Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Will it Be a Handmade Christmas for You?

I support buying handmade, both as a buyer, a creativity coach, and because I also design and make items for resale. For more than those reasons, though, I support handmade because our world has become so less personal -- and I really believe it brings value to our lives when we connect with both the process and the designer.

We have raised six sons. When our oldest two were teenagers, we moved to a little half-acre in the country where we could have a larger garden and raise chickens for eggs. It was a real eye-opener for our sons to feed and care for the chickens who, in turn, produced wonderful extra-large brown, blue and green eggs for our table. Before that, they knew eggs were laid by chickens, but had no real connection to the process. Most of our world has no real connection with how something they purchase came into being, let along came to the store.

I plan to make it a handmade Christmas this year. Our family members met last week over Sunday Dinner and decided to either keep the cost of an item to $10 or less -- or make something to give. The women will each make one item another woman would like (not knowing who they are making the item for). They guys may make something, but knowing them, they will more likely buy a gift. Even then, my challenge is -- how many wonderful handmade items can you find for $10?  Here are a few of the handmade items I found for guys.

I really do believe there is something for everyone if you do a simple search on Etsy. I was truly impressed with what I found. Here is a great item for the guy who needs to carry business cards, but already has a stuffed wallet.  $7.50 - thebritboutique

For the guy who loves the special brew, why not this great item I found for just $6.99!   Beer Soaps at BeautifulSoaps

I know a couple of 20-somethings who would love this great leather and metal stud bracelet for $10. BeadSiam on Etsy

I have several artists among the men in my family. This great drawing case for just $5 would make a great gift! Handmade Drawing Case by rainbowfrogs77

I don't have time to knit this year, but I know my guys love these fingerless gloves -- and a great price! Just $8.00 at Fingerless Gloves by TheSlipStitch

Here's a perfect item for the coffee lover in your life. My hubby loves to ride his bike to meet a friend for coffee. I could see him wearing this on his wrist (keeping warm on an early morning ride) and then using it to keep his coffee warm while he chats away. And, it's just $5 (so I could get two and he could keep both wrists warm plus share one with his buddy)! Re-usable Coffee Cup Sweater by CuffeShop

Why not make it a handmade Christmas this year too?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walls, Tweets, and Autograph Books

We all clearly know life has changed dramatically in the last 100 years, but do we really know how profound those changes are to future generations? For some time now I have emailed. I have three blogs. My youngest sons got me started texting by cell. Students I work with challenged me to get on Facebook. Now I have a Facebook Fan page too -- and I tweet on Twitter. Lots of words -- but where do they go? What will their impact be over the space of time -- real time? I watch my twitter account as I update it with so many tweets shifting down the list. Where are mine? Where are yours?

Byrom wrote:
"But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think."

We can still read the works of Byrom. Will anyone read my words here on this blog, let alone over time?  I don't make it to my Facebook page often enough to catch all that has appeared on my wall. Are those words lost? Were they important? Did I miss something profound?

I uncovered a little treasure today among my vintage books and magazines. I had frankly not remembered it being among my collection. It's a very small vintage autograph album once belonging to "Mary" from the class of 1930-31 of Haudley High School in Virginia. All the autographs and little poems and sayings contained within are yesteryear's "wall writing" or simple texts or tweets. But they are still here. I can thumb through the 50 pastel pages and wonder who Clara E. Daugherty was who provided her nickname, "Libby," with the lovely handwriting. Her little poem was simply,

"Remember me in the dark
Remember me in the light
Remember me in the summer time
With a string around my heart."

What kind of fun did Myrtle N. Carlisle of Winchester, VA think of when she penned,

"Remember me long,
Remember me forever,
Remember the fun we have had together."

Even though Mary no longers owns her charming little album (for who knows what reason), did she flip through the pages of this little book and, upon reading that, pause to laugh over shared memories?

What is part of my own life that prompts me to recall friends past or present? Is it on a wall? Is it in a tweet? Is it in an email long lost in the files I never check anymore because of the 100s more that have come in? And, even when I do see words on the page, do they evoke the memories that these did for Mary and the longings of my own heart when I see the hand-written script flowing from age-old fountain pens?

I love it when I receive a hand written note. My sister-in-law does not own a computer, so once a month we get 6 or 7 pages in her flowing script. I am thoroughly intrigued with Joon's FlyingHousewife shop on Etsy where she includes handwritten missives (see her shop in the sidebar). Not many take the time to write longhand any more.

For Christmas this year, I believe I will hand pen letters to each of my children. I will use my best penmanship, and rose-scented sepia-toned ink on parchment paper. I will doodle some fancy scrolls in the corners and I will call them by their pet names I used to use when they were just small boys. I will do it for me without expectation that it will mean anything significant to them. But, just maybe --- maybe --- they will become keepsakes. Maybe a grandchild or a great grandchild will wonder about the woman who wrote and stop. Stop to ponder life in a different day when ink and words on paper were slowly being replaced by computers and cyberspace.

"It only takes a little spot,
to plant the seed,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Welcome to my Home Art Studio

I am delighted to share a virtual tour of my studio with you today as part of "Open Studio Day" sponsored by Studio magazine and the great people at Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazines.

I have six sons, so as they began to move out on their own, I finally could claim a room for my studio. The challenge for me was that it needed to be a multi-functioning space (I am a writer, creativity coach, and I love to work with a variety of media in art -- primarily fiber art). For a number of years, I also costumed for the theater and for my own one-woman show.

My little space (a former bedroom) is packed -- filled with all kinds of creative items -- from my collection of over 200 antique books and magazines, to lots of vintage lace, trims, buttons, fibers and fabric.

On one side of my room I have bookcases and a roll top desk (purchased with part of a publishing advance on a series of books I wrote). I love sitting at the desk -- but it is often crowded with work as I multitask.
On the opposite side of the room is my very small sewing table. It is an antique oak "campaign" desk -- one that might have been used by a high ranking soldier in the Civil War due to its size and the ease of folding it up to carry to the next tent city. It has a small locking drawer with its original key. (This came in very handy with those six sons of mine -- if they could find my good sewing shears, they would use them on all kinds of their own projects -- including cutting wire!)

I was also blessed to receive a couple of my husband's family heirlooms I enjoy in my special space -- two antique oak spool cabinets. They really help me sort and organize all the little bits of lace, buttons and trims -- and yes, even spools of thread.

At heart I am a creator/developer. For years my husband tried to get me to darn socks (those boys went through them so fast) to help save money. I did (and still do) mend good clothing -- but to me darning socks is just so mundane! My valuable time could be better spent exploring new artistic endeavors. At one point, I must admit I did embroider the tops of my son's socks (with just a little stitch on each in the same color) so I could try to track the multiple tube socks going through the laundry and find mates before the dryer ate them!

I know my curiosity and passion for exploring the creative came from my two dear grandmothers, both now in heaven. I have been working on a quilted album of important memories of my life. I have finished the 12 x 12" page that represents the wonderful contributions those two women made in my life. From one, I inherited an interest in quilting, flowers, music, and fine detail; from the other a love of reading, writing, sketching, and needlework. Many of the initial antique books I collected and the pieces of vintage linens and lace came from their treasure trove.

There are so many heirlooms to be treasured, restored, re-purposed and enjoyed! I love living my passion every day, finding inspiration from the writings and textiles of past generations. It is my hope that I can inspire future generations to value these treasures so they will not be lost.

The opening picture of this blog post showed my antique ironing board with a project just being started. Here is the finished product -- a statement collar (bib) necklace I made from using pieces of wonderful vintage lace and buttons. My antique dress form, "Martha" is modeling it for me.

I hope you have enjoyed my virtual studio tour and the opportunity to get to know me just a little in the process. Oh, and because I know many people are curious to see the "real me" -- here's a photo my husband took of me. If you would like to see more photos of my studio and artistic endeavors, visit my Facebook Fan page (link to the right): Vintage Legacy Studio. Of course, you can always see more of my art in my Etsy shop. I have a special 20% off sale in my shop today in conjunction with the open studio tour.
Connect with others in the Open Studio Tour here.


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