Friday, December 11, 2009

Franklin Sparrow changes everything

Franklin Sparrow Russell was born dec.2 and I have been in sleepless baby zone ever since.
Chelsea will be representing moth and squirrel at the Crafty Wonderland Holiday Spectacular this sunday dec 13 at the portland convention center.In Bellingham moth and squirrel hats, critters and pins can be found at the Pacific Arts Holiday Market and Handmade Holiday Bazaar (on state street across from the bowling alley).
Thank you for supporting our little family.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

UCU this weekend!

Look for Chelsea in the moth and squirrel booth along with Steeb's coloring books at the Urban Craft Uprising this saturday and sunday dec 5&6 in Seattle.

Friday, November 20, 2009

no more market

At a very sleepy 37 weeks into this pregnancy,I canceled the rest of my Farmer's Market vending days to prepare for holiday sales. Stay tuned for more details on Pacific Arts Holiday Market and Handmade Holiday Bazaar in Bellingham,Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle and Crafty Wonderland in Portland.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

stay at home,stay informed

I decided to set up a Facebook fan page. Click on the whales to the right to become a fan and stay updated on moth and squirrel news through your Facebook account.
Then while you are keeping up with your highschool boyfriends and co-workers and cousins you will be able to see I am not going to the farmer's market this week.I am going to rest and sew and sew and rest.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Art Walk Friday!

It's first friday again and we will be open for the art walk a little later than usual. The Kulshan Community Land Trust is having their annual party and we don't want to miss all the celebration.This is the awesome organization that helped us buy our own home five years ago. So we will probably open our studio around 7pm until 10pm.

The farmers' market is still running through Christmas! This week is the first week of the special season where we all squeeze into the pavilion to stay nice and cozy and festive. I am planning to be there through the end of November, but stay tuned for updates as we are getting closer and closer to Junior's due date...

And lastly, manimal update: I did just barely finish Steeb's Jack-a-lope costume in time for his half birthday and halloween festivities. The pattern was really baggy all over, even though the size chart looked like the XL might not fit Steeb. I had to take it in in the arms already and am going to go back to fix the enormous neckline and too-baggy hood. The hood is so roomy that the weight of the antlers made it slip forward all the time. Since I am going to further customize the suit we decided it needed a pocket or two and maybe a flaming heart applique. Here's a quick picture from the day,we'll do a more fanciful photo shoot once the suit is closer to perfection.

Friday, October 23, 2009

holiday fairs

I am pleased to announce moth and squirrel will be selling at Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle Dec 5&6 and Crafty Wonderland in Portland Dec 13. These big shows are increasingly competitive (300plus and 400 applicants each)and it feels like an honor to be selected. I have been setting aside product since august in hopes of getting in, but even so I feel there is a lot of work to be done. My UCU stress dreams started this week and resulted in me getting up at 6am to get my day on and sew.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Last summer I made this special order bunny suit for James Kraus. He is using it in some photo projects and, I suspect, regularly wearing it around the house.

Steeb was quite jealous of the pale yellow chenille suit and requested some cozy breathable outfit of his own. I said it would be a birthday gift and six months after his birthday the blue flannel jackalope is beginning to take shape. I have completed the hood and now just need to tackle the body which I promised would be ready for Halloween.

For James' suit I just made it all up as I went along, but for Steeb's we decided to reference an actual pattern. We thought it would make it easier to properly fit his larger proportions. But I hate pattern paper. I have spent almost as much time cursing and refolding the tissue as I have sewing. On one hand I loved how all the pieces really fit together perfectly. And by following instructions I did pick up some tips on how to piece it together more smoothly. But the pattern itself was not tailored the way we wanted, so I ended up going back and haphazardly cutting and re-sewing most of the seams. So I seem destined to curse and make up my own rules and find my own solutions no matter how I begin a project. I think that's what gives my work it's charm.

Friday, October 02, 2009

hat season

Steeb, Clancy and I have been wearing our new Harlow Caps around town and I am getting great feed back on them. I wore my wool one in the pouring down rain yesterday and stayed warm and dry. Even my glasses. They are taking me a bit longer to make so I just have a handful.But you should try one on at the gallery walk tonight or the farmers market.

Friday, September 25, 2009


There is some magical autumnal house cleaning going on(in other people's houses, not here) that has inspired so many donations recently to moth and squirrel. Plastic bags with sweaters left outside my studio door. Folks dropping off beloved well patched cashmere hoodies at the market booth.And yesterday I went over to a house to pick up random fabric/clothing from a woman who I first met as a customer at the Old Town Cafe. We sat in her living room and she told me about the pieces, artsy things she had worn in her younger days in California.

When I left I had this realization that I do more than sew from recycled materials.I provide a strange and intimate service. I give people a loving place to pass along their stories that are woven into outgrown clothing. No one wants the skirt they were wearing for their first kiss to end up in the anonymous warehouse of a thrift store. They want it to still be loved, even if they are no longer size four, or the moths have nibbled the elbows out or someone accidentally washed the favorite sweater. I take once beloved fabrics and turn them into new objects to love.

Thank you Bellingham for supporting my business with your luxury knits and for sharing your stories with me. I like to give $5 off for donations as a token of appreciation. And due to the lovely donations this week there will be 3 sweet cashmere johnny caps for babies and adults at the market this saturday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

creative community

I have received a couple messages on Facebook from someone I have never met and thought I would answer them here. The gist of his inquiry is "I am new to town,how do I join the artist community? Can I be your friend?"

I think that there are two parts to his question. The first being community and the
second being friendship. They are not the same thing. I consider myself deep in the Bellingham arts and crafts community. But there are only a handful of people who I would really call friends. Partially I am just getting older and more committed to my own life. I have less time for new friendship and focus more on my art, business, and maintaining the relationships I already have. Personally I have never made and don't imagine ever making a friend online. I missed that technological boat. I don't text, or chat online. I hardly return phone calls.
So, sorry buddy. For us to become friends I will need to see you around town for another year or two in similar places I like to go. If we have some mutual friends or interests I might chat you up. But even then we might never make it past community into the precious realm of friendship. And that's okay.

So community. Unlike friendship, which is a magical balance of chemistry and timing not unlike falling in love, community is something you can work at and MAKE happen. So how do you join an arts community,or any community for that matter?

You show up and participate.

Go on an art walk, attend a play, concert, open mic for poetry or lecture at the museum. Read the posters around town or the listings in The Weekly. See what's happening on campus. Support arts in disciplines other than your own. You like to draw. Great, but you might be just as inspired hanging out with a dancer,poet or sculptor.

To ensure more contact,conversation and the chance at elusive friendship, take a class. There are figure drawing sessions around town as well as more specific courses on everything from landscape painting to improv theater. If nothing else you will be increasing your skills and perspective. If you can't afford it, see if you can help out the teacher. Which brings us to...

Volunteer. Not only is volunteering a time to talk to other artists but you will actually be contributing to the community. This can mean taking tickets at a show,selling popcorn at the Pickford cinema, hanging posters for an event,cleaning up after something, or attending endless organizational meetings. It might not be glamorous but you will meet people who are active in the scene and they will like you more with a broom in your hand than just standing with a glass of wine expecting to be let in to the secret realms. Volunteering signals that you are serious and committed.

Do what you love and do it in public.
No one will be part of your community if you are just drawing at home. (Unless you are looking for online community,in which case I have no advise for you.)Hang out at coffee shops and bars where other creative types congregate. Locally I would suggest bringing your sketchbook to The Black Drop and the Temple Bar. Even better, get a job at a coffee shop or bar, you will have endless interactions with artists as they are your co-workers and customers.

You need to be outgoing without being pushy. Have patience and be willing to put in the time. In a college town like Bellingham there is a cycle of people coming through, getting fired up about community and then leaving town. I was here seven years before some of the old timers started giving me the time of day. Now that I have lived here 14 years I am not much different.

I think it is also important to note that an arts community is made up of more than just artists. There are plenty of creative,open minded folks who don't exactly produce any art. These seemingly regular folks are often the people who are buying art and filling the seats at the theater. Some of the people I consider part of my larger community are involved with affordable housing, teaching, religious organizations, farming and food security, parenting,authentic therapy, environmental stewardship or small business owners. If you really think you can't be friends with anyone but artists because of your temperament, you might actually need to just work on your people skills.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

art walk this friday 8pm-10pm

I will be hanging out with Steeb at his opening at DIGS downtown for the first part of art walk. And will open our studio from 8pm-10pm this friday. Look for the beginning of the september cotton hat sale and new fall hats.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

broken needles

I broke two needles today while sewing especially dense felted wool and got so frustrated I threw the offending bunny at the wall. It made a satisfying thud and I left it where it landed, all inside out and unloved.Working for yourself is not always magical.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

a little bit about how animals are made

this lamb is my favorite critter from the week.

I was back in the studio doing animal production all week. There are three major days to a big run of softies.To make sure I had new buddies for market on Saturday I pushed a half dozen ahead and will go back to finish the second half of day two and day three over the next week. This is a constant juggling act for me, the efficiency of larger production runs and the weekly needs of a market booth.

Day one: I process felted sweaters by cutting them into their future parts. This is actually where the most creativity is used, looking at a v-neck and seeing a rhinocerous and cutting its basic shape. The day ends with bundles of parts rubber banded together in my wall organizer.

Day two:Sewing arms,legs,flippers and wings.This is the mindless sewing day,just sewing around all the pieces. It can be the most enjoyable because what I need to do is very clear. I begin to trim,turn, stuff and assemble the body parts. This process ends with critters who are machine sewn to their completion with stuffed appendages but empty bodies.

Day three: Hand finishing. Bodies get stuffed,side seams are stitched by hand and faces are embroidered and attached.This stage is quiet and a little magical as the floppy fabrics become recognizable creatures. it is a good stage to have visitors or listen to a book on tape since I am not starting and stopping my machine.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

results from art camp: a clean kitchen table

(cake topper from matthew and emily's wedding yesterday. delicious inspiration.)

I'm ready to get back in the studio after my week off. Art Camp turned into clean-the-house-week. Considering the state of affairs around here, it was necessary. And there is something pleasing about clearing the way for new ideas. That Zen emptiness out of which anything can be born. Not that my house or studio ever approaches Zen cleanliness,but you know,having neat piles instead of mountains of stuff. Just having a kitchen table with room at it can inspire an activity. For example, I have been thinking about how to make hat stands out of corrugated cardboard. One day this week after I cleaned the kitchen I pulled out boxes from the recycle pile. There was actually space to lay out the cardboard and trace shapes and mess around. I didn't have success with the project but I made tangible mistakes that I can keep developing. I even cleaned up after myself.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

art camp?

About a month ago I was feeling stuck and bored with moth and squirrel(this is usual in the month or so before a big show when I go into huge production mode and the end is no where in site.)I craved a creative vacation like an artists' retreat or a summer camp for crafty grown-ups. I know these things exist and I have read about them on line with much envy. But they usually cost a lot of money even before the airfair to north carolina or maine. So I looked at my calendar and found a week that could conceivably serve as my own stay at home art camp. A time to refill my creative well without business deadlines. Giving myself the space to dream about the future of my business without having to stop the dreaming to run errands or sew on pin backs.

I woke up this morning and realized this is the week. And I thought,"But I have to sew more baby whales. I can't have that kind of non productive unstructured time this week!"And I was too busy to plan any inspiring activities and I even had to schedule some meetings for the week. sigh.

Then I took a deep breath and a sip of coffee and realized this art camp week is exactly what I need. And maybe not having any planned art dates is exactly what I need. And maybe all I will do is write blog entries and clean my room and bake granola, and maybe that is exactly what I need.

I just saw this (somewhat posed)picture Steeb took of me while we were picking raspberries at Margie's.Usually I am very focussed and efficient in my berry picking with jam quotas in mind.But it was so hot and I was feeling so tired, I ended up sitting in the shade of the canes and picking from the ground and being so delighted by it all. There weren't as many ripe as usual so we just gave the tender berries to friends and ate them all week. I want this photo to be the feeling I carry with me this week.

do more of what you love.
do it slowly.
share it.
fill all your senses.
this is enough.

Monday, August 03, 2009

employee of the quarter

Our long running joke is that Steeb is moth and squirrel's employee of the month. But seriously. He helped out so much with the Urban Craft Uprising,I upgraded the joke to employee of the quarter. He performed all driving duties including awesome parallel parking, carried the heavy tables and bins, went out in search of lunch and coffee and held down the booth for bathroom breaks and general sanity. Most importantly he lives up to his nickname Coach and helps pump me up for production and marathon customer service while keeping it all in perspective. We had the smoothest set up/breakdown ever,just keeping our cool and our humor.

Lately I've overheard him talking about his support role with my crafting and referring to moth and squirrel as the family business. It makes me proud and warms my heart to have a man that is truly invested in my success. I'm a lucky crafter. Whether it is your husband, your mother or a superstar friend, we all need these people to help us do what we do,especially at the big events. So here's to all the supportive friends and family in the craft world. Thank you.

Friday, July 31, 2009


THIS JUST IN... the Urban Craft Uprising (sat & sun 11am-5pm) will be happening in the air conditioned Seattle Center. Hooray.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Urban Craft Uprising August 1 & 2 in Seattle

I have been sewing up a storm despite this unusual northwest heat wave. Mercifully, the air conditioning was turned on in the funky studios which has allowed me to put in 8 hour days. I sold so many baby caps at market this week I need to double my production to be ready for the UCU this saturday.

The heat and the push to produce has me listening to some serious rock.
After a mellow warm up (planning the day, cutting fabric) listening to something like Beruit or the Cave Singers it goes straight to guitars. Most frequently I play The Breeders Last Splash, Liz Phair Exile in Guyville and the Soundtrack to Dogtown and Z boys which ends with the sweetness of Rod Stewart's Maggie Mae and a chance to stretch out and do an air mandolin solo. Also in heavy summer sweaty work rotation is the soundtrack to The Wackness.

I do mix in contemporary music, but there is something invigorating about what you listened to as a teenager that gives you the energy to keep working despite your 30something aches and pains.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Spent the morning in the shade on the back deck printing napkins and hankies. The moths are fluttering above my overgrown garden and it pleases me so much.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

freshen up

It's another rainy wednesday and I'm trying to brighten this little blog. I managed to delete all my links to favorite people and shops and craft fairs and etsy. Hopefully I will have it all back soon.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

summer hats, gallery walk

This past month I've been creating new styles of cotton hats, including kids sizes.

Art walk this Friday July 3rd 6-10pm. 1316 Bay Street, Studio #208. I still recommend entering through the alley due to the construction at the front of the Pickford Dreamspace.

Thanks for all the support this spring at the market. I will NOT be at the farmers market the following saturdays this summer:
July 4
August 15

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

rainy days

After an unbelievably gorgeous spring, summer has arrived with a steady rain. We can use our June-uary joke this year after all.I thought I was going to spend my morning at the studio (I must get stocked up for Urban Craft Uprising in august.)But I am at home trying to plan this afternoon's garden class and I am stumped on what to do. Because two of my participants use electric wheelchairs that can be damaged by water, I can't just strap on the mud boots and garden through it all. So I need to have some greenhouse crafts planned and after nine years I feel like all my ideas are used up. All of the participants have been doing this adaptive garden program for at least two years with me. How many variations on refrigerator magnets can I invent? I imagine their refrigerators are completely covered with pressed flowers and glitter and tissue paper butterflies at this point. Being a crafty business woman allows me to use my creativity,but I think planning crafts for this class is truly the biggest stretch of my imagination. They need to be age appropriate,interesting for men and women, adaptable to multiple skill levels, garden related, and inexpensive. Some of the participants can't really use scissors for example, yet most are older than me. We do a lot of recycled crafts and I do have access to an amazing closet of parks and recreation oddities: Googly eyes, baby food jars, wooden popscicle sticks,altoids tins, feathers, glitter, yarn.The trick is just figuring out what to do with it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

congratulations inspirations

Carrie made this amazing dress she was married in last saturday, all windswept and romantic. I honestly can't imagine having the patience to construct a gorgeously well fitted corset, bustle or even the sleeves. If they put even half as much care and attention into the relationship as she did into the dress, she and Ian are bound to have a long and glorious marriage.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Art Walk this Friday June 5

Art Walk this friday, june 5, 6-10pm in downtown bellingham. Rumor has it that the front door to our studio building (1316 Bay St)will finally be available for your conveinience. I never thought the alley was scary,but with this heat it smells like something crawled into a hole and died.
The front door being finished means the remodel is at a new stage including the front studios almost being finished. After some waiting and debating and being at the mercy of another studio occupant's decision, Steeb and I are taking the huge front studio when it is finished. It is twice as wide across the front as our original studio which means double the light and breeze. We are nervous about the leap in rent $$$, but are hopeful that the freshness of the space and the financial crunch will lead to new inspiration. I think it will also lead to a smokin' hot bargain bin this friday as I don't want to move everything down the hall again.

I did in fact make it to the studio and make a bunch of white flower zipper pouch designs after my last post. This is my favorite (already sold) of the solomon's seal long enough for knitting needles.

p.s. I won't be at the farmers' market this saturday (june 6) because I will be at a lovely picnic wedding.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

lazy inspiration

Sometimes what looks like hedonism is actually research and development. For example,lazing around my yard admiring these poppies and solomon's seal blooming right now, I am inspired to sew some new zipper pouch designs or some really flamboyant hair flowers. The trick is to get to the studio while the pleasure lingers. Keeping a journal and a digital camera around is vital in capturing the moment and then being able to reference it when it is time to buckle down and produce.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

the internet cannot compete with the smell of lilacs at dusk

I want to give a big "thank you" to all the lovely people who have been supporting me on saturdays at the farmers market. It has been going so well with my own little booth that all this computer world is being neglected. I haven't posted new photos for etsy or this blog in too long.

so here is a quick list of spring delights:
lilacs blooming all over town
warm enough to wear a skirt(without jeans under it)
Dr.Sketchy's figure drawing sessions at the Temple Bar
eating dinner on the back porch
the tiniest swollen beginnings of figs on our tree
sharing comics with my class at three rivers
(class favorites: american elf and craig thompson)

oh!and I got into the Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle this August.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This quote has been my companion lately, especially while I was typing that last post:

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.Devour old films,new films,music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water,light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul.If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don't bother with concealing your thievery-celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said:"It's not where you take things from-it's where you take them to."
--Jim Jarmsch

Sunday, April 26, 2009

some thoughts on originality and theft and reverse applique

The popularity of crafting right now creates an interesting set of dilemmas regarding originality and ethics. The internet is flooded with tutorials and hot crafters are featured in magazines and glossy how-to books. Now that I am back at the farmers market I am asked questions about my process. Sometimes explaining how I work gives added value to the handcrafted nature of my pieces. But sometimes someone just wants some free tips so they can make something similar at home. So as I'm chatting away in my booth I start to wonder,am I making conversation with a curious customer,is this just the friendly tradition of knowledge sharing within the craft community or did I just give away a trade secret to someone about to bite my style?
I am actually not as paranoid about someone stealing my patterns as I am about being accused of stealing from others. I freely admit I take ideas from everything I see,but I have my rules. There are certain books I won't buy for fear of either accidentally stealing an idea or seeing something similar to my existing work and then feeling like I stole it even though I didn't. I was looking through a book on recycled fabric projects and recognized a particularly great Gap striped sweater that I myself have made animals from. And then I saw their little stuffed bird and it was so similar to the chicks I make at Easter time I just had to put the book down. Because at that point I realized even if not consciously stealing, I am making the obvious choices with my craft. The choices that someone else also made and put in a book and is getting paid to tell people how easy it is to make it why would anyone who had seen this book then buy a chick from me?
I struggled with this after purchasing the gorgeous alabama stitch book by Natalie Chanin. I was so inspired by both her business ethics and designs. I wanted to incorporate reverse applique into my cotton projects. After I made a headband from the book for personal use people kept asking me if I was making them for moth and squirrel and I awkwardly explained that I used someone's pattern so, no I wouldn't sell it. But then I felt stumped and paralyzed, questioning if I could authentically use the process at all.
Luckily I remembered I had messed around with reverse applique years ago on my original scrappy rascal wings.

Suddenly I gave myself permission to take this skill further and bring it into my current products. Reverse applique is a process of stitching two or more layers of fabric together and then cutting away sections of the top layer to reveal the fabric underneath.Most recently I have been using reverse applique on the esther amelia cotton hats.

Friday, April 17, 2009

yarn ball studies

I am teaching a small art class art a cooperative school out in the county. It is all about keeping an illustrated journal to document and explore your world. This week we explored the ways that different drawing tools change the way we draw.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

logo and taxes

It is surprisingly difficult to photograph my new business cards on an overcast windy day.

You can see the shapes in the original carving a bit more clearly. The new fold cards for my pins and hair clips are really tight, but they are all at the studio and I am at home with the computer finding more ways to avoid my taxes.

oh taxes. This is one of the activities I love and hate about running moth and squirrel. Taking care of the business aspects of crafting usually stimulates the nerdy part of my brain. Something satisfies me about filling in the correct boxes and transferring numbers from one form to another. But I get nervous that I am doing it wrong or cheating myself out of some deduction with my honesty and innocence. I am right in the middle of not making any money (so taxes are simple) and doing really well (where I could justify hiring an accountant.)
My stomach tightened a little just writing about taxes. It probably relates to the fact that I put it off until April every year. Why didn't I do them in february when I was just putzing around in the studio, not in the push of a new market season?
I think it is time to get out of my pajamas (a luxury of an at home business day)and put on my business suit to focus on the task at hand.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

end of hibernation

I've been feeling awkward about the transition from cozy solitary winter into social spring. I've been teaching a few classes where I practice being articulate and charming, but eight year olds are pretty forgiving. Mostly I spent the winter working on new designs in my studio listening to books on tape or doing computer work in my comfy pants and threadbare slippers. All of a sudden there are parties and gallery walks and farmers' market. I have one more day to be a grumpy bear and then it is time to get out of the cave and represent.

As part of the transition into fresh spring representation, I worked with Erin Clancy of sixpence papers to re-imagine my logo and all the cards and tags that go with my product. She designed an amazing set of paper products using a block carving and her magic computer skills. It is the perfect moth and squirrel mix of handmade and modern. Or as I've been thinking of my style lately: modern folk.mofo.

This friday April 3 you have another chance to visit me and steeb in our studio during bellingham's monthly art walk.6-10pm ish. 1316 Bay street Enter through the alley and up the stairs.

Then saturday April 4 come down to the opening day of farmers' market. I will have my own booth this year so please pop by to say hello. I'm not sure where I will be placed this year but I am hoping to be inside again.

Friday, March 27, 2009

yard art or I want to be like the Fridays when I grow up

If you have ever heard me talk about my friend Harlow Friday or if I have introduced you to him, I'm sure you have heard me talk about the rhino.He is probably sick of hearing me introduce him as the man who made the enormous rhino off of the Guide Meridian. He made it as a birthday present for his fabulous wife,Anna, and I have seen glorious snapshots of her astride it's wide back. The Friday's entire yard is full of metal art. Anna hates yard work, so they tore out all the grass and gardens save a little patch for their dog. All around their hot pink house sprout exotic grass clumps and rocks and dozens of whimsical sculptures.Harlow trained as a sculptor but then got a desk job (insurance, if I remember correctly) to support his family. Now that he is retired he makes whatever he wants without following market trends or customer requests. As Joseph Campbell suggests, he "follows his bliss." with a welding torch.

Now in their 70s,The Fridays serve as an example of how I would like to age, with quirky grace and a sense of humor. They are comfortable in their own skin.They are fantastic supporters of the arts, not just as serious theater patrons, but actually supporting the artistic lifestyle. Whenever I apologize for something like "Oh I didn't know you were coming over, the house is a mess..."they gently remind me I am an adult and I can live how I choose. Then they ask me about art projects we have going on and I relax.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

just face it

So I finally joined Facebook this week. Just a moment before everyone's mom. Actually,just a moment before Lindsay's mom, everyone else's mom was hip to the 'book before me. It has been fascinating. I've done the look up an ex-boyfriend,an old roommate and a friend from high school thing. I'm feeling a little less popular than Steeb who joined the same day as me. And mostly I am wondering how to use it as a tool.Not just for business but, you know, for the revolution.How to not be gossipy or narcissistic or just a silly distraction,but authentic. How to use it to actually network and support each others dreams.Perhaps I am asking too much of the medium.

There was a confluence of events and conversations that led me to finally jumping into the pool. But the tipping point happened last sunday. I was reading Career Renegade about how to use technology(including things like blogs,twitter and facebook) to build the career of your dreams. As I cross referenced the book with the internet, Ned called. He and Virginia listen to npr while they bind amazing journals.They also recently got into facebook and are "friends" with the KUOW show Weekday. The host of Weekday, Steve Sher, started The Hat Initiative promoting the wearing of locally made hats as a way to stimulate the economy. Ned and Virgie wrote in to the show and gave Moth and Squirrel a shout out. If I had been on facebook then I could have gotten some looks at my profile and links to my etsy shop. So as soon as I got off the phone with Ned I put the book down and signed up.

More about The Hat Initiative. I love this kind of grassroots,goofy,joyful movement. It is simple: Wearing a hat promotes conversation and that conversation can naturally be about the local (or independent) business that provided the hat. Instead of talking about layoffs and ridiculous bonuses we can talk about something growing, creative, tangible in our community. A hat on your head can be a show of support for local artisans and the charming shops that carry independent artists. It is silly and hopeful and keeps the rain off your head. It doesn't have to be passed by the senate and actually contributes to the financial health of governments by taxes collected on the sale of the hat and the profit of the business. Last year my largest category of sales (29%) came from hats, so this idea just makes sense to me. When I see someone in a fabulous hat it always makes me smile. And don't we need more smiling amidst all this talk of recession? You can join the movement by seeking out great hats in your town or shopping on etsy or visiting me at the bellingham farmers' market april 4.

p.s. I am trying to collect photos of people in their moth and squirrel hats,so please send me one if you already own one.

Friday, March 13, 2009

preparing to quilt

I've been thinking about quilts lately. As part of being a grownup lady crafter I went to the La Conner quilt museum with Rachel last week. It is in a victorian mansion similar to the "castle" where Lindsay and I gave tours as teenagers. They had a lovely exhibit of textiles from india and pakistan on the second floor. I am forgetting the names of the techniques. I stood in front of these plain sheets of fabric that were transformed by hundreds, thousands, millions of small stitches. Some of it was fancy like needle lace, but most amazing to me were these simple tiny straight stitches. The devotion to the thread just about broke my heart open.

When I was in Quinault last month I got to sleep under my favorite quilt. The very basic square pattern dances with these charming scraps of fabric. I always forget to write down who made it when. It does have my dad's name(or is it his father's?) on a little tag on the back. When Rachel talks about her granny quilting and I feel like I missed out on something big.I didn't get a chance to learn these skills from the grandmother generation. And my own mother is of the progressive generation that turned away from the tyranny of women's work handcrafts.
Every time Rachel and I look at quilts she is adamant about the importance of hand quilting, versus machine stitching through the layers. And so I am preparing to do my first hand quilting project, a little sampler of sorts. I am intimidated by how long it will take, yet seeing these quilts I feel like it will be a great slow communion across generations and around the world.My hope is that I won't get caught up in the tedious idea of perfection. But it is a fine line, a subtle attitude difference between the chore of fine handiwork and the grace of a peaceful precision. we'll see how I do with this practical meditation.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Art Walk this Friday March 6

Second chance to see this red and pink lady boxer at jinx.

February went so quickly, it is first friday already. The bargain bin still has some screaming deals and just hilariously odd sample hats in it. I have new esther amelia hats(you can see one I just posted on etsy to the left here) Spring animals are being born including baby bunnies and pink sheep. And of coarse Steeb's fantastic art, mini pins sets and coloring books will be up to view and purchase.

1316 Bay Street #208. Enter through the alley. 6-10pm.

Friday, February 27, 2009

also,this is the best ever

Just a week ago Jason (see moustache below) asked us in the car what one person,living or dead, we would like to have over for dinner and conversation. I said Maira Kalman,forgetting that Abraham Lincoln should also have gotten an invitation. Especially since we just celebrated his 200th birthday by eating hoecakes. Then today, Rachel, knowing me well, sent me this from the new york times. I am in love with Maira Kalman's brain(and her paint brush.) Follow this link (right now!) to see her lovely piece about our mutually admired

crow and canary

I was dropping off new pins at The Paperdoll today and Shultzie told me she had seen Carina's custom name tag the other day. I do not know Carina, her sweet man friend special ordered the pin for her after seeing me at Crafty Wonderland. I knew they lived in Portland but had no idea she was the rep for so many of the fabulous cards at The Paperdoll. I had wanted to post a picture of it but wasn't sure if it was a surprise, so follow the link above and see for yourself.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I've been sewing a new style of hat lately, something between a baby bonnet and an aviators helmet with a splash of musical swimming cap glamor. But the photos I have are of all our visiting this week. First, up from California it's Steeb's brother Jason and his fabulous moustache.

Hattie Belle (four months of chub folks) with a stack of Steeb's gluten free oat nettle cakes while celebrating John and Sarah's visit with "breakfast for dinner." John and Sarah were all star Old Town co-workers until they moved back to her family's farm in Indiana. These cakes are a new staple around here with nettles from the herb shop until we can harvest fresh ones.

Me and (Steeb's Grandma) Delores talking about the new curbside compost pickup program in her senior village. She said a lot of her neighbors are confused about what waste should go in each container, even though the info booklet had pictures. Well, not everyone is as on the ball as GrandmaDelores.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I taught a creature craft class last week...

I really can't take much credit for this chicken as being an amazing teacher. The student showed up late, left early and using spacial relation skills beyond her years, whipped this little chickie up out of the scraps on the table. I did help tie off some nice knots discreetly placed under wings and beak. I did provide the scraps and the place to make animals. But, wow. Too bad there are those child labor laws or I would have asked her to be moth and squirrel's first employee.

The rest of the kids were focussed and fun and creative as well. And their animals and uglies and tater heads had all the charm and lumpiness you would expect. They didn't want to take breaks and just kept sewing for almost six hours straight. The devotion to a non-profit craft reminded me of my own beginnings, hand sewing doll pillows out of a dress my mom let me cut. The way they kept adding details without any thought of cost benefit analysis, it made me see how like a tiny factory, a slow machine I have become in just two years of market production. And although efficiency helps me to make a living sewing stuffed animals, I need to make time to sew the things I will never be paid properly for creating. To be patient adding extra leaves or paws or fancy trim around the necks of chickens.

With the economy still as "failing" as it is, there is an urge to make more things faster and cheaper. I see this with all the businesses around town having sales, racing to the bottom. I myself am making a new batch of smaller critters right now. But I want to fight that urge to get by financially by dealing in shoddy bulk. I think instead I should keep my prices what they are and add value to my product, extra details, finer construction, a good story and a personal touch. The fact that my skills are improving doesn't mean the prices have to go up. And yet I see home based crafters underselling their work all the time. Cruise around and you will be amazed. These must be women with lucrative day jobs or lucrative husbands. I am suspicious of anything handmade under $5. I mean, don't you even value the time it took you to take those photos and post the item? So where is the balance between keeping objects affordable as money gets tight and valuing yourself as an artist? Right now it seems to be about $30.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Rad-ening

Every year I see my first snow drops of the season the first week in february, right around the cross quarter day of Imbolic, halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox. Goddess wise it means the crone of winter is dead and the maiden of spring is taking over. The milk begins to flow again as animals in pasture give birth. Adrienne says it's also called The Quickening. Steeb noted that on these early sunny days all the skateboarders come out again. So I called it The Radening. That subtle shift in attitude when you realize it won't be grey and cold forever, that you can survive another year.
This weekend I went out to the Quinault rainforest with my parents. Most everything was moss draped and soggy as usual. The Radening could be seen in the tiny pink buds swelling on green huckleberry bushes. I took about a hundred photos on a little walk and almost none of them came out, the camera just couldn't focus on the slight branches in front of all the other layers of green and brown and red and grey.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bellingham happenings

I really ought to be finishing up for my Old Town show and my new fiber arts class that I will be running on monday. All of a sudden February is upon us and I actually have events to publicize and attend.

Stop by The Old Town Cafe (316 W Holly 6:30am-3pm Sundays 8am-2pm) and see the gardeners show. It evolved into being entirely portraits of gardeners with words. The show will be up February & March.

Art Walk. First friday is February 6. Come by our studio (1316 Bay St. 6-10pm)Remember you have to go around the building into the alley and up the back stairs. Be brave. It is fun and well lit inside. I will also have some saucy pieces in the Red &Pink show at Jinx. I stitched two portraits of ladies in bloomers with velvet and buttons and lace.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

regarding ferns

Here is a new piece for the Old Town show that hangs next week. I am doing the stitched portraits attached to wood blocks with painted backgrounds. This one is the late poet Stanley Kunitz regarding some ferns. He is ninety something in the photo I used.
We have had a week of cold sun and it has been a challenge to go to the studio to create these images of gardens and gardeners when my own land has been calling to me. With frost decorating the yard each morning it is too early to plant anything, but I feel compelled to move soil around, dig up more lawn and create more space to grow this year. Even just an extra foot around my existing spots seems so important. All the talk of the failing economy and hard times ahead, the call for a return to responsibility and sacrifice, to me it says grow more food, tend herbs for your health, walk the woods and find the wild foods. I am feeling a return to more of my good hippy ways,to follow through with wild notions from my Fairhaven sustainability studies. My problem is that I like to research and start projects more than I have been able to relax into the patience and daily practice of really nurturing a garden at home. To say I want to grow more food is to say I want to produce more than a handful of sungold tomatoes and garlic. I do alright with the herbs because once in, they take care of themselves. This art project of seeds and gardeners is as much an inspiration and lesson for myself as it is a display for others.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

save handmade toys and their makers

I can't believe I am just hearing about this, is this on the news? The Consumer Product Safety Commission passed a great law to protect people from lead and other toxins in children's products. Unfortunately, the law, if not clarified, would turn my little creatures into contraband. The law requires safety testing on all products intended for children 12 and under.This includes books, clothing, and all the sweet handmade natural toys out there. The tests run several hundred dollars per item. As someone who specializes in one of a kind items, that sort of testing would be impossible. Without consideration for scale of business or original materials used, this law will seriously fuck many small business owners. Check out the Handmade Toy Alliance (link to the left)for more info. I just sent e-mails to my representative and senators.

after the rain

I am thinking about seeds and bulbs and life returning, of victory gardens neatly planned and wilder spaces where nothing is expected and everything is a delight. I am sewing giant seeds and printing rows of baby lettuce and poring over seed catalogs, trying to remember what I learned from last year. Since the puddles receded from the yard it felt like winter might be fading. But a cruel fog rolled in this morning as I was taking pictures of these love-in-a-mist sprouts. Hope may be in the air but you still need your mittens.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

weekly practice

As some sort of new years resolution I decided to commit to a weekly blog post. I resisted even writing much of anything on this blog for so long, clinging to the notion that I would type out a new zine in some authentic and sustainable future. Believing that no one even looked at this page, I mostly posted photos of stuffed animals and art show updates. Even if it is just for Callie and Ned and Virginia and Angela and Elliot, I will give you a little more of myself in 2009.

I am thinking about my art show at the Old Town Cafe in February (is it still called nepotism if you are your own inside connection?) But other than a special order name tag, I have not made a darn stitch in about month. My pin pricked fingertips healed. Callouses from scissors softened. And I have three whole weeks to pull something together. Steeb wants me to paint again and says my drawing/watercoloring has improved so much this year in my journals. We will see...