Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sticking My Neck Out

I just did something that I'm excited about and a little nervous about--and I feel a little dumb about. I entered a book I made into a juried exhibition.

I made the book for work over the summer about a man named Howard Driggs. Our library (where I work) aquired his collection a year or so ago and the Special Collections librarians have been working furiously to organize it and make it searchable online. This September we had an official opening of the collection complete with a program, photo exhibit and open house of the collection's artifacts. I put together the photo exhibit, all the displays, and made books to give as gifts to Driggs' decendents.

I combed through his old journals (he lived from 1873 to 1963) and speeches to find inspiring quotes (he was a pretty inspiring man) then I searched through his photographs and selected images that corresponded with the quotations. I combined these to make a 50 page book that was pamphlet stitched into a wrapped cover.

It's a really simple book but I really feel like it was well received. During the family members' addresses at the opening, they made references to several of the quotes that I used in the book. They remembered him saying these things over and over when they were children. That made me really happy. Also, the family requested that I make 20 more copies of the book. That made me feel pretty good.

Anyway today I unofficially submitted it to a juried exhibit of handbound books. I don't know if it will get in or if it even really fits the show's paramaters. But I never ever submit anything to anything. I always plan to then I just wimp out at the last minute.

Well, this is WAY before the deadline and I've submitted. So hooray! We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

An US Project

I love projects. Oh, I love projects. And as I mentioned before, so does Zoë. We are project people. We're makers.

Lately I've been trying to think of good projects that Zoë and I can do together. But mostly when I plan something, it doesn't work. It's too difficult for her, or it's not really interesting enough, or most often she has different plans for the supplies than I do. We don't see eye to eye on what the finished project should be or what steps we should take to reach that finished project.

I'm trying to be okay with this. I know it means that she's a creative person and that she's got her own plans and ideas (at age four.) These traits will be very useful to her as she grows into a woman. But for now, it can be pretty frustrating.

Today I had big plans for an US project. But it turned into a ME project, unfortunately. It was probably just boring, I guess. Instead of working together, Zoë tore up clumps of fake snow (batting) and scattered them all over the house "decorating." Um, cool.

So after I finished the ME project (and cleaned up the "decorations") I found a good US project:

No one had a problem with this project. Notice Mr. Snatchy Hand in the background. Oh, and those are sprinkles in her teeth, not disgusting cavities.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Finished Product

Here's a picture of the first bag I've finished from this order. I really like (love) this brown. It's a linen look fabric and with the interfacing behind it, it's just the most beautiful thing for a purse. I'm going to have to save some of it for a bag for myself.

The cut out shape in the front is actually an external pocket. I like to use it for my cell phone. It makes it very quick to reach when it rings, and protects it from key scratches. This bag is pretty small, just perfect for keys, lipstick, wallet, phone, pen, notepad and tissues. It also holds a cd jewel case perfectly.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I have entertained the idea of making and selling handbags for a long time. But it seems like EVERYONE sells bags, you know? Etsy has something like 16 billion items in the purse category. So instead of selling them, I make bags for myself and for my daughter (she now has more than she'll ever need.) And that's about it

But out of the blue last week a coworker of mine asked if she could order 4 clutches to give as Chrismas gifts. Then over the weekend, a coworker of Todd's stopped by to order "a few" bags. She left an hour later with an order for 12, and the promise of more orders before Christmas. Wow.

So it looks as though I've started selling handbags. I've never done production sewing and I am a little overwhelmed, but also really excited. I cut out 8 bags this morning and it didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. It was actually even pretty fun (and it's the part that I normally just hate. Now I just have the fun part ahead of me--the sewing and embellishing.

Todd's going out of town for a week and I can see myself up late every night sewing. I can't wait! I'll post a picture of some finished bags once I get a few finished. Hooray!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Think We're Gonna Be Alright This Time

Zoë has never been much of a toy kid. She was the first grandkid on both sides of our family (now she's only joined by her brother Ike) so she was spoiled rotten with toys. But it never seemed like she really played with her toys. Instead of a player, she's a maker. She loves projects of all kinds. In fact, "project" was one of her earliest words. She likes to build forts out of sheets, concoct all kinds of crazy hammocks with string and laundry bags (these never work, by the way) and she especially likes art projects. Drawing is great, but painting is the greatest.

But I HATE letting her paint. It always turns into such a terrible ordeal. First there's the setting up--plastic garbage bags covering every surface, plenty of wet wipes, water, paper towels, a nice thick stack of paper. And squeezing out the paint is always such a nightmare. Zoë is a very particular person. The colors had to be in just the right spots on the paper plate, there had to be just the right amount of paint in each little blob, and of course, she always wanted to squeeze it out herself, which doesn't work, let me tell you. We quite often had tears and shrieks during the set up, before she even started painting.

Then there's during the painting. She always gets so frustrated by her limited toddler capabilities. She wanted to paint something much nicer that what her little hands were capable of. So she'd turn into hysterics and inevitable throw down the paintbrush, mix all the colors together with her hands, and wipe out all of her finished paintings in a muddy orange inferno of fingerpainting rage. Clean up was always rotten too. Dried paint everywhere, drips and blotches and handprints all over the place.

So I avoid painting. It's something that she and I don't do that often. But it's a particularly good bribe--a bribe that I used yesterday. It worked, we accomplished our goal yesterday and I conveniently let the time, "slip away from me." All too soon it was bedtime and we hadn't painted. I assured her that we'd do it today. Then today I put it off as long as I could. Finally while I was making dinner I could put it off no longer. I set her up, expecting the worst.

But you know what? It was great. I think she's taken some kind of major life turn. She painted carefully and happily for an hour. She gently and thoroughly washed her brush between colors, reminded me to change out the water each time it go too gray, and she came up with several great paintings that she's really proud of. And the best part is, when she decided she was finished, she cleaned it all up by herself. No kidding, clean brush, empty water cup, tossed paper plate and paper towels. It was the least hands on project I've ever had with her--and the most successful.

I think we're gonna be alright. I think she and I are going to get along so much better now. I think I might let her paint more often. I think she's wonderful.