DIY Alert Blog
PDX Profile: Gloria Kelman, of Glorious
Gloria Kelman's jewelry is filled with interesting textures and shapes. She makes many of her components from Precious Metal Clay (also known as PMC), which gives her freedom to create so many wonderful designs in silver. Her business is named Glorious, which is very apt!
How did you first get into working with Precious Metal Clay? I am a person who loves to create art in nearly any media. Craft mediums really work for me best. I've been making jewelry since I was in high school, just regular beading then. While I was in college, the daughter of my parents' friends gave me some sterling wire to play with. I created a huge line of sterling wire jewelry in the 1980's which I sold at over 100 craft galleries and boutiques throughout the country. I then moved into other wire work, combining it with wood for desk organizers and then mobile candleholders. That was in the 90's.
In early 2000's I started making jewelry pendants with paper clay, which I painted. Then I took a tile-making class where I used ceramic clay combined with the texture stamps I had already made to make wall hangings inspired by world architecture. In 2004, my friend's aunt introduced me to Precious Metal Clay, I became certified in 2006 and have been and selling around Portland at holiday sales, Mt. Tabor Art Walk, Portland Open Studios, and at galleries around the country. And I'm teaching monthly at Beads at Dusti Creek and at Bead Happy in Oregon City.
For those who are uninitiated, will you tell us a little about how PMC works? Is it really metal? "Precious Metal Clay is just about the hottest new craft material of the decade. Imagine a material that you can sculpt and mold like other clay, but the end result, when fired, is pure silver!" - Sharilyn Miller on Amazon.com
PMC is made from microscopic particles of silver mixed with a moist binder to create a fine silver material that has the feel and working properties of modeling clay. Prompted by the need for recycling its by-products of technology, Mitsubishi Materials Corp., in the early 1990's, developed a process for recovering silver from computers, medical instruments and photography supplies.
This material is 99% silver and works like clay. It can be molded, formed, stamped, shaped with fingers or tools. After firing, the pieces are fine silver jewelry. You can create using any design sensibility you enjoy: traditional, modern, Victorian, floral, contemporary, etc. It's loads of fun to work with and can become addictive. The ideas keep flowing and you may just want to play with it more and take more classes!!
What kinds of things inspire your jewelry designs? Inspiration truly comes from everywhere. I take lots of photos of textures and objects, and I often use these images to inspire shapes and ideas. While I was answering this question, I saw a promo photo of the bar at Doug Fir with its many ends of fir logs. It has a great visual texture and it could inspire me to make a piece that looks like that. I see design everywhere, from kids toys sitting around to exercise equipment to book covers to rugs to office packaging. Of course Nature is one of the most inspiring influences there is. I love images of leaves, flowers and trees. I often like to observe an image that is very unrelated to the type of work I'm doing and see how I can incorporate the feel or sense of design of it into my work.
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" Craft vs. Art is such a longstanding discussion. I'm in favor of it all. It takes craft to make art and of course it takes art to make craft. It takes one's sense of visual and 3-dimensional design while working with one's hands to create anything that Nature hasn't already made for us. The final result is meaningful to each person in an individual way.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? My studio is definitely my most favorite creative spot in town. In my one space I create and produce jewelry designs, graphic design, digital photography, wool felting, garden designs, marketing plans, house colors, children's knitted sweaters, healthy food menus, travel guides and more. I do a lot of this work for myself, but I also offer this to others, and my customers always get inspired when they come here. Other favorite creative spots include friends' studios, bead shops, yarn stores. I really love Button Emporium in SW and the Craft section at Powell's Books for Home and Garden.
PDX Profile: Rachel Austin
Rachel Austin's art has a charming wistful quality, and I love how she layers images and mixes media. You can enjoy more of Rachel's art at her website. Be sure to also visit her Etsy shop for some wonderful pendants based on her paintings. And her blog is a nice compendium of her creative work and creative friends.
So you started your artistic career with woodworking. How did you come to transition from that to painting? And do the two relate to each other at all? I started my creative career building and designing unique tables without any training or real woodworking experience. After a couple of years, I realized I really needed to further my skills if I was going to make it and enrolled in the woodworking program at OCAC. At the same time I was taking a drawing class, working at Art Media and had sold my first couple of paintings in an employee show window.
I had an aha moment near the end of the term when I suddenly realized that every thing I was building, including sculptural pieces, were turning out exactly the way I originally designed them. Its hard to be spontaneous with a quick moving saw. This was the moment I realized what made me happy, what Id wanted to see myself doing in 40 years, was painting. I love how painting, for me, can turn out much differently than originally planned. There is learning and excitement in letting the materials take over.
The trouble was I didnt have any experience in painting, either. I just really liked it and started out slowly. Ive been very, very blessed that I am now able to paint full time.
You work in lots of different media - do you have a favorite? Hmmm... Thats a tough one. I like them all for different reasons. I was very lucky to have worked in an art supply store where I learned in depth about most of the major mediums. I got into a bunch of them as I explored painting. I tend to do a lot of oil painting used in both my mixed media series and lantern/poppy oil series. The colors and richness of oil makes me pretty happy. At the same time, I really love working in watercolors and ink or graphite. I think it depends on my mood. I like switching back and forth between series to keep myself interested and changing directions.
What is your art about? What kinds of things inspire you? My art, mainly the mixed media series, comes from simple images inspired by sweet moments or glimpses. I like to paint things that seem a bit lonely and peaceful a single bird on a wire, a random paper airplane floating above an abstracted field of flowers. I am inspired by color and simple shapes and patterns especially circles! Circles show up all the time in all of my series Im kind of obsessed with them.
What would you say is the biggest challenge of running a business with your art? I think right now is finding the time to work on new ideas while at the same time still trying to keep up with my other series. Stress was another big hurdle that Ive been tackling. I have my paintings stocked regularly in 10 shops/galleries across the country in addition to direct online sales and shows. Just keeping up in addition to looking for more opportunities was wearing me out. I couldnt sleep, was depressed and had pretty high anxiety. Thankfully, a couple months ago my husband was able to quit his job and come work with me. Much of the stress has fallen now that hes taken over much of the business side of things - shipping, invoicing, bookkeeping, and marketing leaving me more time to paint. We are really happy to be working together at something we both love. We feel very lucky.
We are also expecting a baby girl in August so ask me again in six months and my challenge probably will be balancing motherhood, the business and painting!
What do you think is the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" Yikes - I think Im still trying to figure this out myself! Id have to say that very generally art is more one-of-a-kind, more unique - usually referring to painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing. Craft is more of a skill sewing, ceramics, paper crafts. Of course within that we have all seen crafts that you cannot view as anything except art and paintings or sculptures that feel they belong in the craft world.
What are your favorite creative spots in Portland? I spend a lot of time shopping at our local art supply stores Art Media, Columbia, and Utrecht. You can also find me working at coffee shops Crema and the new Albina Press on Hawthorne. I also like showing and shopping at Crafty Wonderland.
PDX Profile: Sherry Kirkpatrick, of Dancing Circle
This time of year always makes me crave flowers, so I was tickled to find Dancing Circle Dried Flower Wreaths on Etsy. Sherry Kirkpatrick works with locally-grown blooms, and creates lovely combinations of color and texture. After you enjoy this interview, be sure to check out her shop for more images!
How did you come to build a business around dried flower wreaths? I've always loved dried flowers. For my wedding centerpieces I used sprays of grasses and dried florals I gathered from the Rocky Mountain foothills. About 5 years ago, I realized my four children were finally out of infancy and toddlerhood, and I had small bits of time for myself.
All the beautiful flowers in Oregon inspired me to try and make a dried flower wreath and capture their beauty. Oregon and Washington's plentiful gardens of hydrangea, roses and lavender are perfect ingredients for beautiful dried flower projects. My first attempts were pretty awful but in time I got better and found the process both relaxing and fulfilling.
I also noticed it was an excellent form of therapy to relax from my sometimes chaotic household. I took the plunge and placed them for sale online and at a few local craft shows. A few successes were all it took to keep me going. I love the fact that I can work from home thereby continuing my first job of motherhood. I now sell at private shows, online and take custom orders from existing customers.
Where do your flowers come from? The flowers and botanicals I use in my wreaths come mainly from local farms and gardens in the Portland metro area. North Plains and Canby are excellent sources for a variety of gorgeous local products, and their farms are beautiful. I've found some wonderful suppliers in Washington as well.
My neighbors are wonderful about letting me harvest flowers from their bushes and plants - sometimes their flowers are the prettiest I get. I also make a point to take plenty of gathering walks with my children; it's a fun outing to just pick up interesting moss, twigs, cones - you never know what you might find on a walk through the forest. I dry all the flowers I personally harvest; at certain times of year my house is overflowing with flowers!
What are your tips for caring for a dried flower wreath? Dried flowers are suprisingly sturdy and will stay beautiful and colorful for years with proper care. The main points to keep in mind when purchasing or working with drieds is to keep them away from direct sunlight and high humidity. Prolonged exposure to sun will fade colors quickly and sort of burn the plant.
Dried flowers tend to wilt in bathrooms or areas where water and or steam collects regularly. Most dried or preserved arrangements are intended for indoor use only - unpredictable weather is too harsh for fragile blossoms. You should also clean your wreath or arrangement periodically. I suggest a blow dryer set on cool setting and/or a soft feather duster. Consider displaying a dried flower wreath away from high movement locations: a door that's constantly opened and closed might be a bit rough on them. I've been suprised just how long dried flowers will stay pretty - I've had a few pieces for over 5 years and they still look great!
What are some of your favorite flowers for dried arrangements? My favorite flowers to use in wreaths are hydrangea, larkspur, lavender, roses, statice and though it's not a flower, moss is wonderful! I focus on plants grown in our beautiful Northwest. I must admit I'm partial to lavender because it smells so lovely and has a natural calming effect. Hydrangea is also a favorite, I am constantly amazed at its gorgeous colors, shapes and textures. Roses are a classic favorite - after all I do live in the City of Roses.
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" The difference between an art and a craft is many times left open to interpretation. The old adage "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is certainly true. But if I were pressed, I'd have to say I think craft is the learning part of an experience. For instance, anyone can learn the basic craft of playing a guitar, but only a special person can use that training and be inspired to create music that I'd consider art.
Art doesn't have to be defined in classical categories; music, painting, sculpture - it can be found in the oddest places - I once saw a mural of graffitti in an alley that I was so impressed with I came back to photograph it. The crafting element of art is the fun aspect of actual learning. Art may or may not occur as a result of specific training. Excellent craftmanship can be an indication of art. Crafters and artists probably have more in common than most people think.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? Some of my favorite creative spots in Portland would include the Japanese Garden, Sauvie Island, Swan Island, the Rose Test Garden and our many local farmers markets. I am inspired by being outdoors and observing nature. I love visiting our local gardens and farms. Berry-picking trips are a family favorite and even those can generate some fun ideas for projects.
Portland is paradise to flower-lovers, so I try to soak up as much of our local fare as possible. I also consider my own home an excellent space for creative inspiration. I tend to listen to books on tape while working and certain story lines or characters will make me feel like creating something attributed to them.
Cool Place Alert: Country Manor Fabrics, Battle Ground, WA
Now, I know what you're thinking: "BATTLE GROUND?! What?"
Fair enough - Country Manor Fabrics is a little off the beaten path. Okay, a lot off the beaten path. But I'll tell you what: getting there is a nice drive in the country, and this is one amazing fabric store.
The outside is pretty unassuming . . .
. . . But inside, fabric bolts pack every available space. The shelves are full, so they're stacked along the floor. Aisle after aisle. So very much fabric. You'll quickly fall into a Fabric Trance, and let's face it: there are worse states of mind.
Country Manor is all about quilting, so you'll find lots and lots of cottons. There are also flannels and calicos and batiks. You'll find everything from the currently-hip Denyse Schmidt line to wacky novelty prints of poker-playing dogs. I also loved that there were holiday-themed fabrics for every holiday - what a gorgeous selection of Christmas stuff! Not that you want to think about Christmas right now. I'm just saying.
If you're a fat quarter fan, there are racks of them capping almost every aisle. On the day I visited, there were also big bins of sale-priced quarters for as little as a dollar. I bought a really embarrassing amount of fabric that day.
Country Manor also carries an impressive array of notions - every gadget imaginable for sewing and quilting. You can also browse lots and lots of quilting books and patterns.
The store has no website currently, so you'll find the address below. I also took a photo of the turnoff sign, because you'll need to keep a sharp lookout for it.
While you're out in the country, I'd highly recommend that you complete your day with a visit to Pomeroy House Living History Farm, which is nearby and lovely, and hosts all kinds of great weekend events through Fall.
. . . A day in the country AND crafting. Now that's what I call a Grand Day Out.
Country Manor Fabrics and Quilting 7702 NE 179th Street, Battle Ground, WA (360) 573-6084
PDX Profile: Laura James
Laura James fuses colorful glass into amazing pendants. I love seeing her at shows, because it's so cool to see her rainbow of pieces all spread out together - there's no other word for it but "tasty."
How did you become involved with fusing glass? I was first introduced to glass fusing (aka kilnformed glass) by a friend of mine in LA. She invited me over to see her studio and let me make a dish, and I was hooked!. A few years later, I'd moved to Portland, and she came up for a visit. Bullseye Glass was on her list of things to do while in town. I had no idea that I lived in such a glass rich environment...nor did I realize that the Bullseye factory and the Bullseye Gallery (which is amazing) were right here. And that was it really - I was so inspired by the work that I saw at the Gallery that I knew I wanted to make glass. I lucked out a year or so later by landing a great job at Bullseye Glass in the sales department where part of my job was learning about kilnformed glass.
Bullseye is an awesome place to learn about glass, and the history of kinformed glass. I was able to totally immerse myself in all things glass. It didn't take long before I bought a kiln and was off and running.
Will you tell us a little about what the glass-fusing process looks like? How do you keep all those colors from running together?
Whoa! I'll do my best to give you a glimpse. For starters, glass fusing is both and art and a science. There are dozens of variables in the process of kilnforming, so here's a little glimpse into a "full fuse firing," which is basically heating up the glass so that the surface is smooth and the edges are rounded.
So the process goes a little something like this: I start with a sheet of tested compatible Bullseye Glass and cut it into the desired sizes. Then I stack them back together and add the decorative elements that I want (these have fun names like "stringer," "frit," etc.) on a primered kiln shelf and then put them in the kiln. A special controller on the glass kiln allows me to set the firing schedule - a regulated sequence of increasing and decreasing the temperature to melt the glass very slowly, avoiding thermal shock.
Firing the glass is just as important in the design process as the initial construction of the piece. A full fuse takes about 10 to 12 hours, and heats up to about 1480 degrees fahrenheit. When the glass has cooled, the shelf primer needs to be removed from the glass and a diamond pad might be needed to take off any sharp edges that remain. Then I take a dremel tool to the surface where I glue on the bail, then do some gluing and voila! That's just one scenario, there are many, many other ways to work with the glass, for more awesome information you can check out the Bullseye Glass website or the Warm Glass website.
As far as the colors running together. The short and simple answer is that the glass sits on the shelf, and the heat and gravity pull the glass around a bit, but basically it's not getting hot enough to run together.
What kinds of things inspire your pendant designs? I love color and texture, so I try to work with those concepts. I am inspired by light, and the way light is absorbed or reflected by objects in nature. Reactions between the glasses always excite me, I love to push it and see what happens. I also keep a notebook filled with all sorts of images that I collect from everywhere -- this notebook has inspired many a design, whether it's a color combination I like or a pattern that I'd like to try to capture. And my designs are also infused with the experimental nature of the glass process. Most of the time I have a really good idea about what is going to happen after the design is fired, and sometimes I'm surprised by what happened. Sometimes those surprises turn into a whole series.
What is your take on the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" Good question. I really don't think there is a difference between art and craft, only the perception of it. All creativity is "art" as far as I'm concerned. It's strange that the idea of craft is somehow not as lofty as the concept of art, since they both require skill and a creative vision. It all depends on your definition of "art" I suppose.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? My creative motherlode is improv on Sunday nights - it really gets my creative juices flowing. I also really love going to Powell's -- so many awesome books, so little time! The Alberta Arts District and the Last Thursday extravaganza is always a treasure trove of creativity. And the view from the Freemont bridge is one of my favorite Portland views.
PDX Profile: Amanda Siska, of Bread and Badger
I first saw Amanda Siska's etched glass in The Sampler and was intrigued. Then, earlier this year when she moved to Portland, I was excited to have a chance to interview her. The fact that she does all her etching freehand with a dental drill amazes me.
Be sure to visit the Bread and Badger website to see more!
How did you get started etching on glass, and how did you come to build a business around it? I've always known I wanted to be an artist, and that I wanted to work for myself. I'd worked regular jobs to pay the bills, but I realized that I just didn't have time to be creative with the amount of energy I had left over after work. Since I knew I wanted to start my own business, I took the plunge and quit my job selling shoes to start selling beaded jewelry. I was lucky enough to have a cushion of money saved up, and a husband who is very supporting of my endeavors.
The jewelry thing was fun, but it wasn't really something I was passionate about. I was always looking for ways that I could draw for a living instead, since that's really more of my thing. One day, it just hit me that I could use our Dremel tool to carve onto glass. It was a way to embellish every-day items, and I could finally draw for a living! The first few etched products I really put into production were pendants and magnets made out of large, flat-backed marbles that I started selling at my jewelry parties. It just kind of blew up from there.
My dad introduced me to the dental drill, which is a huge step up from a Dremel. It allowed me to create much finer detail in my designs, and I knew I could focus a business just around the glasswork. I dropped the jewelry-making pretty much overnight (which still confuses my friends and relatives!) but I haven't looked back since!
I'm always amazed that you etch your work freehand! Will you tell us a bit about your process for making, say, one of your pint glasses? It starts with the glass, and a marker. Sometimes I sketch out designs in a notebook before I go to the glass itself, but if I know what I want to draw, I just start right in with the marker. Drawing the designs is more complicated than just coming up with a good picture though--it has to fit properly on the shape of the glass (vertically oriented for a pint glass) and since it's only positive and negative space, I have to balance that out too. I want the design to be bold enough that you'll see it when drinking water out of the glass.
After I have a design that I like inked onto the glass, I etch the outline with a thin burr in my drill and then wash off the extra ink lines. I fill in solid areas with a thicker burr, and then I go over all the details and smooth out the lines with a thinner one again. The process is actually a lot like tattooing, which I dabbled in when I was a younger. Sometimes I'll use a magnifying visor to really get fine details, but with pint glasses I like to keep it simple.
After I'm satisfied with the design, I date and initial the glass and then give it a good wash with soap and water so there's no glass dust residue. Because of the harmful dust that's produced by engraving, I have to work over a fan and filter set-up so I'm not breathing anything in. With the loud fan and the high-pitched buzzing from the drill, I put earplugs in and then listen to audio books through headphones while I work. I love audio books!
What kinds of things inspire your designs? Originally, I wanted to keep all my designs looking like traditional American and Japanese tattoos. I've since branched out to include robots, cute critters, and whatever else I would want to see in my own home. I like my designs to represent my own personal tastes, so I'll sometimes etch a glass with something just because I'm into it at the moment.
I spend an enormous amount of time on the internet reading blogs, looking at new products on Etsy and generally keeping tabs on what's popular. This is the downside to working at home! Sometimes it's hard to pull myself away. I read magazines and I like to window shop to get inspiration. I have stacks of sketchbooks at home, and I keep one with me at all times to jot down my ideas. I never know when I'll see the perfect thing that just HAS to be on a vase.
What would you say is the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" This is a tough one to answer. The differences are nuanced, and there's obviously a lot of crossover here. Here's an example I just came up with that kind of describes what I'm thinking of:
Let's say someone is given a set of supplies, and they make something out of them. If their creation is something that someone else could reproduce (with or without instruction), then I think it's a craft. If you turn popsicle sticks into a box, I think it's safe to say that someone else could probably make one like it. But if you turn your popsicle sticks into a life-sized cat with wings, then you've just created a piece of art.
I have a few designs that I recreate for multiple products, and I don't really count them as "art". They kind of blur the line, since each one is still a little different from the last. The big etched vase that took 6 hours to complete and I know I'll never copy that design -- that's what I consider to be art.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland (so far)? I'm loving the yarn stores here! I love to knit, but I haven't found my favorite store or a good place to hang out yet. I loved Mabel's Cafe, which became Tandem Coffeehouse, which seems to be turning into something new now. It's right near my house, so I hope to be able to get a cup of coffee there again soon!
One of the first places I found was my local library, which is always an inspiration. I can spend hours in libraries reading magazines our just browsing random subjects. It's a nice walk down to the library, and there are some great views overlooking the city along my route. I've been taking lots of pictures, and letting the landscape inspire me. I'm so in love with everything Portland right now, everything feels creative to me!
PDX Profile: Lindsey Sedlar, of Love, Lindsey
I loved Lindsey Sedlar's collage plates on first sight. What a great application for special bits of paper and wonderful saved images! They're so fun and whimsical. And useful . . . this is becoming more and more important as my house reaches critical mass.
Be sure to visit the Love, Lindsey Etsy shop to see more photos of her work! And enjoy the interview....
Tell us about plates. What inspired you to create your line of them? My plates are little jewels of idle hands. I find it impossible to sit still. I am always in the process of making something, and the collages started in college as silly projects and turned into a way to step into the world of art shows, which I love.
I have been experimenting with square pieces of glass and things other than plates (bowls, glass panes, coasters) but I always return to the plate. I love the preconceived idea of what a plate is and that I can help people think about something so common in a different way.
How do you approach your collage work? Do you have a plan in mind, or does it just happen? It is usually a combo of planning and chance. One image will inspire me, and that leads to my pairing images that may seem arbitrary but have a story when together. Every plate has a back story! I love searching through books and magazines for pictures, that is what it is really about the hunt! I am a bit obsessed with what it visually means to be a girl in our society and I tend to explore that in many of my plates. They are really a way for me to play with imagery, textures and color that has a very playful result.
I thought this line in your Etsy profile was really interesting: "I majored in ceramics but just can't handle the seriousness of it..." Will you elaborate on this for us? Well, ceramics as a subject is pretty serious! There is such a strong history of the medium behind you when you create a ceramic piece, it overwhelmed me sometimes. When I was a child I never would have guessed that I would have majored in an art form that is typically thought of as brown by most! I could never embrace the history of the clay I used and for years - I was trying to make the clay do something it wasn't meant for.
I turned away from it and eventually buried myself in paper and glue and images of happy pretty things. But I always returned to my deep love of ceramics and eventually found a way to express myself in unglazed porcelain and colored slips that satisfied my unclaimed girl-ness and my love of mud. The plates have always been my escape from the art school attitude I was surrounded by. People were always surprised I had time to make so many plates, but they didn't understand that I needed to make them to stay sane.
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" I tend to separate them by the item's function, which probably relates to my ceramics background. If it is something to be physically used (not just looked at), I usually think of it as craft. If it is created primarily to be looked at, I usually think of it as Art.
I feel like the term craft has a negative connotation, but this is generally to be blamed on ignorance. Or someone overusing the term. Something I LOVE about my plates is that I basically take their function away. I rarely use the ones that I made for myself! They are hanging on my wall! So what are they? Art or craft? By my definition I am still not sure, this gets me into trouble at art/craft fairs when they ask me to define my work! I always say "Well, that is subjective..."
Cool Place Alert: Yarnia
I've been hearing it around town lately: "Have you been to that new store where you can make your own yarn?" You bet I have! And, like its famous namesake, Yarnia is something of a magical land.
The first thing you see upon entering is color. There are shelves lined with cones and cones of gorgeous, saturated color. Look more closely, and you'll see that these colors are also fibers - wool, cotton, rayon, silk, bamboo, acrylic, novelty . . . .
But see how thin the strands are? That's because they're meant to be combined. That's where you come in. You get to choose a series of strands in just the colors and fibers you want. Wool for warmth, rayon for strength, silk for softness - you can make the perfect yarn for the new project you have in mind.
Once you've selected your yarns, then Lindsey Ross, Yarnia's proprietress, will thread all those cones onto this amazing machine and wind you up a cone of beautiful custom yarn while you watch. It's pretty much the coolest thing ever.
If you get stumped by the prospect of assembling your colors and fibers together, Lindey can help you. She also has lots of sample cones on display, wound from various combinations of fibers. Each one has a helpful swatch pinned to it, so you can see how it knits up.
It bears mentioning that this is stranded yarn rather than spun yarn. So the strands will lie flat together as they wind along the cone. At first, I was worried that this configuration might be tricky to work with, but it hasn't felt any different after all than a spun yarn. In fact, it's lovely.
You may be asking at this point, "Yeah, but how am I supposed to figure out how much yarn I'll need?" Not to worry - Lindsey is a wizard at this question, and will help you determine how many yards your project will require, and how much yarn to wind.
. . . And here's the best part: Yarnia sells yarn by the pound rather than the skein. The price of your yarn will vary according to what kinds of fibers you put into it, but when you buy in bulk like this, you can save a lot of money. When Lindsey quoted me the price of my newly-wound wool and rayon yarn, I blurted out, "Are you sure?"
I'd highly recommend a visit to the Yarnia website, where you can read Lindsey's story of how she first discovered this wondrous yarn-store concept. You can also get info there about upcoming classes at the store.
And when you visit, here's a helpful hint for locating the store. Look for this building. See the gent on the stairs? There's a downward staircase below him on your left. That's the entrance to Yarnia. Sorry, there is no wardrobe, but you'll definitely feel like you journeyed into a storybook.
PDX Profile: Mel Orr, of haddy2dogs
So, it appears to me that crafters all over Portland are getting obsessed with needle-felting lately. And why not? It's so compelling! Case in point: Mel Orr's amazing needle-felted dolls and tapestries. They absolutely sparkle with these magical woodland personalities, and invite cuddling.
How did you get into needle felting, and how did you get so incredibly good at it? Thanks for the compliment! I owned a gallery with a partner in Los Angeles. I was a painter and worked as a costumer in film and television. After my son was born, I didn't have time to paint. Of course I was itchy for an outlet, and saw a felted doll at a friend's house. I searched out the materials and was hooked.
I use my painting and apparel design background when I build my dolls. I spent a lot of time finding ways to get what I want. I teach the techniques I use in my workshops. What took me a year to figure out I can teach in 2 hours, and I love that.
Will you tell us a little about the Waldorf philosophy, and how it appears in your work? The short answer is it is an artistic approach to education. In Waldorf school, storytelling is a major component, and fairy tales help facilitate the imagination. How it specifically relates to my work is the idea of natural toys and open-ended play. My dolls do not have facial expressions.
Stepping off the Waldorf path, I also like that my faces allow for the viewer to react as they wish, deciding for themselves the mood or tone of the piece. I like to think my dolls express personality through body language, and don't need me to translate or spell out the story.
Aside from Waldorf, what else inspires you? Everything - and sometimes, a need for answers.
Here is an example: my son is deaf, and when he was little, I went to a birthday party where they had 10 deaf kids and a pinata. I don't need to explain why you shouldn't blindfold a deaf child and hand him a large stick. I also noticed all the junk that poured out of the pinata. That day inspired my treasure balls. They are mini pinatas filled with natural toys and felted dolls. To open them, you play games like soccer or hot potato.
My students also inspire me. I love being in a room full of people sharing their creative energy.
A scientific question: just how many times have you stabbed your fingers by accident? Yikes! If I kept count, I might scare you. When I first started felting, I just went for it stabbed myself quite a bit. Now I rarely do - only if I am really tired and multitasking. Who would have thought art could be so dangerous?
What do you think is the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" That is a hard question for me, since I somehow depend on instinct when I personally decide if something is art.
I think of art as the expression of creative skill, while craft more the skilled making things by hand. Art simulates more complex dialogue and allows for each person to have a personal experience and relationship with the piece. Craft is maybe learning step by step techniques from others. The great thing is, the line is always blurred when it comes to media and what we traditionally accept as art. I used to think scrapbooking was strictly craft until a student gave me the most beautiful book as a thank you. It was truly art. Of course, I can't pretend to really have an answer to that.
What are some of your favorite creative spots in Portland? SCRAP is always a great way to jump start a project. Gossamer is a new favorite of mine. It is really hard to find wool roving in Portland, and the owner has promised to stock up on plant dyed wool. The energy of her shop is just awesome. I used to love Chinatown, but sadly it has moved. I also volunteer teaching art and sign language at schools, I find children to be really creative and inspirational.
Cool Place Alert: Gossamer
Gossamer is a beautiful, serene craft store at 24th and East Burnside, devoted to fiber arts and Waldorf learning and creativity supplies.
Let's start with the Waldorf school, in case you're not familiar. It's a system of education that dates back to 1919. There are many components, but in particular, Waldorf schools emphasize creativity as an essential part of a child's education.
The links in the preceding paragraph will take you to the Wikipedia entry for the Waldorf school, but if you really want to know all about it, I'd recommend chatting with Gossamer's owner, Rose Sabel-Dodge. She ran a supply store in the Portland Waldorf School for nine years. But in addition to being an enthusiastic proponent of Waldorf, she's also an avid fiber artist. And her dream was to open a store that could blend these two passions.
Poke around the Gossamer shelves, and you'll find lots and lots of wonderful natural materials, including wool felt in so many glorious colors, available both as squares and yardage. (If you've never crafted with real wool felt, you are missing out!) There are also wonderful plant-dyed felts, with subtle colors and an interesting surface texture. And in addition, you can buy pieces of pre-felted wool sweaters - saving you a grungy trip to The Bins.
Needle-felting is also a big theme here. These felting kits sell like hotcakes, and Gossamer also offers regular classes in wet felting and needle felting.
I love this inviting, tactile display of embroidery goodies. Gossamer carries wool and linen flosses.
Look deeper, though, and you'll find some really interesting Waldorf-related supplies that brim with creative possibilities. On the top shelf here, we have these pretty slabs of colorful beeswax, which is often used as a sculpting material in Waldorf education. (See that tiny snowman?) You warm this material up in your hands, and form it. Rose also stocks sets of thin beeswax sheets in an array of colors, which you can cut into shapes with cookie cutters and adhere to pillar candles.
The shelf below has traditional Waldorf-style block crayons. There are also wonderful soft pencils for drawing, and gorgeous artwork by Waldorf School students on the walls. (I should mention, too, that if you're a Waldorf teacher, Gossamer offers discounts on many items for you.)
Gossamer is also a community gathering-spot. Rose hosts a Tuesday morning open crafting session for Moms, and a Tuesday night "Mini Vacation" craft night that "travels" to a different destination each week. Recently, the group has explored Ireland, India, and Italy. There are snacks and music, and people bring their own projects, or use the resources around the shop to start a new one.
The shop really has a lovely feel to it - the kind of space you want to relax and take your time in. Maybe take a seat on the sofa and pull out your knitting. Do plan a visit soon - that wool felt is calling your name . . . .
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