Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Antique Show

   By far my favorite shopping falls into the category of "antiquing". This has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. Although in all honesty, when I was young, I would hold my breath hoping that my parents wouldn't see the giant "Antiques" sign by the side of the road. Since, that never happened, I grew up wandering through shops full of very old things and usually managed to find something that interested me.
   It wasn't until my husband and I set up our own home that I really went all out for antiques. Over the years we (mainly I) have managed to plan trips around places with good antiquing or museums with great collections of early Americana.
Over the weekend, we attended one of my favorite antique shows of the year. It comes at just the right time as the holidays are over and winter has set in. By this time I need to get out and look an amazing collection of dealers and their wonderful antiques.

   Somehow I usually manage to find something that speaks to me although I can't always pay the price tag on that fabulous Penna-German decorated dower chest. What I did bring home however was a wonderful leather-bound hymnal of the diminutive size printed in 1839.
     I also, managed to bring home some great textiles. With these pieces, I will find lots of inspiration for future projects.
The best thing though about this show is the reunions. It seems around every corner of the show is another a friend. It was wonderful catching up, exchanging stories of the past year, and seeing what purchases had been made. Here we speak the same language: original surface, early construction, paint decoration, and so on.

So, in this new year, happy antiquing and maybe I'll see you browsing the isles of old things somewhere!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What's In A Name?

A small fraction of the old books in our house.
  That is a great question and coming up with clever & smart names for things is just not my strength. If you have ever bought any of my work you may have noted the titles of the pieces. Such gems as "Cat with a Tulip", "House with Trees", or the ever-catchy "Flower in a Pot" are some of my better titles.
It's just a fact that I have had to come to terms with. When it comes to naming things I seem to have a block. We have three daughters and when we got to the last one you'd have thought we used every name in the book.

  So, how do you describe your work in the title of a book? Where do you even begin?

   I guess you begin with the obvious such as "Applied Wool: The Application of Wool to Wool", or "In Stitches: Laughing Your Way Through Wool Applique", also "Stitch It Don't Pitch It: My Life with Re-purposed Wool". Obviously, these didn't make the grade.

Great leather tomes.


     My next thought was to draw on my regard for certain classical literature. These titles I found particularly inspiring: "A Stitcher in the Dye", "Wool-thering Heights", "To Stitch a Wooly Bird", "A Tale of Two Threads",
"Great Wool-specations", or my favorite 
"The Call of the Wool".


   

     Alas, these too hit the "cutting room floor" with a thud. So, I deferred to those who do it best (mainly my editors) and we came up with "Wool Applique Folk Art" and they added what I think says it best, "Traditional Projects Inspired by 19th~Century American Life".
There is something about stacks of well-used books.

            So in the end, maybe my obvious titles are not so bad. It certainly leaves nothing to guess.


Coming June 15,2015.
Can be pre-ordered at ctpub.com.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Joyful & Bright



    

  
A great early door with old worn surface
adorned with one of my mother's wooly stars.




 The house has been festooned for the holiday, and we are ready to share with you some of our 
"Christmas Corners".



A wonderful old wool petticoat for those blustery winter days.
Not many people know that my dad is an amazing wood carver.
Here are just a couple examples of his Father Christmas'.
He does the carving, and mom and I do the painting.






     As I anticipate the coming Season, I have been casting back over the year that has passed, and am just so grateful. It began with me contemplating what to do with my work and the direction it was going, and being sure that I understand there is a plan for me put in motion by the Creator. When you work for yourself and your work is all about yourself, it can be very hard to just turn it off some times and take stock in what is around you. 

     So, here is a heart-felt greeting to all of you. Also, a huge "Thank you!" for all of the support and encouragement. I have heard from so many of you and it means so much. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a marvelous New Year!

     


Artwork by Karly A. Smith


P.S. I am still getting the hang of some of this tech stuff . Thank you for the lovely comments that I just found. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why Not A Wooly Workshop ?

Workshop Woolies
     Developing a connection with clients has always been important for me. I like to know what it was about the piece that moved them to make the purchase or why it spoke to them. Knowing my clientele isn't always easy. Selling through shops, online, or even a show doesn't always allow for interaction.
Wooly Table Mat

     Several years ago I started teaching wool applique workshops for a local wool event. It was a great way to really spend some time with people who enjoyed my work and wanted to learn more through my sharing of designs, techniques, and materials.

     Over the years I have held many and various workshops although not on a regular basis. With raising a family, time was limited, but now I have begun developing and scheduling more workshops . This past year I held three local wool applique workshops. The response was wonderful and I reconnected with students from previous classes and had new students as well. Everyone was enthusiastic and came prepared to learn and create.

     
     As I begin to schedule for this year's series of workshops, I wanted to let people know just what a class with me entails. Also, I want people/groups to be aware that they can request a workshop from me. Each year I set my own workshop schedules, but I also schedule workshops with private groups.


Workshop Design

     Some of the workshops I develop are the result of a requested design or a piece of mine that someone wanted to stitch. Each year I try to offer an original workshop to stitch a piece that was designed for that class. Some of my best-selling items I currently do not hold workshops for such as the wooly boxes.

     Workshops can be tailored to fit the needs of the group such as space, time, number of students, and cost. I have a list of past workshops to choose from or we can start with something new.

Cost

     The cost of each workshop varies according to size, length, and complexity of the project. Another big factor is travel. I am willing to travel. There are two ways to get a quote started for the cost of a workshop.

1. A group has a budget in mind per person/ group as to what they want to spend, and I will work within that budget.

2. A group sees a workshop I have done and would like to request it.

3. A group sees one of my pieces and would like me to develop a workshop to teach it.

Once one of those options are chosen, I will give you the cost for each student based on materials, time, and travel.


The Book

     As my wool applique book is due out June of 2015, I will be developing several of the projects as workshops. There will be more information about those coming later.
Wooly Pocket 2014 Workshop

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Welcome Autumn

Photo by Bruce Patrick Smith
      On this the first day of Fall, I wanted to share some of my favorite themes in creation that reflect the the brilliance of the season. 


Photo by Bruce Patrick Smith
Photo by Bruce Patrick Smith
Photo by Bruce Patrick Smith
      In my family we have several autumn traditions that are a must, and we look forward to them with anticipation. We love apples! Apple crisp, apple pie, apple cider, and especially homemade apple sauce.
Photo by Karly A. Smith




             Leaf picking is another of our Fall pastimes.
 We just can't pass up a colorful specimen.



Photo by Karly A. Smith
Photo by Karly A. Smith



This is the time of year that my favorite nuts and flowers are ready to be cooked up for dyes. I have been actively dyeing a lot of wool these last few weeks.









As we move in doors with the cooler temperatures, it is time again to bring out the autumnal pieces that evoke such warmth and inspiration.



Civil War-era water gourd gifted from a friend
Storage bag made from old linen

Photo by Karly A. Smith

Free Wooly Pattern

These are the colors of wool I will use for this pattern. As always use what inspires you. (Click on the pattern to download the printer-friendly version.)
Various Natural-Dyed Wool & other Over-dyed Wools
Blue Squash
 Enjoy the fruits of the season!




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life in an Old House

My guest blogger today is my daughter Karly. She is an educator/writer sharing her thoughts on growing up in a century home restoration project. Check out her blogs on my sidebar!
personalized house sign

An old house never sleeps it seems—as long as it has a family to look out for.

We looked at many slumbering houses before we found the Phelps house. Some were snoring so loud I wasn’t allowed to go in them, while others had been rudely awakened into something they were not (one strangely resembled an aquarium. Lots of fish tanks). But this old place squinted at us just the right way, and we packed up and settled on a hill facing west.

176 years take their toll on windows and walls. It sure wasn't much to look at, and we learned to smile cheerfully in the face of bewildered and questioning looks. We would also learn to smile bravely in the face of immovable stones, ravaging stumps, hidden decay, and delay.

On the subject of questioning looks, explaining that one lives in a 176-year-old house can be difficult. Can it
be summed up into 5 years in a tiny cottage while fixing electrical and oodles of other problems, then moving into the big house with a temporary kitchen? That doesn’t quite convey the feel of it, the adventure. My friends from high school and college never quite got it unless they came to see it. I would proudly march them to the real kitchen to show off the lovely pit of dirt that it was for a while (Now I just tell them it used to be a pit of dirt.)

Can I explain the kind of resourcefulness required for fixing up a fixer-upper?
You need to be willing to get dirty, plow through confusion, and make do with what you’ve got. When the stone is 6-feet long and it bends two iron bars? Yeah, build the foundation around it. And the shower in our only bathroom may look a bit Trek-y, but a curved corner shower is all that would fit. It came in 100 pieces—exactly 100. With some help from an extra pair of hands, I put it together from the single, almost picture-less page of directions included. (Well, there were ten other pages, but they were in every language from Mandarin to Portuguese.)

Still, life in an old house is art. It is living alongside your dreams for the future, watching them slowly grow, learning patience. Walking around and seeing what can be beyond what is sitting there with peeling paint or temporary plywood.

Living in an old house is keeping it awake.
Copyright Karly A. Smith

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nature"s Studio

      

This was one of those scarce days in July with crisp cool morning air and a sunny pleasant afternoon. While I have a new studio, the day was calling me to labor in the outdoors. Not the kind of labor I should have been doing such as weeding and mowing, but of the creative kind.


Although this summer has been deliciously cool and great for being able to handle my wool work, the vegetables are protesting by not supplying our table with their bounty. Also, there are some great summertime home improvement shows being played out on at house this year such as "American Scrapers", "Who Wants to Paint the House Again?", "Desperate Diggers, The Patio Edition", and my favorite "Lost in the Grass, A Cat's Journey to find the Back Door".


Back where I came in with this blog post. So, I spent the day relishing the great weather that is so inspiring and energizing. It was a great time to catch up on painting as well as stitching. It's hard work running your own business, but I really wouldn't have it any other way. What other office has such amenities as butterflies, cool breezes, clouds, and your favorite cat as a coworker?