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!
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