Thursday, February 23, 2012

Studio Scene at Nestle and Soar

This week in the studio has been all about tree pillows. I love needle felting trees! This week I made multiples of a fan favorite design, my Spring Tree pillow. Trees will start looking like this, with tiny green buds and a bird visit or two, just any time now!

I also finished my new favorite, the Red Bird tree pillow. I think this tree looks like a lovely lady, but I didn't notice that until I started taking photos...what do you think? I'm really fond of trees that have taken on unusual shapes because of the wind: I have to admit though, I'm not a big fan of wind. Anyone who lives in Colorado this week can sympathize with me regarding heavy wind!

Well, I'm back to the studio for sewing pillows and inserting pillow forms! The windy week has now turned into a snowy day, and that's a good day to stay warm in my studio.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- February 21, 2012

In Colorado today the weather makes me feel like we are on the brink of springtime. I feel a growing urge to plant and to tidy-up, and my mind keeps wandering outside of my fiber arts studio. There are daffodils peeking up outside my studio window, and dozens of birds are singing in the backyard. How is a person supposed to focus on inside activities on a day like today? My saving grace are the artists, organizations and ideas that I've saved for this top ten list! I find it all so engaging, I may need to set a timer to remind me to go outside to eat my lunch. I hope you will enjoy visiting these creative and inspirational places, too.

#1 Petit Collage -- Tree Print on Wood
Tree Print on Wood
This charming family-owned business is creating sweet collage on wood veneers, as well as many other options, like unframed posters. Their website is a lot of fun to visit and I literally want to buy almost everything I see there! You can also see their lovely home in Dwell magazine, one of my favorite reads. I'm in love with Petit Collage.

#2 Knit Clothes for Kids by Marmalade Baby Creations
Baby's Coming Home Outfit from Marmalade Baby
There is nothing cuter than a brand-new baby! But about a brand new baby inside of this adorable sock monkey ensemble? That, my friends, would take the cute cake. You can find great knit and crochet baby clothes for your special child at Marmalade Baby.

#3 Bird Paintings for Year-round Feathered Friends
I found a talented artist on Etsy whose shop, Jenlo262, has many lovely original works as well as reproductions to offer. I can see an installation of her great 51 Birds piece as a striking focal point in my living room...can't you? The beauty of Jennifer's site is that you can arrange for a smaller installation, too. I love how each 5"x5" bamboo panel stands alone, yet when you hang them side-by-side, the entire piece is unified. Well done!

#4 Poem by Khalil Gibran
Cherry Blossom Tree © Nestle and Soar
I ran across this line last week and it now helps me think about my blossoming tree pillow work in my studio. I think I need to embroider this line onto my next tree pillow design...
"Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit."

#5 Art is Fun! and by this she means art is
This new-to-me website has been fun to navigate this week. I'm impressed by the site's creator Thaneeya McArdle, who reminds us that whether you are a beginner or total pro, tools and encouragement are available. If you have ever felt yourself holding back from an artistic effort, I'd recommend you check out Taneeya's helpful site to feel inspired!

#6 Ruth Stout -- Gardener Extraordinaire!
I have found a new hero and her name is Ruth Stout. I love watching her YouTube video about her simple life and simple plan for gardening. She has an eloquent yet no-nonsense way about her. I love her logic about all the ways she doesn't have to buy into the "complications" of gardening. My favorite quote from this 12-minute video is "I don't do anything I don't want to do unless I have to. And I don't have to." Words to live by!

#7 Two Yellow Birds Hanging on a Tree -- Vintage Salt and Pepper Set
Japanese ink stamps mark this charming vintage swinger set. Made in the 1950s, the set is over 3" tall. My mother-in-law used to collect salt and pepper shakers, and this sweet find made me think of her. Available from Etsy's vintage shopkeeper in Ann Arbor, Michigan, neieh88. Thanks Helen!

#8 Molly Gordon and Authentic Promotion Ideas for Creative People
I have thoroughly enjoyed and recommend the insightful blog of Molly Gordon. She is a master coach on the topic of finding the "just-right" customer for your product or service. If you are a creative person, you may benefit from reading Molly's latest blog post about artists and creative vulnerability. "With a little self-awareness and the willingness to keep things simple, you can maintain focus, build confidence, and let in the support you need to continue to do creative work." Molly

#9 Crocodile Stitch Baby Booties in Deep Jewel Tones
Perhaps you already spend a lot of time on Ravelry? It is a very popular site for those who knit, crochet, and get all touchy-feely around yarn of all types! I found this wonderful crochet project which is perfect for anyone who loves tiny feet and jewel tones. Aren't they regal? I think they are really special, and you can find more information about them here.

#10 Angry Birds
Negotiations about whose branch this is, anyway, seem to always start out on a dramatic's hoping your week ahead has only peaceful conversations!

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, February 20, 2012

Good to Know -- Insights for the Creative Life

Rocket Kiddie Ride ©Feltmates, on Etsy
Independent creatives from around the world have found to be a beneficial business tool on many different levels. Today I am pleased to interview a talented and successful artist who has made her shop on Etsy, Feltmates, an important part of her success as a felt artist. Yoko Nomura opened Feltmates from Wisconsin in May of 2008. She creates absolutely charming characters from felt using 3D sewing construction techniques and felting, with brooches and pincushions being her largest shop sections. With over 700 sales and gallery exhibitions around the United States, Yoko has wonderful insights to share. She's given us all thoughtful insights that are good to know.

Georgianne Holland: In your profile on Etsy, you talk about blending traditional craftsmanship and a contemporary style. Can you please talk to us about how you define your traditional skills, where/how you learned them, and how art involving needlework fits into your professional goals? To stir up your thought process:  the traditional needle arts used to be considered homemaking skills, not art. Also, many needle-crafted items are imported to the U.S. How do you want the consumer to think about you being a maker of American handmade, in that reality?

Yoko Nomura: I studied ceramics in college.  After graduation, I worked as a designer for a company which produced handbag lines in collaboration with well-known designers.  I learned many important skills from this experience.  I was involved in the entire process, from concept and design to making the patterns and the sample handbags. 

Lion Measuring Tape ©Feltmates, on Etsy
In the late 1990’s, I became acquainted with some felt artists.  I was inspired by the idea of making your own material in which to work with. I started to design my own work with my own material, felt.  Felt was first made more than 8,000 years ago.  This ancient handmade fabric was the perfect medium for me to work with.  It merged the skills I had learned from working in ceramics and in fashion design. I am still fascinated by the way the felt can be made into almost any shape.  In this way, felt can blur the disparity between craft and art.  I am happy having my work defined as either and do enjoy making both functional homemaking supplies and sculptural pieces.    

G.H.: Is Etsy your primary avenue for merchandising your art? If not, what other avenues do you use? Your sculptural pieces, like Knitting Chicken and Rocket Kiddie Ride, would be ideal in a gallery setting! I'd certainly want to see them in person...
Y.N.: I am very grateful for the success I’ve had on Etsy.  In addition to Etsy, I have also shown my work in group exhibition in galleries around America.  Also, I do some craft shows around the Midwest during the holiday season.  I usually preview my work and announce my schedule on my Flickr site ( ) and also by sending out emails to my mailing list.  Flickr helps me judge how people will react to my new ideas when I receive their comments and feedback.
Knitting Chicken ©Feltmates, on Etsy
G.H.: What advice do you have for using Etsy as a marketing tool? If you could turn back time, would you do anything differently? As you have been shopkeeping there since May, 2008, I'll bet you have insights to share :)
Y.N.: I have had galleries and magazines which have contacted me because they saw my work on Etsy.  I think a lot of people search for new artists on Etsy because there are so many amazing artists that have shops on their site.  Like everyone mentions, your photographs are so important.  Customers are not able to touch or see your artwork in person until they purchase and receive it.  I try to take pictures that look nice and have little difference between the photographic image and the real items, different view points and angles help.  Also, try to keep your shop looking fresh.  This is good for both new and returning customers.  Try new ideas and different colors choices to give customers more choices. The most important thing is to continue to enjoy making your work!  I believe that this feeling of enjoyment comes across to your customers.
I hope you will take a moment to visit Feltmates to see Yoko's terrific artistry, her bright and inspiring photos of her items, and the fun selection she has to offer at this time. When you do, it will be easy to see why so many consider her Etsy shop to be a favorite!
Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Studio Scene -- Nestle and Soar Supports the Arbor Day Foundation

Fantastical Wool Tree Folk Art Pillow, ©2010, Georgianne Holland
The love of trees is a huge motivator for my work here at Nestle and Soar. Do you see this time of year large oak trees that stand over 40-feet with their intricate, leafless canopy, which looks like lace to me, against the blue sky? I love happening upon old trees like this in winter, and they take my breath away! Because of my love of trees, and my love of needle felt pillows, I sought out the work of the Arbor Day Foundation and their Plant a Tree Program

When folks purchase one of my tree pillows at, I arrange for a tree to be planted in their honor in an American national forest. These trees are young saplings that will add to the health of the national forests that we all love and can visit. The life cycle of forests along with diseases that kill trees make human intervention through planting an important part of forest management. I like to think that this contribution on behalf of my customers adds to the new relationship we share: as they enjoy their tree pillow they will remember that the planted tree will forever connect us as it grows to create shade, give a home to songbirds, creates oxygen, and marks the change of seasons. There are so many benefits to planting trees!

The Beauty of Trees
  • Trees keep our water clean, reduce soil erosion, clean the air we breathe, and fight global warming.
  •  Planting trees is something we can do to beautify our community and help the environment.
  • It is important to know the type of tree we are caring for; this enables us to plant the right kind of tree in the right place.
  • Trees are one of nature’s great wonders!
  •  Trees are touchstones…do you remember climbing a tree as a child and feeling powerful and free?
  •  Tree pillows are a family heirloom: they can signify special events like weddings and the birth of a baby.
  • Fiber art tree pillows are handmade in limited editions in Colorado. Natural beauty surrounds the Nestle and Soar studio, and this natural beauty informs these tree pillow designs.
  • You can support the Arbor Day Foundation at Nestle and Soar…it is easy and satisfying. They not only plant trees in forests but also provide environmental education and support tree programs throughout the United States.
I would love to hear about your favorite kind of tree or memory of trees in childhood! Comment to this post and I will be sending out a tree-lover's thanks to you!

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- February 14, 2012

Last night I typed with great sincerity "Happy Valentine's Day to each of you! I am loving all of these wonderful artists, and hope you will enjoy visiting their individual stores and such." I have to admit that my own Valentine's Day festivities interrupted my fun on this blog post yesterday. I had all my lovely items in hand and had begun the posting process when my dear husband arrived home early from work with a 4-foot tall orchid as my gift! This orchid is the last photo shown below, so you will be able to see that it has 48 flowers in bloom...I'm just in love with this beautiful plant! I also think my husband is darn wonderful. I've let the romance take me away, and now that I've got my head out of the clouds (at least for now!), I'm ready to share this great Top Ten Wednesday. Funny how life works!

#1 Knit Motorcycle-Cozy Sculpture by Theresa Honeywell

Using an actual motorcycle, this artists has knit a cover or cozy for each individual part, turning the motorcycle into a yarn-covered sculpture! I was sad to find out that this motorcycle is no longer one you can ride, as I have a rather vivid fantasy going about how great it would be to snuggle up into a group of Harley-Davidson riders on a sunny summer day on this bike! I think I would be wearing a matching bandanna around my forehead. You gotta keep your long, lustrous hair from whipping into your eyes on the open road, you know. Check out Theresa's other wonderful art from Portland at her Etsy shop.

#2 Too-Tight T-Shirt Re-Do

I came across this clever idea on Craftster and decided I have a few t-shirts that could use this magical treatment. I have over time both enlarged and decreased in size the t-shirts I wear to the gym. I am always trying to duplicate the fit and the "downward-dog appropriateness" of every shirt I wear when I work out. I like this idea and will be adding some fun color to the sides of older t-shirts that are past their prime. Does anyone have a serger I could borrow?

#3 Rustic Embroidered Garden Wall Hanging
This vintage wall hanging looks fresh and young for its age, doesn't it? I like the flower stems each being a different type of embroidery stitch. And the bright colors are right up my alley. You can find lots of great items at this vintage shop on Etsy, Wolf House. I'd love to hear about what makes the cut in your collection.

#4 Bald Eagle Photo

Nancy Harder took this wonderful photo of a Bald Eagle in east-central Minnesota during a weekend drive on February 4th. This extraordinary photo was found on the web at Today Travel. You can learn more about Nancy and her wonderful image here. I just love it!

#5 Go To Your Studio!

I found a clever card made by Stumptown Art Studio, and I found it on the wonderful blog of Jackie K. called Blissfully Imperfect. At first it just sounds like a good suggestion about what could happen next: studio time. Then I had the funny thought that I should "send myself" to my studio, sort of like when my dad would holler, "Go to your room until you can settle down!" I think taking a time out inside of one's creative space is a good idea, especially if you need to settle down. You can read Jackie's wonderful blog here, which will take you all the way to Stumptown, too!

#6 Tree Art Print by Heather Galler Art

I just love Heather's work and always enjoy watching her Etsy shop and her boards on Pinterest. When I found this print, I knew I'd need to share it with all of you you. This is such a friendly world Heather has created...I'd like to go there for a visit! You can visit Heather at her lovely Etsy shop anytime you like!

#7 Sublime Stitching and her Woven Labels

If you haven't heard about Sublime Stitching, I'm doing you a favor today by giving you this link! Anyone who likes to hand stitch or loves the look of hand-stitched items should visit this terrific shop. You will find patterns, kits, books, and textiles, along with these great labels...isn't it true that handmade items do take a long time to make...and that's part of what makes them so special! I hope you'll enjoy learning more about Sublime Stitching here.

#8 Simply Nestings' 3-D Birds for the Wall

If you love birds and you'd love a pop of graphic color on your walls, you may enjoy learning about Simply Nesting on Etsy. This product includes 23 birds that you adhere to your wall in a swirl or in a flight of fancy! This would be nice on a stairwell or above a tall window in a family room!

#9 Personalized Photo Sun Catcher

I love finding new ways to display photos in my home. This clever idea from Woman's Day would be a fun project to make and a real conversation starter in your front entry! The instructions look easy-to-follow and the end result would be a lot of fun. This may make my Christmas in July list of handmade crafts!

#10 Valentine's Flowers for Me!

That is a Frisbee under the plant...a clever way to keep the water off the floor. Thanks Ted!

Thanks for stopping by, Georgianne

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- February 7, 2012 -- Brrr!

From high atop a 6-foot snow pile in my front yard, I welcome you to a chilly Colorado Top Ten Tuesday! I am not actually sitting on the snow, but as plenty of winter weather has been front and center around here, it kind of feels like I am! There is hot chocolate to the left of me and a plate of ginger snaps to the right of me and I am excited to tell you all about the exceptional artists, items, and places that came to my attention this week here at Nestle and Soar Studio. I hope you will have a moment or two to click-through to a few of these wonderful web-based places, or if you live near Spooner, Wisconsin, perhaps you can visit Northwind Book & Fiber. Let's start there...

#1 Northwind Book and Fiber...A place for people with ideas.

If I had a storefront to call my own, I think it would be similar to Northwind. This charming shop is part independent bookstore, part fine yarn shop, part local artist gallery, and pretty much, fun all over. I can also see the beauty of having classes and special events in this space. They have made their website rich with ideas, as well. Check them out and enjoy yourself!

#2 Free Flying Boutique...Cruelty-free Feather Earrings

These paper earrings represent the feathers of a Scarlet Macaw, a South American bird with an entire rainbow of colors throughout their feathers! Don't you just know that these dramatic earrings are light and fun to wear? Artisan Jessie Bender of Fort Collins, Colorado has created these and other special earring designs for bird lovers who like to let the birds enjoy their own feathers! Well done, Jessie! Free Flying Boutique on Etsy.

#3 Knitting Pure & Simple...Women's Neck Down collared Bolero

I am a beginning-level knitter and always have my eyes open for a jacket or vest pattern that I do not find intimidating; here's one for my team! I like the collar on this bolero and the wrap-button closure. Because it is not full length, I think it will be perfect for some lovely hand-dyed organic merino sport weight yarn from Cheryl Oberle I stashed a while back. This, my friends, is a perfect example of why stashes of supplies are so important. One should never fear developing a varied stash. Good patterns and soft yarn are very important stash items! That's my story... Knitting Pure & Simple.

#4 Shapeway's Bird Nest Eggcup

I do think this darling soft-boiled eggcup would make a simple breakfast very sophisticated...without trying hardly at all! Designed by Studio Gijs and available on a site called Shapeway, they come in three colors: red, white, and blue. What a nice way to start your day.

#5 Little Chickadee Bowl by Mustache Cat Designs on Etsy

Now if eggs don't fit the bill for breakfast, how about a creamy bowl of hot oatmeal? This cold weather is making me hungry, and I've found the perfect bowl for most any beautiful meal! Lauren Maghini makes this special bowl using a carving technique that looks like wood-cut, and she glazes them in a transparent non-toxic glaze. I would feel special eating out of this Little Chickadee Bowl!

#6 Blossoming Tree for Inspiration

I am always excited to share a stunning tree image, and here is the one that keeps grabbing my attention this week. I love the way that the tree is reflecting in the water...isn't it romantic? I originally found this image on Pinterest, and have linked it back to Faye, an interior decorator at Ophelia's Garden. Her blog is lovely and you may enjoy seeing it, too.

#7 Birch Lampshade from Ruffled Blog
This DIY birch bark lampshade is so charming, I think it would be a real show-stopper in my kitchen. My kitchen table sits about 20-feet away from the kitchen stove, and I think I could get away with having such a textural lampshade in that spot. What do you think? Do you have any birch trees that have fallen on your property? Yes--I'll be right over! See the popular blog Ruffled's great DIY instructions here.

#8 Organic Cotton Canvas Box Bins from Dagmar's Designs on Etsy

Dagmar is a European designer and dress maker (by way of Canada!) who runs a lovely shop on Etsy called Dagmar's Designs. I fell in love with her hand-printed red bird and tree branch designs. At over 6" tall, these canvas box bins are ideal for many items I use daily in my studio. It will be difficult to choose only one!

#9 Bronze-infused Stainless Steel Bird Belt Holder

I love the idea of keeping my belt's open end tucked up and in place, especially when it can be done as stylishly as this! I had not seen such a useful and decorative belt holder until I came across this beauty. It fits a leather belt that is no more than 1.8-inches wide. You can learn more about it here.

#10 Baby Elephants Fill me with Happiness

If you have a cuter baby elephant than I do, please let me know! I especially like his hairdo.

Thanks for stopping by, Georgianne

P.S. I've added an email function to Nestle and Soar's blog...sign up and you won't miss next week's Top Ten Tuesday!

Friday, February 3, 2012

What is Needle Felting? Tattooing Wool onto Fabric

Forest Walk ©2011, needle felt in process
Needle felting is a needlecraft regaining popularity. Many cultures for thousands of years have used needle felting to make rugs, clothing, and other useful items for the home. All cultures that use wool to create textiles have perfected their classic version of this decorative and useful art. 

Today, needle felting is all the rage to make decorative pillows, embellish scarves, and to create wardrobe accessories. Some people are making home décor items out of 100% wool, and others are using wool to decorate items made of many types of other fabrics. I like to say that needle felting onto fabric is like tattooing ink onto skin: both involve single sharp needles and a poking or punching motion to apply color to a smooth surface.
When people say they needle felt, they are likely talking about Dry Felting, or felting without water. There are sewing machine attachments that can be used to needle felt by machine. The kind of needle felting I do in at Nestle and Soar in Colorado is needle felting by hand. Using one barbed felting needle allows me to create intricate detail in wall art using needle felting. Let me explain the process to you!

The craft of dry needle felting bonds a foundational fabric and wool roving together without the use of thread, glue, or sewing needles. Felting needles are long, barbed, and very sharp. You do not hold a felting needle like a sewing needle: the motion required is more like a punching or stabbing than it is a sewing motion. When you punch the barbed needle up and down into the roving, which is loose animal fibers, it pushes the wool through the foundational fabric from top to bottom. The barbs on the needle agitate the wool fiber as it passes up and down through the roving, and this agitation opens the cuticle of the wool fiber, causing it to cling to itself. It also causes it to interlock itself on the underside of the foundational fabric, and that is how it stays put. I often create decorative pillows using linen as the foundational fabric and soft merino or mohair wool roving for the needle felting.

Raspberry and Orange Wool Roving for Felting
It is important to needle felt using a foam pad underneath your work. The felting needle should have something soft under the foundational fabric: the needle would be ruined without the pad by breaking its tip against the table top. It is easy to find felting pads made specifically for this craft, or you can also use polystyrene blocks, upholstery foam, or compressed foam. The foam pad I use is 12” x 15” and 2” thick. This size allows me to spread out a large project.

Wool roving provides all the color in needle felt projects. Picture a large pile of colorful cotton candy – that is what wool roving looks like! Roving is readily available in about 10 colors at big-box craft stores, neighborhood yarn shops, and many merchants on the Internet. My preference is to use mohair wool roving. I purchase roving in hundreds of different colors made by small manufacturers and enjoy working with the hand-dyed, environmentally friendly wools they create for this fiber art.

Example of a landscape needle felt by hand
Needle felting is a craft that is great for beginners of all ages. Because sharp, barbed needles are involved, I recommend close supervision of children. After many years of enjoying this fine craft as a fiber folk artist, I still prick my own fingertips on occasion. That being said, with care, good lighting, and a little patience, it is a lot of fun to learn to “paint with wool” using this age-old needle craft!

What kind of felting have you tried? 

Have you taken any felting classes?

I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by,