Sewing Studio

Second Helpings: Sewing Birds

Sewing birds have got to be my favorite Second Helpings objects to paint. I had no idea they even existed until a couple of years ago when my friend Marilyn brought me one she had for me to fancy up.

This is that first bird:

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Your scissors make the beak and topknot, there are padded wings to use as pin cushions, places to put your spools of thread, and a little drawer for your thimbles or the odd button.

They’re so sweet they make your teeth hurt just to look at them!

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I don’t find sewing birds very often but now I always buy them when I stumble upon one. I found these two at my favorite secondhand store soon after finishing Marilyn’s bird. Makes me wonder how many I missed before I knew to look for them.

Dagnabit.

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You may remember my finding this tweetheart a few months ago when you see this BEFORE picture:

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And here are the AFTER photos in sequence as I painted the entire bird with acrylic paint — including the felt wings which were painted with acrylic paint mixed with Textile Medium so the paint won’t crack.

When I was finished with all the colors and detail I wanted to add I sealed it with a coat of Minwax Polycrylic Sealer.

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I even got a brand new pair of pink sewing scissors to complete the look! Who’s a fancy bird now!

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So keep your eyes peeled for the odd objects, the misfit toys, the ugly ducklings — they make for the most spectacular transformations. And if you honestly don’t know what to do with them, just pass them on to me. I paint everything!

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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Home wasn’t Built in a Day

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The door on the left used to lead to my Sewing Studio. Now it leads to our guest room and workout closet (stay tuned for a tour in a future post) where Logan is staying for the next two weeks until he can officially move into his new home, which is getting homier every day.

The door on the right leads to what used to be Logan’s apartment and will become Mike’s painting studio, our office, our shared art studio, and our overflow big dining room. Right now it looks like this:

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Today I will be taking all of this…

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as well as the contents of my current closet:

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and moving them into what used to be Logan’s bedroom in Logan’s apartment which is directly below the guest room/work out closet where Logan will live for the next two weeks which used to be my sewing studio and which will now become my new sewing studio and big ass closet. QED

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Home wasn’t built in a day, but if this one isn’t completely transformed in two weeks I’ll turn in my Action Girl cape and insignia and never brag about my super powers again.

Stitch in time and other Stuff

I love STUFF. I love second hand stuff. I especially love second hand stuff that no one else has seen as having any potential and then transforming it into stuff that everybody HAS TO HAVE! Squeal when you read that.
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Pretty much everything I make in my Sewing Studio would fit that description. The patchwork quilts I Kantha stitch:

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The Pom-pow blankets (did you catch that? pom-POW? Because they knock you out, they’re so dang cute):

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The tacky tourist tapestries I turn into painted, sequined pillows Anthropologie should be knocking down my door to license:

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When I think about it, the idea of change, or transformation, is pretty central to what I do. With my art, to my home, with my life in general (though I’m having some issues when it comes to changing my hair). The goal is to change it up. Make it better. Not just different. And that kind of change is “bean by bean” change. It’s gradual, which is not to say you can’t make substantive change in a short amount of time, but “owning” real change is committing to the learning curve. Which is hard for “Action Girl”. I heard that.

So, I’m going to strap on my Zen guns and give the gradual change learning curve a shot. Pom-pow baby. Pom-POW!
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