Sunday, September 30, 2012

Master Class

Good evening all. I am writing this on the eve of a week I brought upon myself, and am facing with no little trepidation.
It is the school holidays for the next two weeks - in the second week, my stepkids are coming (yay!) but in the first, I am running a Master Class for teens. I have two students, two utterly gorgeous, enthusiastic young women (13 and 16) who want to design and make their own clothes.
It's a big responsibility, steering these two through a week of learning resulting in an actual finished garment. I am feeling very aware of it right now!
So, I'll be getting the camera out and I'll see if they are up for having their progress blogged. I may even see if they already blog, or want to, and want to track their own processes. Who knows. The whole week is unchartered territory!
Wish me luck! :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Slow Crafting

I recently read a wonderful post by Kestrel about the whole phenomenon of crafting magazines and programmes trying to sell a lifestyle, and how cynical they are.
It was wonderful to me because she put into words the source of the uneasy feeling I have had about the whole issue for some time. Selling the fantasy of a middle class English lifestyle where wives have time to gild pears and make cookies out of felt. Actually, I love my fantasies about English life, and will continue to enviously watch Midsomer Murders, while somehow managing to overlook the body count, class snobbery  and total lack of happily married couples!!
Hey if I lived in this house, I'd be gilding pears all day - when I wasn't making my own bread or elderberry wine of course!
 But getting back to the point - I am now in the business of crafting. People buying a whole bunch of crafting stuff is good for business. However, I still do not and will not buy into the idea of commoditising the whole business.
I grew up creating things, in a house full of creativity. This varied from my wonderful mother who carved leather like noone else, making a Monopoly set as a family using local streets and printing our own funny money -  making things from scratch. There were no 'lick and stick' craft supplies in our house.
So I bought a business that also specialises in the raw ingredients of creativity - we don't have much outside of needlework kits that is designed to take the creative risk out of crafting.
No kit, just the makings of awesome Christmas decorations
 This is quite a challenge commercially. There is such a body of support out there for commoditised, commercialised crafting, that we sometimes have to send customers to other stores to find what they want. It makes me sad.
Please don't get me wrong - I have no issue with people wanting a safe and successful introduction to creativity, and I know myself that creativity not requiring too much brain power is a perfect wind down for a busy person.
But, I feel that in today's environment, we NEED people who can be creative, solve problems creatively and who are willing to take risks. People who are willing to start from scratch.
I want to see more Slow Crafting. Like Slow Cooking - instead of opening a sachet of this and a packet of that and calling it cooking, slow cooks use fresh ingredients and enjoy the process of cooking as well as the pleasure of eating what they cooked.
Slow Crafting - the joy of "crafting from scratch" - of enjoying the process as well as the outcome. Shall we start a revolution? Or maybe an evolution?
Rider: In suggesting this, the last thing I am thinking of is some kind of elitist or separatist approach to crafting, where free hand embroidery is in and cross stitch kits are out. Much of the craftapropoganda out there is going down that road. No, I'd just like to see more risk taking, more willingness to get glue on ones manicured hands instead of using glue dots, drawing a motif instead of copying or tracing one, exploring other ways to achieve an outcome, not just the one popularised by the company that makes the product they sell to do it. :)

So, what's your take on this issue?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jonny B Good

I love Sundays in the shop - not too many customers and no business distractions so I get heaps done. My first job for today was to put the name "Jonny" in yellow letters on the back of a Letterman jacket. As you do.
The jacket is for an up coming production of Zombie Prom the Musical.
I had to play around with the fonts to get one that would fit. The closest I could find to trad Letterman font is Rockwell, but a word with ONN in it was hard to fit in a decent size. So I used Stencil and adapted it. I just printed the letters out in outline from a MS Word doc, size 430 front no less, over three pages!
Next I outlined them all in black vivid, shaving the N's down even more. Then I turned them over and traced the letters through onto Steam-a Seam. Amazing that even on a dark table, with the letters turned over, and two layers of paper on the Steam-a-Seam, I could still easily make out the vivid.
After pressing the Steam a Seam onto yellow felt, I then cut the letters out, paper backing and all. A simple matter of peeling the paper off, and I have lovely, slightly tacky stick on letters!
To give the name a nice curve, I grabbed a 20" cake board to use as a guide. One of the many advantages of owning a shop full of completely random things!
A final pressing to attach the letters and there you have it, thoughtfully modelled by a customer who happened to come in just as I finished it. It was a tad large for the poor lad, who is a very styley design student. He did not understand my instructions to pose like Elvis. Oh, the young!

And yes, it is not meant to have an H, apparently there is a song about him being Jonny without an H! :)
Zombie Prom is on 27-29 September at the Whitereia Theatre on Vivian St. Musical direction by my fab friend Michael, co-recipient of the recent Red and Black quilt. Which is how I got involved, OF COURSE.
Unfortunately I couldn't help them with a Carmen Miranda costume, not having one in my collection, nor the time to make one. Alas! would have been such fun!!
I said Carmen Miranda, not Miranda Hart!

UPDATE: Stupid lettering wouldn't stay put, by the next day it was peeling off. So, I split the lining open across the back, and sewed it all down, using my embroidery foot with the dog feed dropped. It didn't take long. Then I sutured zigzagged the lining up again. The patient came through just fine!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BabyQuilt Time

I'm teaching a beginner's patchwork class and so a class sample was needed. This is the baby quilt I made as a result. Two colourways of the same cute matroyshka print, one white background and one pink. I love this puss in the corner pattern, where pairs of the block 'kiss' each other on a diagonal. It was the very first quilt I made for a baby when I was around 12.
Sue B quilted this one in a big daisy pantograph that really suits it, in a variegated thread I happened to have. The class quilts will get quilted between classes 3 and 4, as this class is about patchwork not quilting.
I've already got another one cut out, that I will piece but not back and finish, so I can show the underside to the students as part of their learning process. It is in aquas, browns and lime greens. Such pretty colours - bright and cheery but not garishly so. I'm not a pastels fan and I don't think they suit babies anyway! More on that one later :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Papery Weekend for us!

I don't understand Paper Arts at all. Women taking perfectly good pieces of paper, cutting them into shapes and gluing them together to make something else...oh, OK. It's kind of like quilting but with paper, right?
Yes, and no. I think the entry level is more accessible, but the dizzying heights I have seen some people take it to are as skilled as any complex quilt.
Anyway, this past weekend saw Prue and I at a big recreation centre presenting Made Marion's wares to the public. As the 'wild card', given we don't really sell any paper craft stuff at all.
Prue (my right hand woman) and I flanking our domain
Foreground - our "make & take" table all set up. Prue showed dozens of people how to needle felt over the weekend, and many of them discovered a new hobby in the process!
The vista beyond our little corner of paperdise. Man I could spend some serious money on scrapbooking papers, they are almost as tempting as fat quarters!
Some of our pretties. The orange retro fabric forming our table skirt is probably going to be a maxi dress for summer for ME. It is SOOOO gorgeous! 
I was quite hyped before the fair - I've done heaps of markets but always where the focus was on what I was selling - what do you take to a fair focussed on card making and scrap booking, when you don't sell that stuff?
Turns out, you take sparkly things, lace and pretty ribbons. We sold these things in small but constant quantities all weekend, while Prue was busy converting the paper lovin' heathens to needle felting and selling HEAPS. My contribution was telling wide-eyed children about the secret mountain in the South Island where the multi-coloured sheep graze, which is where we get the coloured wool from... YEAH RIGHT!
We had a great weekend, met lots of new people and gave out lots of cards. It's nice to get out and about with the 'brand' so to speak and I can't wait until my next chance at Aethercon, the steam punk convention. A VERY different product mix will be going there! :)