Friday, May 28, 2010

A Little Pile of Coptic-Bound Journals

Hey, finally a little pile of coptic journals to list on Etsy! Always amazed at how long it takes to write that first listing for a series of items...

Monday, May 24, 2010

So I'm Not Exactly an Expert Seamstress...

... but I do have fun with it! I made a fun little smart phone pouch earlier this week. The pattern is from the fabulous The Crochet Diva on Etsy, and the pattern itself is her Swanky Little Phone Case. It was a wonderfully clear pattern - even a newbie seamstress like me could follow the instructions very easily.

Here's what my version looks like folded up:

There are two pockets on the inside (I still need to add a snap to that tab I'm holding down) - that's my Droid peeking out of the lower one.

This is the back:
That's my fabric and button - the same organic cotton/Webs cotton in turned twill that I'm using for my journal covers - I used an organic cotton sateen as the lining fabric.

I had all sorts of fun making that pouch! I am, however, developing my own little pouch to sell, instead of using a pattern. I'm getting there - it will have an open top and an inside pocket. I've almost got the prototype perfected, but look what I did...

I sewed two backsides together (as opposed to a front and a back) - lol, whoops! Putting that little seam ripper that came with my sewing machine to good use... I think I need to tweak the little pocket a bit, too, it's coming out a little on the large side at the moment.

Never thought I'd actually enjoying doing some sewing...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Coptic-Bound Journal

I've been obsessed with books lately... And have started learning sewn bindings. Fun! I started with just paper around the covers, to learn on, but have just made my first one using handwoven fabric...

So, here are the front and back covers - I've already covered them in handwoven fabric (turned twill blocks in organic cotton and 10/2 cotton from Webs), and the inside face has a nice sheet of Thai Unryu/Mulberry paper.

Next, I made folios of 6 leaves (12 sides) (I think that's the right way to say it) of handtorn paper, and used my awl to poke holes in them - the phonebook is a great jig!

There are seven of them, waiting their turn to be bound to the covers.

I've started binding the first folio to the back cover (note my daughter's Hello Kitty scissors...)

What the stitching looks like inside.

Getting there! (Neat little rows of Coptic stitching around the edge there). And, of course, I'm running out of waxed linen thread...

So I add a little more. That's a slip knot about to strangle the end of my thread that was getting too short. The book binding literature calls this a "weaver's knot" which actually kind of cracked me up, because I've never, ever used one before! (I assume it would be used to repair broken warp ends, but I do it differently, I don't like to leave a knot in the warp.)

Hey, it's done! Cool!

Really like how it lies open nice and flat. Great for sketches/journaling, I think.

Yay! I'm keeping this one, there are goofs in it, but I like it. :)

Kyna (pronounced key-nah) - my faithful assistant. (Yes, we have a puppy. She's half Lab half Golden Retriever and is almost six months old! Theresh a good girl, yesh.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Love/Hate Relationships

Any weavers out there have a certain task that they just really don't like doing? I like just about everything to do with weaving, but there are a couple of things that I just don't enjoy doing, for some unknown reason.

One has always been...

Hemstitching! (These are going to be little bookmarks to go with the journals I've been making lately.) I do it so rarely that I normally have to dig out a copy of Handwoven Magazine to look up the directions for it (love that they print them in every issue).

I don't really know why I don't enjoy it - I normally like needlework (I'm really enjoying sewing some coptic-bound journals, e.g.) (I'll post a photo or two of those soon). Maybe it's because when I sit down at the loom to weave, I really want to just zip right along and weave. But, I do like how it looks, so it's worth curbing my impatience!

Otherwise, I've been battling a cold (poor me) (<-laughing at myself) (more like poor family!), hope you are all well!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

And a New Studio Too

I have a new studio space at Western Avenue Studios! Very excited about it. It's on the third floor, instead of the fourth, near the passenger elevator, and a bit larger than my old one, so now when people walk in they don't walk into one of my looms. There is actually space for a little retail area.

This is what it looks like when I'm standing in the door looking into the studio - I have little shelves set up near the front where I put my journals during Open Studios, and where I wrap up scarves, etc., too.

Still has two big windows, but much less sun - I can actually see the back of the wing of the building that I used to be in as well as a bit of downtown Lowell. (I loved the canal from my old windows, but you had to actually walk over and look straight down to see it, which I didn't wind up doing very often.) I miss the sun, but I don't miss the heat at all! I really like the exposed brick, too (the brick in my old studio was painted white).

Terrible photo. But you get the idea - this is to the left of my doorway - I actually have a reasonable amount of space to hang up my scarves, room for my mirror, etc. That's my stash back there, more room for that, too, it feels like!

My main worry has been finding a good place to take photos for my Etsy shop - I don't get the natural light that I did in my old studio. I scouted around outside for places, gathered up an armful of scarves and the Scary Mannequin (so dubbed by Ms. Bella), and headed for the stairwell....

Where inspiration struck! Great natural light in the stairwell! Fun kind of industrial-looking peeling paint on the bricks, too. Problem solved. And the photos came out just fine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Something New! Handbound Journals

Once upon a time, ages ago, I bound/cased-in some journals in some turned twill tencel fabric that I wove. I had a great time, I used the journals (including taking one to France!), and kind of forgot about my small venture into bookbinding.

Obviously, I've decided to do some more (though these aren't in turned twill)... These are the first set of small journals that I bound - I start with a pre-made text block, cut acid-free book board to the right size for the covers and spine, and then glue on the fabric. And hope I don't make a big mess of things in the process!

Kind of a fun, different thing to do with handwoven fabric! I've got more in the works, and paper on order to do a bit more serious book construction - I think I'm going to try my hand at various stitched bindings.

And, even more fun, I'll be leading a hands-on seminar at NEWS in the summer of 2011 on this very topic! I'm experimenting a lot to see where I need to diverge from traditional bookbinding to make things work with handwoven fabric, and I'm also hoping to put together a couple of art books that have been floating around in the back of my brain, to give folks ideas of what you can do with fabric and books.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A (Small) Photo-Editing Tip

I figured out something new the other day, to help make my photos a bit better, and thought I'd share! Some (most? lol!) of you have probably already figured this out, but I thought I'd mention it just in case it's helpful...

So, I've been taking pictures of buttons lately. I take them outside, in bright light, and use my macro button so I can get up close and personal. Then I copy them into Picasa (wonderful free photo editing software!) and crop them.

I've noticed that they have a tendency to have a kind of grey cast to the background, though. Distressing! So, I did what I normally do with my photos that look a little dingy and went into the "basic fixes" section and hit the "autocontrast" button:

Hmm. Only a tiny bit better. So, how do I fix this photo? Then - tada! - I decided to venture over to the "Tuning" tab and played with the "Fill Light" "Highlights" and "Shadows" sliders a bit - and, hey, much better photo, and much better representation (at least on my monitor) of what the buttons actually look like.

My photos always need work, but it was fun to find out one little thing to do to make them a bit better. Hope this helps you, too!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Open Studios and Open Source Loom

Trying to keep true to my newly-turned-over leaf, and posting again. Short and sweet, right?

Open Studios has been a crush today! Western Avenue Studios was featured on Chronicle, a local Boston news magazine type tv show, a couple weeks ago, and the foot traffic has been great today. You can't buy publicity like that...

This scarf is heading off to a new home... It's got a nice backstory - a friend of mine from high school really wanted to give her sister, a breast cancer survivor, a special Christmas present this year, so we chose the colors together, and 10% of the proceeds from this one will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Fund.

Also got to meet a lovely Etsy customer in person - she knows somebody else in the building, compeletely by coincidence, and stopped by to pick up her scarf in person. Very nice!

Finally - have you heard about the OSLoom project? Margarita Benitez is heading a project to create Open Source plans/software/etc. for people (guilds, smaller educational institutions) to construct jacquard looms. How fantastic is that? And, happily, the project has been fully funded through Kickstarter - I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the coming months.