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I just finished 28 hours of an art show.  That’s probably really 36 hours on my feet on a hard concrete floor once we have set up and tear down.  The experience was amazing and I wouldn’t trade any of those minutes for anything, but chatting with my fellow artists all weekend brought out some things that we agreed they never tell you are part of the job description.

1.  Describe your art in 10 words.

When you meet anyone at an art fair there are about 100 things competing for their attention.  You need to be able to talk about what you do in 10 words or less if you want to start a conversation with someone and talking about your art is why both of you are there, usually.  My phrase for this event was “Let me know if you have questions.  These are all digitally printed fabrics from manipulated photographs.”   Most people would pause for a second (as they made sense of all of those technical sounding words that I just said) and then I would get a big smile and they would say “Oh, that’s really cool!” or “Wow, I’ve never heard of that.”  I had a lot of really great conversations that started just that way.

2.  Cute outfits always include comfortable shoes.

There is just nothing like the 10th hour on your feet in inappropriate shoes.  Danskos will save your life.  Cute dress, tights, danskos, cardigan sweater.  That’s my uniform.  Pockets are also really necessary.

3.  Eat lunch in 2 dozen 2 bite segments.

Almonds, cheese and apple slices are my very favorite show lunch.  You can eat two bites between conversations, and your fingers don’t get messy.  Sometimes you are lucky and you can step away for a few minutes and sometimes you just can’t.  This particular show had a demonstration by the local TeaSource (who will be forever my heroes!) just across an aisle and I can’t tell you how good a hot cup of tea is when you have been talking all day.

4.  You will get sick the week after it is done.

I shook about eleventy-thousand hands and I was already stressed and a little sleep deprived from getting everything ready.  It was inevitable.  I should remember to schedule nothing the week after because that’s exactly what is going to get done:  nothing.

5.  You will have another deadline.

The week I was getting ready for this show (the biggest one I have ever done!) was also the week that the final edit of the manuscript for my book was due.  Yup.  Two deadlines right on top of each other and by the time I realized that they were all going to happen on the same week there was nothing I could do but hang on for the ride.  The universe will sense all of that great creative energy and will throw things at you like crazy.  The best strategy is to just admit that you are insane and not let the stress get to you.  I let some things go, I wrote some emails and apologized for having to delay a few others and I tried to enjoy what I could – these were really GOOD things happening that were making me stressed.

I didn’t really listen to my own best advice, although to be fair, I didn’t know about either the show or the book deadline when I agreed to this week’s project: Black Hills Fiber Arts Fair.  I will be teaching 4 classes and minding a little vendor booth all weekend in Rapid City SD, my hometown.  Hopefully I will be over this cold.  The classes are ones that I know and love and so there is no stress about preparing for any of them.  Just good fun teaching.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop by!  My youngest sister will be minding the booth for me so I can teach one day.  Say hi to her too.

What are your additions to the artist’s job description?  I know you have them.

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A huge thank you to all of the artists at the American Craft Council show in St Paul.  I was part of a “Hip Pop” pod, which is ACC’s new emerging artists program.  They curated pods of 6 new emerging artists and we shared a double booth space at the show.  The artists, the shoppers, and the staff were all so enthusiastic and supportive of our pod, I can’t say enough thanks to them.  We felt loved!

A special shout out to veteran artists John Jameson, Sharon Rosenthal, Arlene Wohl and Kay Chapman.  They were our neighbors at pod #303 and were absolutely welcoming and supportive (and funny when we all started to get a little tired).

I was in amazing company with my pod mates who are all so talented.  I am so glad we got to spend the days together and I hope we run into each other many times again.

Matthew Krousey.  Matt works in richly textured ceramics that have a strong connection to nature and organic designs.

Nick Lundeen  Nick’s jewelry has a sense of agelessness in style and texture.

Betty Jäger  Betty’s work has as much personality as she does.  Organic, unexpected, lots of sparkle.

Lauren Mayhew Lauren incorporates bold graphic designs into whimsical knit hats.  The pops of color with the soft neutrals remind me a lot of her personality.

Elizabeth Pechacek  Elizabeth’s work has a sense of fragility with soft colors and fine lines that is in juxtaposition to the classic forms of her pieces.

Betty, Nick, Elizabeth and I will all be at Art-a-Whirl, Matt does tons of shows around town and keep your fingers crossed for Lauren who has a job interview this week. Please say hi to them if you see them out and about in the art world.

Thank you to all of YOU who stopped by to say hi at the booth.  I can’t begin to name all of you, but it was so great to see all of your smiles and to get to show off the work I have been doing.  Thank you to Rachel for the Advil and Andi for the tea.  You are both life savers.

Today I caught up on all of the emails I have been ignoring and feel like I need a nap.  What a weekend!

PrintI just created this poster for my display at the ACC show which is coming up in just a little over a week! These are all of the designs I will have at the show in the form of skirts or scarves.  There are a few favorites there that are designs I developed over the last 3 years or so and many many new designs created in these last 6 months of my new art-making focus.

I thought it would be fun to tell you some fun facts about this collection of designs.

  • Three are collaborations with my mom.  She is an awesome photographer and she knows what I love.  She taunts me with these irresistible photo textures and I can’t help but design something. It is super fun to collaborate with her.
  • Five at least are collaborations with my husband.  Also an awesome photographer.  Sometimes he snaps photos and puts them in a folder marked “Textures” and waits for me to find them.  Sometimes we take photos together and I spot things and say “Get that!”.
  • The original photos/scans that were used to create these designs were taken in Mt St Michel and Giverny, France; London,England; San Antonio, TX; Hill City and Rapid City, SD; Minneapolis, MN; Orlando, FL.
  • There are 2 kinds of lace, 2 kinds of leaves, 2 kinds of ice, 2 hand fans.  Two images were taken at the Hennepin History Museum.  There are two images that are each used in two different designs: a pile of video cables (thanks Jay!) and a collage of painted newspaper.
  • There are designs made from junk mail, painted paper and scanned maple leaves.  The painted paper collection has batik made with elmer’s glue and a rubber eraser, painted sheet music, crumpled brown paper and masking tape.

I had these same images printed onto custom playing cards, so I have a card for each design that will be attached to the tag for each piece.  I wanted that to be a part of the piece – the story about where the design came from.  And I got an extra deck of cards for people to just look through.  For me these designs are about wearable art.  I am not a fashion designer or into conceptual fashion.  I love basic pieces that show off the surface design and allow you to wear the art. You get to be a part of it. There’s a great quote by Oscar Wilde: “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.”  Exactly.

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Finding inspiration isn’t a problem for me.  In fact, it’s almost the opposite.  I am compelled to create things and I am never lacking for ideas.  Sometimes it is difficult to actually finish something because I always have a better idea in the middle of what I am doing.  My mom will attest to this.  She tells stories of elaborate schemes presented to her in order to get her to take my sister and I to the local hobby store. No one was bored at my house.

There’s an expectation, or perhaps a social media inspired trend, that I am feeling right now that when you are an artist that you do a lot to find inspiration.  You create a mood board or a journal or you collect things that inspire you.  You put things in your space to provide inspiration.  In fact, you have a specific inspiring space where you do your work.  And you post photos of your inspiring space to help inspire others.  And you pin photos of other people’s inspiring spaces.

Abby, a blogger who I follow, just posted something the other day about a comment left on a photo she posted of her laptop at the kitchen table:

This question really struck me. I started to wonder what people might be imagining it looks like here at my house when I’m writing or sewing or podcasting or working on my business. Do they think it looks somehow different than this? Sexier than my kitchen table? And if they do, why?

What makes us want to imagine artists in beautiful light-filled loft studios surrounded by a rainbow of paint tubes where even the drop cloth is color-filled and brilliant? Or writers sitting in bustling coffee shops sipping espresso and effortlessly dashing off inspired tomes?

In fact, this has been somewhat of a recurring theme for me lately.  In an art group I belong to, we had a discussion about journaling.  One of the artists is in a mentoring program that does not require, but strongly recommends, that you keep a journal of your experience.  She wasn’t sure where to start or how she could do it without it becoming something she felt obligated to do, rather than inspired by.  Another group meeting recently had an activity where we were each asked to bring our sketchbooks and talk about our process.   A friend stopped me at an art show and was disappointed when I said I didn’t have a studio that I work in.  (I get asked this a lot)

I actually find all of those things the opposite of inspiring.  I don’t like to have other people’s work in my space.  I have art all over my house,  but nothing specifically there to “be inspiring”, just things that I love.  I don’t want to have a photo clipped from a magazine that I can copy.  I don’t keep a sketchbook or a journal.  In fact it was very awkward for me at this meeting with the sketchbook activity – I felt as though I had to defend myself for not having one.  I keep a notebook of notes, but it’s all math and technical notes.  I write down RGB and hex codes for colors.  I write out the math for determining how much ease and the size of the facing on my wrap skirt. It’s practical and it’s information I know I might need again.  I also keep meeting notes in there and stuff I write down while on phone calls.  It’s not very inspiring.  I like working in my house and being able to scratch my dogs and go make tea or a piece of toast when I feel like it.  Sometimes I work in my sewing room, but it’s small and so sometimes I spread out all over the dining room table.  There’s a card table set up in the dining room right now too because I am working on a big project and I feel like I need the space.  Sometimes I spend the whole day at the computer, which is on a big messy desk cluttered with coffee mugs, earrings and camera equipment. And I am not talking business chores on the computer, it’s a part of my art process and one that I love.  But not exactly inspiring either (at least to anyone else.)  Believe me, erasing pixels is exactly as exciting as watching paint dry.

I think about the artists who I know and love and none of them have Pinteresty workspaces or processes.  My friend Donna works with buckets of frozen rhubarb leaves and stews made from a whole lot of other things that most people would compost.  There is nothing romantic or pretty about that.  (I imagine some of them smell bad, too.)  Another friend’s studio is a mish-mash of storage space, staging area and place to make a mess.  She doesn’t want the mess at her house, so the studio is the place to make the mess and it invites you to do it.  I work in the dining room or at the kitchen table or on the back porch or sometimes all in my head.  I may or may not be wearing a matched pair of socks while I do it.

Do I burst your bubble by admitting this? Are you sad that I don’t have a secret artistic sketchbook to show you?  Do you want me to have a studio and a pretty Pinterest-worthy wall?  (I am curious now.)  Do you have a sketchbook of inspiration?  Does it work for you?  Or do you do it because that’s what artists do?

 

 

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It ‘s #MuseumWeek on Twitter this week and that seemed like a great excuse to talk about my favorite museum in the  Twin Cities: Hennepin History Museum.  Museum Week is a fun celebration of museums behind the scenes.  Yesterday the theme was “behind the scenes secrets” and today the theme is “souvenirs”.  And I have some great souvenirs from HHM!

I visited the museum a few weeks ago and brought along my camera.  HHM is housed in a turn-of-the-century mansion that is full of beautiful details.  When I was there taking photos, an exhibition of hand fans had just opened to coincide with a “Fireside Chat“, an afternoon lecture by a local fan collector.  HHM holds these chats every other week and they feature local authors and history experts talking about everything from beekeeping to baseball.

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I was really enamoured with this painted feather fan.  It is made from white goose feathers which are painted with a floral spray and tipped with peacock plumes.  Since I have been designing skirts non-stop the last few months, I looked at this and saw a skirt (naturally).  My wrap skirt design is a 3/4 circle, which is a tough shape to work from, but a fan is already a 1/3 circle shape.  It was a natural fit!

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IMG_3262I love those peacock feathers around the hem!  The museum staff was so excited that I was making things inspired by the collection that they invited me to have this skirt on display along with the fans.  It was neat for me to see the two side-by-side and you can see them too if you stop by.

I also took some photos of the woodwork details in the Fireside Room.  This helix patterned trim is featured throughout the room.

hhm-3And that also inspired a design.  I haven’t stitched up the sample of this one yet, but you can see the sketch.  I used this bit of woodwork trim to make radiating stripes from the waist to hem.  I also designed a basic stripe based on this woodwork pattern, which I will hopefully be printing to make silk scarves for the HHM shop a little later in the spring.

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One visit and two pretty awesome designs!  I feel like I found buried treasure.  I can’t wait to go back and see what else I find.

I had never actually heard of Hennepin History Museum before a year or so ago, even though it has been around since the 50s.   My friend Cedar is their new Executive Director and I think she has some pretty awesome ideas and the enthusiasm to bring their knowledge and collections more into the community.  In fact, I joined the Board of Directors in January, so I can help her out with that project. If you are in the Twin Cities area, I hope you will stop by and visit or come for a Fireside Chat.

 

 

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If you are signed up for my Digital Keepsake Tea Towel class starting on March 25, you might not have gotten your supply list yet.  Sorry about the snafu!  Hopefully it is being emailed to you today, but you can also download it here.  DigitalKeepsakeClass

Looking forward to seeing you at class.

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My niece drew this picture of a sewing machine for me.  Her message “Don’t miss the sniff” is to let me know that not only is there a scratch and sniff sticker there, but she drew it using smelly markers.  Important stuff when you are 4.  I am in love with this picture.

“Kid art” is a really hard thing to translate into fabric design.  And honestly, I look at pretty much everything anymore and think “How can I make fabric out of this?”  So I wanted to capture this fabulous drawing in fabric.

via gofugyourself.celebuzz.com

via gofugyourself.com

The new fall line for Dolce & Gabbana offers this.  Which I honestly think is hideous.  If you click that photo it will take you to a whole slide show of their runway show, which has a whole collection of “kid art” prints.  They all look like they are printed on shiny satin besides, which also doesn’t make any sense.  Formal crayon wear? Ugh.

So instead of trying to go with a literal interpretation, I decided to use Mia’s drawing as inspiration instead.

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So, I drew the sewing machine and all of the other doo-dads and shapes in Illustrator, making it into a vector design so I could rearrange, resize and so on to make a repeat.  This one is about 18″ because I wanted it to be big and bold.  I wanted some textures to overlay on designs like this, so a few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon making fibery textures.  This one is perfect for this design.  I also used Mia’s drawing for the color inspiration.  I think my version has enough pink in it for her to approve.

I don’t see this is a clothing fabric (although she would probably wear it) so I decided to think of it like a craft/quilting fabric instead, which meant I wanted to have a collection of coordinating prints to go along with it.  Solids with the same fibery texture, “cheerios” and little banner flags so far.  I think I need one more.  Any ideas?

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I know it is sewing machines (and you do now too), but I think this also could look like tribal/tiki/monster as I can see a few faces in there.  And that also works for me.

 

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I had a sort of annoying day.  And so when I saw a Facebook article on Craft about making a font from your handwriting for free, I clicked it.  That sounds fun.  I am sure there is a gimmick.  Or it won’t work.  But it would be a fun little project.

It totally works.  And it’s fun.  And it was fast.  I might seriously have to do this with a class some day. I didn’t overthink it, I just wrote.  I might do another one now and do something fancy.

The lovely Christine has written up a tutorial on how to do it here.  Or you can just go to the website and figure it out.  It’s that easy.  MyScriptFont.com, you are genius.

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I am so excited about these skirts!  Here is a slideshow of some of the designs I have been working on.  I don’t know if all of them will make the cut but I wanted to share my favorites so far.  Each mockup has a couple of detail “swatches” so you can see a little more about the print and a very brief description of where the print came from.  Which is your favorite?

skirtVideoI spend so much of my time behind a computer screen that it is hard to show “behind the scenes” shots of what I do.  And I know that people love to see works in progress.  I do too. So I made this video which shows my process in about 3 minutes. I captured it in 2 sessions and sped it up 1500%.  This is a wrap skirt that I designed that should be one of the ones for sale at the American Craft Council show I am participating in.  I just finished it so I haven’t seen the fabric in person yet.

The video shows the whole process from drafting the skirt in Illustrator to adding the photos in Photoshop.  In this case it is a wrap style skirt and I used 3 photos: long exposure shots from a nighttime “parade of lights” we watched at Disney several years ago.  This is a simple design relatively speaking. The photos are so cool that I didn’t need to do much manipulation to them.  I left in all of the things I tried and rejected. You will see that I thought about a row of polkadots at one point.  It’s tiny – it’s not meant to be a tutorial, but just so you can join along in the process.  Enjoy!