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A Stitchy, Embroidery Hometown Treasure Right In Your Back Yard!

Welcome to Yates Bleachery Company in Flintstone Georgia.  Today some friends and I from Chattanooga Workspace took a field trip to this little hometown jewel.  Since I was a super fan of embroidery my curiosity for this little haven had been haunting me for months.  Little did I know this factory was but a hop and skip down the road from what I call my studio home.  Jenny, a studio neighbor, was the leader of our adventure today and did not lead us astray. I cannot wait to share and show you what hidden gem was right in my backyard.

What I thought was going to be a small hovel of a building, turned out to be a large factory offering work to a large number of people.  It quietly sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by rolling hills and pastures of mooing cows. It generally looks like a typical manufacturing factory upon first exterior sight, but then you get the opportunity to cross the threshold into textile heaven.  

The doors open wide to racks and racks of textiles. Endless racks and racks of fabric. Fabric that went under the corrugated skylight for as far as the eye could see.

 

As we were escorted through the first room, by our ever so delightful guide Byron, we passed this ginormous room that took these giant rolls of fabric and unrolled them into giant bins like a huge blanket.  You just wanted to jump in and lay down and let it cover you up for a restful sleep.

Next came the entry into the “seconds” room.  This was the room that gave us minions entering textile heaven, the right to touch, fondle, feel, roll on the fabric like a puppy after a bath in fresh grass; and enjoy the view. It was truly the best. Racks and racks of cotton, poly cotton, linen, cotton blends….all beckoning me. I could see scads of embroidery floss inching itself all through these racks spelling words, making flowers, weaving circles and lines, coloring the white cotton for miles.  It was a stitchy person’s dream.

Hanks of fabric became my ‘in the warehouse’ drug.  It was intoxicating.  I then learned to purchase a hank of mainline  50/50 poly cotton was only .50 a pound.  Fabric by the pound.  Whaaaat?

This was my shopping cart….I wish…….

How Does Creativity Begin?

 

 

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As of late the fascination to create and sew a bird is at a feverish pitch.  Flashy birds, whimsical birds, sassy birds, colorful birds, weird birds…..every form of a strange bird….but, no real birds.   Something about making a bird I can create with a real sense of freedom.  No rules.  And, they are completely in keeping with my need to start and finish usually within the same 48 hours.  

My favorite part about starting a new piece is selecting the chunk of repurposed quilt to be the canvas for one of my little birdies.  This latest quilt had the oddest fabrics pieced together.  My favorite was this fabulous block of polka dots…..had to make it the prominent background.

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The next part of the process is pretty organic….just start digging through my fabrics and cut out a bird and may the stitching begin.  I have never been one to do too much premeditation.  Grab some thread and a needle and begin.  

All this description of “how I create” seems so normal to me, yet today, I visited a lovely local art museum.  I have volunteered to be a part of a collaborative art project between Chattanooga Workspace and Hunter Museum.  We must select a piece of art and create a companion type piece that inspires me from the masterpiece of the Hunter.  In strolling through all the paintings….pondering my selection….I read many of the origins of the artist’s work.  It seemed to be a recurring theme that all were inspired by something in most their work (i.e. nature, wildlife, their surroundings, life, humanity).  But, I do not approach the creative process like this at all.  What does this mean? What does this say about me?  I just randomly thought one day, I want to create a bird…..pretty much it.  No influence….no inspiration (I don’t think)…no forethought…..just a blip one day to create a quirky bird.  

Hmmm…..I think this says, my artist detail by one of my creative efforts should it appear in any museum would be really short.   

Display Your Merchandise Cleverly!

Often I wander through boutiques and stores with only the intent of looking at how they display their merchandise.  My belief of ‘selling the consumer’ is firmly rooted in grabbing their eye with how it is displayed.  My favorite of all favorite creative retail displays is without question….Anthropologie.  Their designer has a Doctorate in “Catch Your Eye”, with a Masters in “I Must Have One, Philosophy” with an undergraduate in “I will get your attention with the decor and you will have to buy something”.    Their stores are a buffet of eye candy that happens to have stuff available for purchase.  Their attention to cosmetic detail of display is similar to walking through a museum.  The $150 cotton t-shirt seems oddly reasonable when it is plopped on to a wooden table your grandma had with stacks of clip boards draped across the ceiling spelling “retro-cottonelle” while sitting on the bed of a ’52 Ford pickup scattered with acorns.  It all seems so visually worth it.  In fact, I might give them $20 more.  It brings to mind a common cliche’….it is all in the details.img_2393

I do not have a retail store, but occasionally I participate in pop-up/trunk shows, and often do retail type events within my studio at Chattanooga Workspace.  So, I am always looking for interesting and fun ways to show off my handmade goodies. My space has very specific criteria in which to display.  My walls are concrete blocks and I can only display in the hallway of my building.  So….you must elevate and carry a big hammer.  This green screen is perfect for so many things. I purchased it at one of my favorite junking spots, Joy’s and I added a couple of other loose frames to give it dimension.  All inexpensive…takes up a lot of space, and I only have to hang one item in a concrete wall.  img_6026

In the hallway I hung a somewhat neutral, tattered old quilt.  One that I can poke, pin, tack, stick…whatever. It kind of serves as my giant fabric bulletin board in the hallway.  I can display, post, advertise and most anything else on this giant quilt.  
img_2097A clothesline can often be the answer to a lot of things.  I have them strung all over my studio.  They serve as display for made goods, inspiration for parts of made goods, and elevation of miscellaneous goods from the floor.  Clotheslines….get you some. 

Display is important….and it can be fun.  Observe others…do a little research and development….and make do.  Dirt is pretty if the jar that contains it says so.  Go see what you can do……………..

 

 

Pillows For My Sofa!

 

 

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Pillows…pillows….pillows!  I do love a pillow and there are so many quirky, funny, comfy, beautiful, interesting, handmade, machine-made, vibrant, pillows out there.  To me they are the jewelry of a personally selected conservative monochromatic sofa.  I once purchased a floral sofa and fought it constantly for 18 months. It was difficult to accessorize an otherwise cooky couch with even cookier pillows.  Strangely, my sofa resembled a sect of the public I often see in the aisles of select box stores that just put on clothes with no care or quick check in the mirror to see if there is any relationship to any of the patterns involved in their attire.  My sofa for 18 months irritated me.  It was eventually chalked up to a poor decorating choice.  Note to self:  never buy a floral sofa 

I cannot change my sofa every month….yet, I can change my pillows.  Then comes the monetary exchange of purchasing a pillow.  Upon perusing a variety of great jewelry for my sofa, it sometimes appalls me the cost.  I know fabric, workmanship, creativity and doo-dads add up quickly, but geek louise….the cost of a pillow can rival a strand of Mikimoto pearls.  Who would have thunk it?  

Now….fast forward. I have a new grey sectional and I want some jewelry for it.  My search begins and it was quickly stifled by my budget.  I clearly was shopping like a Tiffany’s regular, when really I was a box store customer.  Plus, the stingy/somewhat egomaniacal  side of my shopping style can easily gaze upon said $150 throw pillow and declare in a millisecond ….”I can make that! It’s a sewn square for heaven’s sake”…thus, the loop of couch jewelry torment begins.  

On one of my quad-annual trips to Southeastern Salvadge, I saw the makings for some great jewelry.  These simple graphic pillow covers were only $8 each.  Love.  They quickly made it into my basket.  Now…to make them mine in a creative way.  

You all know my affection for quilts.  Found these little quilt circles on Ebay…only $19.99 for 20.  All made from vintage feed sack fabric.  They would have made a beautiful quilt….but, now they have found a home on my pillows.  They are loved just the same.  

 

 

 

 

img_5580 img_5582Affordable jewelry for my sofa.  Eat your heart out floral sofa.

Rogue Needlearts!

Rogue Needlearts…..two of my favorite words.  As a self-proclaimed artist, and having approached most everything with a “rogue” mentality, it seems only natural to celebrate this same choice other creatives may have when trotting down the path of threading the needle!  It thrills my soul to sit, thread the needle, grab some fabric and start stitching.  Many times we can all get caught up in what the end result will be without enjoying the process. Thus, I felt there needed to be a place to feature and celebrate the individuals who share the same spirit.  img_2977

 

The only criteria to this venture is that the art involve a needle…..any kind of needle or textile. When I say “art” I basically mean the form, not literally a piece of art.  Utilitarian creations from needle ventures are our schtick too.  The diversities of the tool make the possibilities endless. (i.e. crochet, knitting, needle punch , sewing needle, sewing machine, embroidery, needlepoint, loom) We are here to feature anything and everything about free form needle artistry.  No rules…no form…no expectations…no determined end.

In honor of this process, I decided to create an Instagram and Facebook presence for Rogue Needlearts.  Simply follow us, enjoy the sites and share us with the masses.  And, if you have some rogue creative genius going on, let me know at: rogueneedlearts@gmail and we will share it to all of our friends.  Just making sure creative people get to visually experience thread at its finest. 

I love needlearts!  I want you to do the same.

Handmade Embroidery Patterns!

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Sometimes the urge to create your own thing is inevitable.  And, I mean from the beginning of the creative process.  One of my personal  goals has always been to create patterns.  All of this goes back to years ago, being unable to be controlled.  Yep, I have always been somewhat of a maverick type personality.  I never wanted to work for someone else, play follow the leader, walk in a straight line with others, or follow a recipe.  Even simple things like walking into a store and buying a pattern to create something, somehow gets all discombobulated in my head as “controlling”.  I’m sure some shrink could have a field day with this mental hurdle.  But, with this being a part of my personality, the only answer is to make your own patterns. I’ve been a freestyler for quite a while.  Now it is time to get the ideas in a format that others might have fun with too!  

IMG_3541It all started with using the “magic pen”.  A pen that you can draw on fabric…make a boo boo and iron it away.  My good friend and store owner of Chattanooga Quilts introduced me to the “magic pen”.  I now consider it a staple for so many moments of creativity on fabric.  Just draw and erase….just like a pencil.

 

 

 

IMG_3544Then it is just a matter of some simple stitching.  Keep in mind I am starting small.  This is only a 4″ hoop.  Looks big….is small.

 

IMG_3980I’ve always thought the back is important to me too.  Many stitchers feel the back should be just as neat as the front…..not me!  Being creative is about imperfection just as much as it is perfection.  I often boo boo…and just keep going….note the thread nests built on the back of these little houses. 

Embroidery and Free Motion Stitching!

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Today was all about a skinny, legged girl.  I went into my studio with complete plans to work on my #100dayproject of #100daysofstitchy….I did, but quickly went for my daily dose of stitching and needed a creative diversion.  My sewing machine has been gathering dust and I needed to fire it up and exercise my free motion skills.  

I love to use linen.  There is a lot of linen canvas available in a drop cloth for $9.99, plus, it sews so easily and smooth!  Just cut the size you need, a little sheet of stabilizer behind it and get to sewing!  Organic creativity is my favorite…..just put the fabric in the machine and begin to sketch an image.  The needle is your paint brush.  

 

 

 

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Once the machine stitching is complete….go ahead and get the needle, because hand stitching is the only way to make it special.  

IMG_4119I grew up loving paper dolls.  This is kind of my modern-day version of a stitched, handmade, paper doll (but it is cloth).  I think long, skinny legs with knobby knees and stringy hair is the essence of who I was growing up and now has begun the flagship makings of my dolls.  

My goal is to have a series of these little stitchy people……let’s see what happens!

 

 

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Stitchy Vintage Photos!

There is nothing more appealing to me than the “hair-do’s”!  I can only imagine the skill needed to coiffe some of this architectural beauty.  And the flip side….I can only imagine the unbridled pain sleeping in some form of cylindrical doo-dad necessary to achieve some of this architectural beauty.  Think about the amount of saliva required to spin this many curls.  Nevertheless, these young lasses are some of my faves.  The 40’s brought us a lovely era of school pictures.  (which does not happen often)IMG_2834These photos also make me smile…plus, it is all about the stitchy word!  Just a wee bit of advice to all….if you see these type photos in a junk/antique/thrift/yard sale take moment and give them a look.  So fun to see a glimpse into a wonderful time. Enjoy the simple….

 

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Choices In Embroidery! Mind Blowing!

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Do you ever feel like your head is about to explode?  and I’m not talking about a headache….I’m talking about the many creative things you want to attempt, create, experience and see?  So many opportunities are awaiting my “Just Do It” sensibilities!  I often get asked why did you choose the colors you use?  Color is what inspires me!

My love of the needle arts is out the roof! I love to embroider and the array of embroidery floss is outstanding!  I remember back in my early crafting days….the days when you had about 12 colors to pick for most projects, and you were actually thrilled.  I can now walk into my local craft supplier…find the DMC floss display and begin sucking all the air out of the room.  The color choices are so varied and delicious I can’t hardly stand myself.  Plus, the price is still affordable!  As I stand there debating what to purchase my mind goes into overdrive debating what to select.  I eventually walk away with a few acres of multi colored cotton bundles and I imagine all the cool things to create.  Choices…..who knew there could be so many? 

Choices also create the juices of stitchy flowing!  I don’t have enough time to tap into what my brain wants to do.  It sometimes can make you feel a little crazy.  It sometimes makes your head feel like it is about to explode.  How is it a vast array of wonderful, can make you feel so tortured?  Choices also create adventure.  There is nothing more rejuvenating than testing what is assumed to be normal.  An apple doesn’t have to be red…..it can now be fuchsia or lavender or aqua.  Choices.

My point to all this mindless rambling is to embrace choice.  Test new things…tip toe into new colors….support the creative companies that stretch our imaginations and  experience having your mind blown!

Handmade Stitchy Quilt Art!

Having my own art in my house can be easily compared to…”the cobbler’s children have no shoes”….I never hang anything of mine in my own home.  “Ney, ney said the cobbler to the child, I have made you shoes!”  I made these two pieces of art and hung them both in my home.  Go figure.  My wall color and empty guest bedroom somehow declared their need for some homespun decor.  I actually like it.IMG_1128IMG_1129This particular quilt was found at an estate sale.  I fell in love from about 20 paces out.  The only thing between me and it, was a box of Tupperware and greasy pots.  With quick leaping and dodging skills mastered from similar situations, the quilt was in my crosshairs. My 34″ inseam and need for plaid had me holding the quilt in under 6 minutes.  Upon whipping it open to check for hiccups I noticed half of the quilt was made of cotton plaids and the other half solid silks.  Needless to say, the silks didn’t make it….decayed right down to the batting.  The plaids lived the test of time and they were perfect. But better than the life of cotton, was the price tag….$5.  Half of a plaid quilt for five bucks is not something I can pass up.  Dangling silks and ruffley batting was eventually sliced and diced….and above is the outcome.  Half the fun of art is knowing the back story.  


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