jewelry is vintage barkcloth fabric. On several occasions I have been asked what that is. So, if you would like to know a little more...
The term barkcloth refers primarily to the nubby weave of this particular fabric. It is made of cotton, or at times a mix of cotton & rayon or linen. It was first introduced in the 1930's during the Art Deco period. Having a medium to heavy weight made it ideal for home furnishings such as drapes or upholstery. In the 30's the most popular motifs were florals & tropical prints. By the 1940's scenic imagery was in vogue; from nautical themes, imagery depicting the American West to pastoral landscapes... As science and the space age took hold in the 1950's a new look in barkcloth emerged; referred to as the atomic period. The elements were more geometric with influences of artists such as Miro. Kinetic designs featuring boomerangs and starbursts were also a part of this new look. Florals were not in style anymore.
For the past 25 years or so the look has come back with the popularity of the vintage/retro aesthetic. Reproductions are available, which makes finding large quantities with no damage a lot easier. However, there are still many great finds to come across at flea markets etc. I have found myself a wonderful source where I can get small pieces of many exceptional fabrics that have been sourced from all over North America. I get inspired by each and every piece in my collection!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Kitchenette, NYC

This will be my last New York City post, I promise! least for a while...
We came across this totally charming eatery in the Tribeca neighborhood we were staying in. It is my dream restaurant, the kind I always imagined opening. What fun it would be gathering all these vintage goodies and decorating the space 'just so'! (I work on sets in the film industry so it is a very familiar process).
The menu is a dream! All comfort food! Carbs, carbs and more carbs... mashed potatoes with meat loaf, oatmeal with cooked apples, french toast, pies and cookies and cakes...
The place was bustling with business, the waiter had just enough attitude to keep it entertaining and you felt like you were in the coolest place on the planet. I do know that running a restaurant is a tough business. How do I know? My husband ran a french bistro for 13 years and that is where we met. I was a loyal customer and he asked me out one evening and we were married less than a year later. I know he would never want to go back into that business but I can still dream...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Featured Artist #1 in a series: Debra Dorgan

Every so often I will feature an artist that I find inspiring.
I am very pleased to begin this series with Debra Dorgan, AllThingsPretty, an artist currently residing in Auckland,
New Zealand.
Debra's shop name perfectly describes her aesthetic. She seems to have a natural ability for beautifying everything around her. Whether it is a bag to sling over your shoulder to shop with at the market, a tea cozy to adorn the kitchen shelf or a pillow to nestle with on the sofa, her approach to these day to day items is to infuse them with joy.
She collects vintage fabrics, trims, buttons and anything else that catches her eye to embellish her creations. With these materials at hand she hand dyes, cuts, sews, paints, re-configures and makes them her own. What I love so much about her work is it's pure artistry. Her work comes straight from the heart and it shows.
This photo features one of her signature slip dresses. They are works of art with their slouchy side pockets adorned with bits of embroidery, asymmetrical hemline of crochet openwork and lace fragments and detailing of vintage linens & buttons. I love her hints at how to wear these dresses; "alone or with flares, leggings, long stripy socks, ankle-length skirts, jeans, boots or flip flops...".

Be sure to check out her shop!

Leonard Cohen

I am a huge Leonard Cohen fan. If you don't know him, he is a Canadian poet and singer from Montreal. His first album, made in the mid sixties, 'Songs of Leonard Cohen' include the now classics "Suzanne", "Sister of Mercy" and "So Long Marianne". He explores themes of the human condition like no other. His lyrics are stand alone poetry of which one can hear time and time again.
He is now in his early 70's. I had the great pleasure of seeing him in concert last month. He sold out around 5 shows in Toronto's premiere concert venue. The audience was enthralled from beginning to end. A class act in top vocal form. Enough gushing...
When I came across this print on Etsy, by Oliver Lake at Lake Illustration, I had to have it. Oliver is a very talented illustrator from the U.K. who does this style of portrait of all the iconic singers, actors, writers etc. of our time. I love his work and could see starting a collection; a grouping would be so dynamic! Here is his site: lakeillustration

Monday, July 14, 2008


Here I am at The MOMA, admiring Picasso's Girl Before A Mirror, 1932. I feel I somewhat blend in with the painting with the colors I am wearing...
I love the color palette here and the graphic patterning in the work.
There is a lovely organic flow between the figure and her reflection that is very visually pleasing.

Tender Buttons/NYC

On a recent trip to New York I visited a wonderful, abet expensive, button store at 143 East 62 St. It has a lovely, library type atmosphere and really attracts some serious button collectors. They have a huge selection of new but interesting ones as well as rare buttons that are framed and mounted on the walls. I spent a good hour in there while my hubby patiently strolled around the neighborhood waiting for me! I did spend more than I planned of course and more than I expected... they add up! It was a cool experience but ultimately give me a good flea market any day where I have to discover my own treasures and the prices are on my side...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vintage Button Shopping

From time to time I will share some of my adventures in button collecting...

Here is a lovely group of 1940's plastic buttons that I bought together on one card. As soon as I saw them at the vintage market I frequent, I knew I wanted to buy them. (and at $3.00 for the lot there was no question)!

The colors have that vintage tone that is so evocative of an earlier, simpler time. They are 'simple' buttons, nothing fancy in the day but yet sweet and charming.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chokers... coming for fall 2008!

My new line of textile art jewelry is
The Bohemian Tapestry Choker. Here is a sample. I have made three so far. They will most likely be up for sale in early September. I am so excited about this new product. ('product' sounds so assembly line which, I assure you, these
are not)!
I create them from 2 parallel strands of fabric which are joined at the ends. This helps in the shaping of the piece and also leaves a bit of 'air flow' in places so they are comfortable. Speaking of comfort... they are lined with silk velvet and satin so they are super soft on the skin!
Any comments on what you see here would be appreciated! It is so helpful to have feedback on new items...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

my first post

Today I decided to photograph my latest textile collage. I'm not sure that the lighting is the best yet but I'm putting it out there as a start!