Thursday, July 14, 2016

Editorial comments

Anticipation is building.  No it's not.
So, not sewing or craft or even me (personally) related, but I saw this on the street in Philly last week and it made me smile.  Mario and I were in town on Monday night to see a friend perform in a one-woman show, The Yellow Wallpaper, and we ended up walking the 40 blocks home.  Not intentionally - at first, we just wanted to stretch our legs after sitting for a while.  Then we ran into one bit of street work after another, all of them disrupting the route of the two buses that could take us to West Philadelphia.  By the time the streets cleared and traffic was running smoothly again, we were almost at the Schuylkill River, and I have a rule that I won't take the bus if I can make it across the river first, I'm too close to home by then to waste the money.

See yourself here.  Don't have 5 million dollars, so I can't.
So we walked and talked, rehashed the play we had seen and our mutual work days (not having had time to do that before we went out), and looking at the changes in the city.  I may be working in town right now, but I have a small grid that I see every day, 15th to 17th Streets, JFK Boulevard to Chestnut, and I've missed out on a lot of new construction and shops and general rearrangement.

The photos here are of signs, huge ones, in ornate gold-printed frames, hung in a long row of chain link construction fence on the 1900 block of Walnut Street.  Yet another luxury condo building going up, with prices well out of the fantasy reach of most of us.  (Formerly it was a really great movie theater that burned down years ago, and an empty lot for at least a decade).

The signs are annoying.  "Anticipation is building."  "Comfort is emerging."  "See yourself here."

Comfort is emerging.  Whose? Bankers?
And then I realized that some wonderful Philadelphian took the snarky, sarcastic responses right out of my head and added them to each sign.

Now I know there are people out there who can afford luxury condos.  And who aren't awful people.  But the signs for this place were just so obnoxiously tone-deaf that I have to applaud whoever applied those judicious editorial comments.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Christmas in July

Cue the Jaws music.  It's that time of year again, the annual reminder by the traditional (and not-so-traditional) retail world that Christmas is coming.   

And it is, whether we like it or not, whether we're ready or not. 

Shop-wise, I'm getting ready.  I leave this offer here for you all, to take or leave as you please.  

My sticky summer discount code is CHRISTMASINJULY, and it works in both the handmade and vintage shops.  In the handmade shop, it's a 10% discount, and in the vintage, it's 15%.

**  This would have been posted sooner but Etsy suffered a glitch going into the holiday weekend that hung up credit card and some PayPal payments.  After 5 days, I finally have sales clearing again.  I didn't want to add to the headache - yours or mine - by offering this earlier. 

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dolls of all nations

I'm temping again for part of the summer, same place as the last few years.  Right now, I'm only doing 3 days a week, and using the other two to continue working on building inventory, so that I don't go into the fall show season depleted, the way I did last year.

So far it's working, except inventory has been getting depleted by my co-workers.

Which is not a bad thing.

One of the women in the office saw my cloth dolls, and asked if I could make a custom one for her granddaughter.  She gave me the colors her granddaughter liked, and asked if I could put her name on it.

I did, and within a few days, she was back.  "I've got a neighbor," she said.  "She's Liberian.  My granddaughter loves her.  Can you do a doll that looks like her?"

So this was her most recent purchase - a doll costumed in my version of an African wax print (it's not; it was just a really cool thrift shop dress reminiscent of African prints).

There's been a new request: another neighbor is from Laos, and could I make one in something resembling her traditional costume?

Her theory is that by the time her granddaughter gets to nursery school, she'll have a collection of multi-colored, multi-cultural dolls and a firm understanding that friends come in all colors and costumes.

There are worse ways to raise a kid, right?

The most difficult part of this doll wasn't the costuming, it was the skin color.  I have a light brown that I use for African American dolls, but she asked for a darker color, something closer to her Liberian neighbor's skin tone.

I had a darker brown in stash, but when I tried using it for a doll face previously, it was so dark that the embroidered features just didn't show up well.  I was biding my time until the right color appeared, and not long after she made her request, I was in the thrift store and this brown scrubs top appeared.

Turns out it was the perfect shade, and a large enough size that I can get another half dozen dolls cut before I run out of fabric - with the exception of a scrap I can carry with me, so that I can color match when I next visit a fabric or thrift store.

Coming soon, Ms. Laos.  Just as soon as I find a sparkly fabric for her dress.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Quilt Britannia

It seems appropriate to write about my second Beatles quilt a few days after the Brits have (apparently) lost their minds.  Or maybe not.  I guess time will tell.

I saw a news clip with some anonymous British man who said, "What are we gonna do?  We'll get on with it.  We're England; it's what we do."

So, hopefully.

On to the quilt.  This is my second piece for the same customer - I did a similar (but slightly more Beatles/Lennon) quilt for her about a year ago.  This year, not long after Christmas, she contacted me and said she still had more shirts and wanted to do another quilt.  What with one thing and another, it took a while for me to get the shirts from her, and longer to get started.

Thankful for understanding (and local) customers.

I think this quilt turned out better than the first, not just because I've gotten better at doing them, but because of her extra contributions this time.  First time around, I simply used varying colors of denim in between the shirts.  This time she gave me a selection of her own tops that she no longer wore, which she said she had a similar sentimental attachment to.  I like the variety of colors and prints mixed in with the shirts.

In addition to the Beatles and John Lennon (and the particularly cool Lennon artwork and original lyrics in the bottom left), this one also has shirts from four local Philly music festivals, and a Rock the Vote/Censorship is UnAmerican shirt front and center.

One more thing . . . she still has more shirts.  There might be a third quilt in our mutual futures.  She said that even if she can't display them all, they take up far less room on a shelf than a bag full of unworn t-shirts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It has ceased to be

Forgive the Python reference.

I went out to the coop yesterday morning to feed Bonnie, and she wasn't downstairs waiting at her food bowl, like a feathered, personality-free version of my cats.

I opened the roost door upstairs, and there she was, head tucked under wing, no longer a live bird.

Cue John Cleese, who has been banging on in my head for the rest of the day:

"That parrot is definitely deceased.  It’s not pining, it’s passed on.  This parrot is no more!  It has ceased to be!  It’s expired and gone to meet its maker!  This is a late parrot!  It’s a stiff, bereft of life, it rests in peace.  If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies!"

Awful, I know.  But Bonnie hasn't laid in the last 6 weeks, and I assumed that meant she was aging out of the breakfast business.  And I've always considered her an employee, not a pet.  She fed me in exchange for food.  Our relationship lately had become a tad one-sided, and I'd been mentioning my handy cousin and the slow cooker with increasing frequency.

So she took matters into her own hands, I suppose.  Death before dishonor?  Death before crockpot?

I may not get new birds until next spring.  I'm well into craft show season, plus I'm temping 3 days a week.  On top of that, Mario and I have planned a trip (to London!!!) in the fall, and this will be one less mouth our housemate will have to feed while we're away.

I leave you with Monty Python, because I can.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Owl Photo Shoot

Because doesn't everyone photograph stuffed animals in a cemetery?

Woodlands Cemetery is within walking distance of my house, is full of wonderful Victorian (and older) statuary, and has a wide open front with trees where, twice a year, one of my favorite craft shows takes place.

It's also a great place for photos.

This is my favorite tree.  Not only is it photogenic, but parts of it are low enough to the ground that I can actually get up in it, and my tree-climbing days are pretty much behind me.

I took these at ground level, but I think they came out well.  Owls are now listed here.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hello, Dolly!

A while back I mentioned I was working on something new that wasn't ready for prime time.  Well, allow me to introduce my latest make, a cloth doll made from upcycled fabrics.  

I've been meaning to share them with you for a while now, but the first batch of girls went out to craft shows before being photographed (beyond this single shot) and . . . they sold.

Four of them the first show, four more the second, three last time.  Plus two custom ones.

So I guess you could say they're working out.  I'm pleased with them -- not only do they seem popular with both kids and adults, but they're yet another way for me to use scrap fabric, yet another way to reduce my business's carbon footprint by using what's already available.

Their faces are hand embroidered.  I do them in the evenings when Mario and I are watching TV.  Or when he's watching TV and I'm sitting on the couch, embroidering like a fiend because I just can't absorb any more of the outrage spewing from every news outlet -- including the ones I agree with.

Hair colors are everything under the sun, including a few with pink and purple hair (which have sold).  I was thinking mermaid/fairy when I did the pink-haired ones; now I think I really need to make a few with mermaid tails.

My next show isn't until Saturday June 4th, when I'm the featured artist at out the Swarthmore Farmers Market.  That's always a great town for me, so I intend to have a whole new batch of dollies for them.