book covers




I had forgotten how much I love making these moleskine notebook covers. They are perfect for smaller pieces of fabrics, that may not find their way into larger art quilts or collages. This time I used eco prints as well as indigo dyed swatches, sometime adding stitch, sometimes leaving the print as is. The store is stocked with these books - with more to come.




I am also lining up some exciting events for this summer and fall. I am honored to be part of the group show rooted  at Lark & Key Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina in October and this summer my work will be on display in the gallery boutique at Kunstlåven in Seljord, Norway. A few other exhibits are in the works, so it looks like busy and happy times ahead.




new cardigan



I finished one of my knitting projects. It is a cardigan designed by carrie bostick hoge from quince. The yarn is an undyed organic wool that I bought in Sweden a few summers ago. I have truly enjoyed delving into the wonderful world of knitting again - this is only the second piece I have finished in recent times (you may remember this) and I had forgotten how meditative it is to knit and how easy it is to do it on the go.

I love this yarn—very earthy and real—and I the design feels both rustic and elegant at the same time. And the extra long sleeves are wonderful. Technically I am not so happy with the band along the front edge. Picking up the stitches was difficult and there are some stray mistakes here and there. But I think this cardigan will be both loved and worn despite some flaws.



So far I am doing quite well with my goals from the original what to wear post. I have bought some undies and I splurged on another hand sewn tshirt from Alabama Chanin, but otherwise I am sticking to wearing, using, and improving on what I already have. I also joined the yarn CSA at Juniper Moon Farm, located just a few miles from where I live. I will get a share of their wool harvest sometime this fall - most exciting. Right now it is lambing season at the farm, the photos below are of the most recent arrivals. I invite you to skip over to their blog where they are posting new lamb photos daily. What a great way to celebrate new beginnings. Best wishes for a happy easter weekend.

©Juniper Moon Farm. All rights reserved.

©Juniper Moon Farm. All rights reserved.

©Juniper Moon Farm. All rights reserved.

a creative life



For almost six months now, I have worked part time as a graphic designer with my friend Laura at Roseberries. The decision to return to design work was in part financial, but also based on a need for order and structure in my life. The experience has been wonderful. It feels good to actually get dressed in the morning, to have colleagues, to bounce ideas, and to get projects done (although still slowly...).



The flip side is that the time I have left for my art has diminished. It is hard to accomplish something or, maybe more accurate, to complete something with only a few days a week available. I am also struggling to dedicate those days entirely to work (there are still things like dishes, laundry, vet visits, and car pooling looming).



But overall it works. Rather than living an artist's life, I am now leading a creative life. My design job is creative in its own way, but it has also made me realize that creativity goes into everything I do – even in tasks like house keeping, gardening, and cooking. And it has enabled me to explore and rediscover things like knitting and sewing. I am no longer obsessing over my art, whether it is likable (or sellable) enough, or whether I produce enough. Instead I am just enjoying the process. It has been quite liberating.


And I am accomplishing things! I just finished Margaret's magnolia, a piece commissioned by a friend as a wedding gift for friends of hers. The magnolia eco prints where made with leaves from a tree growing by the bride's childhood home. I completed a functional quilt (although small...). It is made from indigo dye samples, and backed with soft flannel. And yesterday I finally started on my first tree series quilt. So life here is good, in so many creative ways.

shadow play




Making images using sunshine as a catalyst is just fascinating. True to form I am stumbling along learning as I go, after ordering some inks from Lumi. None of my first attempts were stellar, but I am slowly grasping the idea. I am already thinking about how this could be tweaked and improved to fit in with my esthetics and color preferences. I am not one to go the straight and narrow route.




One of my concerns about the inkodye is the chemical make up of the dye. Lumi is straight forward on its website, claiming that these inks are not free of toxins but still rather benign in the big scope of things. Anyhow, playing with these dyes will most likely be just play, and not something I would do seriously for extensive production.



While working on the correct ink coverage and exposure times I also discovered some true light and shadow play in my back yard. Almost as intriguing, I think.


ACC Baltimore



Fantastic furniture by David Stine. ©David Stine. All rights reserved.


I took a little road trip this past weekend to visit the ACC flagship show in Baltimore. Over 600 artists were showing off their work in the enormous convention center in the heart of the city. I can only too well imagine the time commitment, effort, and stress that goes into preparing for an event of this caliber. Everything needs to be just right from the amount of inventory, quality of work, and not least booth display.


Hand knit wonders by Elena Rosenberg. ©Elena Rosenberg. All rights reserved.

For the most part the level of craftsmanship was amazing, but from a consumer point of view (not as a disgruntled fellow artist) I have to admit that there were a few exceptions. In some instances I would question the amount of "handmade by the artist" that was actually taking place, and in others I just did not think the level of design and artistry where up to par. Having said that I want to highlight some of my favorite artists at the event. Naturally there were many, many more but the work featured here symbolizes the best of the best in my mind.


Indigo dyed paper by Lynn Pollard. ©Lynn Pollard. All rights reserved.


Sculptures and jewelry by Stacey Lee Webber (made from screws, nails, and repurposed coins). ©Stacey Lee Webber. All rights reserved.



Beautiful stoneware by Yume Studio. ©Yume Studio. All rights reserved.



Exquisite quilts by Erin Wilson. This one came home with me... so lucky. ©Erin Wilson. All rights reserved.

I want to apologize for the long time gaps between posts lately. I am still adjusting to my new work schedule, and am always overestimating how much I can get done on my days off. I hope to see you back here before soon.

100 acts of sewing



Dress no. 4, 2013 and no. 75, 2012 by Sonya Philip ©Sonya Philip. 
All rights reserved.

Sonya Philip and her project "100 Acts of Sewing" is one of the main inspirations behind my recent decision to question my own clothes consumption and start making clothes again.



Dress no. 97, 2012 and no. 58, 2012 by Sonya Philip ©Sonya Philip. All rights reserved.
What began as a personal challenge for Sonya to make 100 dresses in a year, soon developed into a deeper exploration comparing making versus manufacturing. The purpose became not only to present the product of a year's labor, but to also expose the process, and in turn educate the audience. 


Dress no. 14, 2012 and no. 98, 2012 by Sonya Philip ©Sonya Philip. All rights reserved.
The project is now in its second year and while the dress making is continuing, Sonya is also exploring different sources of materials, from reused sweaters to reclaimed fabrics otherwise destined for the landfill. In addition she is teaching hands-on affordable workshops in the San Francisco area, hoping to instill a love and awareness for home made and altered clothing to more people, who in turn can engage others and share their knowledge. A true movement in the making!

Dress no. 8, 2013 and no. 5, 2013 by Sonya Philip ©Sonya Philip. All rights reserved.
One of the most important things about this project is how it demonstrates that sewing and making clothes does't need to be complicated or time consuming. Although Sonya works with several dress patterns, most of them are really simple and manageable. Many of the dresses consist of just a few seams and a hem.


Work by Sonya Philip ©Sonya Philip. All rights reserved.
"100 acts of sewing" is only one of several creative projects Sonya Philip has launched in recent years. She is a self-taught artist who practices what she calls "conceptual craft." One of my favorites is the series called "ordinary objects" where she by applying knitting to the surfaces, brings the most mundane of mass-produced objects to life. More examples of her beautiful art can be found at www.sonyaphilip.com.


Work by Sonya Philip ©Sonya Philip. All rights reserved.

untidy work habits


Most people would probably guess that my work space and my studio is a wonder of order, calm, organization, and cleanliness. And although that is how I would prefer my surroundings, it is far from the reality. The truth is that I am a pretty messy person.


Part of the problem is that I rarely work on just one project at the time. More often than not I will get inspired to try something new, even if I already have two or three things in the works. And when I try something new, piles of fabrics are brought out, and then threads to match, and some plants, and a reference book or two... In addition to the creative process there are deadlines and other things that need to be accomplished, like mailing orders, finishing commissions, and book keeping. It is difficult to keep ones work environment tidy in these circumstances. So things stack up.


Despite all this, I love my studio. It is relatively small, and crowded. It is flooded with light from three large windows. It has some of my favorite pieces on display along with artwork by my boys, and mementos from friends. When I do keep things in check there is plenty of room to spread out and frequently my canine studio assistants will sprawl out on the floor. And then there is the lingering scent of eco dyed cloth and lavender that in my mind is irresistible.


Not neat nor orderly, not always clean, but still close to perfect.


winter blues




The sky is the bluest of blue this time of year. No haze or humidity, just limitless blue. I have been working with remnants from last years indigo experiments. The small shibori pieces will be part of a group show at Chroma Projects opening next week. 25 Chroma affiliated artists will display affordable, lovable, and mailable art during the month of February. I hope you can come by if you are in the neighborhood.




A small throw quilt is also in the works. The layering and quilting is still left and I am imagining a soft backing and lots of hand stitching to finish it off. I love how the shades from the various indigo dips set each other off.



Then there are the blue sachets, all indigo dyed, lovingly stitched, and sweet smelling. They are available in the store ready to ship...




Blue is the color of choice this time around.


what to wear

I consider myself to be environmentally aware. We grow our own vegetables, I ride my bike or walk whenever possible, I turn off the tap while brushing my teeth and we keep the temperature low in the house. We recycle, nourish a thriving compost heap, and use eco friendly soaps and detergents...



Still, when it comes to my own wardrobe a majority of it originated in a foreign country, produced under circumstances that I am sure were less than ideal for our environment or for the people working in the production facility. Todays fashion industry and clothing manufacturing is responsible for almost 20% of all industrial water pollution, just from commercial textile dyeing and treatment, according to the World Bank. Add to that number all the waste (leftover remnants, discarded mass produced garments, and so on) that ends up in our landfills.

A discussions on the topic is starting to gain momentum. A recent post by Take Part highlights the problem as well as the growing number of organizations, corporations, and individuals working on a solution. At the same time there is an increased interest in the domestically made products, as people realize that promoting and buying things made in our own country, or even better in our own region, will further our own economy while creating jobs and opportunities in our back yard. Made is one organization devoted to promoting American made goods and work. 


Another solution is to return to the tradition of making our own clothes. What we wear does not have to be highly tailored or complicated to be beautiful and functional. A simple skirt or a tunic is well within the ability for most people, and imagine the satisfaction of wearing something truly unique.


Alapaca scarf by State©State, all rights reserved.

Noting the benefits of choosing hand crafted, domestic, or home made, I am also acutely aware that this is not a viable financial option for many of us. These products are expensive and I can understand that someone working two jobs and caring for a family may not find it realistic to invest in a sewing machine or spending time making clothes. It is difficult to bring up the distain for cheap mass-produced garments without seeming elitist, much like the organic food movement mostly has become a reality for the privileged.


Colorful frocks, by India Flint, ©India Flint, all rights reserved.

So what can we do on an affordable scale to make a difference? Personally I am starting by following my friend India Flint's advice from her wonderful book Second skin: "recycle, reuse, rethink, repurpose, and repair."


Long grey wool tweed jacket, by 13 threads, ©13 threads, all rights reserved.

I have sorted my closet - things I don't wear or don't like have been given away for better use by someone else, a few items are awaiting minor adjustments or repairs, some things will gain a totally new life after a short hiatus in the scrap fabric pile. I vow to take care of the things I already own, by not washing them too often, air dry them once they are clean, and to mend them if needed. As for new acquisitions, I will try to only buy pieces that are US made or hand crafted by someone I know this upcoming year. Truthfully, I can probably live quite happily for a long time without buying any new clothes. Like most people in our culture I already own more garments than I can manage, even after the sort-through.


Dress 98, by Sonya Philip, cotton print and African wax print, ©Sonya Philip, all rights reserved.

I will start to make clothes. When I was in my early 20's I wore nothing but hand made or vintage clothing. Back then it was more out of rebellion agains the mainstream, a protest against mass-production for other reasons than conscious regards for environment and community. Once life caught up with me, introducing kids, career, and responsibilities, my clothes sewing projects became few and far in between. After recently learning about artist Sonya Philip's project 100 acts of sewing, I am inspired to pick up the thread again - literally.


DIY Anna's garden swing skirt, by Alabama Chanin, ©Alabama Chanin, all rights reserved.

Naturally, sewing clothes and knitting, will become an artistic challenge for me as well. I am already imagining eco printed appliqués along a skirt hem, and eco dyeing my own yarn for a new sweater. I will not make predictions about my production, but I plan to document my efforts here. I have also started a pinterest board featuring sustainable clothing, my own and others'. I would love your input, ideas, and suggestions as well.


Jacobs wool sweater, by Fibershed, ©Fibershed, all rights reserved.

This post is illustrated with photos of some of my own clothes, but mostly I have borrowed images from makers from all over the country (and the world). All of them share a love for sustainable, sensible, and beautiful living. They are credited with links to their web sites if you want to take a peak. I will also feature them and their work here on this blog in the near future. Thanks for sticking with me to the end of an unusually long post! Happy making!


winter whites


Powdery blue, silver, rosy taupe, celadon, winter white, blush, misty gray. The faintest of colors seem to dominate my surroundings this time of year. It happens to be my favorite palette no matter what season, but I love how the winter time somehow makes even the whitest shades of pale more vivid.


The color scheme in the landscape is influencing my work. There has been plenty of white on white stitching done (some may be altered in the dye pot at a later date) and a few older unfinished pieces has gained new life, despite being tucked away because of perceived lack of color interest.


Right after the holidays I made time for a dye pot, experimenting with only using plant materials gathered from the back yard despite the wintery weather. A combination of nandina, oak, magnolia and leatherleaf viburnum were layered between silk, cotton, and linen fabric, with a few pieces of paper thrown in for added interest.



The clamped bundle simmered with a handful of fustic wood shavings, for a couple of hours and were left to rest for another few days. The unveiling was far more thrilling than I expected. Somehow the wonderful imprints left behind mirrored the shades of the wintery cold landscape outside. In layers, and gradations, even the palest of impressions managed to stand out. Such joy...


promises


This is the season when freshness and hope inspire us. The promise of a new year lies ahead and it is easy to imagine all the wondrous things we can achieve if only there is will. I always get wrapped up in this sense of starting something anew, although I know that before soon more mundane and less glamorous tasks will take over. There is still much worth in dreaming, planning, and scheming.

I have spent much of my holiday break working on creative things not directly related to my work. I have been knitting (three different projects are underway...) and stitching clothing by hand (lucky to have received a Alabama Chanin DIY kit). I have also cooked, decorated the house, planned the spring garden, gone on numerous dog walks and spent time with my family. By now I feel relaxed and ready to go.

I mentioned before that I would like to keep the blog active and engaging. I will try to be here more often and with more direction. I am planning to show more of my work, both in progress and in finished form. I will definitely feature more book arts, both my own and others, and I will start a series of posts about clothing, how to make what we wear sustainable as well as stylish. For more frequent updates I still encourage you to visit my Facebook page, but I want the blog to continue to be a place for more in-depth reflections about my work, inspirations and things I care about.

I wish you the best for the upcoming year. May 2013 bring you happiness, peace, and plenty of creativity!

julfrid


Slowly but surely I am getting into the holiday spirit. I am cleaning the house, listening to Christmas songs from my lovely husband's eclectic collection. The sweet smelling tree is ready to be brought in and tomorrow my mom and sister arrive from Sweden. There is still much left to be done - gift gathering/making, cooking, and some last minute work to finish up. But I am getting ready to relax and celebrate the joy of the season.

As always I am already thinking ahead, planning new things for the upcoming year. One of the main things on my mind is to revive this blog. I am so grateful for all my readers and followers, and I am eager to make this experience worthwhile for you. Sometimes it is hard to keep up the pace in this world of instant news report, facebook posts, and tweets. What do you like to see more of? What can you do without? How can the blog become more interactive? I have some ideas of my own, but I would love to hear yours as well.



There are a few goodies left in the store. Notebooks, sachets, and small art pieces all make lovely gifts. Last day to order for Christmas delivery within the US is next Tuesday, December 18.

Warm wishes for a wonderful holiday season! May it be filled with friendship and cheers!







gratitude

This is the season of gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for – life, art, family, work, health, sunshine, and love. All are things that fill my heart daily, never to be taken for granted. And then there are the small reminders of kindness and friendship, such as Jude's appreciative email and blog post this afternoon. Thank you!

The store is stocked with new books, hand stitched sachets, and one of the field study pieces featured in my last post. All orders are 15% off until November 27. Just enter discount code GIVEHANDMADE2012 at checkout. One more way for me to show gratitude.






field studies




I am fascinated by the way natural dye colors relate to each other. Regardless of plant source or origin the fabrics seem to harmonize and enhance rather than compete. This revelation is the inspiration behind my new work series – field study. These pieces have evolved by combining strips of naturally dyed fabrics, almost at random. They are machine quilted rather than hand stitched, to ensure that the color fields get center stage, without distraction. 

Meanwhile my whole neighborhood is ablaze in bright and vivid jewel tones. Even when nature is shouting at its loudest there seems to be harmony and peace rather than clashes and conflicts. Lessons to be learned.






falling into place



Fall is finally here. The leaves are twirling in the air and coating the ground. The mornings are crisp and sweaters are brought out from storage. Personally it feels like pieces of my life are falling into place. I recently started a new job, or more accurately I restarted an old one. I am thrilled to be back with my friend Laura at Roseberries, and delighted to discover that my old skills are still intact. A bit of light dusting should be all that is needed.



While I am now devoting part of my week to graphic design work, the rest of my time is spent making art. Art that no longer is constricted by financial worries or seasonal production schedules. Art that will grow from within, following its own time table. Things are still hectic as I prepare for the upcoming Artisans Studio Tour, and for holiday sales, but by restructuring my time and my goals, I feel less pressured – contradictory as it may sound.



This week I played some more with walnuts, made magic iron potions, and stitched book covers. I am slowly, but surely cleaning out our house, organizing, sorting, and giving things away. The garden is still a mess, but even that feels less stressful at the moment. Life is good.



A few things on the horizon. The show "nature prints on cloth and paper" is still up at Over the moon bookstore, in Crozet. It will be there until December 6. Next week signals the start of the World of Threads Festival in Toronto/Oakville in Ontario. Two of my pieces are included in the De rerum natura exhibit at the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Center in Oakville. I wish I could travel to see this wonderful textile extravaganza in person! The Artisans Studio Tour, takes place November 10 - 11, in and around Charlottesville, Virginia. I will once again be a guest in Mary Beth Bellah's studio (no. 8), along with master woodworker Brian Rayner. It would be lovely to have you visit one or several of these events!

walnut magic


The dye pot was waiting for us when we arrived to class. Three days old, filled with simmering walnuts and remnants from dye attempts past. Thick and almost sirupy, ready for the magic to begin.


The walnut pot was of course only one part of the enchantment taking place during the two day long botanical alchemy workshop in Cleveland with dye master and artist extraordinaire India Flint. The class was expertly arranged and organized by Christine Mauersberger, who besides making sure we were well fed and equipped also shared her own useful insights and beautiful stitching. All of my fellow class mates where so talented and energetic. They generously exchanged knowledge, fabric swatches, and plant materials.

My work space.

Walnut marks.

And then there was Ms. India, who made the two days whisk by with lightning speed, while still making sure all of us accomplished many, many things. We learned to wrap cloth directly around the fresh walnuts for amazing colorful patterns. We learned to play with  metal scraps, iron potions, milk paint, and tangerine juice. Her wonderful teachings were carried out with grace, patience, and a great sense of humor.

Magical hands.


The last day we were assigned to make a special piece. Starting out with white on white, layers of cloth stitched together, embellished with thread, fabric scraps, and stitches, lots of stitches, before ending up in the dye bath. The purpose was to create a personal companion piece, that would continue to be enhanced by dye and stitch over time. I am thrilled with the outcome and I will carry my piece along as a reminder of friendship, camaraderie, and the pure joy of making art.

My special piece.


While in Cleveland I also discovered the beautifully curated art museum, the botanical garden, and a great little exhibit of India Flint and Susan Gaylord's work tucked into the midst of the residential neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. And I got to reunite with a wonderful friend from the past. Happy times to be had by all.


Eco printed repurposed book pages by India Flint. © India Flint


Eco printed vintage kimono by India Flint. © India Flint


Spirit book by Susan Gaylord. © Susan Gaylord

new exhibit and other adventures



Nature prints on cloth and paper is the theme for my exhibition at Over the Moon Bookstore, in Crozet, Virginia. The show opens next weekend, and includes new leaf print collages and samples from my field study series among other things. The work will be on display from October 12 to December 5, and the opening reception is on Saturday, October 13, from 6 - 8. I hope you will join us, for an evening filled with art, treats, and book browsing!



Before then I am off on another adventure. I will be in Cleveland Ohio early next week, for a two day dye workshop with India Flint. I am giddy with excitement to meet up with old friends and to make new ones, which is inevitable at these fun events.

divulgence


My love story with pecan leaves continues. Clamped and bundled with a variety of fabrics and papers, these graceful leaves never cease to amaze me. This time I will let the pictures tell the story – and as always divulging what's within is the most magical part of the tale.





regrouping



A series of small mishaps set me off course this week. I planned to apply for a couple of big events, with rapidly approaching deadlines, and worked diligently to make it all come together. Unexpected, last minute issues with two of the pieces, made me realize that it was impossible to finish the work, and have it photographed before the deadline.

Once the frustration died down, I took a big breath and started thinking about my goals, ambitions, and expectations on a larger scale. And my conclusion is that I need to slow things down rather that speed things up. My youngest son is a high school junior and I want to be there for his soccer games, music performances, and soon to start college searches. I want to see my friends more often, and spend an afternoon now and then with my husband. I want more time to care for for my garden and my house.



I love my work. I can't imagine life without textiles, stitching, and making. But I am the first to admit that more often than not, it becomes all-consuming. I think that is what defines an artist - the constant drive for perfection and the unwillingness to stop or take a break.

So the stress and turbulence of this week have a happy ending. Instead of fretting over my show applications, I am cleaning and organizing the studio while listening to music, and enjoying the sunshine outside my window. Tomorrow I will work on new books, and in the next few days I will return to the pesky quilts that made it all grind to a halt.