Thursday, January 30

The tectonic biscuit shifts of middle age, or "My Friends Are Missing Places I Will Never Visit"

I just made this small wall hanging called "My Friends Are Missing Places I Will Never Visit" - a meditative study in fabric and thread, having to do with staying in one place and all the implications therein.

I've never been a gracious traveller and I've never been particularly obsessed with trips I've taken or missed. But recently I've become keenly aware of other people's telling of their travels: I introduce two friends and they bond in an instant revery discussing favorite scuba vacation spots. I'm invited to lunch and hear "You haven't eaten until you've traveled through Europe."

Well, then, I guess I haven't eaten. At these moments I tend to just kind of stand there and wait for the subject to change. Okay, so I'll never experience the culinary shifts that occur as one eats one's way from the breads of Southern Italy up through the breads of Northern Italy. I don't even have a passport. So it goes. The title "My Friends Are Missing Places I Will Never Visit" is not meant to be pathetic. But I do think it's about middle age, that odd time where you thought you had the cruxes of the biscuits of life worked out only to find that next there is an unannounced tectonic shift in the biscuit — now all the things you've never done, even the ones you never wanted to do, are doors shutting silently in your face, their solid thuds replaced with a doubtful whisper of "never."

I was also thinking of missing in another way, the way friends who have left their homelands are forever elsewhere, with a yearning for other that can't be satisfied. Other country, other weather, other food, other time that has moved on without them — again, the thick experience of years going by has filled me with empathy for my expat friends that I could not have had as a younger oaf. Older oaf me gets it, at least I think I do.

Ahem. Anyway, that's what I was thinking about as I made this. It's made from layers of linen - some frayed, some tenderly stitched, with a panel of wool at the bottom. It hangs on what can only be called a pick-up stick.

Tuesday, January 21

today in the studio ... a black moment

I just had a moment of loving black so much. Here's my lap. Black dress, black leggings, small black wall hanging with black hanger and black thread and a black tab I'm hand-sewing onto the back. Please join me in a moment of silence for the enduringly wonderful color or non-color of black.
“Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy - but mysterious. But above all black says this: "I don’t bother you - don’t bother me." – Yohji Yamamoto

Friday, January 17

a boring list of references, or "how your website might be a sea monster."

Hey! I left my studio yesterday! I went to speak to a group of lovely people (at the WISE Women's Business Center in Syracuse, NY) and guess what? It was super fun. I was the Entrepreneur that people could Meet. Folks asked lots of great questions and seemed to tolerate my circular rambling and idealistic-bordering-on-insane enthusiasm for what I do.

I talked some about my obsessive desire to have every small business person have a great website. Especially creative people. You know how some mothers will grab someone else's toddler and wipe slimy stuff off their faces without a second thought? (*full body shiver*) I'm like that with other people's websites. I feel a bordering-on-rude possibly involuntary urge to improve ugly out-of-the-box passive ugly websites. Wow I put "ugly" in there twice. Because I mean it.

A website is a process. Mine included. We'll always be tweaking our sites and evolving them along with our businesses, but I also think some solid pre-build thought about what you're trying to do with yours is crucial. It's too easy to be subsumed by the existing structure of a template - to become a passive plugger-inner of content instead of starting from the bigger picture of how you want to connect to people then finding a way (by building it or finding the right designer or host) to make that happen.

Yesterday I said I would post these links. Poof - here they are. They're about design. But more specifically, design that helps you think about our very human experience interacting with websites. When I was doing intensive web searches for inspiration I found this kind of thing difficult to dredge up, so I share them in the hope that you find them helpful:

  • "A Case for Web StoryTelling" by Curt Cloninger ... This was written in 2000 - I know! It's an internet antique. But it's still great and it's great because it's a plea for the importance of narrative and intimacy over technological focus.
  • "Fluidity of Content and Design - Learning from Where the Wild Things Are" by Sarah Bauer ... Yes, that's right, she uses the awesome book as a primer for how to meld images with narrative for a cohesive user experience.
  • "Knock Knock Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Building a Web Site that Works" - by Seth Godin ... He is offering it as a free downloadable PDF. It's also not new but is super helpful in thinking about websites as breathing, non-linear entities. Which makes them sound like sea monsters, and so could be a bit misleading, sorry. It's a quick good read and really got my brain spinning with possibilities.
  • Though not web-specific I also mentioned "The Bootstrapper's Bible" by Seth Godin, which he also offers as a free download. If you feel left out of small business discussions that center around bank loans and are more prone to boot-strappy DIY stubbornness, I recommend!
Enjoy!  - helen

Saturday, January 11

what i've been staring at

this beast from Coco and Pompon. It has several teeth. I do like a friendly beast.

these ceramic hand beads by Sarajane Helm. They are such a fine balance of beautiful, cute and creepy because, you know, they're still disembodied parts. They seem like the kind of thing you could start collecting and never stop. I wish I needed some for a project.  I may make up a reason yet. And

Japanese boro stitching. I am staring at a lot of this, a lot. I'm just smitten with the inherent human-ness of it all.  What a small but powerful way we make our mark on the world when we run a needle and thread through fabric.

Thursday, January 9

half Beaker, half Dr. Frankenstein

I'm running some experiments and it's true, there aren't any clothes on the site right now ...

The new year has started and I felt a fierce desire to slam the creative door on 2013. So I did. I'm sequestered in my studio working on a new collection. It's different. It scares me. I love it. I'm midway through it and I don't know where it's pulling me. My head is thrumming with ideas, I go to sleep thinking through problems to solve and wake up knowing what to do next, jot down some sketches and off I go. I'm working in a thick rich condensed soup atmosphere of concentration and right now I never want to come out — but when I do you'll be the first to know.

See you soon - helen
p.s. If you want to know when the new collection will be up, sign up for my mailing list — I'll send up a flare a few days ahead of time.