What's more fun than the "Ugly Christmas Sweater?" Vintage ski sweaters, of course. Look for genuine wool sweaters in traditional colors, with classic intarsia knit patterns of winter scenery. Stay warm!
Yes, it's been too long since I've checked in. Sorry. But the creativity bug has bit me once again, and I'd like to show you some of what I've been up to.
First, I made this yesterday afternoon:
Gigantic tote bag made from an up-cycled burlap coffee sack. I love this print! Fortunately I have a couple more sacks, some with the same farm woman print, so I will try to stay on the creative train and get them made up. The bag is seriously big - roomy enough for your groceries and your laptop and perhaps a small pet all at once!
Also, over the summer I took on a more labor intensive project. Being a consignment & vintage store owner, I come across loads of things that are not up to my selling standards, and I usually just say "no." But one thing I have been chronically unable to pass up is damaged cashmere sweaters. I just knew that one day I would have the time and inspiration to make something wonderful. And I finally did.
Behold, some rough photos of The Cashmere Quilt:
Of course, I fully intended to photograph my process, but that just didn't happen. So here's how it went:
I decided on the color palette of blue & gray, and selected sweaters that had varied color and knit texture. Then I got to work taking them apart at the seams. Yes, I could have simply cut them, but I have plans to harvest as much of the leftover yarn as I can for future projects so I wanted to keep as much of the integrity of the knit pieces as I could. The pattern I made was a simple 6.5 inch square. Lots of cutting to make the eventual 12 x 10 square quilt. Ten sweaters - 9 in the squares and one pale tan for the border. Once I had all the pieces sewn together, I decided that it looked too "neat" so I added little patch squares to break up the pattern. It just felt right. There's no batting because I wanted it to be lightweight, and I used a blue polished cotton bed sheet for the backing. It was really simple to sew. Straight stitch for all the piecing and straight lines for the minimal quilting. The perfect throw blanket, and a lovely birthday gift for an imortant friend (you know who you are.)
Spring is just around the corner, and in anticipation I've been doing quite a bit of planting. It feels wonderful to get my fingers into the dirt and make things grow. My yard is still a big, raw space full of possibility, and I'm looking forward to planning paths, sitting areas, outdoor rooms, and making our yard feel like home.
I've just created an etsy treasury inspired by the first photo - a mid-century wire-look patio setee. Cool, watery colors, greenery, and a glass of lemonade.
There's an art/craft magazine I used to subscribe to (I won't name names) that at first seemed wonderfully original. Geared toward the new DIY movement, it included wonderful projects on a small scale that could be made easily at home. Shadow boxes, art cards, altered books, assemblage, etc. As an artist who had limited space in which to work, I looked forward to each issue to offer inspiration and new ideas. However, in issue after issue I began to notice a pattern. The photographs of the artwork all began to look eerily similar. Something was emerging. Apparently, all one needed to do to make something "art" was to include one of these images:
1. face or figure with conical birthday hat 2. window 3. bird
Needless to say, when my subscription ran out it was not renewed.
Fast forward a few years, and now there are websites like etsy, a wonderful marketplace through which thousands of kitchen table artists sell their wares. The craft movement has also hit the main street, with small shops in hipster college towns carrying local artists wares.
Independent Film Channel's Portlandia celebrates one such town and the tendency of its hipster inhabitants to be just a little more hip than the rest of us. My favorite sketch? This one:
Let's look at some vintage items that "Put A Bird On It," from the talented sellers of the Vintage Fashion Guild.
For Christmas my friend Louise gave me this little green deer. I think it was probably in her house and knowing me as she does, she thought it would be perfect for me, and of course she was correct. It's a sad fact that I squee with glee when I come across small ceramic cutesy animals. At my store, the jewelry cabinet has a scattering of them, along with a growing collection of head vases and ceramic hands.
I never intended to be a collector of anything. But as you probably know, if you have one of something, then someone will think of you when they see another, and then give that to you, and so will someone else, and pretty soon you have a collection whether you like it or not.
(Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, they were quick and through the glass display case.)
My grandmother's house was full of things like this, so for me it's definitely a nostalgia thing. She collected ceramic baskets, and kewpie dolls, and painted plates, and colored glass minitaure pitchers, and her house was a comfort to me. It was also filled with things she'd made - crochet afghans, doilies, embroidery, and the oddly wonderful dresses made out of at least four different quilting calicoes that she wore every day paired with men's plaid flannel shirts. Loud, incongruous, ugly, but wonderful and definitely original. Before the fire I had a vintage suitcase filled with about ten of her dresses, which I was saving for some future art project. I don't have them anymore, or anything of hers. Miss you, grandma.
My new BFF Mr. Ferguson (who commented in person on my earlier post!) kindly alerted me to the fact that there are a few more of his delectable metal mesh dresses on ebay. It's such an honor to be contacted by the designer!
These dresses are all one of a kind. Here's what I know about Mr. Ferguson, courtesy of the ebay seller:
Mr. Ferguson has designed costumes for The Joffrey Ballet; other designs are in collections worldwide as well as the permanent collection of The Museum of the City of New York, other selected exhibitions include "Goddess: The Classical Mode" at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, 2003, and "Goddess" MoMu, Belgium, 2004.
"Reviving a technique used in the 1920's for metal mesh bags, Douglas Ferguson's late-twentieth century silhouettes overlay classical references on a medieval chain-mail-like material. Like other conflations of recognizable period styles, his designs have the paradoxical effect of being outside time. It is a strategy used by costume designers in theater and the cinema,by illustrators in comic books, and more recently, by creators of computer games, to suggest utopias and dystopias, the future and imaginary parallel realities…Ferguson has devised his own techniques for patterning their surface, exploiting the durability of enamel paints used for cars to create his coruscating designs. Although the mesh is kept in relatively unaltered rectilinear panels, individual components of the material, quatrefoil links, may be removed to modify the shape of each pattern piece. The minimum intervention required by the material, which flows over the body's contours, results in a structural simplicity similar to that of the uncut draped garments of the Greeks." (Goddess: The Classical Mode, by Harold Koda, Director of The Costume Institute, published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York).
There has to be more to the story - I have so many questions. Were the dresses commissioned for each photo shoot? How many mesh dresses were made? Was the mesh itself made or commissioned by the designer? I'd also love to see more designs, perhaps for the stage, or in other materials.
If you're reading this Mr. F, and wouldn't mind an email interview, please contact me!
Came across this lovely outfit on ebay. The color is difficult to see in the photo, but the seller assures us that it's pink. It's separates, top and skirt, plus a matching belt and handbag.
Having worn a Whiting Davis dress before I can tell you that it's an interesting experience. It's cold to the touch, so going on it's a bit goose-bumpy. But it immediately warms to your body. Seriously, there's nothing like the feel of metal mesh against your skin. Heavy, with movement like a snake, undeniable shimmer. When I had a Whiting Davis dress on I felt like a goddess, a living statue. It was definitely an attention grabber. Good times.
Via Zuburbia, we found this metal mesh dress by Douglas Ferguson. It's been on a supermodel and a magazine cover, but what I love about it is the bold, graphic floral.
The enamel surface design reminds me of teens-era Whiting Davis handbag designs.