Friday, November 10, 2017

I Have Something to Tell You

It seems as though I haven't written here since August!  Ye gads!  I have good reason(s) for my absence, but for today, I'll focus on the big one.
I was selected as the 2017 artist to make Philbrook Museum of Art's Festival Pins!  If you're not familiar with Philbrook or their pins, that may not sound like much of a big deal.  Allow me to inform you that it is, indeed, a REALLY big deal!  Let me back up a little bit.
Do you remember last year when I made a ton of funky potholders for Philbrook?  Yeah, I thought that was my crowning sewing achievement, but little did I know...  This summer I was contacted by the museum for a meeting regarding the holidays.  I figured they were interested in more potholders, which I was stoked about.  Imagine my surprise when they asked me to submit a design for their festival pins!  I didn't take them seriously at first for a few reasons.  One, I'd never seen one of their pins made out of textiles before!  They'd always been made from 'hard' materials - plastic, glass, beads, metal, you get the picture.  Two, it is such a huge honor that I didn't see myself at that level yet.  We talked a bit more about it and I went on my way, thinking about their request nonstop.  Just like with the potholders, I finally decided 'why not?!'

Over the next month, I made about 100 variations of sample pins.  I still didn't know at that point if they'd go with my design or not, but I kept on working.  The evolution of the pins was very interesting to me.  We worked with different fabrics, different insides, different sizes, different threads, different stitches, all the while slowly feeling like we were getting there.  It wasn't until I put binding on a pin and finished it off like a quilt, that I knew I had done it.  I was literally jumping around and singing!  Ha!  I don't know why I didn't think of that sooner!  But it was all part of the journey.  It made so much sense.  When I initially started working with Philbrook, we started talking about how my quilts were too big for the shop.  They were shrunk down into potholders and now, they were being shrunk down into pins.  Mini, miniature quilts.  I finally submitted my final design and sat back for a few weeks until I heard back.  Longest two weeks ever!

While my dad and I were off on a weekend junking trip, I got the email!  My design had been chosen!  It was a little hard to be away from home because I wanted to start sewing immediately!  But really, it was good for me to be able to process it all and think out my game plan.  Also, while we were in a junk shop in Kansas somewhere, I picked up an old (seventies?) cosmetics travel case for seven bucks as a gift to myself for the new gig.  It has housed all of the trees through their development and has been absolutely perfect for mobile sewing!  And it's green.  :)

So, the gig.  I started production on 500 trees (read:  500 miniature quilts with pins!!) in mid-September.  I have completed 350 which are already on sale!  If sales are good, they anticipate 200-300 more being ordered.  My goal is to make 800 total.  Insane?  Maybe a little.  BUT I'm loving every single bit of it!  I really enjoy large-scale projects and through assembly-line sewing, I don't tend to get overwhelmed.  My family and friends are wonderfully supportive and encouraging, which is really priceless. 
In 28 years, I am the first textile artist to make their pins!  Isn't that incredible?  I'm humbled, honored, and thrilled with it all.

If you're interested, here's a breakdown (taken from a recent instagram post of mine) about my process.

1. Pour out my scraps and start piecing like a mad woman! Fun! 
2. Use my tree template (cut out of my breakfast bar box.  ha!) and cut as many trees as I can from what I pieced. 
3. Adhere trees to interfacing and backing. 
4. Quilt! With shiny, beautiful metallic threads. 
5. Cut out newly quilted trees again. 
6. Sew binding on each tree.
7. Now the project can go mobile! I hand sew the binding to every single tree. This is the longest step by far but also my favorite. I do lots of hand stretches during this step. 
7. Hand sew each pin on! 
8. Labels are affixed, each pin is checked for rogue threads, and finally they are lint rolled. 
9. I take a million silly photos and catalogue them all! 
10. Then I start the process over again! 

So there you have it!  I've been lost in the forest!  ;)  Did I mention I made a hashtag for these?  #biffmakesaforest  There have been so many other things happening lately as well that I hope to share with you soon.  I promise I won't wait three months to do so.  Until later!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Captured In The Workroom

Back in July, an old friend came to town with his camera.  Michael contacted me before his travels to see if we could shoot together.  Um, yes!!  Rio and I were very excited about his arrival.  In fact, we made a flock so we could send home a few birdies to his girls.

I LOVE these photos.  It's just us, being us.  Most are in the workroom, where I spend most of my time at home.  It was a wonderfully hot summer day, the sun was beaming, and life was moving along.

Just like in the photos, I'm forever surrounded by cats and my sidekick.  Vera is no spring chicken.  She's 19 and happily lives most of her time in the laundry room, away from her annoying little brother.  Her age shows most of the time, but her spirit is still as strong as ever.  ZB is about two and a half now and shows no signs of slowing down.  I've met a lot of cats in my years (that's an understatement!) and he is by far, one of the craziest I've ever encountered!  As nutso as he is with everyone else, he and Rio are totally simpatico.

Rio started school last week.  Like big kid school.  She's doing great!  I'm doing OK with it.  My emotional response to her transition has honestly surprised me!  It's hard to believe she'll be five in a little over a month.  She loves when I joke about stacking bricks on her head to slow her growth down; a joke my family told me growing up as well.  Now it makes more sense than it ever has before.

No photos of Brent in this batch, but rest assured he was literally outside of the frame working on the yard.  He's quite the outside enthusiast and he excels with it.  Mondo was certainly not far from him, sunbathing and drinking from the bird bath.

So thank you, Michael for capturing these moments and memories for us.  I cherish them greatly.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Rio's Friendly Flock

A few weeks ago, Rio and I created a flock together!  Our OKC trip was just around the corner and I knew we'd be running into several kiddos that she hadn't met before, so I thought having some 'hello' gifts would be nice for her to hand out.  Plus, I am a HUGE proponent of making gifts, so it's something that I hope to pass along to her.
I thought a fun project for us to complete together would be some stuffed birds!  She has a few of these already that I had made and that I had bought at craft shows.  I knew they were pretty simple and would be enjoyable to her.  I used a pattern that I've had forever that I found online.  When I searched for it to link today, I found this interesting story about the pattern!

I brought my scrap bin to work and explained the two pattern pieces to Rio the best that I could.  One piece must be cut on the fold, which was a new concept for her.  She went through the scraps and found pieces that would fit the fold piece and found other pieces that would fit the belly piece, all by herself!  That evening when we returned home, she matched which body and belly fabrics she would like to go together.  We talked a bit about contrast and going bold while she did this.  I think she aced it.  Then I sewed the bodies of one bird so she could understand how it would go together.  Then the power went out!  Ha!  I gave her a quick lesson in bird stuffing and she finished one up that afternoon.  That evening, after she had gone to bed, the power came back on (yay!) and I finished sewing up the bodies of the other birds.

The next day, we brought all of the bird business back up to work and she stuffed birds all day long!  I can say with confidence that she is a much better stuffer than I will ever be!  I sewed up the ends of them that evening, and then she had her gifts ready to distribute!
It was SO enjoyable to do this small project together.  We each had our jobs but ultimately, it was her creativity and eye for color that gave the birds life.  I only sewed up some seams.  It was also so wonderful to see her pick out which birds she wanted to give to her new friends, and then to see her hand them over.  She was so proud!  Heart swells!
I'm trying to make the most of our summer together before she starts school next month (!!) and this was one more special memory to add to our list.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Adventures Down The Turnpike

Two weekends ago, Rio and I went on a little adventure!  The Oklahoma City Modern Quilt Guild had reached out several months before and asked if I would be their guest speaker at one of their meetings!  (insert a million exclaimation marks!!!) (I'll talk more about that at the end of this post!)  I'd recently spent a few weekends out of town on my own so I thought it may be nice to give the mister some alone time and to make some memories with the kid. 
After waiting out a random thunderstorm, we hit the road!  I got some kid-friendly podcast recommendations (thanks, ladies!) and loaded up a bag of things to keep her busy for the hour and a half drive.  I think we made it twenty minutes before she started asking if we were there yet.  
Lately, Rio's been asking about hotels A LOT.  She's stayed in some before but it had been a while and obviously, she didn't remember those experiences.  So, of course, we stayed in a hotel for our first night!  

I did some quick googling prior to our trip and quickly landed on the 21c hotel in OKC.  Man oh man, we will definitely go back there!  I didn't realize I had already been to one of their hotels before, in Louisville - their first!, and I loved that one as well.  Each hotel has a penguin mascot, each hotel having a different color one.  OKC had purple penguins and they were everywhere.  We even had one in our gorgeous room!  That was too much fun.
We lived it up!  We toured the hotel's art gallery, gave ourselves pedicures, had a fancy dinner, wore plush bathrobes, each had our own gigantic bed, watched a bedtime movie, and had a truly good time.  Oh, I almost forgot!  Our waitress at dinner was named Rio and the woman who checked us out was named Brianna (just spelled a little differently than mine)!  Rio and I both got a kick out of that!
(That's all grey felt above!!)
After one night living like royalty, we packed up our goodies and moved on over to my brother-in-law's apartment!  It was equally wonderful and perfect!  Rio is enamored with her uncle, just like everyone else who meets him!  She's been asking many questions about where all of her relatives live so it was pretty exciting for her to see one of their dwellings for herself.  
Our time with Uncle Kyle included more bedtime movies (such a treat for Rio!), long walks to funky neighborhoods, and late night talks for the adults.  

For the next few days, we hopped around town while visiting old, dear friends.  It's hard to believe I moved away from OKC 15 years ago!

First, we spent some time with our incredibly special friends, Dyan and Charlie.  Dyan was partly responsible for Brent and I meeting, and their home was my second home in college.  Pretty important people to me!  While we visited, Rio and Charlie hunted through the magical backyard for seashells to bring home for our backyard.  Best souvenir of the trip.
Another day, Rio and I met up with my friend Chelsea from college and her little lady!  They look like they could be sisters!  Seeing her your kid play with your friends' kids is one of the coolest things.  We spent time inside of the Myriad Gardens before heading outside to a pretty rad splash pad!
On Monday, Rio and I got to meet up with my friend Jemelia and her daughter for a quick lunch and delicious cupcakes.  I'm not much of a sweets person but these cupcakes were mighty memorable, as was our time together!
Remind me to tell you about that little bird someday, mmkay? 
Following that excursion, we were set to meet up with a friend to go to the Science Museum, aka The Omniplex.  Our friends ended up not being able to go and we were thisclose to not going, just because we were beat and I had my presentation that evening BUT we went, and I'm sooooooo glad we did.  I had not been there in at least 20 years and let me tell you, that place is not the same at all!  It was THE coolest kid's place I have been to since becoming a parent.  We were there for a little over two hours until Rio asked if we could leave!  I could have spent two more hours there!  We'll definitely return.
Thankfully, our full time at the Science Museum led to a fantastically full nap for the kid!  That was much needed and was our big wild card as to the future of the evening.  A few hours later, we found ourselves at the NW Public Library in OKC for my presentation!

I've learned over the past few years that I LOVE public speaking.  I may not be the best or most polished public speaker but that doesn't stop me from trying and from learning what to do better next time.  Some of you may remember that I teach English as a Second Language with my biggest focus being a public speaking class for ESL students.  I tell my students that if you wait to speak until you are a perfect speaker, you will never speak.  I would never speak.  They laugh, but there is so much truth in that.  You will never improve if you don't keep trying.  And try I do.
Back to the presentation on hand.  I was asked to speak for about 45 minutes over my work, improv quilting, and assembly line sewing.  I ended up speaking for about an hour with Rio watching The Magic School Bus on the iPad (another big treat for her!).  I think there were maybe 35 or 40 attendees?  I was absolutely elated to see some of my favorite familiar faces in the crowd, some of whom made a hefty drive to see me!  (Hi Holly!  Pro tip - listen to this!) Absolute highlights for me!
The OKCMQG was such a pleasant and welcoming group of people!  I loved every moment spent with them that evening and am beyond grateful to them for reaching out!  I loved it so much I made everyone take a selfie with me at the end!  Ha!  Cracks me up!
So if you made it through this epic post, then you'll feel much like I did by the time we made it home!  We made it!  We survived!  I hope Rio remembers as much as this trip as I will cherish it.  Everything about it was better than I could have imagined and to have shared it all with her made it that much better. 
Until our next adventure!
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