*This is a long post and there are a lot of birds in it.
I’ve been working on a pattern for my little birds and as I’m reaching the end of that long process of drafting and adjusting the pattern, shooting the steps, writing the instructions, testing the pattern, compiling the files and materials and resource lists etc., etc. I’ve been thinking a lot about my long history with these funny little fabric birds. Releasing this pattern feels like a big step in that history and involves some letting go.
The things I make are a large part of my identity and that is maybe even a little more true of these earnest little birds. They came about sort of accidentally – it’s funny how one thing leads to another and strange things you could not invent occur.
How I came to Make Thousands and Thousands of Little Fabric Birds
In the fall 2005 I happened into a ruined Edwardian gown. I wish I had a photo. It was in pieces and all of it too delicate and too fragile to even display. At the same time I was designing a holiday window for a shop on Orchard Street. The gown was shimmery and twinkly and I wanted to incorporate it. The featheriness of the fraying fabric suggested birds and I began to experiment with sewing a bird shape. I counted – I made 60 failures before I came to a shape that sort of worked. The first birds were fancy: miss haversham on the left and bertha whimsy emerson on the right.
I hadn’t intended to sell them but people wanted to buy them so I did and then I made more.
And more. And more.
I also photographed them. They went to summer camp,
put on plays,
Continue reading “a history of birds” »
When I’m making ships I spend a lot of time with a big box of pale ruined dresses and parts of dresses, edwardian mostly, and each time I go through it I pull out little bits to save – things too fragile to use but too precious to part with or things I find so interesting as they are I don’t want to change them.
A tattered bit of very old silk lace with tiny bright green beads attached to each point – it was a cuff – it must have been a magnificent garment.
I finished 2 more ships today and photographed them – one similar to The Louisa May and another paper mache.
This style of ship is also one of the patterns I’ll be publishing and I spent some time breaking down the steps today. I would also love to teach a paper mache ship class in person – it’s such a satisfying project to make.
PS – all the new ships will be available in the shop tomorrow (6/5).
I got up extra early this morning to begin photographing more new ships. This time of year the nicest light happens between 6:30 and 7 am. I’ll do the same again tomorrow – the ships are tricky to photograph – they need lots of light and are almost constantly in motion – lots of waiting around for stillness.
You might notice that I’ve rearranged my place. I have stuck with pretty much the same arrangement in every apartment I’ve lived in. I tried changing it a couple years ago with unhappy results – nothing about it worked – I couldn’t concentrate and it just felt wrong. I got inspired to try again a few weeks ago and I’m very happy with it. From a purely practical perspective I have light where I need it and it makes sense with the electrical outlets. It feels more open and spacious and new and the plants seem to like it. The sewing machine is next to the largest window now – it’s a huge improvement. Sometime when I’m being tidier I’ll show you the whole thing – right now I’m kind of a disaster in that department.
I’ll post some more ship photos in the afternoon tomorrow ( they will all be in my shop on thursday 6/5).
I’m working on a re- design of my merry wobblers. It’s one of the patterns I’ll be publishing for the making something project. In their original incarnation they were tricky to make – unnecessarily tricky I think.
So I’m simplifying and perfecting and adjusting – again and again and again. I’ve made wobblers that don’t wobble, misshapen potato like wobblers, tiny headed wobblers, wobblers that burst and wobblers that didn’t look merry at all.
The most successful one so far has been the little guy on the lower left above. I’m adjusting a little more this morning and testing a few more times to make sure the result is consistent and hopefully tonight wobbler will be achieved.
Regarding the patterns I’m working on- I have a question for those of you who sew:
Do you prefer to have the seam allowance added for you on a pattern or to add your own?
The Louisa May – she’s made mostly from edwardian gowns and petticoats – sheer, thin, whispery things sewn over millinery wire.
Spring really fires me up and I’m having a super busy and super productive month. Besides all the air and freshness the extra daylight in the evening makes such a difference.
I find I work best early in the morning to mid afternoon and then I usually get a significant creative second wind between 5 and 8 PM – how about you? Other people’s creative practices are always interesting to me.
A couple progress photos for you:
A dark, crow-ish sort of bird and and sails for several new ships. I’ve been saving that antique embroidered cuff on the lower right for 6 years- waiting for just the right ship. I’m finishing the first full sized, multi sailed extravaganza sort of ship that I’ve made in a long time tonight and I’m excited to photograph it tomorrow – excited enough to get up extra early.
I sure do like to make something and then wonder around the forest looking for a perfect spot to photograph it. It’s an intersection I’ve always been attracted to. I finished this indigo fellow in the Adirondack Park over the weekend with a particular mossy stump in mind for his photo.
I also worked on my toadstool pattern and technique - that is one of the shapes I’ll be teaching at Squam in the fall ( there are just a couple spaces left in the class – you can register here). There are so many things I want to share in that class – so many possibilities. I’m also excited that there is a free afternoon built into the schedule – the forest at Squam is spectacular and it would be such fun to photograph what we create.
I’m building lessons around shapes and techniques that can be used as jumping off points – like the toadstool shape, a seed pod shape, a very particular way to create stems, root systems, textures etc.
I’d love to see you there – if you have questions I’m happy to answer – just send me an email.
P.S. – if you can’t attend the retreat but you’re near by or don’t mind traveling to New Hampshire – come say hello at the art fair ! I am already deep in preparations for that – It’s going to be an adventure.
I’m working on a bunch of things – sometimes that feels comfortable, working on a variety of projects at the same time, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s fortunate that it’s working for me right now because it really must. It’s nice to have a mix of paper and sewing projects, as glue or paint or paper mache is drying I sew – it makes me feel like an overachiever. I’m also spending time everyday working on my class for Squam in September and patterns for my make something project – I’ll have an update on both of those a little later this week. Below is a peek at what I’m working on:
Some sewing – a little owl and mushrooms. I think that indigo print is the most owly fabric ever – thank you Sri Threads.
And flamingos! I can’t make them without also making a big pink mess – I’m making 60 this week, flamingo madness……
Ship progress- I haven’t made a translucent ship hull in such a long time I forgot how and had half a dozen painful failures on the way to this one.
And a dastardly owl just finished, there are a couple more photos of Nestor after the break.
Continue reading “on my work table” »
Everything is blooming in Brooklyn – There are blossom trees up and down Union St. and my view is all pink, pale green and white for just a little while.
Spring has not quite happened upstate yet- but it’s thinking about it. I spent a few days wondering around up there and sewing lots of little birds for BHLDN.
I gathered some mosses for a new terrarium I’ll put together this evening – right now they are doing fine in a plastic strawberry container with a damp paper towel on the bottom wrapped loosely in plastic. I picked up some charcoal from the same area as some of the moss to add to the soil. I have had mixed results with my previous terrariums – maintaining the right moisture balance, preventing mold etc. One thing that seems to help is watering only with water from the nearby creek, I wonder if distilled water might be good too? Any tips appreciated. There are a few more photos from the lovely gloomy weekend after the break.
Continue reading “spring” »