Thursday, March 29, 2007

Die Walküre

A friend of mine invited me to see the opera Die Walküre last night with Placido Domingo. It was quite an experience. The place was packed with elegant people dressed in long ball gowns and drinking champagne (albeit out of a plastic cup). Too bad we were dressed in our work clothes. It would've been fun to dress up!

My friend was under the impression that it was a two hour opera, wasn't. (And I probably should've gathered that something was not quite right when we saw an elderly man get out of a taxi with a pillow in hand.) We arrived and took our seats and immediately started leafing through the program. Suddenly, my friend starts pointing frantically at the program. Speechless at what she was reading.

I look at where she's pointing and there it is in the fine print: The performance will last approximately 4 hours and 45 minutes. YIKES! The opera was to start at 6:00pm and we hadn't eaten dinner!! Not to mention that that was a long time to be sitting down in cramped little orchestra seats listening to opera.

At the first intermission, we ran to a nearby cafe and grabbed some sandwiches so our stomachs wouldn't start grumbling in protest throughout the performance. We washed it down with a mini $6 bottle of red wine that we shared. That certaintly lightened the mood. :)

All in all it was a lovely performance with amazing singers and set designs. Towards the end, however, people were getting up and leaving and you could hear more than one person snoring rather loudly (maybe the elderly man with that comfy pillow?). I think someone should've told Wagner that 4 hours and 45 minutes was just a tad bit toooooooooooooooooo long for an opera. I didn't get home til midnight and my dreams were full of people stumbling around singing soprano.

After last night, I don't think I'll have to go to another opera for, I'd say, ten years. I'm pretty much aaaall set. Thanks, my friend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Textile Museum

Went to the Textile Museum last weekend. There was a Magnolia tree right outside of the Museum. It was gorgeous! DC is really blooming! I can even smell the flowers and I've got practically no sense of smell! It's amazing.
The Textile Museum was founded in 1925, at which time you could only go with an appointment (lah-dee-dah :P). After the founder's death, however, this all changed and the number of visitors skyrocketed from several hundred annually to tens of thousands! That sounds much better, doesn't it?
The current exhibition is called "Red." My favorite pieces included this GORGEOUS dress with the off center neckline. (Excuse the dark photos. I refrained from using the flash in respect for the older pieces).

Another piece I really liked was this blanket. I loved the colors and the geometric shapes. That would look great on a bed, wouldn't it? There's a better picture here.

There was also a Berber headscarf that was very very cool. There was a "before" and "after" headscarf. When a girl enters adulthood, she is woven a cotton and wool headscarf that is primarily white (before). When she gets married, that same headscarf is dyed in a way that only the wool takes the dye, not the cotton (after). The headscarf is completely transformed! The dye reveals a gorgeous hidden pattern made with the cotton by the weaver. Absolutely spectacular!

It was a really fun day. And since it was so nice out, I was happy to be out and about enjoying spring in DC, which usually lasts a couple of weeks anyway before it gets SWELTERING.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Granny Book

A while ago, I mentioned that I had been commissioned to make a special journal for my client's grandmother, who's 88 years old. She wanted to give her grandmother a special journal for her birthday where she could write her memoirs. She wanted 26 pictures interspersed throughout the pages of the book to make it more personal. I absolutely loved the idea and quickly set to work, choosing the paper and color combinations for my client to choose from!
She chose a beautiful blue silk linen book cloth and Japanese screenprinted end paper with gold accents. I added a turquoise and navy silk ribbon for the bookmark, which really brought out the lighter tones of blue in the linen. Before covering the book board, I shaved three edges at a slant (all but the spine) to give the book a nice rounded feel when you held it. Seems like a bit over the top, but the difference (shaving vs. not shaving) is amazing! I also chose a bright yellow linen thread to bind the book with.
It matched beautifully with the blue linen and the gold in the end paper!
Unfortunately, after I was all done, I picked up the book and it was incredibly wobbly!! :( The yellow thread is unwaxed, which makes a HUGE difference when doing a coptic stitch binding (as I found out the hard way). It works well with full bound books (with a spine) because you glue the entire spine in place before putting the cover on. But when the thread is the only thing that is holding the book together, unwaxed thread does not work well. I had to undo the whole thing and bind it again. (bummer!) This time I opted for thicker ply, waxed linen thread in purple, a color also found in the endpaper.

The purple looked pretty as well and held the book nice and tight, which is most important!
For the pictures, Kurt was kind enough (thanks, Kurt!) to lay out the pictures and turn them all from black and white and color into sepia tones, which I thought would look very nice with the antique white pages. I took the file to a print shop to get professionally printed and then evenly distributed them among the signatures. We attempted to put them in chronological order, as best as we could, placing our favorite one on the first page. Isn't that a gorgeous picture!?

As a finishing touch, I gold stamped Grandma's name to the front of the book.
This is the final result!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Farmer's Market

This was a fun weekend. On Saturday we went to the zoo, which was my first time, but of course the battery in my camera died so I have no pictures of the cute baby panda. Bummer. On Sunday, however, we went to the farmer's market at Dupont Circle and that was a whole lot of fun. The flowers were GORGEOUS, but since we were going to be out for the day, I couldn't buy any without having them wilt on me before getting home. Here are a few pictures:

This last one is the coolest. I forget the name (of course, I'm horrible with names!), but it's gorgeous and has that huge bulb sticking out of the soil. I'll have to get one of these soon!

Also at the farmer's market was this awesome French bakery, where we bought almond croissants. They were huuuuge and FULL of yummy, oh so yummy, calories. We ate one each at around 10:30am and weren't hungry again until dinner time. Now that's what I call filling calories! :) We ate them too fast to take a picture, but I promise to take one next time to make you all jealous! :P

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ribbon bag

My mother in law made me a ribbon bag for Christmas last year. It's so awesome I have yet to use it. You know how it goes. It's so beautiful, you're like, "uh...better leave it at home, just in case..." Just in case what? Who knows! But one day soon I am going to take it out of its tissue paper, fill it with my usual stuff (3 lip glosses and my wallet) and leave the house before I have time to panic.

You can see the beautiful stitching that attaches the ribbons. The zipper is one of those cool "hidden" zippers and the lining matches the overall color, orange.
The handle is a delicate pearly, satiny cord that tucks ever so stealthily in the sides of the bag. Very nice work, Janet! Can't wait to use it! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Woodgrain indigo

Here are the final results of the smocking process. This type of stitching yields a "woodgrain" effect, which I'm particularly drawn to for some reason. This is the light cotton piece. It turned out really nice because the fabric was thin enough that I could get it to fold and overlap in certain places, creating a more interesting pattern.
The linen piece is much more even because the fabric was much too thick to overlap or fold. Apparently, it also took the dye a bit better than the lighter cotton since the color is significantly darker. You can see the sections where the needles were broken and the fabric remained unbound. Both pieces have a really great texture that I'm tempted to leave and not iron out. It would add a nice feel to the bag I want to make. I think I'd like the bottom of the bag (and a third of the way up the sides of the bag) to be oilskin and the top of the bag one of these shibori pieces. I really like the combination of indigo dyed shibori with oilskin. I've made projects using this combination before and have really liked how they turned out. Plus I think the oilskin will look nice with the bamboo handles and protect the bottom of the bag when I set it down. I'm picturing a bag that has an oval bottom and structured sides, like a bucket bag, but I've never made one like that before so it's all an experiment at this point! I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Bought a smocker recently to inspire me to make cute summer dresses and to occasionally help me with some shibori stitching. It has 24 needles, which take a really long time to thread as I found out on Sunday! It's super fun though. They recommend you use light fabrics, such as silk organza or Indian cotton, but I decided to try my luck with regular cotton and linen, 'cause I'm stubborn like that. I started with the piece of regular cotton and noticed that it was quite a bit more difficult to turn the cranks than when I did the silk organza. But I continued stubbornly on!

Once you've got a bit of fabric scrunched up on the needles, you have to slip it off onto the threads to make room for more fabric:
Here's what the fabric looks like as it's being fed through the machine. I continued all the way 'til the end (since you can't really back up once the fabric is on the machine), scrunched it all the way up and tied the threads. Now it's ready for dyeing.

I went on to the next piece, the linen, which proved to be even more difficult to crank. But I trudged on and made it to the end. Unfortunately, there were some casualties. I broke three needles, which resulted in this funky piece. You can see that two needles broke side by side, which resulted in this slight mound of unbound fabric and then the third missing needle left that faint line running through the piece. Should make for an interesting dye job though.
Both of these pieces are to be indigo dyed and I'm hoping to use them to make a small purse. I bought some round bamboo handles a while back and now that spring is just around the corner, I'd love to make something with them!
Pictures tomorrow of the dyed fabric!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Rain rain go away...

It's pouring rain here in DC. Not fun at all, unless you're snuggled up under the covers, which I most certainly am not, unfortunately. I am having a nice cup of green tea at work though. Bought a teastick recently that works pretty good. I definitely prefer my Japanese teapot, but since I'm at work, this is the more sensible solution.

I just bought this the other day and I am SO excited to wear it, but of course, I didn't want to get it soaked the first time I use it so I left it home today. :( It's gorgeous, though, and incredibly roomy. What will I wear it with...hmmmmm....I'm so excited. Hee hee. :) I LOVE bags (if you haven't noticed already). I definitely want to become the next stealth bag sensation! Stealth bags, since you probably don't know since you're not obsessed like me, are slightly expensive bags that are very well made by an unknown artisan. That'll be me someday...

Crafting plans this weekend include granny journal-making and possible tote. We'll see. I've definitely been anxious to craft, though, so hopefully that'll make me extra productive!

Enough rambling, now. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Maple Nut Scones

I asked my husband to make me Maple Nut Scones this past weekend. They turned out VERY good. :) I'm glad he enjoys baking because I don't think I could ever bring myself to go through the trouble of making these!

Kristen posted an entry on Maple Nut Scones, which of course made me crave them. The post includes the recipe if anyone is interested in making them. They're topped with a maple flavored frosting that makes them extra good. Here are our frosting remnants. YUM!

I'm currently working on a book that'll have blue linen bookcloth and blue and gold Japanese screenprinted endpaper. It'll be a coptic stitch with antique white paper. I think it'll turn out very beautiful and I can't wait to have it done! It was a special order from a very nice granddaughter who wants to give it to her grandmother for her birthday. It'll include photographs of her grandmother's life printed throughout the text block. Very special. I'm glad she chose me to make the book for her. I'll keep you posted on the progress as always!

Friday, March 9, 2007


Sorry for my temporary absence on the blog. We were in Boston last weekend, taking in the sights, meeting friends, and eating amazing Italian food. We stayed at this very cute hotel called the Kendall Hotel. It was gorgeous!!
The bed was comfortable (practically unheard of these days) and the entire hotel was decorated very tastefully in the country style. I loved it.
The bed had a pretty quilt and diamond waffle blanket. Under the diamond waffle blanket was ANOTHER waffle blanket. Now, let me just tell you, I LOVE waffle blankets. LOVE THEM. My best naps have been on a waffle blanket. I love how it feels and how you can snuggle up with it and how nice and toasty it gets. If I could have an entire set of sheets made out of the stuff, I would. Although that would probably leave nasty marks on your face in the morning, wouldn't it?
It'd still be worth it I think. I was ecstatic!!
And how ecstatic was I? I went to bed at 8:00pm one night and didn't wake up until 8:00am the following morning. IT WAS AWESOME! :)

Friday, March 2, 2007

Deconstructed screenprinting-Before and After

Gotta love deconstructed screenprinting! This image is from a plastic placemat. I laid it down on some newspaper, screened over it with print paste, let the screen dry, and then used purple print paste to screen the image onto the scarf. It's a temporary image on the screen, unlike when you burn the image on in regular screenprinting, but it gives great results. I'm very happy with the way it turned out. I didn't expect the image to be so crisp.
Last night, I over dyed it with blue to finish it up.

The blue really makes the purple pop, doesn't it?

This scarf will be up at the White Walls Gallery of the Corcoran Gallery of Art for a while. Afterwards, however, I may put it up in my shop, for anyone interested...

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Seems like everyone is making ripple blankets! I am very tempted to start my own. It's all very simple (in theory). You just go to the stripe generator to pick out your blanket's color combination. Then you use your stash yarn or yarn you purchase especially for this project and get to work! The pattern is "soft waves" from 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns by Jan Eaton. I'll have to buy the book, but I'm kind of excited about the project. I treasure comfy blankets, so it would be cool to have one I've made myself.

Alicia Paulson did a pale pastel version, which turned out very pretty.
Hmm...what colors will I choose?