04 December 2009

december craft show madness or how much is too much?

this is the state of my floor as i prepare for shows 2 and 3 of this weekend. since friday: 50 feather hairpins (3rd photo, some sold) 10 feather pieces (added to the pile in the 2nd photo), several plain flowers (lost count of how many), goodies and coupons for sunday's handmade nw formal show, organizing the vendors for the p:ear show next weekend, and probably more, but i can't remember. my mantra for getting everything done, and it's working: one thing at a time from start to finish.

here is the short list of shows:

12.5 Sunnyside Environmental School Holiday Bazaar 11a-4p 3421 SE Salmon Street to raise funds for biology trips. There will be a raffle with fabulous prizes!

12.6 Handmade NW Formal Artisans Sale 10a-6p at the Chelsea Ballroom 1510 SE 9th (and Hawthorne) We will be dressed in out finery to present you with lovely handmade goods for the holiday season! swag bags to the first 100 to arrive!

12-13 P:ear craft show for the 12 days of P:ear fundraiser Sat 12.12 6p-9p Sun 12.13 10a-4p 338 NW 6th Avenue (and Flanders) two days of fun-filled crafty goodness with art, music food and libations.

12.19 Saint David's Last chance Holiday Bazaar 10a-3p in the Parish Hall 2800 SE Harrison featuring a raffle with fabulous prizes!

12.20 Last Chance Open Studio Sale at my studio! Kirsten and Brent will be open for your last minute holiday needs. Maybe we will have a special guest or two, maybe we will just be drinking by ourselves. Always entertaining; bring a friend! 323 NW 6th 2p-7p

(and my etsy shop, don't forget about that!)

together, you can buy out all of my stock, so i can do this every week! i have lots of ribbon to make more.

24 November 2009

buy handmade for the holidays

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

here's where i can get preachy, and you probably realize my bias, but i have to say it: BUY HANDMADE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

we can all try and debate whether art has value in society, so let's just assume that it does. myself, and most of the people i know make their livings by our hearts and hands. we are kind of old fashioned that way. if you have been following my career, you know that i try to make as much as i can on my own, and what i can't make, i try to get from another local artisan or small business. times have been difficult for many of us, and small gestures do make a big difference. big boxes have the finances behind them to weather out months of bad economy, whereas us little guys can have our lives turn south after only a couple of bad months. we are a large part of your local economy. i am not endorsing rampant consumerism, but a careful consideration of what you spend your money on and the impact of that purchase after money exchanges hands. so a few things i am asking you to consider when making a purchase:

where did it come from? who made it? how long will you use it? does it enhance your life or surroundings? can it be repaired if it breaks? recycled? can it be passed along to someone else when you are done with it?

and most of all: do you love it?

i live in a small space, so every object that i bring in to my house has to pass the "do you love it test". i have based my life and career around beautifying people and their surroundings. a necessity? some might not think so, but living in beautiful surroundings enhances my well being. so during the holiday season (and all year round too) go to one of the zillion craft fairs in your neighborhood (many of them are supporting local charities as well), your local farmer's market, small businesses, and etsy.

take the pledge:

I Took The Handmade Pledge!

12 October 2009

fixing the holes

once in a while i will get a crazy idea born out of some twisted idea of necessity. part of this is a fixation with repairing much loved things. a good long time ago, i received a vintage faux fur coat as a gift. it became my primary winter coat. and one day there was a hole in the lining. i patched that hole with a crazy quilt fan block i pieced together from some random scraps. the outside of the coat was fine, but the lining was disintegrating. over the next couple of years as the lining continued to fall apart, i continued to patch up the holes. finally, the coat itself started to fall apart. it had its last hurrah during last summer's trip to the desert.

i acquired a new vintage coat last year. it is a lovely 1970's leather coat with powder grey shearling trim that my friend chris helped me buy from a guy in a bar who looks exactly like prince. it is a truly lovely coat, and the lining was intact. was. i pulled my coat out of the closet and discovered a HOLE in the lining. being that the saddest part of letting my old coat go was all of the time i spent adding crazy quilt patchwork to the lining. so i chopped it out.

an i spent a good part of today sewing and embroidering the old patches over the holes.

so begins my slippery slope. maybe someday someone will manufacture a lining that won't disintegrate, but that would be too easy.

16 September 2009

some photos of the first incarnation

here are some photos of my new studio. i am still unpacking boxes, and trying to get into the swing of things. today i painted a screen that i have been meaning to finish for the better part of a decade (i know) and my a-board sign. i had help from my painter friend brent wear who is in charge of the art on the walls.

i am still on the fence about having regular hours, but i am available by appointment if you want to come visit. i will be posting my *by chance* hours on my twitter page.

31 August 2009

change your studio change your life

so if you hadn't heard, i am moving my studio out of the egg. moving is always a bit scary, but i was bursting at the seams in my tiny space. as much as the egg has done for me, i am ready for something new. so i am moving. i will be back downtown tucked away in the back of the virtuoso gallery. it is a larger space that will be a work space and a permanent showroom. for those of you who live in portland, oregon (or just visiting), come see me in my new space! it is located at 323 nw sixth avenue between everett and flanders. i will be open first thursdays and by appointment. i am bad about taking photos, but i will take some soon once i get settled and post them. of course there will be an opening party sometime soon, maybe in october.

16 July 2009

dress, dress, dress a rambling state of my wedding season

dress, dress, dress; it is all i can think about. mentally working out the design that my brain is not so graciously giving up in tiny pieces as the deadline approaches. she has worked her way into all of my thoughts, my dreams, my whole being until she is finished sometime in the next couple of days. i have given up trying to think about anything else; it is an exercise in futility. such is how things are when i am nearing a deadline. my mind is hard-wired to solve design problems. i have a particular outcome that i am fixated on, a particular vision that requires all the tricks up my sleeve, and my entire mental capacity as the deadline approaches.

the last weeks i have spent sketching, calculating, cutting, pinning, stitching, picking apart, fitting, measuring recalculating, clipping, pressing, gathering, stitching. obsessing over curves, avoiding unsightly lines, accentuating in some places, drawing the eye away from others..

bits of silk and threads cling to my skirt, which i notice later long after i have left my studio. i am still thinking, working it out long after i left work for the day. i never leave work behind. it is always there, addling my brain.

last night i met friends for drinks after work (9p). eyes glazed over, and incoherent, i try and try to hold a conversation about other things. in my mind the dress is working her details out. i am sure my friends probably think i am insane. my sentences are halting and distracted. i am sure i make little sense. although i have had only half a drink, i can blame it on the alcohol. but i cannot stop thinking about it. i am obsessed. i ride my bike home, and go to bed. as i drift in and out of consciousness before finally falling asleep, little bits of details float by weaving themselves into my dreams.

no matter far in advance i get started, no matter how i try to manage time between myself and my clients, i am always working up to the last minute. circumstances always seem to work out that way, not matter how hard i try to do otherwise. i have never missed a deadline, and things always work themselves out, but i can't stop worrying about it. even though i know everything will work out, i can't stop fretting over it. this dress is all i can think about today, and when i hand her off this weekend, there is another one waiting in the wings to take her place.

28 April 2009


i just spent several hours last night with tracy draping her dress on her body. this is my preferred method of working in some cases. the elements of the design get to be tried out on the body, and we are guaranteed a perfect fit. i started out with some of the pieces cut out, some put together: the sleeves, the skirt. we spent the better part of the evening pulling and pinning, her trying out some movements very carefully (so she isn't stabbed with pins) and chatting while i stitched the pieces together after we had them worked out. all that is left to do is make a couple of alterations, and finish a few edges. everything else is almost done.

after a while, meshi showed up with some beer and snacks, and we worked out all of the last minute details before tomorrow's tech rehearsal. it is always a relief to get to a point where we know things are coming together, and the finish line is in sight. here's hoping that there are no wardrobe malfunctions tonight; although tonight is the best time for anything that might go wrong to show itself so that it may be corrected before opening night which is thursday:

a new dance work by Theory 1:Dance
Disjecta, 8371 N. Interstate
April 30th to May 2nd at 8:00 pm, and
May 3rd at 2:00 and 8:00 pm.
$14 at the door, $12 in advance. to purchase tickets

Desire….it’s a word packed with emotions, good and bad. Desire shapes our interactions with those we love, it endlessly drags us into the past
and unknowingly shapes our future. It propels us into action, and grinds us to a halt. “I want to stop Wanting” is an exploration of desire: how we hold it, how it burdens us, and how we let it go. Created by Tracy Broyles and Meshi Chavez with musician lyd and dancers Lucy Yim and Mark Kline, the piece makes physical reality out of the ideas of desire, burden and grace. Raw, visceral and psychologically charged movement is matched by a hauntingly beautiful electronic score that will be mixed live. Costumes will be made by Kirsten A. Moore of Piper Ewan, set design by Bill Tripp and lightinng by Dug Martell.

Hope to see you there!

24 April 2009

my hierarchy of procrastination

on monday the sun was shining, so i wandered the opposite direction to the mountain to sit under a tree.

on tuesday i knitted, because i didn't feel like making hairpins.

on wednesday morning, i made hairpins to put off going to my studio to inventory garters and hem pants.

on wednesday afternoon, i made garters to avoid hemming pants. then i hemmed pants to avoid making dance costumes.

on thursday morning, i typed on the computer to avoid making flowers. then, i made flowers to avoid going to my studio and drafting patterns.

on thursday afternoon, i made garters to avoid drafting patterns.

today i MUST draft patterns; that was supposed to be done right now.

i write lists and lists in an attempt get everything done. in the past, i would procrastinate by having another cup of tea, running off to happy hour or just staring out the window. now i am procrastinating by doing things that are lower on my list.

05 April 2009

recession hairpins

i have been spending quite a bit of time wrestling with myself lately over this idea of the economy, and my lack of place in it. this is nothing new. i have been flying under the radar forever; doing my own thing, not paying much attention, until lately when no one will allow me to leave it alone. it is no secret that my life is a world of feast or famine; i put on the best face that i can at all times. i am always working no matter what, so the so-called ravaged economy shouldn't make too much of a difference, but everyone is talking about it, asking about it buying into it. there was never any question in my mind that the idea of exponential growth and living on credit was totally unsustainable. so is the whole globalization model; i am all for doing as much local trade as possible, but there is a need and a use for international trade. where else would we get our coffee, tea (or the silk and ribbon) that we can't grow in our backyards. it is really a question of balance.

in my own little world, it is all anyone ever asks me anymore: "how is your business doing in this economy?" what does one say to this?

ACCESSORIES: accessories sales have been steadily rising since the economy has been going down.

WEDDINGS: weddings are always steady. i am lucky to have a line of timeless flowers and garters which have always been popular. no matter how many times i think that i will give weddings, i always have a few custom weddings each season. this year, i get to make dresses for friends.

SUPPLIES: the cost of supplies have been going up, with some materials being pared down or discontinued. one of my main suppliers discontinued three-quarters of their colours. this almost sent me into a panic. but then i had to remember that nothing i do is static; there will be new designs and product lines to replace the old ones.

HAGGLING: this has been an unfortunate aspect of my business since the get go, but it has been much more prevalent lately. i suppose i can just chalk this up to ignorance. this runs the gamut from being compared to big box stores or similar products that aren't similar. for instance, my flowers are fabricated completely by hand v. gluing a craft store flower to a pinback. i hand set my swarovski crystals, hand strip my feathers, and hand sew the beads. i have politely explained this way more than usual. there is much more to consider about the cost of an item beyond its price tag. how well is this made? how long will it last? can i fix it?

RISING PRICES: i have done everything in my power not to raise my prices as my costs have gone up. i am holding out as long as possible.

INSPIRATION: i have been more inspired lately to make more elaborate things. another thing i have been finding unsustainable is speed and immediacy. there once was a time when i would go home and check my answering machine for messages. now society and circumstance has me trained to have a panic attack if my phone is more than 3 feet away from my body or i go for more than a couple of hours without checking my email. my work is slow work. it is work of carefully designing garments, and making embellishments from scratch and hand-sewing them on. i like hand quilting and cooking elaborate food and knitting and walking to work and talking to people in person. these are not fast things. we have been taught to be impatient. waiting is a dirty word. in my journeyman phase of learning my craft, i have learned the importance of not skipping steps. it is those little details that make something fit properly, move properly, last a long time, and it is those little details that make things beautiful. but it is also those things that make the upfront cost expensive. but in the end what is more expensive? one thing that lasts a really long time or a lot of cheap things that you throw away after 6 months, because you didn't really like them that well, they fell apart and you couldn't repair them, because they never really fit properly?

so in this swirl of recession talk, i get asked if i have a recession product. and the answer is yes and no. yes, because i had thought that it was important for me to have some little bits available if you wanted to take something away, but couldn't afford that custom gown today. no, because i have always had some version of this for that very reason. we may have to lead somewhat austere existences due to financial circumstance, but that does not preclude us from little luxuries while we save our pennies for a rainy day. i have made hairpins here and there. it was just time to bring them back. i always make them every year. if you see me around town, it is rare that i am not wearing one. usually i end up making several sets for wedding parties, but i don't always have them available for sale. since there has been a demand or them, i am presenting them again. this one is a little rosette, about 1" in diameter. i could have made them cheaper if i didn't use the swarovski crystals in their centres, but they are so much prettier this way. wear one or several. a little spot of colour to make every day a special occasion.

03 March 2009


photo of tracy broyles and meshi chavez in COCOON BIRD by jon springer

in the spring of 2007 i met with tracy broyles of theory1:dance to discuss the possibility of costumes for her production of COCOON BIRD. she arrived with a couple of pages torn from a magazine, a bag full of paper leaves with little phrases written on them, and a list of words. we used this as the basis of the costumes for this performance.

and this spring i have the privelege to work with tracy and meshi again in their upcoming performance of I WANT TO STOP WANTING that will be held at disjecta in portland at the end of april. i watched my first rehearsal two weeks ago, and took notes on the dancers' movements to see the technical needs and limitations i might encounter when costuming the dancers. other considerations are: visibility, the distance between the dancers and the audience, the lighting, the colours of the walls and floors as compared to what the dancers are wearing, how they all interact together, and which movements need to be highlighted or hidden. i love seeing the progression of other peoples' work. and i also like the opportunity to do something completely different than my very focused piper ewan line.

now is the big challenge. i need to work with the directors to come up with a look that best conveys the feel of the piece. unlike FLYING IRON these costumes cannot limit the dancers' movements in any way. discussions with tracy and meshi over tea consist of us trying tossing about words and concepts that will translate into costumes.

tracy and meshi are holding a fundraiser for this performance on friday the 13th; it should be fun:


March 13th, 2009 – 7:30 pm ‘till 10:00 pm
Performances start at 7:45 Dance Party starts at 8:30

Conduit Dance, Inc.
918 SW Yamhill Ave. Suite 401
Portland OR, 97205

Performances by Oslund+Co., Lanie Bergin,
Jen Warnock & M:CM dancers, Woolly Mammoth Comes to Dinner

DJ Winky Wheeler + Snacks and Beverages

Donations $10- $100

A benefit for THEORY 1: DANCE’S new work:
“I want to stop wanting” Premiering at the end of April at DISJECTA.
Artistic Directors: Tracy Broyles & Meshi Chavez
Composer/ Musician: lyd
Dancers: Lucy Yim, Meshi Chavez, Mark Kline, Tracy Broyles

This project is partially funded by RACC