#handmade · #karichapin · 2015 · bags · Divine Mercy · New Project · painting · sewing

New Year New Project

December came and went just like that.

Well, maybe not really since I was in a frenzy trying to finish handmade gifts that I said I wasn’t making. However, when funds are tight, it’s amazing how it becomes possible to shift the minutes so that there are pockets of it for keeping on track with the business of the day-to-day (read: eat regular meals and such) and still finish up gifts in time for handing over on Christmas Day.

I’ve been asked about the why of this craziness that comes when there are special occasions. Standard answer is that even if the giftee might not like the gift, there is, at least for me, the idea that when I made it, I put a bit of myself in whatever it was I made. The other more obvious one is that the gift will be unique to that person because it’s not something that will be found in any shop or bazaar. The third reason is that I really just like making things so I figure I’m sharing the joy of that in some way.

Something came out of making those four bags. I decided that 2015 will be the year I make bags. Here’s a little back story.

I’m normally a very calm person–ask my sisters. Most disastrous events in my life have come and gone without very much public drama from my end. I came to the conclusion that since I can have the attention span of a hummingbird, it may happen that I move on instead of dwelling.

But I had something happen to me that occupied my thoughts most of my waking hours. It got so bad that one day, I found myself talking to a picture I have on my cork board of the Divine Mercy. One of the things I do is to stop whatever I’m doing at 3:00 and say the short chaplet followed by a short novena. That particular day, I didn’t stop with the novena. I did what might horrify some staunch Catholics. I started berating God.

Yup, there I was, blubbering and sniffling and accusing Him of not paying attention. I went on and on about how He promised this and that and what more does He want–the usual rants of someone who won’t listen to reason because no answer will do.

Then I started answering my own questions. This happened very spontaneously–there was no lull in between the ranting and the answering where I could have thought things through. I just segued from demanding answers to giving them.

When I paused to blow my nose, my eyes shifted from the picture of the Divine Mercy to a large note I had pinned above it months before. I had written it because a friend suggested the idea sometime in the Spring. In large letters, I wrote: CAN YOU START THINKING ABOUT MAKING BAGS?

So I sat there, holding my tissue, and I said, “Oh.”

The Christmas gifts post printing and just before sewing.

My Facebook post showing the pieces I had painted.

The half-finished bag that I decided would be for my own use.

The finished bag with outer pockets that I love but proved to be more work than I intended!
Poetry by Virginia Lichauco de Leon that’s always been one of my favorites because I need more bouquets, I think.
The inside of the bag that I customized to suit my preferences.

A new bag in the making.

A close up of what the other side of the bag and handles will have.
I also began listening to Kari Chapin’s podcast just to keep the fire going. On Facebook, I told one of my friends that my project for 2015 is to be a geriatric Kate Spade. I should  have said middle-aged. I don’t think I’m geriatric quite yet.
As for the Divine Mercy, He was probably shaking His head and smiling, thinking I deserved to have a good cry anyway. 

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art · collage · Fine Art America · Lisa Congdon · mixed media · painting · prints · searching · sewing · style

In Search Of

My son Josh gave me Lisa Congdon‘s book, Art Inc. for my birthday. How did he know about it? Well, I’ve taken to putting things I like on my Amazon Wish List. Saves on guesswork and both son and hubby seem to appreciate the simplicity of it. On my end, I get what I actually want!

It took me a while to get back on track after the MATS Bootcamp, the MATS GTS, the MIID Summer School, and even the Spoonflower 30-Day Challenge were all over. Suddenly there were no real deadlines, no design briefs or prompts. I was on my own.
I did learn a great deal from having gone through the assignments and challenges. I also realized that it was time to try and put a finger on what actually defined my style. Lisa Congdon talks about this in her book. She also talks about how having access to so much artwork by other artists can both inspire and discourage. She got that bit spot on.
Seeing the work of other artists on the bootcamps and contests was inspiring but it also raised doubt on my part about my own ability to create art that was not only good but that was truly mine. At my age, I feel as if I should have gotten that straightened out by now, but I also recognize the fact that it’s not that straightforward for someone like me. I like doing too many things and trying everything out. There are dolls to sculpt, stories to illustrate, totes to paint and sew. There are techniques old and new to try my hand at, media I’ve never used and just discovering, and even scraps hold promises of artwork that could prove to be exciting and fun. All of that make for a really busy mind!
Once in a while, I do find some moments of quiet and when I do, the words of friends come to mind. More than once, the art I do when I’m not not aiming for any kind of look or style, had been described as sweet, as innocent, and even quiet and comforting. And then I look back to my earlier years when I would draw for my grandmother (whose birthday is today) and see, in my mind’s eye, the silhouettes of children that I drew with a black marker and how I tried to put in color by adding hearts using a red marker! There were others with more color though I think I thought I was being sophisticated by limiting my color palette to just red and black!
But these memories seem to be reminding me of what my art is really about. I grew up making art largely influenced by Holly Hobby and Joan Walsh Anglund. Along the way, there have been elements picked up from other artists and it was good to be able to try new things. But now it’s time to step away and take a good, long look at where I want to go.
This is why when Lisa Congdon began to explain how to make a Vision Map, I tore out a page from my sketch pad and followed along. I got rid of the doubts. I got rid of realistic. I wrote down what adventure I wanted waiting for me. I wrote down my Values and Intermediate Goals.
Today I scanned three of the artwork I’d been making with my Gelli plate and put them up on Fine Art America. They’re not sweet or innocent but I think of them as fun. I’m going to revisit the days I spent making art for my Grandmother and see what comes of it. With any luck, I’ll finally come up with artwork that will truly be mine.

Here are the prints:

Art Prints

Art Prints

Art Prints

#wearableart · cabinets · Deco Art Fabric paint · fabric · grandmothers · painting · patterns · sewing · Singer Sewing Machines · Tina Givens

Wearable Art

When I was a little girl, I used to go and explore my grandmother’s room. It wasn’t a big room but my grandmother, being a pack rat, managed to cram all sorts of wonderful things in it. She must have had at least two bookcases in there as well as a large, heavy wardrobe with a mirrored door. Then there was a smaller cabinet that she kept locked although she would unlock it when I’d be there. She knew I enjoyed looking at all her little treasures.

The first time I saw her sewing machine must have been the first time I ever saw a sewing machine. It was a Singer–the kind with a heavy metal stand and a treadle.  At the time, I was looking for ways to get more clothes for my dolls. This discovery told me that I had found the answer. All I had to do was to learn how to sew! I didn’t know anything about patterns. I didn’t even have fabric. But my grandmother did (of course). It wasn’t long before the weekends would find us in her bedroom, in front of the sewing machine sewing up whatever she thought would be easy enough for me to try.

The doll clothes came much later when I was able to deal with sleeves and darts and such. I also learned how to do a French seam because my grandmother liked everything tidy. When I was older, I took sewing lessons and even learned how to draft my own patterns. 

Nowadays there are endless patterns to choose from and while I don’t spend a lot of time sewing, I find myself buying patterns for those just-in-case moments. For the longest time, however, I’ve been mulling over a dress pattern that I felt would be ideal for someone like me who likes “shapeless” clothing. Since I do lots of planning and designing in my head (not ideal when you come to think of how my mind flits about but well, there you have it), I had been mentally drafting the pattern and reminding myself to commit it to paper.

Then I found Tina Givens! Her clothes aren’t for everyone and maybe most of them belong to a whole other era altogether, but I knew I found what I’d been looking for. Best of all, she shares four free patterns that are PDFs that you can download, print, and try out.

I downloaded the ones I wanted to try out and quickly realized that they’re easily adaptable. I also delighted in the fact that they made perfect “canvases” for whatever I felt like painting on them! So I sewed one of the patterns and after I washed the finished blouse, I grabbed my box of yet unused (and bought during a huge online sale) DecoArt Fabric Paint. It was the first time I used this brand of fabric paint. In my teens, I used a Japanese brand.


When I bought the paints, I also bought a resist medium and I was truly thankful that I did! It helped keep the paint from spreading out too far and it also made the leaf outlines possible. After 48 hours, I washed the blouse again to see how the paint would fare. It was perfect.

I sewed the blouse using the smallest size option because I had my niece in mind when I started the project. After sufficient drying and a quizzical once-over, I wrapped it up and sent it off to Hawaii. Today (just when I was starting this post), she popped me a message on Facebook to let me know she got it and even shared a photo of her wearing it. I hesitate to share it here because since she blocked her face with her phone, I figure she wouldn’t want me sharing her image with the rest of the world (not that the world reads my blog but it sounds nice, doesn’t it?).

I’m still going to draft that pattern in my head at some point, by the way. The painting in my head needs a “canvas” and that dress will be perfect for it.

Next up will be the painted wooden bangles although they might make their appearance on my Paper With Everything blog because I’ll be using mixed media which means more tea bags and paper!