Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laura
    Thanks for posting on my blog - I LOVE your ribbons! I think a book about using ribbons/trims is a great idea - some of the pictures you have used are fabulous ideas!