Monday, November 24, 2008

the economy, good.

Okay folks, sorry if this sounds totally backwards, but I think this "economic downturn" is going to be good for us as a culture in the long run. I was just asked how the economy is effecting me as a craftsperson and I've only been thinking it's going to be good. Here's the answer I just emailed, cut and pasted here for all the world (but especially you):

Here's my take on being a craftswoman and the changing economy: I believe it will be good for my business and I look forward to being there to help households make the necessary lifestyle changes with fun and style.

I've been channeling Depression-era frugality in my business since I started in 2006. Many of my materials are sourced at thrift shops. But also the products I am inspired to make (i.e aprons and other kitchen aids, clothespin bags) are for a lifestyle that many of us may be heading back to, with our heightened awareness about excessive fossil fuel consumption, and now especially if folks loose their jobs and there aren't as many dual income households. Some trends I believe will develop in the near future (and will probably sustain out of necessity) include spending more time at home cooking from scratch because it's more cost effective, yummy, and fulfilling; and hanging our laundry to dry outside because we don't want to pay such a big propane bill to run our dryers and because we are rediscovering the joys of outdoor "work." since I started offering my clothespin bags at vending events I've had a lot of interesting conversations with people about decreasing dryer use. It's good to talk about these things and I'm happy to be able to instigate that conversation.

I think as the economy really forces Americans to change their spending habits there will be an eager rediscovery of the resourcefulness and simple living that was a given 2-3 generations ago. My products will help people transfer that nostalgia into a pleasant lifestyle change of their own.

I am also all about the growing, growing, growing Vermont local foods movement (which I think is totally related to all this necessary/inevitable change). My family raises 60-70% of what we eat throughout the year and we buy much of the rest locally. As Vermonters get more and more enthusiastic about cooking with locally grown ingredients my aprons and HotHolders are right there for them.

Also, I think there will be a renewed appreciation for handmade items now that we can all be openly disenchanted with major corporations and the products they offer us. taking corporate jets to Washington to beg for taxpayer handouts, etc. etc.

Anyone else see any positives to come out of this? Eventually?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sweet Figments

Hey, this apron is featured this week on the shopping guide blog Sweet Figments. Among lots of other lovely things in a guide for gifts for the women in your life. Wouldn't your mom/sister/sweetheart love this? Connie also has a guide for gifts for men - always a mystery. I suppose it's as much of a mystery for them shopping for us. I just want a complete collection of Jonathan Richmond's recorded works. Are you reading this, Richard? Anyway, Connie at Sweet Figments puts together great collections and has giveaways, like, every day, and the items are very nice. Check it out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

it's hot, but I like it

Queen City Craft, phoenix-like reincarnation of the Burlington Craft Mafia, started a blog last month and I'm in their Crafter Spotlight this week. Kacey of subsixstudios and Erinn of urban-farmgirl are keeping the community together with frequent postings of news, "drops of inspiration," and updates on opportunities for Vermont (I always want to call us) third wave crafters (though I know there have been many more waves before us than two).

"Waves?" you ask yourself. "What is she talking about??" Read my interview * and find out!
*disclaimer: at the end of the interview I talk about my new key fobs and I want to say now do not, I repeat do not, walk your dog with them...unless you have a particularly weak teacup model. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that.

Here's a picture of my super messy workroom the week before Halloween as I was answering the interview questions. I mention all the many and varied projects going on at once. It was a very productive week and fun to have it chronicled on another blog.

evolution + Holday Fair Schedule

The key fobs are evolving. I rummaged up these little lengths of trim I've had stashed away for years and sewed them onto the leather key fobs. I am really, really pleased with them. I've been carrying my keys around on that that black one on the left with the red hearts and white flowers (I'll bet it's edelweiss) and it has changed my life. Every mom should have one. Maybe guys, too. It's like I suddenly have a free hand. I especially love not having to dig around in my pocket for my keys when I'm at school picking up the kids and inevitably getting out of the car to visit with the other parents or do some school-related errand. I ordered a bunch of different jacquard trims and recently scored some nice red leather. Can't wait to sew them up!

Also, the belts are evolving. For months now I've been trying to figure out ways of improving my closed-edge belt design. Quarter inch bias tape is the answer. See previous Breakthrough post for more on this. I spent the weekend going beyond beltlettes to making up full length belts. The first few Farmers Market ones turned out rather wobbly at the edges, but still nice looking. By midnight last night I had made 12 black Loteria ones in a row that were all firsts. Yay! I'm now looking forward to adding some really pretty fabric on the back. Some of these in the picture are going to Studio Place Arts in Barre for Celebrate, the annual holiday season member show. I'll be making that delivery tomorrow.

While I'm at it I suppose I should let you know where else to find the belts, key fobs, billfolds, HotHolders and other MAD goodies for gifting and self-treating:

Frog Hollow Galleries in Burlington and Middlebury

Art On Main in Bristol

SPA in Barre

Northeast Kingdom Artisan's Guild in St. Johnsbury

AVA Gallery in Lebanon, NH

For stores not so close to VT click here

I'll also be vending soon at the following holiday fairs in Vermont, where you can get all of the above plus your aprons, clothespin bags, big smiles and super friendly service (though I'm quite sure smiles and excellent service are also always on hand at the above mentioned establishments):

Nov 14 - 15 Orchard Valley Waldorf School, East Montpelier

Nov 22 Wellspring Waldorf School, Town Hall, Chelsea

Nov 29 - 30 Women's Festival of Craft, City Hall, Burlington

Dec 6-7 Burklyn Arts Council, Lyndon Town School, Lyndonville

Dec 19-20 Burlington City Arts, City Hall, Burlington

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Sometimes I am intimidated by my own projects.

I have a few ideas I've been wanting to develop into products. Not having it all figured out yet, and using materials and techniques I'm not very familiar with have kept these projects on the shelf and tumbling around in my head. But I recently got them out on the table and they are coming more into focus and progressing nicely. Yay!

One project I've been working on is a new belt style and a new way of constructing the belts. The little purple-edged beltlettes pictured here are the result of me finally practising edging them in seam binding. Sewing around the pointy tip is rather tricky. I made pairs of beltlettes in different widths so I can see how they fit with different buckle styles. The next step is to try a spray adhesive for keeping all four layers (front fabric, heavy canvas, stiff interfacing, back fabric) together while I'm sewing.

I've also been thinking about making things from repurposed leather. I plan to pick up dreadfully out of style jackets, skirts, etc. at the usual places I procure recycled materials. I've been studying some simple wallet styles and have decided to start with something even more basic, because I was kinda scared.

I've dabbled in leather before, but it was a couple of years ago. I made Kitt and Richard leather helmets to wear at the Open Fields Medieval Festival and I've made leather pouches for my trick-or-treating kids to collect candy into (we only take them around the small village of East Corinth so they aren't collecting a lot - not like the pillow cases we used to haul around when I was a kid).

But even with this bit of experience I was still nervous. It had been a while and I wasn't going to be just banging out something for my kids to wear in the dark. I'm aiming to make something nice that an adult will be willing pay money for in a well lit vending setting.

So I recently built my courage up by using a lot of leather and suede scraps on Kitt's Halloween costume. I paid special attention to how my tools are working with the leather I'm I'm very encouraged. I love my Bernina 1031. It is always so up for the challenge. It seems to like the tougher work that I give it, like quilting the five-layered HotHolders.

Now here is the result: my first wrist band key fob/key chains (but what am I going to call them?!). Ultimately I plan to sew a length of decorative trim down the middle where you see the stitching now. Not a boring one like my first mock-up shown here. The handle loop went on a bit crooked with that one too so I'm learning about gluing first. I've also tricked out a pair of pliers with soft fabric scraps and duct tape so the metal doesn't get scratched. The leather feels really nice on the wrist. I think I'll be able to pull this off.