Sunday, August 30, 2009

Little Cabin Quilted Postcard (by For Quilts Sake)

Watercolor Sunset (by For Quilts Sake)

Interview with Pam (For Quilts Sake)

I listened to an interview, recently, with a chef who assigned her children a night each week to cook. Rather than encourage the children to pick different recipes, she suggested doing the same recipe for a period of time. She wanted them to experiment with seasonings, toppings, cooking techniques and really understand the nuances of the dish before moving on to the next. Instead of limiting the children, this approach invited experimentation with each specific dish and resulted in broadening the children's understanding and mastery of the foods they prepared.

This approach to exploring a medium is not new or limited to cooking and may be applied to artistic endeavors as well. Sometimes placing barriers (artificial or real) on a project increases creativity and brings about surprising and wonderful results.

Pam is the talented quilter and fiber artist behind For Quilts Sake. She offered to talk with me about limitations and the creative process.

It is with great pleasure I bring you this interview.

"I never liked sewing," Pam tells me, "but I loved fabric so I took a class on how to piece and quilt by hand. My education and work experience has been as a graphic designer and also as an instructor of both graphic design and desktop publishing. I enjoy doing other artwork--watercolor painting, photography, mixed media and press flowers--but it's the quilts that I'm compelled to work on."

"I loved the final result of quilting by hand," Pam continues, "but it took too much time. I taught myself how to use the sewing machine and I'm pretty much self-taught from books and just trying things. Sometimes I get an idea like a flash and other times the fabrics tell me what they want to be. After making many quilts for myself and for friends and family, I decided to create some of my own designs, both in a traditional quilting style and also as art quilts."

Pam opened For Quilts Sake (Etsy) in November 2007, and offers handmade, unique and customer art quilts and quilt-related items, including watercolor paintings, fabric mosaics, quilted postcards and quilted necklaces. "What interests me about traditional quilting is how a quilt square can look completely different if the shapes that make up the square are in different colors or tones of the fabric. I am also interested in the secondary patterns that emerge when quilt blocks are arranged together."

When Pam gets stuck on a design or life throws her some challenges, she turns to Nature, other artists, doodles and limitations to help her work through the problem. "I believe that limitations can be powerful when trying to break through creative blocks. By limiting myself to certain colors, textures or styles I'm forced into looking at different ways to look at these constraints and (hopefully) push through them and create something new."

Pam combines her love of quilting and her concern for the environment by coordinating a fundraiser every year for a small, privately owned nature preserve called Glen Helen. Glen Helen's mission is to provide science-based, experiential learning in the outdoors while fostering respect for the natural environment and empowering people to act in its interest. Among its offerings is an Outdoor Educational Center, Trailside Museum, Raptor Center, and Nature Shop.

"Glen Helen has school groups come in to learn about the environment," Pam explains. "Some of these are city kids who don't have much opportunity to experience nature. Because it isn't covered under the state park's budget, Glen Helen has to be creative about how they get their funding. We've organized fund-raisers, done maintenance on the buildings, as well as giving monetary contributions."

The Nature Arts and Crafts Show Pam coordinates to benefit Glen Helen is going to be held Saturday, November 21 from 9am to 5pm and Sunday, November 22 from 11am to 5pm.

"This year's show is full," Pam says, "but artisans interested in setting up a booth for next year may contact me through my shop or website to get on the mailing list for the 2010 show."

If you are interested in the show but cannot attend this year's event, you may also make donations to Glen Helen at this link:

As for what shoes Pam wears? "Bowling shoes...funky and different, yet familiar and playful. Cool in a retro sort of way but not cool in a what's hip right now sort of way."

You may find out more about Pam and her work through her website, Etsy shop or blog.

Pam is a member of the Quiltsy Team.

For more information about the Glen Helen Nature Preserve:

Glen Helen
Nature Arts and Crafts Show

What Shoes Pam Wears

FAQ about Pam's Shoes:

No, I didn't steal them, I bought them new, on-line from the company who makes them.
Yes, I wear them outside.
No, I don't wear them to bowl in (since I've worn them outside).
Yes, I wear a size 7.
No, I'm not a good bowler.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Alice and Me (Self-Portrait with the Guitar My Brother Made Me)

Cool guitar, eh? My twin brother made this for me to celebrate our birthday. So awesome! He even included a hologram of Alice-in-Wonderland on the back. Love it!!!


BTW - He still turned OLDER than me on our seven minutes...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Irresistible Charm Stroller Quilt (by LoveBug Studios)

Fig and Dewberry Clutch (by LoveBug Studios)

Interview with Ebony (LoveBug Studios)

Quilts, for many, are more than just pieces of fabric. They are memories: people, places, events. They become an integral part of life's routines, celebrations and sorrows. Whether they are utilitarian or decorative, traditional or contemporary, quilts symbolize moments in time and reflect the varied, often colorful personalities of the people who make them.

Ebony is the creative talent behind LoveBug Studios. I met her through the Quiltsy Team on Etsy. She offers quilts, aprons, handbags and accessories, cards and journals, and other handmade items. Her specialty is to take ordinary, everyday objects and refine them into charming, fashionable pieces that reflect modern sophistication and flair.

Ebony offered to share some of her insights about life, working with fabric and starting a business. It is my honor to bring you this interview.

"My very earliest fabric obsession," Ebony tells me, "was with satin; my mom would buy me yards of the stuff, and I would make costumes, dresses, and I even made Valentine pillows with hand-sewn lace and sold those to friends, classmates, and family. I have had a needle and thread in my hands for as long as I can remember. I think I was born to create. I've always drafted my own patterns, but my clothing wasn't really successfully made until I learned more about garment construction!"

Ebony's love and passion for creating things, along with an obsession for fabric and all sorts of embellishments has lead to a lifetime of collecting fabric, lace, beads, buttons, sequins, paper, crayons and markers. "Anything," Ebony says, "I could get my hands on to make something with."

In college, Ebony loved dressing up and going places--to banquets, operas--anywhere she could get away with wearing an evening gown. Her fascination with satin continued. "I couldn't afford to buy evening gowns for every event, so I made about 2 or 3 gowns every year. As my gown collection grew, so did my scraps of satin because I was still in love with it and couldn't bear to toss it. I started making things with satin and mixing them with other fabrics. This included a return to my heart-shaped pillow making. Eventually, that turned into make some rudimentary quilts."

"Over the years," Ebony continues, "I've picked up a number of craft-related hobbies: crochet, cross-stitch, scrap booking, jewelry making, but I kept returning to this idea of quilts. I started buying fabric and making quilts for friends and sold a couple here and there. Quilting and sewing are passions of mine, so it was natural for me to combine these techniques and materials into the creations that inspire me daily. I didn't get serious about selling them until my friends and my mom encouraged me to take it more seriously and open a business."

Ebony opened her online shop in May, 2008. "I named my business LoveBug Studios for several reasons. I've been driving a little red Beetle for the longest time, and my last name is 'Love.' My friends started calling me LoveBug and any time they'd see me driving around town, they'd tell me about their LoveBug sighting. The 'studio' part came about because I always pictured myself doing other things besides quilts, and I didn't want my business name to be too limiting."

"I think that as I make more and more things," Ebony continues, "I'm starting to develop my own style and sensibility. I have a really upbeat personality; it doesn't take a lot to make me smile or laugh. I love surrounding myself with things that brighten my mood--bright colors, a cool pattern on a piece of fabric, flowers. So even though I try to make some things that are more subdued and traditional, I can't help but make things that are bright and happy and reflect that part of my personality."

A lot of work and experimentation goes into developing a successful online shop: taking quality pictures, writing interesting and accurate descriptions, finding the best venues, marketing and more. It is not as easy as it looks. "I recently had an 'aha' moment with my shop," Ebony offers. "It's really starting to have a cohesive look. I started working on a shop makeover to do a better job tying things together. Instead of referring to my shop as being filled with 'quilts and quilt-related items,' I adopted the phrase 'handmade sophistication.' I can really see my art and craft changing and improving and growing over time, and that is really exciting."

Everyone experiences challenging moments and, for Ebony, it helps to step away and do something else. "Often the challenges drive me to just do something with my hands. I tend to do things that are pretty mindless and allow me to work through whatever issue I have in quiet thought and meditation. Stitching a binding by hand or pulling weeds in the garden often gives me that quiet time to sort through things. Now, when that challenge in life happens to be directly caused by my creative process, that's when I just go watch TV!"

Like many of the other artisans interviewed for this blog, Ebony is concerned about social issues, and in particular housing, food and financial stability.

One of the charities Ebony contributes to is Modest Needs, dedicated to helping people with unexpected financial emergencies. "Financial stability can sometimes be the contributing factor in someone being able to stay in their home or feed their family," Ebony says. "One little minor disaster can set them on a downward spiral toward homelessness and joblessness." It is not difficult to imagine being in this situation--especially in these economic times. Imagine having a moderate income, doing okay, but the car breaks down. Fixing the car means using the money you planned to use to pay the rent. Not fixing the car means being unable to get to work to earn money for rent. Not paying the rent means getting evicted. "Many people are living on an edge as thin as a razor wire. The money contributed to Modest Needs doesn't go directly to the recipient; it goes directly to whomever the creditor is, so you know that the money is being spent for what it was intended."

Ebony also participates in Feeding America, a hunger-relief charity. "I do what I can to volunteer at the food pantries or to pack supplies or donate whatever I can."

On occasion, Ebony also donates blankets and quilts to Project Linus, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer "blanketeers."

And, finally, Ebony supports housing by participating in Habitat for Humanity building events. "A few years ago," Ebony says, "I traveled with a group to Slidell, LA to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina." The city of Slidell is located in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana and was just one of the areas to be destroyed by the hurricane in August, 2005. Habitat for Humanity has been working in the area (and around the world) to build simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need.

As an aside, Ebony offers, "It was on that trip that I discovered that there really is a bug called a lovebug, and they are not cute and cuddly like they sound. They are pretty harmless, but very annoying!"

For relaxation, Ebony loses herself in fantasy-type books (like The Hobbit) or in the classics (like Anna Karenina). "It's my way of taking a mini-vacation to a world I would never otherwise get to see (because it doesn't exist anymore, or it never did!). I lean the same way with movies. It would probably horrify people to learn how often I watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice while working in my studio! Any music with a good beat and lyrics I can sing along to also helps, especially when I'm not feeling my normal self!"

As for what shoes Ebony wears? "I think sling-back, peep-toe heels describe me best. The heel is for high-spirits (my personality), the peep-toe is for my generally introverted nature (takes time to coax me out of my shell--people often mistake my upbeat personality for an outgoing nature), and finally, the sling back is because I don't like to be confined or boxed in. I need room to grow and spread my wings!"

You may learn more about Ebony's life and work by visiting her shops LoveBug Studios (Etsy) or LoveBug Studios (Artfire) or checking out her website LoveBug Studios. She is also a columnist for and publishes a twice-weekly column on the love and art of quilting.

Ebony is a member of the following groups:

Carried Away Bag Team
Chicago Style Crafters
Fiber Arts Guild
Quiltsy Team

What Shoes Ebony Wears

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coolest Hottest ACEOs

Check out the Coolest, Hottest ACEOs handpicked by LeMachi Gallery for this spotlight. Here is the link: Coolest, Hottest ACEOs

ACEO stands for Art Cards, Editions and Originals. They are original artwork or editions of original artwork 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches in size. ACEO artists make their pieces using pretty much any materials: paint, paper, fabric, beads, clay, wood, metal. Common uses for these collectible small art pieces are to display them in a basket, box or on a small stand, give as gifts or stocking stuffers, mat and frame to hang on the wall. How you display them is only limited by your imagination!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lobstering In Maine

Here is what I did on my summer vacation: hauled lobster traps!

Well, actually, I hung out at the back of the boat while BF's dad and brother hauled the traps. They are the experts. I loved watching them working together. Great team!

A lot goes into setting the traps, finding the best locations to drop the traps (lobsters are bottom feeders, so your traps need to be where they will crawl into them on the ocean floor), hauling the traps and making sure only the legal lobsters are kept.

There are strict rules in place to make sure the lobster population stays healthy: undersized or oversized lobsters and breeders (lobsters found with eggs and/or a notch on their tail from previous catches) must be put back into the ocean.

Many people rely on fishing and lobstering in Maine as a livelihood and to feed their families. They do what they can to preserve this vibrant and often rigorous way of living. I get a sense of why they do it. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being on the ocean.

With non-commercial lobster licenses, BF's dad and brother are allowed to put in 10 traps (five traps each). This results in a haul just large enough for the family. What a feast! Steamed lobsters, corn on the cob, salad fresh from BF's sister's garden. Mmmmm, mmmm, good!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Red Ball

I saw this red ball yesterday and, for some reason, it tickled my fancy.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Updated CPSIA Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers

Got this today from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Updated Handbook for Resale Stores and Product Resellers, August 6, 2009

Probably not the last time this is going to change--discussions are ongoing. I will keep you posted!