Big Ass Closet

Gilding the Lily

As you know, I’ve been spending a lot of time setting up my Sewing Studio and Big Ass closet and I’m very excited to have finally finished and to have the two combined into one space.
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It makes sense for me. Not that I spend any time sewing clothes. The most I’ve done is take normal jeans and make them skin tight — and that highlights my explicative vocabulary more than it does my “tailoring” skills. I just love to embellish things. To decorate them. (Run Lily, run, she’s got the gold paint!)

Here are some pages from one of my early Inspiration Books. Bear in mind “archival” was not a term with which I had any familiarity in 1977…
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Jewelry is the cherry on top of the sartorial sundae and an opportunity to play with color and pattern and have a little fun with this serious business of dressing ourselves. As you can guess, jewelry plays a big role in both my Sewing Studio and my Big Ass closet. I love to wear it and I love to make it. These are some hand sewn and beaded cuff bracelets I made.
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My Freshman year in college I studied Jewelry Design with Don Douglas at Boise State University. What a dear man. He let me spend hours in the studio outside of class time laboring over my complex designs which were far beyond my skill level.
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At the end of the year he gave me a “D” for technical skill, an “A+” for originality and design, and a recommendation to study with John Marshall at the University Of Washington in Seattle.

At UW I did start out as a BFA Metals Major, but quickly moved from Marshall whose specialty was hollowware, to Ramona Solberg who oversaw jewelry. Ramona Solberg was an amazing jewelry designer, but by the time I became her student, her love of teaching had fled. I changed my degree to BA Art, graduated two and a half years after I’d begun, and got on with my life.

My first “art job” was selling my Baker’s Clay (salt dough) jewelry at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Many of my designs were based on the patterns on the backs of beetles. This is the page I painted to use as templates for myself from a big book of beetle photographs belonging to my parents.
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At the Market my regular fans were the Indians who slept on the street and bummed cigarettes off me, but I had one brush with greatness. Sherry Markovitz bought my work. Man, I wish I had just one of her beaded animal heads.
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Instead her work lives on inside my head. There’s no question her art continues to influence me years later at a deep level. I haven’t thought about all of this stuff for a long time. It’s good to shake things up, stir up a little dust storm, find stuff you’ve long forgotten and figure out new ways to use it.

Now that everything is in one room and all my materials and my inspiration for outfit combinations are in one place I imagine both my wardrobe and my vocabulary are going to get a lot more expansive and way more colorful!

Bean by Bean

We like to repeat a saying around our house: “Bean by bean, the pot is filled.” Just a reminder that things get accomplished little by little and most of the time it’s as slow, and as mundane as filling a pot with beans. Not very glamorous but ultimately satisfying.

This is really how I wanted to spend my day today:
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But I worked on the new Sewing Studio and Big Ass closet instead, and little by little, things are getting accomplished…
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The closet is filled, and the Sewing Studio is done, except for the details (more sequins, beads and buttons, than beans)…
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And now the day is done and soon it’ll be time to make dinner.

I wonder what I should make tonight?
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My Four Favorite Books for November

Today I’m introducing a new feature! Every month I’ll post four of my favorite books: one house book (Interior Design), one novel, one cookbook, and one book of art or design. All of them will be from my bookshelves and will be books which I use and love.

These are my picks for November:

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The house book this month is HAND and HOME, The Homes of American Craftsmen by Tommy Simpson and William Bennet Seitz. Published in 1994 by Little, Brown & Company. I bought this book soon after it came out and I have poured over it with a magnifying glass literally in hand, completely absorbed in the detailed work of the craftsmen and women who live in the houses featured.

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The homes in the book belong to some serious heavyweights in the craft world: Tommy Simpson and Missy Stevens, Bennett Bean, Thomas Mann, Sam Maloof, Lenore Tawney, Leo Sewell, and Wendell Castle. My knees are raw from genuflecting.

What inspires me the most about their houses is that they make, or alter, or embellish, or simply decorate with their own designs all the parts that make up their homes. Gee, I wonder if that’s had any affect on how I approach my own interior design?

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My favorite novel this month is Happy All the Time, by Laurie Colwin, copyright 1978. Laurie Colwin is my favorite author.

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I have every book she ever wrote. Every novel, book of short stories, and cooking memoir. Laurie was a Domestic Sensualist. Her stories are familiar, homely, bittersweet. You don’t want them to end, which is why I read them over and over and over. Laurie Colwin died in 1992, but her books are a refreshing pause on the continuum. Do yourself a favor and take a break with one of them. Happy All the Time is a great place to start.

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My favorite cookbook for November is: New Mexico’s Prized Recipes from The Albuquerque Tribune’s GREAT GREEN CHILI COOKING CLASSIC, copyright 1974. I inherited this cookbook in a book purge from my mom, after a cookbook purge from her mother. Thank you Gramma Dottie!

I have made many recipes from this book over the years but the one that gets made over and over, especially this time of year when you want a big pot of something hot and spicy steaming up the kitchen, is GREAT GREEN BEAN CHILI….

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This is one of those recipes that’s easy to adapt. Make it meatier, or beanier. Add more cumin, chili powder or garlic. Throw in some hominy. Whatever you want, just make a lot of it because it’s even better the next day. Duh.

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My fourth favorite for the month is the art book, and my pick for November is JUXTAPOZ HANDMADE, published 2010 by Gingko Press, Inc.

JUXTAPOZ is an art magazine we subscribe to and this is a book they’ve published of established and emerging artists who have “dedicated their careers to preserving the “hands-on” method to creating fine artwork and commercial products…both 2D and 3D works that use materials and methods such as paper, fabric, wood, fiber arts, sewing, embroidery, collage, papier-mache, clay and ceramics…both functional and non-functional.” Can’t imagine what I would find to relate to in this book either. Yeah, I’m pretty much an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum today!

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And now, as much as I’d truly love to sit down with a big bowl of green bean chili and reread Happy All the Time for the umpteenth time, I think I better get back to my house rearrangement. I have a Sewing Studio to outfit and Big Ass closet to fill. Action Girl: Activate, and Awaaaay!