Taylor’s Eclectic: Entirely hand sculpted of paper and wire, this extremely intricate abstract vase truly is the queen of the ocean. The second installment in my ‘Under the Sea’ series, this vase is translucent on a sunny table and equally beautiful on a cloudy day.
A highly tactile piece, the Jewel of the Ocean has individually pieced ‘bubbles’ that rise and fall across it, creating various dips and rises to run your fingers across. These dips and rises are inspired by the constant ebb and flow of the ocean and its’ abstract texturing and shapes.
The rich plum base color has been painstakingly pieced around each and every ‘bubble’ to allow for optimum translucence so that the colors and textures in this vase may be fully realized.
It probably comes as no surprise that I tend to follow the work of Michael Pollan. One of his most recent articles in the New York Times, Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, is no exception. I ran across it shortly after it was published and can admit it took me a few days to get through its eight rather comprehensive pages.
However, while I pride myself on being a feminist and do believe gender roles should be banished forevermore, while other people were responding with concern of it’s more sexist undertones (those I see, but think have been taken out of context — another story, for another day) I was busy fixating on another point made in the article.
When I am looking for pre-loved clothing to upcycle, I almost always turn to menswear. Not only are the lines simple and the cuts generous, I flat-out love working with the fabrics. Their classic patterns and textures and the inherent durability of the fibres make them perfectly suited (pun intended) to restyling. Other than maybe having a dated silhouette and a few worn spots, most pieces that I come across still have a lot of life left in them. With a little imagination and skill, jackets and trousers can be deconstructed and deftly transformed into all sorts of dapper garments and accessories, like the fabulous belt by God’swear, pictured above. Upcycled from a men’s suit jacket, the one-of-a-kind belt features a handy side welt pocket and can be custom-fitted to your measurements. This week, as a special bonus, Molly of God’swear is offering 15% off to Try Handmade readers. Be sure to mention “Going Green” in the message-to-seller at time of purchase.
Fall is unquestionably the season for accessorizing. As soon as the crisp bite of autumn suddenly appears in the air, my first impulse is to grab a warm scarf to ward-off the chill. This one by Scrap Sister Soul Sista (pictured above) combines cozy, dove grey fleece with upcycled 100% wool suiting in a variety of plaids and solids, perfect for a sista or a mista.
Fall is also sweater season and if you’re like me, your wardrobe is stocked with a few good, but basic (read: boring) turtlenecks. I am always looking to dress them up a bit, though, and I think these cuffs by Stacy Leigh Atelier (above) would do just the trick. Cleverly made from a carefully chosen collection of recycled wool and cotton materials, the cuffs can be worn with their ruffles either towards the hand or at the wrist, whichever suits you best.
It’s perhaps a little ironic that suits, which seem to be designed to make their wearers blend into the crowd, are so often used to create stand-out, unique accessories. The natty handbags from Australia’s greenolive design are made from the finest quality pure wool jackets and are designed with the original details and design elements in mind. Making use of the entire garment, designers Martine & Drew give as much thought to the inside of the bag as they do the outside; adjustable straps allow you to wear the bag over the shoulder or across the body.
I’ll admit it – I have really been slacking on my workouts lately. My running log has more blank pages than I care to mention and I can’t remember the last time I saluted the sun. With the new year, though, comes a fresh start and a chance to get back on-track. Step one of my recommitment to fitness took place this morning when I signed on the dotted line, smiled for my ID photo and joined a wellness-center. After perusing their catalogue of classes and workshops, I realized just how much I miss taking Yoga and the balance that it brought to my body and mind.
If you have ever taken a Yoga class, you are most likely familiar with the salutation “Namaste”. A composite of two Sanskrit words (Nama = “bend/bow” and Te = “you”), it is commonly spoken at the end of class as a gesture of respect and honor. With the two hands pressed together and held near the heart, teacher and student gently bow to one another and say “Namaste”. When I came across this gorgeous hand-knit shrug (pictured above), I knew by it’s name, Namaste, that there was a Yoga-fanatic responsible for its creation. Manuela of Lunamuse Fibers is not only a talented fiber-artist, but also a passionate Yoga instructor and regular blogger on yogajournal.com. Check out the Lunamuse Fibers shop to see more of Manuela’s gorgeous hand-spun yarns and knits and be sure to visit her Yoga website to learn more about her teaching of the ancient practice.
Thinking back on the classes that I have taken in the past, made me reflect on the ways that practicing Yoga helped me work through some challenging times. One symbol of overcoming struggles in life and achieving enlightenment is the Lotus flower. Starting out in the mud at the bottom of a pond, the lotus grows up through murky water, optimistically reaching toward the light. When it reaches the surface of the pond, it blooms into a beautiful flower. These Samsara Lotus Flower earrings (above) handmade by Lauren of Lala Design Studio perfectly capture the essence of that symbolism with darkened, twisted stems leading to a polished, shining blossom.
The beauty of Yoga is that it one really requires little in terms of equipment to practice it. While all the fancy accessories are nice, all I require (besides something comfy to wear) is an extra-long “sticky” mat and a good bag to carry it in. I love this eco-friendly, upcycled Yoga mat bag (above) made from old sails. Anyone who has ever struggled to get their mat back into a traditional bag will appreciate the unique, easy to use design by the talented mother/daughter team behind RAGGEDedgeGear. And, as someone who practically grew up on a sailboat, I can vouch for the durability of the materials used to create the bags. If sailcloth can withstand the punishment of the seas, it can handle pretty much anything you can throw at it. I have no doubt that your one of a kind Ragged Edge bag will see you through years of downward dogs and mountain poses.
I’ve always said that I do my best thinking when I run, but it’s during Yoga that I do my best “un-thinking“. Taking an hour or so to focus on my balance and breathing gives me a chance to disconnect from the demands of the world and re-connect with my own needs. It might sound a little selfish to the uninitiated, but it has been my experience that the more I nurture my own body and mind, the better equipped I am to nurture others. I always find that my most satisfying classes are those that challenge me both physically and mentally and then conclude with a long, well-deserved Savasana, or “corpse pose”. It is during this time of total stillness that the mind is allowed to enter a higher state of awareness and is said by some to be better than sleep. Sometimes, though, even in Savasana it is hard to calm a racing mind. During those times, the remedy can be as simple as applying a soothing eye-pillow filled with organic lavender and kamut, such as the ones pictured above from Vancouver’s Stitchella. Ahhhhh….serenity now.
Scouring etsy for locally made goods has enlightened me to all of the artists in my backyard. It is great fun, I suggest you try it. If you do you may be lucky enough to come across something as lovely as Awcombe’s Belts and Accessories. This is such a refreshing find, a new twist on a common item.
There is something so fun and lively about these belts. They are bold without the usual bling of commercial buckles. Though they are bold, they aren’t over-done. These buckles are just right.
The artist has a great sense of color and composition. She carefully selects the bright, cheerful parts of the pattern to create a design for her masterpieces. As she would say, “Finding ways to bring fabrics to life can make an otherwise hum-drum pair of jeans or a t-shirt have zing.” I want me some zing!
The belts and buckles come together to form a happy union. The bold patterns seem reminiscent of the sixties, especially those with flower patterns. The leather belts appear weathered giving the whole design a vintage look. But, this is better than vintage, it is handmade.
How would you choose to wear one of these creations? With jeans? Maybe a peasant dress paired with some cowboy boots? Or would you prefer to spice up a boring suit? A yes to any of these would be the correct answer, don’t you think?
There never seems to be too much or too little color. The artist always seems to choose the right amount of contrast and pattern. You can see her “love (of) fabric and all the exciting colors and designs that are available.” When an artist follows their love and passion it shows. The outcome is always beautiful. As a result, we usually covet their work and find reasons to buy it. So, please visit her shop and spread the love.