Archive for December, 2007

SeaGreen

It seems as the grey skies hold over Seattle, I am drawn over and over to a color I can’t quite describe: it is a blend of blue and green that reflects the sky and the forests in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, as seen best here.

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These two items have just posted to my shop in honor of the new Etsy tool: Shop Local. In an effort to encourage last minute shoppers to find a local source for last minute purchases, the programmers have put the finishing touches on a neat resource to bring you the 100 vendors in your local area who have most recently posted items to their shop. You can find the button in the ‘Buy’ category.

As soon as I saw this feature was activated, I had to post a couple of items to my shop. The first is a nunofelt experiment I hinted at here, but still haven’t fully documented. The second is the fourth in a series of merino felt collars made with the Tidal Wave colorway from etsy vendor ‘copperpot‘.

As the year winds to a close, I’d like to offer my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all of the readers who check in here. Your comments and encouragement have meant so much to me as work towards finding my way. Be well and do good work.

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Floursack Cape

There is a song by Guy Clark that seems to be my anthem these days:

coiled.jpgEight years old with flour sack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
Figurin’ what the heck
He screwed his courage up so tight
The whole thing come unwound
He got a runnin’ start and bless his heart
He headed for the ground

He’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold you breath
Always trust your cape

In early January, I’m going to rent a studio at Venue in Ballard, a neighborhood of Seattle full of shipyards, hip restaurants and designer boutiques. Venue is a unique gallery/studio space where artists rent space and exhibit their work. The studio artists work in the retail storefront and participate in decisions regarding new consignees; customers can watch the artists work, have a piece personalized and see the greater process at work. The store was recently profiled on City A Go-Go, broadcast on the Seattle Channel (Venue is the third segment in the piece).

An additional perk of renting space is the ability to use the store for workshops and classes after hours. The series of felting workshops which I’ve been teaching in my home have been a lot of fun, but are limited to daytime hours because they happen in my home. Soon, I’ll have a full complement of evening and weekend classes scheduled at Venue.

In the meantime, I’m consigning my current stock of felt at the boutique. This means I have to pull all of the one-of-a-kind items from my store because I can’t risk sales happening at both places at the same time. Currently, the items in my store are models I can recreate easily using colors I have in stock. The listings say items will take seven to ten days to complete, but if you need them sooner, I can accommodate a rush request.

I’m taking a big leap of faith, hoping for the best, and trusting my cape.

Current Stock

The dust has settled, the smoke has cleared and I’ve finally finished uploading my current stock of merino felt scarves into my etsy shop.

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For weeks leading up to the craft fairs last weekend, I was working furiously to create new stock. It was a rush, and lots of fun because I tried out so many new ideas, getting a handle on how different rovings work (or don’t) and experimenting with form and shape.

But I’m beat. Tired. Whooped. Time to sit down. Other than fulfilling some custom orders from the shows, I’m flipping the lid on my squeeze bottle for a few weeks and try to catch up with my family again. Where did they go? Has anyone seen my kids?

Family Soap Makers

In an effort to get ahead of the game, last weekend we sat down as a family for three hours of bonding over soap and wool. Our task: make felt soaps for two custom orders and to prepare stock for the holiday craft shows.

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If you’ve never seen felt soap, imagine soap in a sweater; the wool acts as a gentle exfoliant while the soap is kept wrapped in the felt. Every last bit of soap is used up, and you don’t have to do the slippery sliver dance in the shower with the last shreds of the bar. We use pure olive oil soap and various types of dyed wool.

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Lance softened the soap in the microwave so the bars would cut nicely. Cold soap crumbles all over the place, especially if you try to cut a large bar. Thirty-five seconds on 50% power warms it just enough to slice like butter.

While he and Owen were busy unwrapping, warming and slicing the bars, I started making piles of roving on the table to create pleasing color combinations. Pretty soon, we realized it was most efficient for me to choose the colors, draft the wool and wrap the bars so Lance and Owen could felt them with the hot, soapy water.

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Three hours later, we had a colorful pile of felt soaps in four scents: verbena, green tea, lavender and pure olive oil (unscented). Over the last two days, I’ve sold at least twenty bars, but we still have more of the raw materials so there will be a repeat in our near future.

If you are interested in trying this on your own, remember that not all wools felt equally. If possible, look for wool from corriedale or blue-faced leicester (BFL) sheep. Merino works, but it is more expensive than you need. Romney really doesn’t work well. Our local fiber store sells roving by the ounce that is simply called “NZ Carded Wool”; the breed isn’t specified but it works well.

Sets of three soaps are posted in my etsy shop for $15. I’m also offering workshops at my house or yours where I provide the materials and teach what you need to know for $3/bar. Let’s make some bubbles!


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