Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Spirits

I have never been a big fan of the red-green thing, other than the deep rich natural green of the holly which inspired it, so I was quite surprised when my colleagues at Renaissance Ribbons delicately insisted that it would be a good thing to use that Christmas kelly green we all know, on a couple of ribbons. And I remain surprised. Aren't they fun? there is a lot to be said for fitting -- colorwise -- within the mainstream sometimes: e.g., these colors will actually match people's wrapping papers and Christmas fabrics so can be used in many more ways! So I re-colored Ribbon Candy and Tiny Cakes (our best seller anyway) in these cheery colors.

I was also persuaded by Crate & Barrel to attempt something in terms of what they refer to as an "icon" for holiday linens, so last summer, when I found some fabulous vintage rhinestone brooches as an antique fair, I knew I had found it. First I translated it into a ribbon for RR, and next it will be embroidered/printed/woven/decalled onto any number of C&B products -- but for those, alas, you will have to wait for Holiday 2008.

(these images are courtesy of Crafter's Vision, where you can buy all of them)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

big cute

I sell a number of the things I make at the Racine Art Museum Store, and as they are having a shoe exhibition right now I thought it would be fun to make some ribbonny shoes for them. Big shoes are sort of a fuss to make, so I decided to make baby slippers instead.
The ribbons are from a collection I did for Renaissance Ribbons last winter called the Little Darlings collection, all 2-sided damasks and childlike and fresh.

The charming bootie pattern came from an esty vendor, melimade.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

two new cushions

Yesterday I dug into my fabric again and made two small buckwheat-filled cushions with new ribbons. The first is a great piece of embossed felt which I decorated with the large, turquoise & brown Suzani ribbon, and trimmed with mini ball fringe; the second is a nice bird print cotton which I framed in my Butterfly and Dot ribbons (available from retailers in my Friends column). Each is about 9" x 12" (the size of a piece of felt!) and is filled 3/4 full with buckwheat hulls to which I added a scoop of dried lavender.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

new designs

I'm working toward a group of new ribbon designs to introduce in January. Now that I work with a company, Renaissance Ribbons, all development is a committee affair, and all of my designs go through an informal but through process of evaluation for market-worthiness. I am thrilled with the success of the Suzani collection, which we launched in August, and really gratified that as so often happens, my nose for a trend has proved dead on.

We are discussing ideas for the next collection right now: as usual I have about 15 times as many ideas as we can afford to produce. Each ribbon, each color of that ribbon, is run in lots of at least 3300 yards, so we are talking a lot of ribbon here. One needs to be very sure that the design is a good one! I am happy to say that we will be producing coordinates for many of the existing ribbons, so projects can be designed with a range of patterns & widths which all go together. We did this from the get-go with the Suzanis, designing 3 patterns in separate widths and 4 colorways.

So, friends, here's a chance to have some input! Do we need more vegetables? More flowers? Poppies in pink? Tiny Tomatoes? Or other subjects? Do leave me some feedback, and watch this space as new ribbons emerge.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

kittens and ribbon

Well, much of my time these last two weeks has been taken up with caring for four tiny kittens I found at the back door of my studio. They were probably 3 weeks old, which meant eyedroppers and kitten formula. Today they began wolfing down solid food -- which means freedom!

They have doubled in size in these two weeks but are still quite tiny -- and would not sit still to have their picture taken!

They all are black with white markings, each distinct enough from his siblings, and they all look like a wonderful black & white cat called Marbles, who belongs to my friend Michelle. My daughter Rose drew Marbles several years ago -- she must have been about 10 then -- and I always kept the drawing. Last winter we made it into a ribbon, which you see here sewn into a little gizmo case I made last week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

sachets for the eyes and senses

I am deeply into good smells, valuing my nose almost as much as my eyes & hands. I get great pleasure from making sachets, using organic dried lavender flowers and filling eye masks (the best way to nap) with a mixture of lavender & flaxseed. You need the flaxseed for weight: this exerts a cool soothing pressure on the eyelids and blocks out the light: napping comes easily this way.
To make one, you take an 8" square of silk, find the center, and then apply the length of ribbon to the lower half. Then fold, stitch around the edge, turn, and fill halfway with a mix of flaxseed and dried lavender.

I also love making pincushion sachets (so if you sew it's the former, if not, it just smells wonderful).
These are also simple to make: I use 2 - 7" squares of a pretty fabric and sew a length of ribbon across the center, or maybe diagonally, then sew around the edges with the right sides together. Turning it, I stuff it until it is absolutely solid with lavender. It takes about 4 ounces to do this. Sew the opening closed, and then tuft the center deeply with a pair of vintage buttons, one on each side. I have a lot of fabric, a lot of ribbon, and a lot of buttons, so I tend to make a lot of these pretty things. I sell them on my website and on my etsy page.

long black gloves

I've had these gloves for some time, just waiting for the right ribbon. Here they are now, trimmed with my Suzani in the 2.5" width. The gloves are polyester Ultrasuede, and I turned them inside out to apply the ribbon to the top of the cuff.

working with suzanis

Yesterday I got into my bins of fabric and objects and began making and trimming things with the Suzani ribbons. I trimmed a pair or burnt orange stretch gloves (these are great gloves, and I have decorated many pairs with ribbon!) with the 1.5" design. I backed the ribbon first with a beautiful vintage brown grosgrain ribbon, 2" wide, which sets it off and hides the floats on the back. Then I heat cut it into 10" lengths (with my woodburner tool, wonderful for cutting a sealed edge on ribbons) and seamed each length into a cuff. I turn the gloves inside out, and pinning at both seam edges, I carefully attach the cuff to the glove all the while stretching the glove to fit. This ruffles the cuff nicely.

I am working on a pair of elbow length ultrasuede gloves, trimmed with the red & black medallion suzani. I will post these next.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Suzanis at Last!!

Today my box full of Suzani ribbons arrived from Renaissance Ribbons. How exciting it is! I submitted the designs on Easter Sunday, fighting a cold while I made all the thread color choices, and here they are in my hands at last. They are flying out the door, I am told, and we are considering a fifth color way in more muted tones if all goes well with these.

In the next few days I will be making things with these and will upload pictures as I go: meanwhile you can see them at Renaissance Ribbons.

I am also showing you here the first Suzani which inspired the collection, a beautiful Bukhara I saw at my favorite bazaar, eBay.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

ribbon paradise

I was in Chicago over the weekend and stopped in to see Maili Powell, who owns what must be the best ribbon and trimmings store in the country, SOUTACHE. Glory glory glory -- she has a full wall of ribbons, shelves laden with bottles of buttons, drawers with buckles and other findings (eyeglass holders! dog leash attachments!) for things to make with ribbon. Lovely bulletin boards full of glam magazine clippings providing up to the minute fashion & color trending for embellishment. Maili makes wonderful objets d'art of ribbon and teaches classes in how to do these things.

Of course she carries most of the LFN Textiles ribbons. Look at the veggies ribbons in the display details --- and the yellow poppies against the aqua wall. Soutache also carries a great number of Renaissance Ribbons.

No website yet (too busy frilling the world) but Soutache is at 2125 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, (which is full of wonderful & original shops) 773-292-9110.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Color sampling

I saw a post on Jane Brocket's Yarnstorm blog the other day about yarn samples, and I thought I would share one of the best parts of designing ribbons for me: choosing colors.
Manufacurers usually expect you to send in Pantone color numbers for them to match thread to. This is an approximate science: I find color must be art or it has no life.

One of our current manufacturers sent me this thread book (first photo), which has a very nice range of shiny ("brite") and matte polyester threads, but if you weave, you know that woven color is never pure and it mixes with the thread already on the loom.

My real asset is this wonderful book of woven thread samples from a manufacturer that I sadly no longer work with. It has literally thousands of color threads, each on a separate card: on each card it is interwoven in a variety of weaves so one knows -- and can specify -- exactly what that thread will look like woven. One side of the card shows the thread woven across white, and the other side shows it woven across black. This, my friends, is a big part of the good colors I come up with on my ribbons!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Posey County Melons

Posey County, where I live, is famous for its melons. We grew cantaloupes & watermelons this summer; the gourd came from a farmer nearby.

top to bottom:

A Fine Cantaloupe
Yellow Gourd
all 13" x 9.5" and wool with cotton, nylon & metallic.

These will all go out to Gingrass Gallery in Milwaukee next week.

Orange Barn

I did this a couple of weeks ago. A barn a just north of town, slatted for drying things. It really is this color.

The tapestry, "Small Orange Barn", is 26.5" x 17.5", wool with cotton & metallic.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fruit Compote

Crate & Barrel came out with a new towel this fall based on my Fruit Compote tapestry from a few years ago. What I particularly like about the embroidery here is that it varies on every towel -- they used the same kind of space dyed threads that I weave with!! not to mention that a black dishtowel is very cool indeed: my towels get so dirty, and this will never show stains!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Suzani, Suzani

I am getting quite impatient for stock to arrive of the new Suzani Ribbons. They are already online at Renaissance Ribbons, but I only have little 8" samples of each so far to keep me happy!

Meanwhile I have bought a new Suzani from my man in Tashkent, and am eagerly awaiting it as well. It is quite different from the others I have bought so far (which inspired the Suzani ribbons). It is a Surkhandarya, and brilliant orange with less sophisticated embroidery than those that I have previously bought. I was inspired to buy this by a series of upholsterd furniture I saw at ABC Home in New York when I was there last month. That was all covered in cheap, bright Suzanis and wild commercial fabric for a deliriously happy effect.

top to bottom:
Our new announcement postcard for the Suzani line of Artist's Ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons. See the website ( for all of them.

My new Surkhandarya, arriving maybe today from Tashkent.

ABC Home's Broadway store, with one of the many fabulous chaises upholstered with Suzani.

Five for the road

Today I will send out my work to Patina Gallery for SOFA in November. I am really pleased with this group of tapestries and will be sad to see them leave. They are all about spring & summer here in southern Indiana.

top to bottom:

Orange Slat Barn, 29" x 30", 2007
Cornflowers, 31" x 30.5", 2007
Corn Cribs & Pear Tree, 30" x 30", 2007
Spring Pear Trees, 28" x 51", 2007
Corn, 33.5" x 30", 2007