Monday, July 30, 2018

Happy Family

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a woman who owns a shop in South Philadelphia.  I've sold things there occasionally, and she's the organizer of some of my favorite craft shows.  She had someone looking for custom work.

The customer had written and self-published a picture book for her soon-to-be grandson, based in part on a small stuffed monkey she had purchased.  She wanted someone to make the monkey's parents - who were, obviously, a bear (mom) and a beaver (dad).  Because storybook. 

I met her at a coffee shop near my office.  She brought the book and the monkey toy.  I looked through the book, took photos of a few illustrations to get color ideas, and we shook on it.

These aren't  the same as my usual animals, and they're probably never to be duplicated, because I didn't enjoy the process of making them that much, but I did enjoy the end result.

I brought the monkey home with me (because he needed shorts), and I spent a day or two fiddling around with ideas and making drawings.  But every time I looked at my fabric stash, I drew a blank.

There was no rush - she asked for them within 30 days because she was going to visit her daughter then - so I knew I had some time to puzzle it out.

Then, on a Thursday, about a week before they were due, when I was still looking at a monkey with no shorts, and some dark brown cashmere blend sweater fabric, I gave up and took a walk.  It had been hot out for the better part of 10 days, and this was the first middling-hot day and I needed out.

I started walking west from the house, toward Clifton Heights.  We've driven up that way but I don't know the area at all yet, so I thought I would just walk for a while and see what there was to be seen. 


Soon I encountered a sign that said "Swedish Cabin," which turned out to be (possibly) the oldest building in Pennsylvania, built in the 1600s as a trading post.  It was about a 1.5 mile walk from my house, but I got to sit on a rock and soak my feet in the icy-cold Darby Creek for a half hour, and then I walked home again.

When I went upstairs to my workroom, all of a sudden the project made sense.  I started cutting up the fabric, and by the time Mario got home from work, I had completed the beaver (complete with suede tail), his turquoise suit, and was about half done the bear. 

Sometimes you just need to get away from a project and get some fresh air and exercise, and everything falls into place.



Thursday, July 26, 2018

Labor and delivery

Sometime last year, at least a month before Christmas, my friend Danni (pictured here) messaged me and wanted to order a doll. She said it didn't have to be done by the holidays, because she knew I was crazy, but anytime after that.

After that, of course, I started packing. Then we moved. Then I unpacked. I didn't even get much spring craft show sewing done, though I did enough that I didn't embarrass myself at the few events I scheduled.

Every so often, as I packed, unpacked, and sewed, I'd remember the doll. And then something else would crop up, and I put it off. I had fabric put aside but that was the extent of my work at that point.

Then, one day on Instagram, she messaged me and said, "Babe, it's been 6 months! Are you making the doll or giving birth to it?"

Sometimes you need to light a fire under my ass. The doll was done and in her hands within two days.

I just wish I could make a doll that had her smile.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Happy Fourth!



We recently had another time travel incident.  The calendar may say 2018, but in Lansdowne, it felt like some earlier, less contentious (but still very diverse) time.

There was a parade in the morning, which I did not attend because we had six straight days of temps in the high 90s and I could not move from under my fan . . .  on the first floor, where we've taken up residence lately because it got too hot too fast to put the AC in the bedroom window.  So Mario's on the couch in the living room, and I'm in the next room on the loveseat.  It works, for now, but guess what's happening when it cools off?

Going by the photos, the parade was standard Americana - fire engines, string bands (for you non-Philly readers, just go Google "Mummers Parade" and thank me later), kids on homemade floats, high school bands.

I honestly didn't know people still did this stuff.  

In the evening, there was a concert and fireworks down on the high school football field.  The town officially stopped fireworks a while back, but the local athletic association didn't want to let them go, so they fundraise every year, in addition to selling tickets to the actual event.. We bought tickets - though the fireworks were certainly visible outside the school field, and outside the town, it just seemed more fun to sit on the bleachers and ooh and aah with our neighbors.

I was impressed.  Small town it may be, but these fireworks were as good as any I've seen on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philly, without being shoulder-to-shoulder with several hundred thousand sweaty, semi-drunken people.  There was even a pre-show concert, and the girl singing the national anthem at the beginning of the video can certainly hold her own.