Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Handmade Bird Pillow and the Audubon Society

Western Tanager Hankie Pillow, © 2011 Georgianne Holland
I have on my calendar "Go to movies" almost every month, which hasn't been a date I've kept with myself in a while. I'm excited to say that The Big Year starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and my favorite, Steve Martin, is coming to theaters! I will not wait for this movie to come to my pay-per-view. The Big Year is about birding and while thumbing through my beloved Audubon magazine, David Yarnold reminds us that like in the movie, birders (and the Audubon Society) are a very social group. That works for me!

I have been working to make the birds I depict in my handmade bird pillows more easily recognizable, as I know that true birders know their species! Often in the past, the birds I depict are figments of my imagination, and when I see a photo of an unusual bird found in the wild, I think that they are so varied in color and shape, my imaginary bird is like a rare species. Will the Audubon Society let me get away with this? I hope so, because I'm having so much fun!

The Hankie Pillows series that I began in September of this year is a good example of my work to capture well known bird species in a fiber folk art manner. They are called Hankie Pillows because I begin the exercise with a pristine vintage hankie that was created by an unknown woman sometime in the 1940s. Collecting these vintage hankies has been part of the fun of this series! Often these hankies have embroidered flowers stitched as decoration, and I always choose hankies that have tatted lace on the edges...a fine needle art I've never learned to create. I place a vintage hankie on my work table and then decide what species of bird I'd like to needle felt: today's example is the Western Tanager in bright yellow, orange and brown. I'm very fond of creating birds with big, round bellies. I also like creating tree branches for my birds to perch on. Jacques Deval reminds us that "God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages." I love birds in trees and I also love birds recreated onto pillows. Sometime next week, I plan to love birds in funny movies...would you care to join me?

Thanks for stopping by,

You can visit my website to see more of my handmade bird pillows at www.nestleandsoar.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Wonderful Little Something I Found Today

Have you ever strolled along an historic shopping area and found tiny boutiques hidden away, say, near that hip diner everyone keeps talking about? I love exploring the Old Town communities of Colorado, looking for little gems like that!

Today, I found a little gem I'd like to share with you, and the funny thing is, I have been working in my studio office all day! That's right, I took a stroll through the boutiques of Etsy.com. I found the treasure you see in these photos, a Handmade Paper Journal. 

This lovely handmade journal is right up my alley because of the leaf motif that has been stitched into the cover. I'm including two photos of it so you can see it up-close, just like you would if we'd been shopping together in a brick and mortar shop!
 There is a rainbow of handmade papers used to create this one-of-a-kind journal. Each interior page of the journal as been imprinted with a leaf, too! This journal has 110 pages to write on, which I find amazing...you could pen your memoirs here (or at least I could, as I have lived a simple life!).

The talented artist who made this great journal is named Indira Govindan, and she works and lives in Summit, New Jersey. She has other eco-friendly journals in her shop, which has the great name of Dharma Karma Arts (love that!). I hope you will stop by and look through her virtual boutique of truly unique handmade items. If you love this leaf journal, you may want to stop by sooner than later...not sure I can leave Dharma Karma Arts without making this purchase! Luckily for all of us, she has lots of wonderful items for you to enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where Did You Learn the Needle Arts?

My mom and I decorated this light table 15 years ago to trace patterns!
I am asked where I learned to sew, embroider, felt, quilt, and knit. Perhaps you are, too? Because I'm in my 50s, I was lucky enough to have Home Economics as part of my junior high school curriculum. Most of the women who ask me where I learned to sew are young enough, that they had no Home Economics teacher in school. They may not know a single person who sews. But oh yes, they want to learn!

Sewing and all the needle arts are certainly in another rejuvenation. In the 1970s, I remember my 20-something year old friends talking about how quilting was being reinvigorated as an important needle art. Quilting, as well as many other needle arts, keep cycling around in popularity. For those who make a living in creative fields that cater to women, the needle arts as an industry is not only popular, but a legitimate form of economic empowerment. Home Economics may not be taught in public schools any longer, but we all can certainly learn to sew throughout our communities!

I am fortunate to be from a family that honored and taught the needle arts for over 30 years. My parents, George and Bonnie Leman, as well as my six siblings, owned and operated a Colorado-based company called Leman Publications. We began publishing Quilter's Newsletter Magazine in 1969 and enjoyed many happy years being the family that worked as a team to teach the world to quilt. How fortunate for me to have Bonnie Leman as my mom and my inspiration in the fiber arts! She instilled in me the love of all needle arts as well as the love of joining forces with other women as they work to build a successfully creative life.

In addition to this entrepreneurial jump start, I will admit that I began sewing my own clothes at age 12. I have always loved working with fabric, textiles, and colors. Like so many women who are long-time subscribers to Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, I have been fortunate to combine my love of raising a family with operating a successful fiber folk art studio from home!

Where did you learn to sew, embroider, felt, quilt, or knit? I'd love to hear your story!
Thanks for stopping by,