Tuesday, August 27, 2013

International Bird Rescue -- Every Bird Matters

Perhaps you have seen the images from ocean-side communities where people work to clean up a bird that has been damaged by an oil spill? This kind of human intervention due to humankind's mess-making around the world is often covered in the news these days.

My love of birds has been celebrated in my fiber art studio for many years now, so when the folks at International Bird Rescue, an organization dedicated to rescuing birds that have been injured due to a natural disaster or human cruelty, asked me to sponsor a membership drive for their non-profit organization, I was happy to participate! I hope you will enjoy learning more about their fine work.

If you decide to become a member of Bird Rescue this week, with a $25 donation, you will be eligible to win one of the many lovely sponsor-donated items perfect for every bird lover! Learn more here.

Tattoo Sparrow Pillow at Nestle And Soar
The Tattoo Sparrow Pillow from my eco-chic collection, shown at left, has been donated to Bird Rescue (IBR) as a give-away item! Other companies who also love birds, as well as the fans of birds around the world, are joining in to help raise awareness about the work of the Bird Rescue team.

In addition to becoming a IBR member, there are many ways to participate with bird-loving organizations, and often, you can participate from the comfort of your own home. If you enjoy spending time on Facebook, there are many hard-working groups represented there you could follow and help to support. I like to keep up with the I Love Birds page!

Another bird-loving spot I like to visit from home is the blog of the popular 10,000 Birds. Here you will find great information on birding, nature, and conservation as well as fabulous bird photography from around the world. Do you love learning about birds and where they live?

It is tremendous fun to fill my home with art and images that celebrate my love of nature! This is the passion behind my artistic practice and my small business efforts. If you also love to celebrate your love of nature this way, I hope you will join me in helping organizations like International Bird Rescue who work to preserve the health and legacy of birds in their natural environments for everyone's benefit.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aspen Grove Fiber Art Commission -- Photo Storytelling

A pair of Aspen Grove Pillows have been commissioned at Nestle And Soar! I will begin by creating the distant mountains. I love a combination of deep navy and royal blue wool. I will work in some deep purples, too.

I will add some warm rusts, green and lavenders in the forest floor at the base of the Aspen Grove. The aspen tree forms are added using long tufts of ivory alpaca wool. A little bright orange wool will be needle felt to start the tree foliage.

All of the wool felt batt has become tree and forest undergrowth, carefully hand needle-felt into place. The next step is adding aspen tree leaves in the uppermost part of the forest canopy. Don't you just love the sound of aspen trees quaking in the mountains? These leaves have all gone gold already!

Aspen leaves cut from wool sheet felt are prepared for hand applique. I have not counted how many leaves I applied to the first pillow in this set of two...do I dare keep track of this kind of detail? I think not. I would rather just keep adding leaves until this special pillow is as lovely as can be!

Stay tuned...as the week continues in my Nestle And Soar studio, I will be sewing my customer's parent's initials into the trunk of the largest aspen tree in this grove. Shh..it's a special gift for their 50th anniversary!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fiber Art in Action: Do you Dress Locally or do you Dress Globally?

Rebecca Burgess
Have you ever made an effort to eat local, organic foods? I belonged to our local CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) co-op last summer and enjoyed food grown near my own backyard. I love the idea of keeping my purchasing power in my own part of Colorado! It is environmentally friendly to do this, especially as you consider the reduced effort required to ship or transport items to my front door.

I recently learned about Rebecca Burgess who has been inspired to start a fiber co-op, called a Fibershed, that has been built using this same love of keeping things local. In a working Fibershed, folks combine forces with their neighbors to capitalize on their various fiber "processing" skills, like weaving, dying, hemp cultivation, spinning, and garment sewing, and then they join together to sell the combined products of the larger community.

So my question to you is, have you ever considered "dressing locally"? If you were required to dress yourself and your family using only fabrics or clothing manufactured within 200 miles of your own home, would you even know where to start?

There are obstacles to this type of green economy. Rebecca reports that the largest barrier to dressing locally is that there are few fiber artists who loom fabric made with locally-grown raw materials. Finding people to sew clothing for you, if you are unable or unwilling to sew it yourself, is also an obstacle. So perhaps we won't be able to buy clothing made totally from local raw materials, but we can certainly open our minds to that possibility!

Do you find in your community that people have developed the habit of buying clothing that is made inexpensively and without regard to the conditions under which those clothes are made? One of Rebecca's comments that really hit me between the eyes is her explanation about dyeing fabrics in the August 2013 issue of American Craft magazine. She talks in that article about the externalized costs of ecology and labor. Take the manufacture of blue jeans for example. "The face-value cost to shop at Walmart versus the real cost of shopping at Walmart: the Pearl River Delta [an industrial region in China], where most jeans are made [along with the resulting pollution]; genetically modified cotton fields; suicides related to that kind of practice because farmers are so deeply in debt" ...all of this is part of the narrative that Rebecca provides consumers about the way most of us in the US have gotten used to shopping for blue jeans: convenient, fast, inexpensive, and easily available. Perhaps you are ready to step away from this "fast-food" mentality regarding the way you dress? I know that I am!

What kind of alternatives are available to you and me for buying clothing made in healthy circumstances with fibers that have a reduced polluting impact on the Earth?
Fibershed has created an online marketplace to connect farmers, artisans, and consumers. That choice means that the manufacturing of the clothing may not happen directly in your own community, but it does mean that you and I will be better informed about the health of the garments we buy. I am always in favor of supporting independent artisans.

Bullet Blues is a company in Florida that makes from American-made denim fashionable blue jeans that are sewn in Florida. For me, that's a step in the right direction.

Earth Creations is a company that I have recently found and find helpful in my desire to shop for clothing that is made in healthy circumstances. "The sewing facility where most of our garments are sewn is located in rural Alabama. Our employees are paid a fair wage and work in a clean and safe environment. They actually believe in what they do and enjoy their work. By providing local jobs, hopefully we help keep a piece of our rural American culture alive."

What resources have you found to dress locally where you live? Are you a fiber artist who would love to be connected with a Fibershed community in your town or city? I would love to hear from all of you!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

One-of-a-Kind Fiber Art for Home Decor

The art and craft of dry felting, also known as needle felting, is a time-consuming technique that is perfect for detail-oriented artists like me. There is nothing about needle felting that happens quickly! Unlike knitting or cross-stitch embroidery, this fine craft technique does not require me to count stitches or follow patterns, but it does require multiple passes over the design field...and by multiple, I mean thousands of needle passes into the design motif!

I find dry needle felting as an art form to be quite meditative, perhaps because of the rhythmic movement it requires. For anyone who also makes art using this needlework technique, you will agree with me when I say the faster you try to create, the less likely the result will be of superior quality. Trust me when I say that I am not complaining about needle felting! It is important to me that fans of hand-felted fiber art understand this art form so that when they select a textile or tapestry for their special home, they know the process behind the beautiful results. That is why I have designated my artwork in four simple categories:

Limited Edition items are fan favorite designs that I create multiple times at Nestle And Soar in Colorado, yet I will not make more than 250 of any design! The time it takes to make one of these items varies, and sometimes I will have one ready to ship to you right away. It's nice to know that your home will be decorated with unique items not found on every corner.

Made to Order items, designated with a pencil and ruler icon, are eco-chic home decor creations that are particularly time-consuming to make, so I wait until you request that item, and then I make one specifically for you! Some people want me to make the design exactly as pictured, and other people ask me to change something in the design so that it is perfect for them. When I do that, and I love to do that, the item becomes a custom piece.

I love Customized projects in my studio! In this situation, I work directly with you before I begin the creative process, adding personalized details like "carving" your sweetheart's initials in the trunk of a tree, or making you a pillow with your mother's all-time favorite bird. This kind of personalization is a privilege for me to make.

Another example of a customized item involves a photo you have taken of a favorite landscape, which I then help you remember with a fiber art tapestry for wall display. Custom orders are the most-often requested item in my studio and I rarely make a second piece like the custom item I've made for you! The needle and thread icon represents an art piece that can be customized, but truly, I am happy to customize every design I make, and here is an easy link to that service at Nestle And Soar.

Ready to Ship
The final category in my online studio is the Ready to Ship designation, and that is perfect for fans of my fiber art who would like to have their fun fiber art delivered sooner than later. With this category, highlighted with the ribbon-decorated package, the time-consuming process of creating the item happened and it is ready to be shipped to you right away. This is great for you when shopping for a gift, especially if you are short on time. And whose not short on time? Well, I guess I better not be short on time too often, as I have a passion for creating art that demands lots of time! Thank you for being part of that process with me. When I envision my fiber art becoming a family heirloom for others, it makes my heart sing.

Thanks for stopping by,