Friday, June 27, 2008

someone should have consulted an editor...

...At least that was MY first response after reading the little snippet about the shop in the Troy Record this morning. The writer called to do the interview over the phone a few days ago, which was fine, but then they sent the photographer in a short while afterward and I couldn't have possibly looked like a bigger piece of doo doo that day. Lucky for me and for you folks, the picture isn't included in the article online.

Tonight is Troy Night Out, and I'm actually really excited about it. We just received a ton of new inventory and I'm thrilled to feature it here. Laura Glazer from Birds Are Beautiful brought a bunch of things in yesterday for me to sell and I want to buy one of everything. So cool. I don't think Laura reads this blog, but just in case a chance Google search brings her here, I'd just like to say YOU ROCK, LAURA! Thank you!

Aside from the new lovelies in the shop itself, the rear gallery features paintings by Jesse Aldere. I love them all and so wish I could afford them. Unfortunately, I had to put a warning sign up in the doorway of the gallery to warn people about the nudity and questionable subject matter. This totally goes against every thing I stand for, but you know how people can be. And on the menu tonight we're serving:

Caramelized onion dip (my old ball and chain, and everyone else's favorite)
Black bean dip (looks like dog vomit for real, but tastes so incredibly delish)
Sundried tomato dip (a la Ina Garten...this woman still rocks my world)
Roasted garlic and feta dip (with walnuts in the mix)
Spicy Thai peanut dip (Diana's personal fave)
Fruit and assorted fruit dips (I'm all about the dip these days...LOOK OUT!)
Various cheeses and crackers
Stuffed Peppadew peppers (stuffed with chevre, bacon and roasted garlic)
Stuffed spicy green olives (same stuffing)
Raspberry tartlets
Lemon tartlets
Pecan tartlets
Assorted fruit breads
Assorted cookies
Lots and lots of wine

So much for not overdoing it again this month, eh? I enjoy it though and I know people love it too. I was up late making crap last night and bitching the whole way along, but I've come to realize that a satiated crowd spends money, and that's what I love.

Hungry yet?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I don't have much to say for once

but I have been wondering lately where the heck Maggie is.

Maggie, my lady, where for art thou? I'm having serious withdrawal of the blog variety.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

for the girl in you...

New dresses made their way to the shop today after a long and boring day at the sewing machine. Albany is hosting Art on Lark this weekend so needless to say, Troy is dead, dead, dead. All of the shop owners on this block met out on the sidewalk earlier this morning and we all contemplated closing early. We shall see.

The dead time was okay, though, because I had time to get some work done in preparation for Troy Night Out next week. Stanley at Market Block Books warned me that this month's event should bring in some hefty crowds due to the authors who will be appearing at the bookstore that night. I haven't gotten over there to see who these authors are, but he guaranteed they'd bring the people out. In that case, I need to stock up on some things. One of the things I've been putting off for weeks now are the little pinafore dresses. I made four today and a few others over the past week or so, just enough so that I'd have three in each size (2T, 3T and 4T). Check it:



The brown and red sunflower dress (2T) is my favorite dress I've ever made and I'd love to wear this dress if only I could cram more than just one leg into it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

this and that

Well, kids, we've survived our very first RiverFest! Things started off slow, but picked up rather quickly. We made a tremendous amount of money in just one day and I'm so grateful to have had the option to take part in it. I walked around and met a few Etsy sellers who happened to be selling there, and made a few new contacts that I'm so excited about!

First up was the very lovely Lorraine Bowen who sells the most insanely gorgeous paintings for way cheaper than anyone should ever sell anything. My mom, Sandy and I scooped up a ton of her work and she's also agreed to sell her work in the shop. I really want to give her a show as soon as possible, but she's going to be showing at Kismet, also in Troy, in July and I can't afford to be found guilty of overkill so early in my career. So, we'll sell her work on the walls of the shop, and maybe later in the year we can move some new work into the gallery in back. I'm so in love with this stuff, and it really couldn't come from a sweeter woman.

Next up was Amelia (love that name) from A.G-P. She's an Etsy seller I had never had the pleasure of finding until Saturday. I love her work and so wished I could afford to buy some of her originals. I think I might have to grab some prints from her shop, though. Too good to pass up. I told her about The Paper Sparrow and hopefully we can work out some sort of consignment deal. I think her work would fit in quite well here.

Jennifer from The 2 Fireflies was there, too, with her gorgeous glass jewelry. So cool. I've never been a huge fan of fused glass jewelry, but when I saw her bracelets I fell in love. I'll be contacting her soon about the possibility of selling here. Hopefully she'll say yes.

So, that's the scoop on RiverFest. Tons of people, weather that was entirely too hot and humid, but it worked to our advantage because it rained in the afternoon and people scrambled to go indoors...yes, through the doors of our shop. Amazing.

In other news, I was asked by the owner of The Spectrum theater and The Ultraviolet Cafe to make some of my reusable coffee jackets to sell in both locations. She's going to work out a deal with her own customers where they'll get something like 50 cents off a cup of coffee when they buy the jacket. Should be fun. I've made ten to start and if they sell well I'll make more. These certainly aren't my original idea. They're all over the internet, really, but like all things innovative, it takes a few years for the concept to make it to upstate New York. I haven't seen any sold around here at all. Ca-ching! There's a coffee shop right behind my store so I see those paper jackets all over the ground, and I've seen some people take a brand new sleeve off their cup and throw them right in the trash. So wasteful. These leave a much smaller footprint on the earth and they give me the opportunity to use up some scraps. I love the fact that the fabric sleeves absorb water, too, so they're perfect for cold, drippy, icy cups on a hot day.

Anyway, hmmm, on the agenda for this again. I don't have kids, as you know, but I've always been fascinated with pregnancy and birth and this documentary was enlightening in a way. Go Ricky Lake! I love being able to watch short movies while at work (via the Netflix "Watch Instantly" service). I should be sewing, really, but I'm waiting on some parts to arrive in the mail, so for now I'll take a break and catch up on some educational films. Riiiight.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Can't. Stop. Laughing.

Please take this quiz and fill me in on how well or how poorly you may have done. My score gave me quite the chuckle.

Check it:


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

back to the drawing board

I've been thinking about thread painting and portrait quilting a lot lately. There are many more important things to think about, I know, but my brain has literally melted recently from thought overload. The shop, politics, family, feeling's enough to make a girl mad. Meh. I'm trying to focus on the simpler things and sewing always manages to take me back to my happy place.

I've toyed around with both thread painting and portrait quilting in the past and for whatever reason I keep going back to it. Portrait quilting is a bit daunting for me. It's not hard, don't get me wrong. It's just a lot of little nit-picky steps and I just don't have the patience, or the posture (thanks once again, boobies!), to carry it out. The banner at the top of this very blog is the beginning of a portrait quilt of Ben that I started years ago and never finished. It's scary how much it actually looks like him and yet I can't seem to finish. Thread painting is a lot of fun. I love being able to drop the ol' feed dogs and go to town. My brain loves to disconnect and swim around in these thoughts. I have so many ideas I couldn't possibly tell you about them all.

Over the past few months I've been picking up these piles of quilt pieces, thinking about them, and then putting them back down. This morning I loaded them up in my trusty oversized tote bag and started piecing them together. I'm happy with the color combinations and I love that each piece is a completely different size. Nothing matches, everything's random. My kind of quilt. But as I started sewing row one to row two, I felt the inevitable sense of dread that automatically comes with projects like this. I'm going to be tired of it before it's done and instead of a beautiful new quilt for our couch, or a quilt to sell in the shop, it'll find a new home in the unfinished project pile, never to be seen again.

And then it hit me.

What if I combined my love for quilting with my love for fabric portraits and thread painting and used this quilt front as the canvas for a new kind of portrait? I'm thinking about finishing a small quilt panel (roughly 24 x 36), pulling it taut over a canvas stretcher, and building a portrait on top. The basic sketch can be done by hand sewing the rough lines in white yarn, and machine stitches can handle the shading nicely.

Am I nuts? What do you think? Should I stick with the basic quilt and go on my merry way...IF I can manage to finish it? Or should I go with my gut and try something new? I'm all ears, kids. If I stick with the basic quilt, I'm sure I'd have enough material for a smallish quilt. It's not your typical color palate for a child otherwise I'd whip up a kid's quilt, but I tend to go the non-traditional route and stay away from pastels anyway.
Anyway, if you're not familiar with fabric portraits, check out my favorite fabric artist here. I had the pleasure of taking a class with her (where I made the Ben portrait quilt) and she's delightful. Such a sweet woman.
Threadpainting examples here and a video example here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Beware of the boobs


That's all I can think to say after these past few weeks. The past month, actually. We've gone from launching the store (a soft opening, if you will) at the end of April, to our Grand Opening and Troy Night Out last Friday night, to getting ready for the big summertime festival in Troy next weekend. I'm all out of whack and can't seem to get my head straight. Whew.

Yeah, so, I'm completely out of sync and finally got around to cleaning my house for real for the first time in a very long time on Monday. I've "cleaned" the house, but haven't cleeeeeeeaaaaaned the house, if you catch my drift. I'm amazed people even want to hang out there. Never before in my life have I wished I could afford a cleaning lady more, even just for one day a week, just to blow the stink and dust (and the ton of pollen that has made its way into my living quarters) out of my house. I used to clean my house regularly...washing the floors, dusting and polishing when need be. I took pleasure in it, actually. Cleaning your entire house from top to bottom and then standing back and watching it sparkle is one of the greatest feelings I know of. But ever since the shop has become my number one priority, the cleaning, unfortunately, has taken the back seat. It took me two hours just to get the front room clean, and I had such a raging headache from the dust and pollen I almost had to stop. Gross. If you're a cleaning lady in the upstate New York area and you're reading this blog, please contact me if you're willing to clean for handmade handbags.

Anyway, so the grand opening gala was a success. The mayor and various other powers-that-be were all here and they seemed to really like the shop. We went through with the ribbon cutting, even though it was quite embarrassing and inside I was seriously hoping that everyone would mysteriously forget about it somehow. The mayor bought one of Dave's paintings, which was thrilling for him, I'm sure. The opening was immediately followed by Troy Night Out for May, and we were packed once again. Sales were great, the turnout was great, and thankfully the weather was amazing. And the food. Oh, the food. Like a crazy person I decided to handle food myself instead of opting for the catering route. I'm really glad I made that decision because I saved a ton of bucks, but the headache over the planning was ridiculous. We had a huge shrimp platter, a cheese platter, a fruit platter, fresh mango salsa, fresh guacamole, caramelized onion dip, cookies, brownies, breads, boneless chicken strips, wine...the list goes on and on. Too much food, I think, as we fed half of Troy, but everyone really enjoyed it and you only get one shot to do it right. I think we did.

Let's between the list of maddening shop events, I squeezed in a dress shopping romp with Carly, my mom and Carly's soon to be mother in law because I have reluctantly agreed to be my sister's maid of honor, and the only person in her bridal party. Go me! I hate wearing dresses, and I hate wearing dress shoes, so who better to select to stand up for you at your wedding but me!?!?! I'm playing around mostly, but I'd be lying if I said a small part of me wasn't cringing on the inside. I found this dress:

which surprisingly doesn't look all that horrific on me, and I think I might find shoes that can be dyed to match. What do you think?

Anyway, I really have to get my butt back to my little sewing nook asap because our summer festival, RiverFest, is quickly approaching (next Saturday) and I need to boost my stock back up before then. I've been keeping busy with the little dresses, but every so often I take time out from that and crank out some bags and little pouches. The little mini matchbook notepads are a surprising hit here, too. I made over 100 of them yesterday alone.

So, that's the update. I'm trying to come up with some new items to sell here. I constantly worry that the shop looks too empty and I don't have enough stuff, even though my customers and friends all argue that I'm nuts for thinking that. Still, I'd like to start bringing in some new things, but I don't know what direction to take. If you were to walk into my shop, what kinds of things would you love to see here? I'm itching to bring in some home canned goods like jams and jellies, sauces and dips. You know, the kinds of things that can sit here without spoiling. Aside from that, though, I'm at a loss. Any suggestions?

I'm toying around with new tattoo ideas lately, too. I would love to connect the koi fish on my forearms with the birds on my shoulders and eventually have full sleeves. I'm really into the idea of flowers lately, but seeing as how all of my tattoos are black and grey I need to come up with an interesting way to incorporate simple black tattoos with elaborate floral details. I'm really leaning toward old school botanical drawings, which are mostly simple line drawings in ink anyway. I'm struggling with finding images, though. I think a visit to the library might be in order. My mom suggested looking into the Audubon books, but I want to go a bit older than that. I'm thinking of something along the lines of this:

and this:

but in black and color. Google, here I come.