Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting Ready to Launch my new Nestle and Soar Website!

Whitney Smith's Bird Lidded Vessel in 3 colors from
Nestle and Soar Studio online...soon!
I have been working on my new website for a few months now and am beginning to wonder, "Will it ever be done?"

I am a low-tech girl dependent upon a high-tech geek who has lots of other websites to build and maintain. Did you know I'm becoming impatient with this process? I thought so.

I am going to chill about it all for today and while I do that, I will pass along a photo of one of the great new products I will be featuring on my NestleAndSoar website in the near future! This is a great optimistic statement from me! I would love to know what you think of Whitney Smith's Bird Lidded Vessel. I think it captures the Nestle and Soar vibe quite nicely. Whitney is a talented ceramics artist in California who hand sculpts the little birds for her dish lids. I'm excited to add her wonderful fine craft to my new studio shop.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Craft and Art as a Full Time Experience

I have been involved in the sewing/quilting/craft fields my entire adult life. I have watched hundreds of women turn the creative work of their hands into a viable business success. In the late 1970s, I remember people talking about the resurgence of quilting as a hobby. Yesterday, I heard someone say that sewing, as a trend, has experienced a long dry spell in popularity. (Huh?) I have often heard my friends say something like, "When I was growing up, my mom and grandmother didn't work, and they crafted for the pleasure of it all day long!" These same friends relate that their personal love of creativity is somehow more important now that they have to figure out how to squeeze it into a life that includes full-time jobs outside their home responsibilities.

I guess it is hard for me to relate to folks who say that craft/art/sewing is a new trend, a resurgent hobby, or a precious stolen moment in their otherwise too-busy life. I want to understand where they are coming from, but I just politely pretend to do so. In my experience, creativity and working with fabric, fiber, and my hands has always been like breathing. It didn't matter who was sharing this activity with me, like a grandmother might have. Or what the magazines say is on-trend. Or if "Home Ec activities" are seen as valuable, or, even how busy my life is. I cannot imagine a day without art, craft, sewing, or creating.

While I have always made time for creativity, I am fortunate that at this stage of my life I am able to be a full-time fiber artist. My days of balancing this daily pull toward creativity with other activities like raising young children, a boss to keep happy, or a long list of daily household chores are long gone. Now, I get to give creativity my first and best energies every single day! I vote that we all cherish a new way of thinking about creativity, in whichever manner that creativity is expressed, and whether or not we are full-time or brand-new to this gig. The old thought is "This is what I create when I have nothing better to do." Let's replace that with a new about, "I create today to express a valuable and beautiful part of myself. I share that with all of you!" So, if my only creative act today is making a good PB&J, I know it is a thing of beauty!

I tip my hat to all of the folks who in years past, as well as this very day, choose a creative lifestyle.

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Symbolic Meaning of Birds in Needlework

Love In Bloom Image in Belarusian Knitting
I thoroughly enjoyed my coffee this morning over my March/April 2011 copy of Piecework magazine. The house was really quiet, the coffee was hot, and this issue included an article by Donna Druchunas, where she references the symbolic meaning of bird images. Here's what I loved learning today about birds in needlework.

If you see two birds, one following the other, it symbolizes the beginning of love!

If you see two birds facing a budding tree, it represents love in bloom!

If you see two birds facing away from each other (sniff), it represents fading love!

If you see two birds facing a tree full of leaves, it represents the memory of past love!

In my imagination, I can envision an intricate needlework being created by an elderly woman who is processing her feelings for past loves, perhaps both sweet and sorrowful memories for her, and how her needlework represents an unspoken part of her life. Isn't it romantic? I think so! Needlework in this case is therapy, or perhaps an outlet prior to consciousness-raising women's groups! Let's see, what would I like to stitch may be faster to just call a girlfriend and chat!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Handmade Blue and White Vase (thanks to Kitty Cat)

There was a short line of women who wanted to buy this vase, and I was in that mix. The tallest lady looked like she might knock the rest of us over and pluck this prize off the shelf, and with those long legs, pay the cashier like a winner. I held my ground while I began formulating a consumer strategy.

A conversation began amongst these ladies-in- waiting, with a few nervous laughs thrown in, along with one elbow to the back of the mother-daughter team (who were the first to exit this consumer-dance). It was good to know that all the gals who saw this striking hand-thrown and painted vase knew they were looking at something impressive. And the color blue! I did not realize how attached some people are to this color. The words "perfect and cheerful" were used with such heart-felt emotion. I thought, I must wait them out.

In the end, it was a curious kitty cat that helped me purchase and bring home my lovely new vase. In this garden/art shop in Denver, the outside and the inside shop spaces flow freely, one to the next, and a curious cat had wandered into the room behind us. She had quietly leaped onto a rack of glass hummingbird feeders, and the next thing we knew, a crash with the sound of shattered glass was followed by surprised shouts and pointing by the vase-drooling ladies! This interruption and the frantic efforts of the sweet 20-year-old cashier to clear away broken glass caused the line to dissipate, and in about 5 minutes of deep longing, the vase and I stood alone, victorious.

If you look at the rhythm of the design on this vase and the charm of each element, you will know what I first loved about this simple vessel. The texture of the thick glaze helps me think about every brush stroke. I totally appreciate the skill displayed by this ceramic artist. I wish that the vase were signed on the bottom so that I could give appropriate credit. It just says "2003", which makes me wonder how in the world it lasted so long without a place to call home. It seems happy holding my daffodils and tulips today--perhaps even perfect and cheerful! I sincerely thank you, Kitty Cat. Your strategy worked for me!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wool Bird's Nest with Wooden Eggs

My Wool Bird's Nest is available on Etsy.
The flowers are peeking up in my flower beds. The bird feeder is full and morning bird songs help me wake up as I walk around my neighborhood. My most organized neighbor has already raked his lawn and is watering today, and his yard will be emerald green for St. Patrick's Day! It seems like the perfect day to share with you my wool felt bird's nest.

I knit this nest with wool yarn---it looked like a winter hat for a gnome! I felted it in the washing machine, let it dry stretched onto the bottom of an up-turned sauce pan, and then I added wool yarn and roving embellishment. The wooden eggs were fun to paint, and I probably went a little overboard on the freckles...oh well...happy spring-like day!

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, March 4, 2011

Handmade Folk Art Pillows and Inventory Control

Pillows ready to ship, wrapped in muslin cases.
When I made the decision to reconfigure my Nestle and Soar Studio space, it was important to keep in mind that I create soft goods...pillows and wool wall hangings. These fluffy items do not stack neatly or have enough stability to stand on their own. My fiber folk art is very textural and while it is strong and stable, I want to keep it in pristine condition as it awaits its new calling in a new place.

The inventory methods I've devised with these elements in mind are working like a charm! My first studio photo shows finished designer pillows ready for shipment. I sew a muslin pillow case to house each wool pillow I create, and that keeps it fresh for my clients. It also protects the pillow during shipment inside of a heavy cardboard box. I have pinned an inventory number with a photo of each pillow to the outside of the muslin case, and when each item is purchased, I tie a pretty ribbon around it; I like to think it feels like my clients are unwrapping a gift! I place my pillows on their backs for storage, which keeps them from wrinkling, as many of my designs involve linen.

Design wall with pillow fronts ready for embellishment
Some of my clients, especially those living far away, choose to have their pillow shipped without a pillow insert. It saves on postage expenses, and it also gives the opportunity to put their new Nestle and Soar folk art pillow cover onto a pillow they already own. This dresses up their home without adding to their "stuff", no pun intended! One wall of my studio has been draped with flannel and it is there that I display pillow fronts that are in process. My second image shows this wall with pillow fronts awaiting a few more seed beads, some hand embroidered details, or a final pass at the needle-felting station. I will not sew these pillows together until they are purchased, as this way, my client can tell me "Insert" or "No Insert". It is easier to store pillow inventory that does not already include the pillow insert, as I could conceivable stack 100 pillow fronts in the space it would take to stack 3 finished pillows!

I really enjoy walking into my studio and seeing the inventory. I can easily pluck a pillow-front from my design wall and dive into the final embellishment. Or, I can stand in front of my wall of finished pillows, wrapped and ready, and feel a rush of accomplishment. I sometimes daydream about who will next hold and love these pillows, and sometimes, I wonder if I really want to see any of them go! Umm, yes, I do! Do you hear any of them calling your name?

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dust in my Drawers

The lovely before picture...
There is dust in all of my drawers, and everywhere else for that matter, and I couldn't be more pleased! My eyes are a little itchy and the fumes of fresh paint are being carried away through the window flung wide into this 61-degree Colorado day. We are almost two weeks into a major home renovation and as I type, I hear the saws and hammers keeping time with country music. While I am looking forward to the final results in another week, I am just so grateful for the project to finally be underway! This is happy dust!

As I have been without my own bathroom for 2 weeks, I have reevaluated my morning and evening routines regarding rituals like a long hot soak in the tub and spreading out all of my miracle wrinkle-fighting products for hourly use. When one has to squeeze all of her gear into a much smaller space (and share it with a man), one learns to streamline. As it is soon to be springtime, I sense that lots of simplifying, organizing, and freshening up is going to happen in our household---and in our yard! The bird feeders have been full with happy visitors all week and the early spring flowers have begun to peek up through the hard, winter dirt. I need to make sure that all the fun and games going on in the house (and all the dusting that will soon take place) does not keep me from enjoying my favorite time of year in the great outdoors.

I hope you have big springtime plans, too! I'm off to "supervise" the installation of my new claw-foot bathtub. I look forward to reclaiming my most relaxing rituals in the near future.

Thanks for stopping by,