CRAFT party recap October 29, 2006

The CRAFT party was so much fun!

I got there early to help set up and served as a crafty hostess all day, along with Jenny and Cathy. Cathy and I both wore 1960s Lilly dresses, and Jenny magically coordinated with us as well. It was so nice to see them along with Carla, the editor of CRAFT, and her husband Mark of MAKE, who was goccoing away with a cute panda design.

Carla, Cathy, Jenny and me at the CRAFT party
Carla, Cathy, Jenny and me

Tons of people came by, and I got to hang out with Cecily, Wendy, KB and her adorable robot-costumed son, and Christine (who won a door prize!).

The lovely cupcakes (decorated by Cathy) were a huge favorite!

CRAFT party cupcakes!

The prizes were pretty sweet too — lots of bundles of three shiny new Chronicle books, along with handmade delights. I was so happy to see my skirt kit and earrings go to an enthusiastic seamstress with lots of cool jewelry on! And Carla’s daughter won Cathy’s adorable pink mushroom pincushion, too.

You can see more photos here and here. Thanks to Carla and Jenny for hosting such a fun shindig — viva CRAFT!

CRAFT party on Saturday! October 26, 2006

If you’re in Los Angeles, CRAFT magazine is having a spectacular launch party at Machine Project this weekend! Come by for cupcakes, door prizes — like new crafty books and handmade delights from Felt Club vendors (including one of my skirt kits and a pair of sparkle earrings) — and free copies of the magazine. There will also be a Gocco 101 demo and lots of other surprises. Don’t miss it!

Jenny, Cathy, and I will be co-hostesses, so please come say hello!

craft_launch

If you’re not in LA to hang out in person, you can still check out the sparkling CRAFT website — it features great projects to make and a super-inspiring blog.

Knit for the cure October 18, 2006

I’ve been a beginning-intermediate knitter for about six or seven years now and so far the most complicated thing I’ve made is my little “Mobile Monster” pig (see above) from Stitch n Bitch Nation. I have big dreams of making a real garment one day, something pretty and fitted like Jenna Adorno’s Tempting sweater… or maybe Tempting II.

But the design that’s really calling to me right now is Jenna’s charming Hopeful sweater. She designed it a couple of years ago, right before her partner of 11 years was diagnosed with breast cancer, and for each $5 pattern sold, Jenna will personally donate $6 to the Susan Love breast cancer research foundation.

Plus, the sweater is downright adorable:

Hopeful sweater by Jenna Adorno

If you’d like to buy it, visit this page to pay via PayPal and get your downloadable pattern instantly.

For more knitting for a good cause, Chemo Caps offers free patterns for hats you can make and donate to patients at a cancer treatment center in your area.

And if you’re not much of a needleworker, how about making a donation to the American Cancer Society directly?

Lilly Pulitzer extraordinaire October 13, 2006

I adore Lilly Pulitzer — well, her vintage prints especially — and I’ve been collecting her pieces on eBay at at flea markets and vintage stores for years. I have lots of her stuff: patchwork skirts, flowered pants, scarves and a bikini, but my absolute favorites are her pretty shift dresses… and after a recent eBay score, I have a lot of her dresses, to be honest with you.

In fact, my closet is so full that I’m selling off a few! Three are up on eBay, ending later today, and I’ll be posting eight more (plus some other vintage pieces) in the next few weeks.

Here’s a peek at the ones on the auction block today, if you happen to be interested… they’re ending later tonight, so if you love them, be quick!!

Lilly dresses for sale!

The gold shift dress is so pretty, the colors are really vibrant and bold. It’s the only Lilly I’ve ever seen that I would say is truly perfect for fall. The pink and orange floor-length dress has such unusual, cool ruching detail all along the princess seams, great for Halloween! The navy dress with the bright floral pattern is made with a warmer, knit fabric instead of the typical 65/35 polyester-cotton blend — plus it’s trimmed with hot-pink and orange crocheted lace, and lined in light green cotton! And it’s tagged Neiman Marcus along with The Lilly, too.

All three dresses are about a modern size 12-14 (see the listings for all the details).

So, if you’re looking for something fun for fall (and beyond) I highly recommend adding a few Lilly dresses to your fashion rotation! If these aren’t your size, ther e are always a bunch on eBay, so just keep an eye out.

two Dia de los Muertos shows October 10, 2006

Two artists I just love are showing their Day of the Dead artwork, plus teaching great classes, this month, how cool! If you’re in Phoenix or Portland, mark your calendars — and in the meantime all of us in other places can get a glimpse online, never fear.

In Phoenix, the lovely Kathy Cano Murillo has unveiled an array of Day of the Dead goodies on her Chicano Pop Art site (created with her husband, artist Patrick Murillo). You can even buy a kit to make your own shrine, based on her “Colorful Casitas” project from Making Shadow Boxes and Shrines:

Kathy's Colorful Casitas shrine

This Saturday (October 14) Kathy will be selling her work at a Day of the Dead craft fair at Suenos Latin American Imports from 10-6, and the following Friday (October 20) she has an art opening at the Vision Gallery at 6 pm. The very next day (October 21) at noon, she’s teaching a white chocolate sugar skulls class at Suenos.

I just had the chance to craft with Kathy on Craft Lab, and I can’t recommend her projects highly enough, she makes such fun, gorgeous stuff! You can see all of her upcoming events here, so if you miss this round, keep an eye on where she’s headed next (I hear New York is one of her next stops…).

In Portland, Cathy Pitters is showing her remarkable found-object crosses and shrines at Alma Chocolate, and the opening is from 7-9 on this Friday the 13th (spooky!). Cathy makes amazing shrines using vintage and found photographs, charms, textiles, and findings — all kinds of bits and pieces — like her “Forget-Me-Not Shrine” from Super Crafty:

Cathy's Forget-Me-Not shrine

Cathy’s also teaching a sugar skulls decorating class at DIY Lounge on October 28 — find more info or register at the site. If you can’t make it to either event this month, she sells her work at the monthly Crafty Wonderland sale that she co-organizes.

As for me, I’ll be making my own little set of Day of the Dead shrines this November 1, as I have for the last three years. I’m so inspired by all the creative people I know and all the beautiful work I see. I hope you are too!

why I love the Rose Bowl flea market October 7, 2006

Yay, it’s the second weekend of the month! Tomorrow I’m heading out to to the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena. I go whenever I’m in town, and I’ve found some of my favorite stuff there, from a mint-condition Lilly Pulitzer patchwork wrap skirt for $18 to a perfect black cashmere cardigan for $5. The vintage clothes are incredible, especially the dresses, but the jewelry, collectibles and books are a close second too. I’m such a magpie and I love to look at everything.

My main tips for happy shopping are as follows…

1. Go early if you can. The perfect time is 9 am, in my opinion — the admission drops from $10 to $7 right at 9, but it’s still not too crowded. By noon it’s pretty crazy.

2. Bring snacks and water with you — refreshments are expensive, and it sure gets hot in a parking lot after a few hours of wandering around looking at cool stuff.

3. Hit the ATM before you go — there is one there, but it socks you with an extra-high fee. Worth it if you find a bargain Eames chair you didn’t budget for, not worth it if you want that last pair of Levi’s cords and you’re a couple bucks short.

Last month I found an adorable 1970s Official Preppy Handbook-esque black wrap skirt with a bright poppy applique, reversing to polka dots, for $10. The only problem was that it was teeny-tiny and barely went around me once, let alone with any kind of overlap for successful wrapping. I try not to buy too many things that need lots of work, but I just couldn’t resist its cuteness… so I brought it home and commenced major skirt surgery. I took the back apart completely and added a zipper, stitching the back seams together as I went. I saved the curved detail at the bottom, and finished by re-sewing the cute zig-zag stitching pattern by hand all the way around the seam.

skirt re-do

I ended up wearing it to film my episode of Craft Lab, and at least five or six times since. The old wrap ties are a perfect little belt, or I can tie them in a bow at the back. I just love it.

This month I’m on the lookout for T-shirts for Andrew, vintage jewelry to take apart and (as always) cashmere sweaters… maybe blue this time? And of course I’m stopping by Felt Club on the way home.

Get your spooky crafts on! October 5, 2006

I’m a huge fan of the fabulous monthly craft fairs in both of my cities, Crafty Wonderland in Portland and Felt Club in Los Angeles. If you’re in the mood to shop handmade for fall, you’re in luck: they’re both coming up this Sunday. October’s events are going to be especially cool, with plenty of spooky touches — don’t miss them! If you’re not close enough to check out either one in person, be sure to check out the vendor lists for links to tons of great stuff available online.

Crafty Wonderland (held at the Doug Fir from 11-4) has more than 40 vendors this month, including Carye Bye of Red Bat Press!

Carye just created a new line of woodcut and letterpressed Halloween art postcards she’s unveiling at the show, including this one (my favorite!):

dj scare-d cat

You can also get your craft on at the free DIY table, as always — this month’s project is must-be-seen-to-be-believed Seed Art Portraits, taught by Cathy Camper.

Felt Club (going on at the Echo from 11-6) has 25 artists selling, including Jessica Wilson and her Jekbot line. She’s created all kinds of ooky crafts for this month’s event, including glow-in-the-dark eyeglasses cozies and these super cool Gocco’d onesies:

Jekbot spooky onesie

Treat yourself to a cupcake (beautifully decorated by Cathy of California) while you browse for just the thing — and DJ Dirty Robot will be spinning all afternoon, too.

See you there!

October 2006: CRAFT magazine on the horizon! October 3, 2006

What’s not to love about a magazine that shows you how to knit your own boots and crochet your own robot? Oh, and design your own custom-animated LED shirt, and create your own paint-by-numbers masterpiece while you’re at it! The brand-new CRAFT quarterly includes a broad sweep of super cool DIY projects and features, plus insightful columns like Jean Railla‘s Modern Crafting and Susie Bright‘s Home Ec. I got to talk to associate editor and craft-tech-style superstar Natalie Zee about the sparkling new Vol. 01 and beyond.

CRAFT magazine's logo
CRAFT Vol. 01 insert plus Natalie Zee, associate editor
An insert from the CRAFT Vol. 01 cover, plus Natalie at the San Francisco Stitch ‘n Pitch game (photo by Jen Greenwood)

What’s your art and craft background, Natalie?

I started crafting as a kid, mainly sewing and knitting, which I learned from my mom. Since
my parents both worked, after school I’d go to the Girls Club and I took a machine sewing class and learned most of the basics that I still use today. I was probably about 10 when I made this series of puffy pillows of all the letters in my name. I was so frustrated because I had the longest name and had to sew 7 pillows, while the gal named Lisa made her pillows super fast. I also used to make and sew Barbie clothes out of my mom’s old dresses. I still sew, but these days my main love is knitting, and I have about 5 or 6 knitting projects going on right now. I also do needlepoint and embroidery. Pretty much all crafts interest me and I love learning new things.

What are some of the solo projects you’ve worked on as a designer or writer?

I started my own personal blog last summer called Coquette. It’s really a labor of love and merges all the things I’m into: mostly fashion, technology, and crafts. I love how these groups are now intersecting. It’s been fun because through my blog, I’ve met so many new and interesting women who are blogging, and it’s exciting to see this new blogging world emerge.

How did you get into magazine work?

My background is in interactive design and technology. I’ve written 4 books, 3 of them web design focused. O’Reilly, who publishes both CRAFT and MAKE magazines, also publishes web design titles and they’re famous for their technology/programming books. It’s a natural fit for my background to incorporate crafts, design/technology, and writing. In addition to writing for the magazine and CRAFT blog, I also design and help maintain the websites makezine.com and craftzine.com.

What are you most excited about in the first issue of CRAFT?

Can I say EVERYTHING? 😉 I think for all of us, it’s fun to finally see all the work we’ve done this year finally in print. It’s been such a team effort. What’s great about now is that we’ve got all the initial ramp-up stuff done, such as the magazine branding, layout, and website design so now we can really concentrate on finding great content to share. It’s really all about sharing in our crafts community.

CRAFT montage
a sneak peek at a few Vol. 01 project highlights

Who are some of your favorite craft artists or sites?

I feel lucky in this job because I get to meet such amazing crafters all the time. It’s hard to have favorites, really, but the ones I adore have helped define this new kind of craft movement. I have admired these ladies for so long before I even started working in this field and crafters like Jenny Hart, Jill Bliss, Leah Kramer, Alicia Paulson, and Megan of Not Martha have been so helpful to me now that I’m a part of it!

Who or what inspires you most?

I love vintage and my favorite eras are the ’30s/’40s and ’50s/’60s. Vintage fabrics, books, magazines, cards — I love them all. I’m probably the biggest magazine addict. I absolutely love Japanese craft books and all things Japan. I told Carla (CRAFT’s Editor-in-Chief) that if I went to Japan I’d probably explode because of all the crafts, fashion, and technology — all in one place. I’m also really inspired by my grandmother, who was a fashion designer in Shanghai in the 1930s and my dad, who is an amazing artist and cartoonist. Even though we live in the same city, he sends me all kinds of funny cartoons he draws.

Natalie Zee's grandmother, Amy Wang, in the 1930s
Natalie’s grandmother, Amy Wang

What’s next for you and CRAFT?

We are excited now because CRAFT is almost out on the newsstands, and this fall, we’ll be spreading the word about the new magazine. We will be at a bunch of craft fairs, such as Bazaar Bizarre, Felt Club, the SF Craft Mafia Holiday Sale, and more. Check craftzine.com for more up-to-date info. We also just started work on our next issue, Vol. 02, which is called “Creative Copies.” And for me personally, I’m getting married in a week! So a lot is going on!

CRAFT at Renegade Chicago
CRAFT at Renegade Chicago in September

How can people subscribe or find the magazine?

It’s very easy. You can subscribe to CRAFT by going to craftzine.com and clicking “subscribe” in the top navigation. Vol. 01 is even available on Amazon.com now! CRAFT will also be on newsstands on Oct 17th. Some places you can find it include your local Borders or Barnes and Nobles, select Michaels craft stores, and JoAnn Fabrics.

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Susan Beal is really excited that she’s writing for CRAFT’s issues 02 and 03!

Happy birthday, Queen Bee! October 2, 2006

One of my all-time favorite indie companies is turning 10! Rebecca Pearcy’s stellar Portland-based Queen Bee Creations has been making gorgeous (and handmade!) vinyl wallets, bags, and accessories for a decade. I love her work so much that I own 10 pieces myself, believe it or not — I guess that’s one for each year she’s been in business! She rotates her designs and color choices regularly, but she always has an array of stylish modern, nature and rocker-inspired designs for you to pick from.

I first met Rebecca in 1999 when I ordered a 7-inch truckette bag from her, and she kindly offered to meet me at one of her shows (she’s also a musician) and deliver it in person instead of charging for shipping. Ever since, whenever anyone in my family asks what I’d like for my birthday or for Christmas, I send them a link to my favorite things on her site, and I’ve traded with her for my jewelry a few times as well. I can’t say enough nice things about Rebecca — she even played at our Super Crafty book release party last year! — and her work is so lovely and so well-made.

It’s hard to pick just one favorite piece to spotlight, so how about two? These wallets are so cute, I have to alternate which one I’m carrying. I picked out the whale as an instant favorite last year, and my friend Cathy surprised me with the cupcake at Christmas. I heart them both.

my two Queen Bee wallets

To get a jump-start on your own collection, see the very last page of the brand-new CRAFT magazine for a special surprise discount — a birthday present to you, really. But hurry, it expires November 12!

Weekend of (Free) Art September 29, 2006

This Sunday is a stellar day for free art here in Los Angeles — twenty museums, including LACMA, MOCA, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and the Skirball, are “opening their doors wide and inviting visitors free of charge” all day long. The list of participating museums and more details are here. So here’s your chance to see the Stan’s Cafe show, or the Breaking the Mode contemporary fashion survey, or the Sovereign Threads Palestinian embroidery show… or get to all three if you’re really ambitious.

Meanwhile, in Portland, I have a piece in an adorable show closing on Monday, I Heart Portland. I mentioned it a few weeks ago over on susanstars, and I hate to shamelessly self-promote, but hey — three of my favorite artists, Cathy Pitters, Carye Bye, and Ryan Berkley, are also showing. And you don’t want to miss them either. Plus, you can have coffee and pie at Half and Half afterwards.

I Heart Portland
I Heart Portland, my embroidered felt love note to the Rose City

Feel like a woman, wear a dress! September 28, 2006

The September 25 issue of the New Yorker has an enticing profile of Diana the Huntress, aka Diane von Furstenberg, creatrix of the super-iconic wrap dress. I’m a huge fan of hers — I own one of her wrap dresses, a $14 find at Buffalo Exchange a couple of years ago — and I always keep an eye on her vintage pieces on eBay, though they usually get out of hand pretty quickly.

If you have the issue handy, open it to page 120 to see her first-ever advertisement, from 1972: she’s leaning back wearing a black-and-white dress with an exuberant splash of pearls, looking radiant and confident in her own design, above the slogan (written in her own handwriting): “Feel like a woman, wear a dress!” For the first time, she’d made a charming, universally flattering dress that a woman could wear from the office to dinner and then out for the rest of the night, if she chose to. The obvious love Diane had, and has, for “the alchemy of the fitting room” — the moment when a woman feels lovelier, more comfortable in her own skin, and blessed with confidence as she looks at herself in a new garment for the first time — shines through the black and white photo.

The other thing I love about her work is the details. Her fabric patterns are exquisite, like the vintage prints she’s recreated for her newer pieces, the arresting geometrics that instantly draw the eye, or the organic patterns she comes up with based on her own photographs of trees and animals.

Ironically, the only dress of hers I own isn’t a pattern I particularly like — it’s a 90s Southwest color palette, in a slinky silk knit — but I love it to death anyway, and I’ll never part with it.

my DVF wrap dress

I hope it will have some company in my closet sometime soon; maybe a leaf print, or one of her 70s reissues…

Of All the People in All the World September 26, 2006

When Andrew and I performed our show at the Noorderzon Festival in Holland last month, I got to steal a precious hour before a couple of our own nightly performances and rush to a few other shows. I really enjoyed two in particular: New York artist Sara Juli’s The Money Conversation and the latest piece from Stan’s Cafe, a group based in Birmingham, UK: Of All the People in All the World. Now it’s touring to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles for the next five days, en route to Australia. If you can make it over before it closes Sunday afternoon, I wholeheartedly recommend seeing it — if possible, with a little cushion of time for wandering around and thinking about it. Or a big cushion would be even better.

Today’s L.A. Times has a great preview (with the requisite cornball headline) that explains the concept much more thoroughly than I have time or room for. And the Stan’s Cafe site is well worth a visit, too. All I can say is that of the art shows I’ve seen this year, visual or performance-based, none of them have resonated with me — or stayed in my head — like this one did.

Using a simple, universal template — that one grain of white rice represents a single human being — the group of performers, wearing lab coats and hovering over intricate scales, bring all sorts of dry and dusty statistics to life. They update their installation throughout its run, including all kinds of up-to-the-minute, site-specific information gleaned from a laptop and a wireless connection: last month, they vividly illustrated everything from the number of civilian casualties in Lebanon and in Israel to the number of millionaires (and billionaires) in the world in piles of rice. Two immense stacks placed next to one another represented the duality of the number of people who will be born today in the world, and those whose lives will end. It was somehow encouraging to see that the first pile was noticably larger, just as it was dark and heart-wrenching to look at the sad scattered heap illustrating exactly how many people died in the desert trying to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. last year.

We didn’t bring back many souvenirs from Holland — a little something for our nephew, and a vintage shirt and dress from our favorite places in Amsterdam — but I did buy a one-euro memento of the fascinating Stan’s Cafe show, a vacuum-sealed packet with four grains of rice inside. And when I went to the show here in Los Angeles this week, I got a companion piece:

stan's cafe souvenirs

If you’re not in Southern California, you can still contribute to the Statistics Center on their site, suggesting new statistics to include — or just see what other people have submitted, like the Dodgers’ single-season attendance record (3,608,881 in 1982), or the number of children who die of hunger every year (an astonishing 12 million).

Of All the People in All the World
Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles
Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
Noon to 9 p.m. Thursday
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Admission $8, free on Thursday and Sunday
(310) 440-4500, skirball.org