manayunk arts festival 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I deviated a bit from my indie craft show habit to attend the Manayunk Arts Festival in Philadelphia today with my mother-in-law and her pal. I don't consider it a true "indie" craft show since it's in its 21st year and is heavy on the fine art & photography, but times have changed since I was last there 8 years ago. I thought I'd go see what's new. Sure enough, I did find some modern crafters mixed in with traditional folk which suited the all-ages crowd. I was particularly impressed with all the upcycling going on.
Vintage tins are upcycled into pretty belt buckles by Constance Scott of Studio C.
More vintage tins, antique doll parts, and salvaged metal are recycled into decorative doll sculptures by Primitive Twig.
Vintage post office boxed converted to banks by Lone Wolf Woodworks. Too cool!
Brian Marshall combines found objects into funny robot-like creatures that exude personality. I love the name of his shop: adopt-a-bot.
My, my, my, look what can be done with discarded glass bottles! Kathleen Plate of Smart Glass takes bottle recycling to a new level. Her gorgeous chandelier-like hangings really capture the light...
as do her interesting loopy necklaces. The glass colors are the original colors of the bottles they came from.
Shena Curreli of Resinate With Nature  had the most appealing earthy-modern resin jewelry displays. This wood bowl with rice perfectly complements the rings made of tiny seeds, leaves, and other natural bits encased in resin that it contains.
Rustic frames fashioned from reclaimed wood salvaged from old homes and barns by Margaret Taylor of Dancing Dryads.
I recognized Dave Conroy's distinctive jewelry made of stainless steel nuts and nails from the Crafty Bastards show last fall. Alitas Jewelry will be making the rounds all summer. Coming up soon... the Artscape show in Baltimore on the weekend of July 16.
I couldn't walk away a second time without buying a piece from Dave. This cuff bracelet is made of tiny nuts fused together in a Moorish pattern and hammered. It looks like a delicate filigree tattoo on the wrist.

I'm considering coming back the weekend of September 25 to check out the new Manayunk Eco Arts Festival. So many shows, so little time!

recharging the creative batteries

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Um, this is the state of my studio right now.
This might be part of the reason I've had a lapse in creativity. I can't even cut anything out on my cutting table. I haven't put away all the great supplies I bought in the garment district two weeks ago. I have several half-finished projects waiting for missing elements just sitting there taunting me. Instead of completing them, I've been goofing off with my kids, spending too much time online, and entertaining out-of-town family who were in town for Fathers' Day weekend. I've discovered the addictive nature of creating Etsy treasuries after being included in a few. I stayed up waaaaay too late last night making my first one.

Creativity does tend to ebb and flow, so I'm not too terribly worried, but I'll have to kick start it soon if it doesn't come back on it's own. I found a few links with some decent advice. This article from Zen Habits is about not becoming a workaholic, but I think the suggestions also work for boosting creativity. Working all hours is a great way to zap your creativity. I also like this straightforward article from Digital Art. This post in the Mohr Collaborative blog explores how creativity and insight happen most when our minds wander, yet we spend very little of our days allowing that to happen. The Mohr post also links to this fascinating Wall Street Journal article about the anatomy of the brain's breakthrough moments.

The top 10 ideas I've gleaned for boosting creativity:

- clean workspace- instant boost
- unplug from the internet for at least a day
- take a class- a long term thing, but I can vouch for this one
- play/socialize
- make something other than your usual work for a change
- doodle/always have a notebook handy
- rest- the mind remarkably can solve problems better while wandering
- get out and explore- a great way to find new sources of inspiration
- make time for creative pursuits- don't over schedule yourself (hard, I know!)
- block out self-criticism and negative thoughts- you always think better in a good mood

After reading up on creativity, I don't feel like I'm doing so badly at all. I'm already doing the playing and socializing. I've been out and about exploring. Today I'm going to start a major cleaning and organizing effort in the studio. And next week is the biggie: I will be unplugged from the internet from Monday through Friday and doing nothing but relaxing, sketching in my notebook, and playing. Then when I'm done with all that, I'll make time to be in the studio for blocks of time while the kids attend a camp or two. And right this minute, I'm going to sit on the porch and enjoy my new favorite drink!
An "Arnold Palmer" (part iced tea/part lemonade). Aaaaaahhhh.

we love highland orchards

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's the first full week of summer vacation for the kids and we've been lazy. We've been sleeping in and staying up late. I haven't made anything in a while. I haven't lived up to my unspoken pledge to be the organized summer mom with a full Etsy shop, plans for weekly educational field trips, and a plethora of kid craft projects ready to go so the TV gets forgotten. I hate to admit it, but I actually like Sponge Bob myself... but I must get a hold of myself! Today I took the kids on one of my lazy-mom field trips.
We went produce shopping up the road at Highland Orchards. You can spend an hour or more just visiting all the animals before you even go into the market to partake of the great local produce and baked goods.
Yay! The rhubarb is in season. I'll take 3lbs please!
Now I know what gooseberries are.
Getting the urge to try some canning...
Wish I knew what to do with beets- that and dandelion greens.  Maybe I'd buy a CSA share if I did.
Can't leave without getting something from here. The apple cider donuts are a requirement, but I'll make my own pie, thank you.
One of the many orchard mascots.
Goodbye, Mr. Peacock. Thanks for the show!

butterfly project

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A few years ago, we received a ButterflyGarden kit from Insect Lore as a gift. Those folks at Insect Lore are on to something, because that present brought us years of fascination. For $20 or $30, the kits make a great battery-free gift for kids between age 4 and 12 (my daughter says she'll still like it when she's 12 anyway). All it is is a mesh zippered cage and a plastic cup filled with Painted Lady caterpillars and their food (weird grey stuff). You can reorder the caterpillars over and over, which we did. We used it so much, we wore it out and decided to upgrade to the Butterfly Pavilion.
You just leave them in their cup and watch the caterpillars form their chrysalises. When they start to hang from the top in a "J" shape, you know they will make a chrysalis soon.
The caterpillars attach their chrysalises to the paper under the lid.
Then you transfer them to the cage by removing the paper and safety-pinning the discs to the inside of the mesh.
If your timing is right, you can watch the butterflies emerge from the chrysalises (freaky cool!) after about a week. This time around, they decided to come out in the middle of the night. No worries- we'll just order another batch of caterpillars.
The promise of more caterpillars makes it bearable for the kids to part with the butterflies.
We even made a special butterfly garden in a corner of the yard to release them in and hopefully attract some wild ones as well. It's not fit to be photographed at the moment. We'll weed it and post it when more stuff is in bloom...

color inspiration for summer

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A trip around Venice...

Around Venezia from Icam on Vimeo.

another day in the garment district

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last week, before I gorged myself on indie craft coolness at the Renegade Brooklyn Craft Fair, I spent Friday mucking around the NYC garment district. It was a long overdue visit since the last one was all the way back in October.
I acquired a nice stack of cotton yarn-dye checks and stripes because I like them as backgrounds for applique (I hate that poly/cotton stuff). I also stocked up on some citrusy cotton poplins in colors I never see in quilting cotton. The garment district is about apparel fabrics after all. Most of my finds were from Mood, which I'd never been to before. It's upstairs in the Bricken Arcade building at 225 West 37th (between 7th & 8th). It was a mini trip down memory lane because I used to work on that same block and go in that building often. I even recognized the elevator guy (they still have the old-fashioned human-operated elevators) who took me up to the second floor. Mind you, it's been over ten years- a long time to spend your days going up and down in an elevator.
Next, I went a little crazy with the ric rac at Daytona Trimming at 251 West 39th (between 7th & 8th).
I don't think there is a better selection of cotton ric rac anywhere in the world. Every size/every color. Yum!
Stopped by Pacific Trimmings at 218 West 38th (between 7th & 8th) because I remembered they had purse hardware. I'd like to try my hand at some purses. They have the metal frames for clutches as well as many types of handles, chains, hook, rings and other stuff that I couldn't discern the function of.
Yes, Mood is somewhat of a tourist attraction thanks to the Project Runway reality show. People were buying t-shirts as souvenirs. No, I did NOT get one, even though I am a total PR nerd!

"Thank you Mood!"

brooklyn renegade 2010, part II: such prettiness

Monday, June 7, 2010

There was so much to see at the Brooklyn Renegade Craft Fair this past weekend, that I had to pace myself in getting all the photos up. See part I here for Fathers' Day gift ideas and now for part II! I'm filing these delights under "wish I'd thought of it first", all of which were made in the USA by hand. Enjoy!
Wren handmade has the most delicate crocheted accessories you've ever seen! Laura Normandin uses the tiniest gauge crochet hook to fashion her mini flowers. I bought one of these hair pins for my daughter, but now I don't know if I will give it to her. I can't trust her not to ruin it or lose it.
These happy women's skirts from orangyporangy of course caught my eye. The designer, Natalie (who happens to have bright orange hair), and I share a love for vintage tablecloths, feedsacks, and other linens. She does such a stellar job with her piecing and has a great eye for color, thanks to her background in graphic design.
Folks, is this not the most beautiful quilt on earth? I "hearted" it a while back on Etsy and got a jolt when I rounded the corner and saw it in the snowdrop booth. Diane used to be a painter- now she "paints" with fabric.
Pure cheerfulness from Michelle Cavigliano of My Zoetrope.
Smoothie break! Only in Brooklyn: bicycle-powered blender!
Giant Dwarf had a tempting display of hair accessories and knit hats with felt flower appliqués to wear jauntily to the side. Sue Eggen doesn't use that icky polyester felt from a big box store that shall remain nameless, but a very nice wool & rayon blend felt that she also sells on its own.
Scrumptious yarns from Travelling Rhinos. Makes me want to knit something even though it's 90 degrees outside.
Took home this petite original pencil and watercolor drawing by Drew of The Maple Ridge. I chose one without the potty mouth sayings (tee hee- tempting though). I think it will make a darling baby gift.
I spent some time in Polly Danger's fresh, pretty booth of notions and other irresistible soft goods. If you need floral bias tape or covered buttons, see Polly. Had to get a few calico button magnets that I didn't know I needed for the studio...
Letterpress love! Breck Hostetter and Matt Heindl of Sesame Letterpress displayed their bright, vintagey images on coasters and cards. They are known for their custom stationery, invitations, announcements, and business cards all printed in Brooklyn on 100% recycled cotton fiber paper using antique presses.
Cross stitch makes a comeback at chez-sucre-chez. Crafty Kimberly Scala gives traditional needlework a modern twist, stitching initials and leaving them in the hoop. They are available à la carte to spell out whatever you want. Love the Smiths song lyrics piece on her site.
The much anticipated "punk rock marching band", the What Cheer? Brigade. Fun and festive all around!

brooklyn renegade 2010, part I: fathers' day gift roundup

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I've just returned from a successful visit to the Brooklyn Renegade Craft Fair held yesterday and today in McCarren Park in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. My friend Maria and I braved the sweltering heat to go out and support handmade and soak up some of that amazing indie creativity. There were sooooooo many inspiring vendors, that I decided to break it down into two posts.

Since Father's Day is only two weeks away (June 20th), part of my mission was to seek out gift ideas beyond the standard shirt & tie that most Dad's have seen plenty of, and look what I found! I still can't get over how easy it was to find suitable masculine gifts. Since it's too late to run out to the show now, follow the links to the artists' online stores to shop for the daddies in your life.
Shara Porter's booth of screen printed leather goods was Fathers' Day Central. She prints her daddy-friendly images on wallets, card cases, coasters and even reclaimed leather goods.
T-shirts are so much more fun than dress shirts for Dad. Jennie Howard of Handsome Howard shows off her nostalgic Brooklyn water tower t-shirt which is available in her online store along with many other masculine images emblazoned on tees, ties, pillows, and totes. Got this one for my own daddy-o.
More cool daddy-centric t-shirts from Jason Laurits of Paste T-Shirts.
Love this steampunk-style image from Paste.
That Jason's got a dry sense of humor!
For the literary type: recycled book journals from Ex Libris Anonymous.
Couldn't resist this one for my dad.
Interleaved with the acid-free sketch paper are a few pages from the old book it was recycled from. Gotta love 1960's food styling. They had many other manly journals as did Overdue Industries.
Here's something different: blocks of wood with building facades printed on them from Bladon Conner and Eddie Huber of scraptones. These would make excellent desk accessories or library decor, don't you think? My hubby is an architect and would love one of these...
An alternative to the "#1 Dad" mug: hand thrown ceramic tumbler with the image of a noble wolf by Susannah Tisue of SKT Ceramics. She has many other wildlife images available on mugs and tumblers in her Etsy shop and every weekend at Brooklyn Flea.
Too clever: cufflinks made out of vintage typewriter keys by The Weekend Store. They also have cufflinks made out of map snippets.
The mesmerizingly intricate block prints of Tugboat Print Shop would be perfect for art-lover Dad, or even for the dad who doesn't know he loves art yet, but needs to fit out his man-cave or office. I love this fanciful boat image. They also have amazingly detailed map and scenic designs all HAND block printed from HAND-carved plywood blocks. These are original limited edition HAND-pulled prints!
If you get nothing else, you must get a card. A handmade one always seems more thoughtful than one from the drugstore. I couldn't resist the screen-printed underpants card by Gold Teeth Brooklyn. I also got a more sophisticated letterpress card from Sycamore Street Press.
A great selection from Gold Teeth Brooklyn.

These were just a fraction of the 300 vendors exhibiting at the show. Up next: pretty stuff from the Brooklyn Renegade show.