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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

fancy heat

What's fancier than a silk-covered hot water bottle? LFN Vegetables ribbon on green duppioni, lined with more silk, and inside, the nicest yellow rubber bottle!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

And Gloves

Two pairs of gloves trimmed with my ribbons. The blue ones have a vintage acetate grosgrain sewn under my "Ribbon Candy" in blue.
These are trimmed with stretch lace and my Dandelion ribbon. Both pairs of gloves are stretch nylon, and I stretch then while applying the ribbon trim, which results in ruffling the ribbon when it contracts.


This is made with Yellow Poppy ribbon and a Liberty fabric my sister in law Cherry brought me from England.

This one is made with one of my favorite Kaffe Fasset prints, and the new Butterfly ribbon I did for Renaissance Ribbons.

I have been making sachet/pincushions for about a year now, inspired by the unmatchable pincushions by Sue Gower of Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods, who sells buttons, trimmings, and ribbons, including my LFN Artist's Ribbons. She makes wonderful pincushions from vintage textiles and vintage buttons, and stuffs them so full of lavender they are rock hard. Maili Powell of Soutache in Chicago (fabulous trim store) also makes pincushions like this: she & I have a great time trading ribbon ideas on a regular basis and I hope to post some of her ribbon creations in the future. But here are pictures of my pincushions for now.

Starting again

Five years ago I was hit with the inspiration to begin making ribbon. Not by hand -- as fast as I can weave, it would not be fast enough for fine ribbon! -- but to manufacture it. After sourcing a terrific manufacturer and building acreative relationship, I began painstakingly building the business itself, something my BFA and MFA had never prepared me for. Never mind that I am the most businesslike among all my artist friends: that doesn't teach one how to make a business plan, finance inventory, figure out marketing, advertising, and packaging and filling orders. I found myself doing so many separate kinds of work that it felt my head would split apart -- and I no longer had time to do my hand weaving, which really is at the core of my existence.

Enter Edith Minne, the lovely and inspired owner of Renaissance Ribbons , and her equally delightful team, who have rescued me from my Cinderella drudgery and freed me to just attend the ball of designing ribbons that they then arrange all the details for. They now own all the inventory, and run the business. Together we collaborate on ideas for new ribbons, exploring new technologies and colors and patterns. I am delighted to be working with them.

Having turned the day to day ribbon business over now to the wonderful people at Renaissance Ribbons, I now have the luxury of taking time to play with my ribbons. I have long thought it is a good idea to write a book about "Things to Do With Ribbon" (for lack of a more creative title!), and now I can begin organizing some of those ideas and projects on a regular basis.

For starters, here is what I sent out with every ribbon order for two years:

When showing people my ribbon I am met frequently with cries of delight, followed by “But what do you do with them?” Many people just collect ribbon, for the sheer delight of looking at it. Those of us who live for textiles understand this intimately. But when you have a full box, the next step would be to use it simply and naturally: a length down the center of the dining table. A strip tied to your suitcase handle so you know it could only be YOURS. A length tied around your hips over that flirty long skirt. Another length tied around the crown of your gardening hat. Tie lengths from a curtain rod as happy streamers.
Sew it at the edge of a blanket or quilt, or to towels. Sew it to the hems of your jeans, skirts, the edge of your jacket. Mend frayed cuffs on your beloved raincoat.Make watchbands, dog collars & leashes, belts. Trim a footstool with it, or those myriad pillows.Use it on handmade books as a binding or inset.

A few tips –polyester ribbon launders beautifully, but shrinks under high heat. Use care when ironing an article with ribbon attached. Also, glue doesn’t work well as it tends to soak through; use spray adhesive for paper projects, or better, a Xyron sticker machine (readily available at crafts stores) applies permanent adhesive evenly. You can cut polyester with a woodburner knife which seals the edges to avoid fraying. Mix colors & patterns – use a flowered ribbon on a plaid dishtowel, or a red ribbon on a green silk eye sachet. Matching can be so dull.