The devil is in the details…

now that all of the pieces are created.  It’s time to look for subtle threads (literally & figuratively) that unite the collection. I love this part almost as much as pizza & champagne when we’re all done. I really like that part.  Elizabeth Bunsen’s dyed fabric, my work in scrap leather and photography and Jane Frank’s jewelry is telling a story just as we had hoped from the beginning.  Storytelling through this collaborative work is maybe the best part of the whole shootin’ match in my estimation.

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The details are details. They make the product.

The connections, the connections, the connections. It will in the end be these details that give the product its life.

                        —Charles Eames

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This week in my studio…

I furiously got rid of stuff that was keeping my mind a complete mess.  I couldn’t even prioritize what I needed to work on first.  I spend one hour cleaning out and booked an appointment with GOT JUNK.  The minute they drove off I could breathe again.  The guys were great and both artists in their own right too.  Apparently GOT JUNK sites have a lot of materials, metal, wood and other things to scavenged.  I gave lots of things away and unearthed a few items I unfortunately would’ve purchased again because I didn’t know where they were.  The clean out felt awesome.  These are not very good before and after photos, but I think you’ll get the idea.

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Yesterday, I got to the studio ready to work on my designs for STRUT and all 4 of my sewing machines didn’t work—broken belts, jammed up and one vintage and one, a 1950s SINGER I acquired I couldn’t figure out how to get the bobbin to thread even after I read and reread the manual.  Reading manuals is not one of my strengths. It’s like reading Japanese or Greek or writing code to me.  I called my sister to tell her that I actually had to laugh at the absurdity of having all machines fail on me when I was busy sewing. I was grateful that I could find the humor in the problem.  What else could I do, really?  What was the universe trying to tell me.  I then headed out to one of the most loved repair shops in northern Vermont…Smitty’s in Essex Junction, Vermonthttp://www.smittysews.com/

I was so grateful for the service.  SMITTY and his wife are truly Vermont Treasures.

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In an hour and half I had two of the machines in beautiful working order. I’m sewing leather and my sewing machines are taking a beating.  If anyone ever wonders what to get me for a gift, it’s leather needles.  As a bonus, I got to have tacos with my daughter, Willa while I waited.  There’s always a bonus, if we’re paying attention to everyday hardships if we dig deep.

 By 2pm I finally was able to get to work and nearly finish one of my pieces for the show.  I love to work with the tension of tough and soft materials.  I think the leather with the softness of the ecodyed silk from Elizabeth Bunsen is an interesting contrast…just like life.

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Sometimes things are hard and sometimes things are delicate and sometimes we just have to laugh at it all. 

Jeweler/Jane Frank’s work for STRUT

Check out the work of German trained, Master Goldsmith, Jane (Yanna) Frank.  Elizabeth Bunsen and my models will be wearing her work on the runway.  My request was for Jane was for her to create something prairie chic, bohemian and earthy and then total freedom.  Yes, she nailed it.  I love the quality of these pieces and the way they reference prairie grasses, nature and the palette we are working with.

It will be a pleasure to showcase these pieces with our clothes and accessories.

Beautiful work, Jane. Thank you.

You can see how well they fit in with what we’re working on…leather, ecodyed textiles and a print made from Elizabeth’s rust work on paper.  Oh, it’s fun to work with such talented creatives.

If you’re interested in taking jewelry classes at Jane’s very welcoming backyard WERKSTATT (workshop) or are in need of custom work or repairs, here’s the link: https://janefrankwerkstatt.wordpress.com/class-schedules-optionsclass-schedules/

Here is the link for more information about Jane, her work and other pieces for sale.http://www.janefrank.net/about.html

jane frank art hop jewelry

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Process calms me down. Thank you, Willa.

Last week I was sketching and I left out colored pencils, big paper and a cup of coffee with a paint brush.  I knew my daughter, Willa would be unable to resist the supplies and would have to make something.  This painting is what she created.

Her eyes are so sorrow filled—as we all are about the events in the last month in America.  This girl clearly has “Well, you know what kind of eyes she got…a girl with far away eyes”  You can thank The Rolling Stones for the lyrics.

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THE ROLLING STONES  •  Album/Some Girls  •  Song/Far Away Eyes

These are strange days indeed.  Sometimes the news, the violence, the same excuses over and over from politicians are simply too much.  I have to calm myself down and process is usually how I do that. My daughter helped me realize this.

I made this bag out of a friend’s stained leather from her Audi seat repair.   I know this bag (inspired by Frida Khalo and Calamity Jane) isn’t curing the ills of the world, sparking the necessary dialogue or starting a revolution.

However in my small way, it’s an act that represents taking the time to slow down, get thoughtful during this time of chaos and try to understand what my part might be in all that’s going on in the world.

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PS Chuck don’t show the post to Colleen.  It’s a gift. She can keep her auto paperwork in the stained seat reincarnated. 🙂

an experiment in leather

I have increasingly become inspired by usable art.  I have a lot of leather scrap at my studio and I’ve made bags, jewelry and clothes, but I’ve never experimented with housewares.  This was basically a sketch of what I would like to create.

A word of caution: if you are going to “bake or cure” your leather you want to do so when no one is around and the windows can be open.  It smelled pretty funky, however by baking it in the oven when it was damp it did somewhat achieve what I hoped it would do.  The piece held the shape I intended.  This leather was too floppy though.  I have to work with leather that has more structure.  I will be doing more of this in the near future. I’m always in favor of some experimentation.

“Learn to fail or fail to learn.” —Tal Ben-Shahar.

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a south dakota road trip in leather

I made this bag for a group show opening this Friday night at SEABA (South End Arts and Business Association) in Burlington, Vermont.  I like the idea of this piece being usable…although it has a few structural challenges for heavy use.  I’ll get it right next time…oh, how I love the process of trying to get it right.

IMG_5998_2_3_4_4I used the road image I love to work with for my muse.  You might be tired of all the ways I’ve played with this image…sorry, I’m not nearly done yet.  Too me this photo represents what I’ve always loved.  Independence.  Adventure.  Spaciousness.  Freedom.  As well as beef jerky, bad road coffee, Hostess® products, potato chips, loud music and infinite possibilities.

When I finished this bag I had a strange thought—I wished that Calamity Jane and/or Frida Kahlo had bequeathed it to me.  The road is always an inspiration to me and so are those two bad ass women.

I used a bit of ecodyed organza from Elizabeth Bunsen on the bottom to lend some contrast.  I love the lightness of the fabric with the leather and heavy stitching.

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why collaboration makes you think bigger.

Elizabeth Bunsen and I are collaborating.  We don’t even quite know what our project is because the ideas keep coming so fast and furious…often over burgers and beer.  These images are sketches of one of the ideas we want to explore.  I like leather, heavy stitching and raw edges.  Elizabeth’s work is such an interesting contrast and compliment to the fashion and accessory work I’ve created.

We’ve talked about printing the images I’ve created on the computer from our combined work…my prairie photos and Elizabeth’s textiles.  Alone they’re pretty cool.  Combined they  are an entirely different art form.  Here’s to computer sketches that can make an idea over beers and a burger seem much more plausible.  Cheers!

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”
― Helen Keller

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POP UP SHOP this Friday & Saturday

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This weekend is a Pop Up Shop at Maglianero Cafe in Burlington, Vermont. I will have a few one of a kind clutches and evening bags for sale. Stop by if you get a chance.  With all of these talented women selling art, fused glass, jewelry, tote bags made from coffee sacks and ideas for garden design, there’s sure to be something to check out for everyone.

Here’s a peak at a few of the clutches.  I think you would have as much fun carrying them as I’ve had making them.  They really are a piece of art to carry your phone, cash/cards and a lipstick when you’re out on the town.

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Designing for a LEVITY 7 pop up sale.

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November 13th & 14th at Maglianero Cafe/Burlington, Vermont I’ll be selling a few one-of-a-kind handbags along with my LEVITY 7 design collective crew and their creations.  My bags are inspired by Frida Kahlo and have a one-of-a-kind, independent spirit about them.  I will be posting more as the date draws closer.

https://www.facebook.com/maglianerocafe?rf=321299494615088&filter=2

If I was invited to my own studio…

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I would think it’s a co-op of about five different artists and I wouldn’t even know what to pay attention to.  No wonder when I get there I’m not always sure what I’m going to work on—I want to do it all and sometimes, unfortunately, that’s immobilizing.


I think at this stage of my life I am seeking a more direction.

I don’t want to get static or rigid, but good grief, I think there’s a space in between.


I’ve decided to take a few minutes, get quiet and see what I want to work on BEFORE I take off for my studio.  I’m hoping that simple act will get me more focused and deliberate.  I’ll let you know if it works…but I might forget and you may need to e-mail and ask me about how it turned out. It seems like this just might be a natural state of our world…but I want to fight it.  There are so many things to pay attention to that it’s overwhelming.  OK, off to the studio, but first, I want to check out that song, book, technique, read my e-mail, the news, oh there’s a video I bookmarked…aaaarrgggghhhh.

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Maggie with red purse lillibridge dakota 1966 print sift magazine

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