round trip




Returning home after an extended vacation is almost as exhilarating as taking off. I am sitting here in the studio trying to recap three wonderful weeks away, sifting through notes and photographs, and sorting through my thoughts...




The first week was spent with family and friends in southern Sweden. The weather was gorgeous and we were offered a plentitude of delicious meals and refreshing drinks. Our evenings were laced with engaging discussions, laughter, and friendship. We criss-crossed the region via train, bus, and car, visiting museums, shops, and cosy restaurants. We swam, basked in the sun, and strolled. It was the most perfect of times.






Paris was the destination for the second part of the trip. We arrived wide-eyed and ready for everything the city of light has to offer. The beautiful apartment on the left bank had a roof top view of the Eifel tower and was the base, for our daily excursions. We quickly came up with a long list of favorites including; Degas painting The orchestra of the opera at Musée d'Orsay, the tomb of Heloise and Abelard in Pere Lachaise Cemetery (what a love story), Papier+ in the Marais quarters, the Victory statue in the Louvre, the all out meat dinner at Relais de l'Entrecote, the kitchen store of all kitchen stores - E. Dehillerin, the stroll through the Porte de Vanves flea market, and getting to know Eva Besnyö and her beautiful photographs at Jeu de Paume. The list goes on, but it is still the everyday experiences that are the true highlights when visiting a new city, such as fetching fresh bread from the bakery every morning, walking down a narrow street at dusk, overhearing a conversations at the lunch table, perusing the market for fresh fruit, and going to bed at night with aching feet and a mind overfilled with new impressions.












Happily back home, I admit that we were ready to reunite with the dogs, sleep in our own beds, and cook a simple meal in our own kitchen. That is what vacations are for. And I am itching to get back to work, to continue pieces in progress and start on things totally new. Somehow the experiences from weeks past will make their way into the process of making and creating that I love so much.

 

heike gerbig


Photos courtesy Heike Gerbig. All rights reserved.

The best aspect of being part of the blog world is definitely the wonderful people you connect with. One of them is Heike Gerbig from Berlin. I came across her blog Gerdiary several years ago, and with time we started to exchange comments and emails.





Photos courtesy Heike Gerbig. All rights reserved.

Heike is a former journalist and writer turned textile artist. She is taking her wordsmithing to a new level incorporating phrases and poetic thoughts into her work, which consists of fabric collages, notebooks, jewelry, and soft creatures. She uses vintage fabrics, remnants, paper, and natural dyed cloth for her creations. Her work is wonderfully textured, beautifully hand stitched, and often made with a humorous, slightly edgy twist, which I love.


Last fall we decided to start a natural dye sample swap. So far I have received two packages with lovely swatches from Heike. It is really interesting to look at the samples and compare with my own results. The plant materials we use are sometimes different, which inspires me to try new experiments. It is a true gift having these swatches on hand, knowing they were dyed by someone dear, far away on another continent. Make sure to check out Heike's web shop as well as her etsy store. Many treasures there to be had.

Photo courtesy Heike Gerbig. All rights reserved.

I heart New York







We walked, ate, drank, looked, ate some more, strolled, shopped, gawked, sipped, and ate again. Intense is the best way to describe life as a New York City visitor. Here is a list of the best of the best from this trip: Best museum exhibit: The Loving Story at the International Center of Photography. Best meal: braised pork shoulder at Birreria in Eataly. Best drink: Gin and Tonic at Gaby in Hotel Sofitel. Best breakfast: Oatmeal and large latte at Le Pain Quotidien. Best hike no. 1: Crossing Brooklyn Bridge by foot. Best macarons: Maison Ladurée. Best art: Kim Abeles' Smog Collectors at Museum of Art and Design. Best hike no. 2: The high line. Best home store: Ochre in Soho. Best art no. 2 Lee Nam Lee: Ming and Chung dynsasty paintings: crossover at MAD. Best craft store: Purl Soho. Best craft store no. 2: Tender Buttons. Best run: the path around the reservoir in Central Park. Of course there was much more, and much that was missed. I am already compiling a list for the next visit.











adrienne antonson



Images courtesy of Adrienne Antonson. All rights reserved.

Adrienne Antonson work exemplifies meticulous attention to detail and beauty. Her sculptural replicas of insects and everyday objects are life like and ethereal. All of them are made out of human hair and other non-traditional fibers. Adrienne attributes her choice of material to "its immediacy, its beauty and flaws" ... and beacuse "it never fails to attract and repulse almost simultaneously". Adrienne also creates a clothing line, state, that is comprised of repurposed fabrics and garments, lovingly transformed into wearable pieces of art. I love the exquisite craftsmanship that infuses all of Adrienne's work as well as her resourceful and respectful choice of materials. She is a young artist based in Asheville, North Carolina, and you can find more information about her work on her website and blog. She also has an etsy store where she sells adorable felted headwear among other things.





Images courtesy of Adrienne Antonson. All rights reserved.

 This profile of Adrienne is the first in this year's series artistic delights, which focuses on artists that delight and inspire me on my own artistic journey.

a vermont quilt and wabi-sabi


It is from Vermont, at least that's what I was told when this quilt became mine. It is made from a variety of fabrics, wool, cottons, thin, thick, even some polyester mixed in here and there. It is probably not ancient, but it is still old, or maybe just used often. The true history of the quilt does not matter so much. Somebody made it in log cabin style, lovingly piecing the rectangular shapes to the backing fabric by hand, then throwing in some machine stitching to keep the layers together. Some squares are intact, but most are worn, some of them to shreads. Even the back is tattered and stained.


The quilt from Vermont symbolizes much in my mind. Things, just as life itself has a beginning and an end. They will not last forever. But there is beauty in all its stages, the threadbare parts are just as alluring as the unblemished ones. There is beauty in imperfection.

Inspired by Natalie Chanin and her blog, I recently started reading simply imperfect – revisiting the wabi-sabi house by Robyn Griggs Lawrence. Wabi-sabi is not a straight forward concept, and it is sometimes difficult even for native Japanese to explain what it means. My interpretation is that we should try to limit our possessions to things with meaning and usefulness, to un-clutter our homes and our lives, to find calm and quiet among chaos, and to care for the things we do have to make them last longer. I am not there yet, but the process has begun. One of the more important aspect of wabi-sabi is to enjoy doing things by hand, whether it is washing dishes, or mending a skirt, or making a quilt from scratch.

the pinkyberries and company


Meet the pinkyberries, one of several delightful discoveries at Röhsska museet in Gothenburg, Sweden. A group of talented students from Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk, are currently showing their final work at the renowned design and craft museum. I love to explore student exhibitions – the work is often fresh, unhibited, and pared down. Here are some glimpses of beautiful fiber related art from the show, which runs through September 4.

the pinkyberries by Pernilla Eskilsson


time will tell by Ellen Jacobsen Holvik


one thousand pieces by Jane Yang

patterns


One of my remedies for jet lag while traveling are long neighborhood walks. I often bring my camera along to caprture images, patterns, and textures, some of which make their way into my work. Here are samples from my first few days here in Malmö. We are having a great time with lots of relaxation, good food, and family love.

all about color

Work samples by my wonderful classmates.

Colors are not always what we perceive them to be. A piece of dyed fabric can look pale and unassuming on its own, beige and boring. But accompanied by another pale shade of cloth, both pieces may come to life. Color is on my mind, after this past week's natural dye workshop with Rowland Ricketts at Shakerag. I had a wonderful time, catching up with old friends (you know who you are), meeting new ones, and getting to know Rowland who is an amazing artist – generous, knowledgable, and fun.


Something is brewing.

Black willow bark samples hung to dry.

Towering trees everywhere.

Rowland's beautiful silk yarns.

The lovely compost pile.

My first attempt at shibori.

The focus of the class was the natural local landscape, and the colors we can gain from it. We were encouraged to collect plants that were either plentyful or invasive, and then by using japanese inspired dyeing techniques and mordants we managed to produce a wonderful range of soft (and sometimes not so soft) shades of cloth, yarn, and threads. I am much inspired and ready to fully make these natural dyes my own.

Documenting and organizing.

My finished samples. I love the range and the hues.

willie



For my lovely husband's recent birthday I bought him a pair of willies. The jeans arrived bundled in craft paper and tied with ribbons made of denim remnants. They are dark blue, slightly rigid to the touch, with simple and subtle design details. Thanks to great communication and customer service, the fit of the jeans was perfect. The care instructions are clear and straight forward – wear often, wash not so often...

I have long admired Nashville based imogene + willie (I have featured them here before).  The clothing company is the brain child of Carrie and Matt Eddmenson, located in an old gas station where their beautiful pieces are created on site, utilizing American made materials as well as local talent and craftsmanship. I am hoping to visit in person on my way to Shakerag this summer. My mind is set on a pair of imogenes...

daily inspiration




A picture says more than a 1000 words. The saying may seem cliche, but it often holds true. Almost every day this year artist and photographer Elaine Kean has published one photo and one word on her blog red or gray black and white. The black and white images are random reflections of her life, small beautiful glimpses that inspire pause and contemplation. It is a lovely place to visit. Elaine is a talented multi media artists and you can fine her wonderful collages, mobiles, and garlands in her etsy shop.





Photos courtesy of Elaine Kean. All rights reserved.

casting on


I have come across so many amazing knitters since I began my journey around the blog world. Elena, Rachel, and Theresa, just to mention a few. Inspired by their beautiful creations, I decided to start my own knitting project this week. I can't call myself a novice knitter. Many years ago, pre-kids-career-houses-and other distractions, I knitted all the time. I would make elaborate sweaters and cardigans for myself and for people I love. But that was ages ago, and now I feel rusty and unaccustomed. Simple is the way to go. A plain sweater with a wide soft collar made from this stunning grey wool yarn is in the works. And I did remember how to cast on...

learning

Seventeen women, six days, one bucolic setting, plentitude of laughter, a bit of poetry, several botanical excursions, and lots of simmering dye pots. That pretty much sums up my week at Shakerag. Add scrumptious meals, heartfelt conversations, book making, evening swims, contemplation, yards of plant colored fabric, some more stomach cramping laughter, and the experience becomes almost life altering.

I had a fantastic time and learned many things, way beyond the mysteries that occurred in the bundles and in the dye pots. India Flint was a great teacher; soft spoken, funny, beautiful, and incredibly generous with her knowledge and talent. I feel privileged to have been there, and am inspired to adapt my new wisdoms to work and life.

A special thanks to India, Kelly, Michelle, Marianne, Christi, and Janet, who warmed my heart so much, and to Celeste, Judy, Judilee, Vicky, Sharon, Patricia, Andrea, Ilsa, Catherine, and Anna who's spirit, kindness, experience, and sense of humor made this week so special. New friendships were forged and I know we will meet again.

experimentation x 2

Two amazing women and their books have brought me on a joyful creative journey lately. I already gushed over India Flint, and her inspiring book Eco Colour, but have now followed lightly in her footsteps by experimenting with dyeing my linen fabrics using nothing but plants and natural materials. So far I am thrilled, mainly because many of the hues I have achieved are ones that I have unsuccessfully tried to produce for a long time using synthetic dyes. It is very hard to get pale shades of color from procion mx dyes. The soft greens here, created from boiling carrot tops in an iron pot are just perfect.

So is the grayish lavender color from the black bean water left over from our latest chili batch, and the rusty warm tones achieved from seeped onion skins, and the pale acid yellow made from chamomile tea bags...

I even tried India's famous eco printing technique, where you bundle your plants in tight fabric layers and put them in a steam bath to coax out the colors. I used geranium leaves, and although the result is nowhere near perfect, the impressions and imprints are intriguing.

I also recently purchased Natalie Chanin's book Alabama Studio Style. Her beautiful designs, technical skills, and innovative business methods, have inspired me for years. I love the new soft stencils she use, and decided to try the diluted ink spray bottle method included in her book. Well the result was quite disastrous – the ink bled everywhere, soaking through the felt stencil, making big blobs and splattering the fabric beyond the stencil. But once dried, I realized there was something appealing about this distressed mess. I added flower clusters, printed using rhododendron leaves, that echoes the blotches, but prettier. For some reason I just love the result. Next I will layer it, and add stitching, still using the same shapes.

The most wonderful side effect of these experiments, is that they taught me to cherish imperfection. I am by nature a perfectionist, wanting everything to be uniform, smooth, unblemished, aligned, and beautiful. These natural dyes come out mottled, uneven, and the stenciling is obviously quite ugly on its own. But somehow I have come to terms with how it all happens. The beauty is in the process, not necessarily in the end result.

I will take some time off for travels this week, but will return soon, with new reports, impressions, and imagery.

I just have to make an addendum to this post. Yesterday afternoon I found out from dear Claire at Shakerag, that I got a spot in India Flint's class this summer, after months on the waiting list. And guess who is the guest lecturer the week I am there – Ms. Natalie Chanin. I am so lucky!

rumination and dreams, part 3

I want a place of my own, imagining a storefront studio near Charlottesville's downtown mall, just a few blocks away from our house. I am thinking exposed brick walls, rough hewn beams, tall ceilings, lots of white, lots of light. The front would showcase my art and my goods. I would invite others artist friends to display theirs as well, to provide a nice selection of locally made, handcrafted beauty. The back is to be my studio with big tables and room to spread out, with plenty of storage space for inventory and supplies. This will be a place to meet with customers and clients, and the work process will become public to demonstrate what handmade is all about. I will hire help to manage the store and assist with production. The dream goes on...

bookhou

radiance

Inspiration comes from many places. Arounna Khounnoraj and John Booth's Bookhou in Toronto seems like a perfect artistic venue, so does Hannah Nunn's Radiance in West Yorkshire, UK, and then there are places like Imogene + Willie in Nashville and The Barn Swallow in Ivy, Virginia... It can be done, and it can be done well. For now this remains the most unrealistic part of my hopes and aspirations (for more look here and here). We lack the capital and the time necessary to pull something like this off, and I already have a wonderful, light filled studio just a few steps from my bedroom. But dreaming and scheming is free, and maybe someday when everything is aligned, a space like one of these will be mine.

Lastly, thank you good morning – midnight for featuring my seedpod pillow on your beautiful blog last week.

india flint

Images courtesy of India Flint. All rights reserved.

Prophet of bloom, is the name of her couture clothing line. She calls her blog not all those who wander are lost. These names exemplifies the imagination, travel lust, and free spirit of Australian born fiber artist India Flint. She is the queen of color; both vivid and subtle, faded and stark, and sometimes beautifully muddy and murky, all derived from plants and other natural materials. Threading light on this earth, and only using what is necessary, is India Flint's guiding light and it is evident throughout the artistic process. Even her preferred mordants, the fixatives used to make the dyes bonds with the fibers, are from natural origins.

I recently got India's book eco colour and am intrigued by the possibilities her techniques bring using leaves and flowers from our own back yards. Most plants are fair game, although some are more reliable than others (and be ware of the poisonous ones). Besides mordants, factors like water quality and what kind of vessel used, will affect the final outcome of the dye bath. The book includes vast plant lists, as well as safety and care instructions. It does not provide many exact recipes, instead it encourages the readers to experiment on their own using the book as a guide, and to celebrate unexpected results.

Image courtesy of India Flint. All rights reserved.

For her own fashion line, India Flint has developed a technique called eco-printing where leaves are layered with mordanted cloth, and then bundled up and treated with moisture, heat, or just time, depending on the preferred outcome. The result is magical impressions left behind by the natural pigments in the plant.

Image courtesy of India Flint. All rights reserved.

India is sharing her knowledge by teaching classes all over the world. This summer she will give two week long workshops at Shakerag, in Sewanee, Tennessee. I am currently on the waiting list for the first class, and although I do not wish for any of the current participants to miss this wonderful opportunity, I am secretly hoping that a spot will open up. I would love to meet India Flint, learn from her, and experiment alongside her.

Image courtesy of India Flint. All rights reserved.

slow cloth

Images above courtesy of Glennis Dolce. All rights reserved.

Slow cloth is the fiber worlds equivalent of the slow food movement. Slow cloth was branded and initiated by Elaine Lipson, artist, writer, editor, and one of the supporters of the slow food idea here in the US. Slow cloth is not a project, technique, or some kind of exclusive club, but rather a philosophy and an attitude, characterized by joy, skill, contemplation, beauty, and expression. The Slow Cloth philosophy embraces teaching, community (global and local), diversity, and responsible sourcing and use of materials. You can find a more detailed outline of the slow cloth initiative here.

For me slow cloth emphasizes the fact that making things from fiber is a blissful experience, and that is is ok for things to take time, as long as we cherish the process. On a larger scale slow cloth takes on issues such as sustainable, and fair manufacturing of fashion and home goods, respect for the environment, the importance of making things that last and doing more with less.

The slow cloth group on facebook, spearheaded by Elaine, with the help of Jude Hill, and Glennis Dolce, now has close to 600 members from all over the world, all sharing a love for fabric, fibers, stitching, and handcraft. The slow cloth group has ongoing discussions about varied topics such as artistic process, books for fiber makers, favorite needels, and "ugly" work. There is an adjacent flicker group where members can post photos of their work, and all members are encouraged to post links and comments on topics related to the slow cloth philosophy. I find this to be an increadible inspiring place and I encourage everybody who work with textiles, and who embraces the slow cloth ideas to join the group. Thank you Kit for helping me find the way, and thank you Elaine, Jude, and Glennis for setting things in motion!

Images above courtesy of Jude Hill. All rights reserved.

trees

Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.
Karle Wilson Baker

I am definitely a tree hugger at heart. We have a few majestic ones in our garden, and during stormy night I lay awake worrying that they may get hurt or felled. I can't imagine our life without them. They are especially impressive in wintertide, without their lush summer clothing. Tall and ever reaching as they grace the sky.

I am working on an art quilt that incorporates a grove of trees. The imagery started out as a photo from a fall walk, which was transformed into a screen, which then was used for printing. I love the effect and the fact that this tiny reflection of nature now is part of my art.

The photo, burnt onto a screen, printed on linen...

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments to my last post! Your friendship and willingness to join me on my bumpy journey warms my heart.

craft talent

Meeting other artists and discussing their work was one of the highlights for me at the Craft + Design show in Richmond. I was impressed with the high quality of craftsmanship represented overall, but a few of the makers truly stood out in the crowd, starting with Dan Mirer, a young glass artist living and working in Corning, New York. I love the simplicity of his designs and the subtle but still radiant colors he use.

Eric Burris, is a metalsmith who's jewelry is created with an old Japanese technique called Mokume Gane. He often incorporates pieces of wood into his sparse but elegant pieces. I am enthralled with his work, admiring the intricate details and clean lines.

Korean born fiber artist Jeung-Hwa Park creates incredible soft and alluring knitted and felted shawls. Each piece is complex in detail and color, yet simple and utilitarian. This is wearable art at its finest.

imogene + willie


If it was not so far, I would take my lovely husband by the hand jump in the car and head over to imogene + willie. We would get there in time for some shopping, and I would finally find that perfect pair of jeans I have been searching for. Then we would stay for supper and song by the bonfire in the back yard, hanging out with other imogene + willie friends and Lalai the lab.

Imogene + willie is a boutique/design studio/manufacturing center housed in an old gas station in Nashville, TN. The company was founded by husband and wife team Matt and Carrie Eddmenson, who after working for years developing denim wear for big brand names wanted to branch out on their own. Imogene + willie is a unique concept where creativity, craftsmanship, and authenticity is flourishing under one roof. Person to person interaction is at the core of their business model, as is utilizing local talent for production, marketing, and photo shoots. The store is filled with their jeans, dresses, and t-shirts, mixed in with vintage finds and other expertly crafted goods. If you can't make it to Nashville I encourage you to visit their website (don't miss the fantastic introductory video by John Moessner), browse their look book, or contact them to find out how to get your hands on those perfect cuffed jeans.

thousands of hearts


Early this morning I discovered that my etsy shop now has recevied over 3000 hearts! I am thrilled and flattered that so many visitors have decided to make my little etsy corner a favorite. A big thanks to all of you! The most resent heart came from 13 threads in Edinburgh, Scotland. I am so glad she found me, because I have now discovered her expertly made and stunning dresses, robes, and tops. I have already made several of them favorites of my own.