Barefoot Weaver: I have been in love with color since my first box of crayons and I fell in love with weaving in the 70s when I watched a girl weaving (barefoot, of course!) in the back of a store in Brattleboro, VT. Here was not just color but dance as well! By the early 90s I had my first loom and there was no looking back. Looms have a way of multiplying and taking over the house (as my family can attest) and now I have four (we won’t count the one in the barn). I am always amazed seeing them warped and vibrant with potential.
Colors live in my living room and cones of thread fill my bookcases. I dye my threads on a big plywood table upstairs in one of my workrooms (did I mention that I have taken over the entire house?) and my clothes line is often draped with skeins of freshly dyed thread. I do my designing on my warping mill and my work now is mostly warp driven which just means that I want the warp to show more than the weft (or weaving).
I started adding more texture to my weaving some years ago as well inspired in part by knitting yarns that have flags and tufts and wraps and shiny bits and skinny and fat parts.
So, I overproduce. And I have three grown sons who really don’t wear my creations aside from a very plain chenille scarf or two. I live on an old farm with my two horses, three cats, one small dog, and a very supportive husband. We heat with wood, snuggle down in the winter up here in the North Country, and I am content.
I’m so pleased to introduce our newest columnist, Sarah Simpson. She’s going to be writing on organization and simplification of your life – something we all need. Please welcome her to Try Handmade and let her know of any topics or shops you’d like to suggest to her in the comments!
Spring is here! (I bet so many of you have been dying to finally get to say that). What better way to lose those winter blues and clear you mind than to get your workspace de-cluttered and organized? Organization doesn’t necessarily have to mean sorting your belongings into those horrid plastic bins. It can be functional, beautiful, and…earth friendly!
The desk caddy pictured above, by PegandAwl, is handcrafted from reclaimed wood from antique floors in Philadelphia homes built in the 1800s. Holes varying in size are drilled to hold all kinds of office supplies and keep them within easy reach. Use it at home to sort crafting supplies, at your work office for pens and pencils, or even in your garage to organize tools and hardware.
One of my favorite office “must haves” right now is a good old fashioned chalkboard. Chalkboards are EVERYWHERE right now. They’re convenient, they’re adorable, and they’re very easy to make. Just about anything with a non-porous surface can be painted with chalkboard paint that you can pick up from your local home improvement store. Having a visible “to-do” list near your workspace will de-clutter your desk and your mind. Check out these beautiful handmade chalkboards made from re-purposed cabinet doors from FunkieFinds.
Whether you use your workspace for office work or as a studio/crafting space, your most often used items can be sorted and organized so you always know where to find them. To add some color and flair to your space, use an assortment of handmade pottery dishes from TheMudPlace to organize paper clips, thumbtacks, beads, and so on.
You can find so many unique items online, at flea markets, and at seasonal crafts shows to help create a well sorted workspace in no time. Use your imagination and design a custom space that allows you to keep everything in order with as little effort as possible.
I first came across Helen Dalgairns’s bright and eye-catching work when researching a product profile inspired by my cats. I Her print of a cat basking in the sun (above) stayed with me as I thought about how it captured the very essence of most house cats. I was intrigued to learn more about Helen and her work, and to share it with you.
Helen lives in Hull, in Northern England with her husband and a black cat called Neo. Working full-time as a youth worker with the local council, Helen illustrates in her spare time, creating visual artwork that depicts her love for cats! She loves to use bold colours, patterns, vintage, nature and animal humour. “I have also recently started to introduce some human creatures into my artwork, mainly pretty ladies and their cats. The first of this new work is illustration ‘No:1 Crazy Cat Lady’ [below], which was inspired by the many crazy cat ladies out there.”
Helen says she’s always been “obsessed with drawing” and studied art and design at Hull College, with a focus on illustration, photography and textiles – sounds like a perfect mix! After graduating, Helen didn’t create much artwork until about three years ago, when she started creating and selling her work. “One day I had this creative urge, I realized I was not utilizing my creative skills to their full potential, something was missing from my life including the opportunity to express things in a visual way. I wanted to introduce some colour amongst the grey and I wanted to create artwork that made people smile.”
What keeps Helen going with her busy dual lives is knowing that her artwork is making its way into people’s homes, and particularly when she gets positive feedback on her pieces, “especially when someone shows appreciation for your vision and creations, this is very special to me. Buyers and visitors have often shown me things I have never even noticed about my work.”
No other words will do: these stones are Delicious and the bracelet is Gorgeous.
Kind Stones: I live in Waterloo, Ontario Canada with my fiance and our daughter. I started making jewelry 4 years ago when I was on my maternity leave and I really enjoyed it. I started with just wood and hemp (all my friends still have one :)) and then decided that it was stones that I really loved. I’m self taught using books and magazines with a little advice from my neighborhood bead store owner. I love what I do and I hope you do, too!
Set of 3 tops, $18 by Sleeping Forest Studios.