Shoes, My Next Speech, and Items of Rooted Beauty

22 07 2009

Today was a good day. I definitely needed one because yesterday was not.

I spent most of the day in a business training meeting. The first part was on networking. I was surprised how little internet networking possibilities were mentioned. I have some notes on changes I want to make to my business card though, and I’ll be looking for some FREE local networking activities. I have a feeling they won’t be official networking activities. More likely are visits to exhibits, during which I keep in mind networking. Maybe just an effort toward constant awareness of networking possibilities, but hopefully more than that. Also, my elevator speech is now one that can be delivered on the elevator of a building of less than 75 stories. It’s actually down to 30 seconds flat and I like it.

The second half was about presentations. Considering that I’ve been active in Toastmasters for a good half a year now, it was not surprising that there wasn’t much advice and strategy of presentations I hadn’t heard of. But the timing was perfect. Tomorrow I give my second speech at Toastmasters. I’ve been turning different ideas over in my head, but hadn’t really sat down and worked on it yet.

So I used the opportunity to practise for tomorrow, and I’ll be darned, what I produced was highly praised. I do think my attendance at Toastmasters has produced noticeable results. It’s done wonders for my confidence about actually being able to make a business of this. The instructor said the kind of enthusiam I have for my business is a good predictor of success. I’m finding myself imagining how it might actually happen. Amazing!

The second thing I want to write about is a project that pays nothing, though it might produce some useful publicity, and it should make some money for a charity. I’ve been commissioned to review a book for a website (the commission being keeping the book). The book is about turning unattractive or dull shoes into some really impressive shoes. Since it’s an instructional book, I think trying out a project needs to be part of the review. I proposed making a deal with a charity shop to allow me to take some of their shoes and tart them up. The website liked the idea, and the very first charity shop I approached approved it on the spot and let me choose three pairs of shoes to transform. Then they’ll be featured in the window with an attribution. Dig it!

Ah yes. and “Items of Rooted Beauty”. An e-mail discussion group I subscribe to has been discussing how difficult it is to make a living in one of my favorite craft arts these days. It was partly that discussion that had me down yesterday. But it is also that discussion that led me to try to find a description of the difference between the types of items I make and all those mass market things that might fill some of the same purposes. What I make are:

Items of Rooted Beauty.


Mark-Making w/ Tucks and a Book

10 07 2009

I’ve finished my double-layer skirt/shrug.  (It really is time for a photoshoot.) It is gathered, almost in cartridge pleats, by matched side-by-side tucks, and I’m going to add some decorative crochet on the edges of one of the layers. On me, it is definitely a shrug, rather than a skirt, and I think the idea will work better on a one-layer skirt, but first I’m doing another project.

It’s my first machine-knit “art fabric”.

My knitting machine is a bulky, and meant to use thicker yarns than a non-bulky knitting machine. My play with organized tucks using several threads at once has produced the Gutsy Gatsby scarf (mentioned in another post, but not yet photographed) and the cartridge-pleated double layer shrug/skirt, both of which producing decorative elements that could be easily used for cushions.

So now that I’ve got a good handle on tucks, I’m using a single thin yarn to make a very light and airy translucent fabric, so translucent that tucks can be used to “draw”, to “make marks” that will be visible from either side of the fabric. Afterwards, I plan to drape the fabric on a dressform, layering, and gathering, and tucking, and pleating a unique garment in which the tuck “marks” are a feature.

I’also gotten my hands on a marvelous book. Some time ago, I saw the book in a bookstore, thought it was a new book, and decided to ask to review it for a website with the idea that I’d get it for free. But it wasn’t a new book, and it was gone the next time I went to the store. I looked it up on the web, but I wanted to look through it again before I bought it.

Now I have, and oh, the ideas it has inspired. What can be done with plain muslim is amazing.

Alright, I’ll tell you. The book is “The Art of Manipulating Fabric” by Colette Wolff. And I can’t wait to start using the techniques to make fabulous things. I’m going to have to add a page. I just know it.

Tiles, Crochet, and Madonna

4 07 2009

No, I’m not going to try to connect those three things.

Tiles has to do with a trend report I saw a few days ago on

about some marvelous sgraffato tiles.

Being me, I couldn’t help thinking I’d like to try that. So today I stopped by a tile store to see if they sold bisque tiles that I could theoretically paint a glaze on, scratch my own designs on, and get fired. They had one possibility at a pretty low cost, so now to find an appropriate glaze and way to fire them, or to find real bisque tiles (not at one of those pottery painting places where it would cost a fortune). I’ll report of future progress on this idea.

Crochet has to do with the advanced crochet class I taught today. Some years ago I earned my living, a pretty poor one, mostly making crocheted sweaters. In the process, I figured out for myself how to do almost anything you’d see in a knitted sweater in crochet, particularly the textural bits. I also invented several patterns. Today we had a student at the center who already knew the basics, so I taught her some of these stitches. Afterwards, it occurred to me that there were several groups of them that I could offer as advanced crochet classes. Got to prepare an announcement and post on

which is like Craigslist for the UK.

I’ve now spent a good deal of the evening watching a Madonna performance from her recent Sticky and Sweet tour. She has always been an influence on fashion, and I don’t watch any performance without noting the costumes, so of course I took notice of these. She wore Hammer pants in satin for some of the show, and two dreadlocked dancers wore some very wide pleated or gathered eastern-style pants, which was a very interesting look I will keep an eye out for. I wish I knew the name of that garment. But what I will be looking for in the charity shops, just for the fun of it, will be some American style football shoulder pads. Her’s were glittered and beaded and sequined to a fare-the-well, which would be a fun project, whatever the results.

With ideas and influences as disparate as these in a single day, is it any wonder that my creative life splits in so many directions?

My Bursting Roses Print

30 06 2009

I have now fully painted the design I created with the theme “Bursting Roses” in mind. See this past post:

Since “Bursting Roses” came from the Elle Decor trends

Let’s take a look at it:


(Wow! I could swear I’ve put all the other pictures in at this same size, approximately. How did this one come out so large? I’m going to have to go back through all the pictures of my work and figure this out.)

Anyhow, now for a name. How about ROSES!

I fabric painted this one onto a shopping bag, but it could very easily be turned into a 3-screen screen print, one for the outlines, one for red, and one for yellow with transparent paints so the red and yellow could overlap.

What do you think? Would you like to reserve the shopping bag?