Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some recent commissions and an announcement...

Here are a few recent personalized commissions I've sent out:

I've made nearly 200 personalized pieces since I started offering the service on my website 4 years ago. That's a lot of letters! Thanks to some loyal customers and great referrals, I've had a steady stream of commissions that have enabled me to contribute to the family finances while staying home with my kids. I've enjoyed taking people's color/style/theme suggestions and translating them into tangible custom-made creations. Some people have even written to tell me that mothers have cried (happy tears) when they received the gift, or that it's become a child's favorite item, or a focal point in their bedroom.

So why am I getting all nostalgic now? Because I've decided that after this month, I'm going to stop taking making personalized stuff. I've sometimes taken a month or two off in order to catch up, but this time I think I'm going to hang up my letter-cutting scissors for good. It's been a great run, but it's time to move on. This doesn't mean that kokoleo is closing it's doors. In fact, I'm looking forward to spending even more time making sundresses/skirts/purses/accessories/art and all the other things I dream of making when I finally get the time.

I'll be taking orders through the end of this month though, and adding the names to my list (like Santa!) to be completed in the order they were received. And, as a special thanks to my customers, all personalized commissions will be 10% off (20% for Facebook Fans!) from now until July 31st.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My broken winged boy

I often think of my life in terms of "This time last week (or month, or year, or 5, 10, etc. years ago) I was..." and think of all that's happened since that time. This time last week I was looking forward to the Swap and meeting Jenny Hart and finishing a bunch of commissions. I certainly wasn't expecting to get a call from Sage's day camp supervisor that he had fallen out of a tree and broken his arm. That's what happened last Friday and suddenly we found ourselves on an impromptu field trip to the emergency room in Burbank.

There was no denying it was broken. Caution: If you are squeamish, click away now.

Ouch. Arm bones aren't supposed to bend like that.

or that.

So after 5 hours, several needles, and a couple unsuccessful attempts to straighten it, including this barbaric-looking device,

we left with just a splint and a popsicle and some codeine and instructions to let it rest for a day and then go to Children's Hospital to see an orthopedic surgeon.

So Sunday morning we packed a bag of distractions and went for Round Two.

Which took 7 hours, several x-rays, and a scary 15 minutes of holding my sedated boy (his eyes were open and darting around, which was eerie) while a doctor yanked and twisted and wrestled and popped it back into place, then quickly sculpted a cast around it. The nurse warned me he might be a little loopy for a while. When the sedative started to wear off Sage looked into my eyes and shouted, "ALIENS!" then looked at the doctor and nurse and shouted "ALIENS! ALIENS!" (Later he told me it was because we all had 10 eyeballs.) He also said, "Mommy?" (he never calls me mommy anymore) and I said "Yes?" and he said "I love you so much." and then, "Please stop kissing me."

Erik was outside the room with McKenna during this time and only got an occasional glance through a tiny window. It's hard to entertain a toddler in an emergency room, but we did it.

Long story short, he's fine, though he can't swim or climb things for 8 weeks. Ouch. This is going to make for a different kind of summer.

Of course I had to make his sling a little more stylin'. And I was honored to be the first to sign his cast:

and draw on it:

And, like mother, like son, when life gives you crap, make crafts! He took the splint they made for him at the first ER:

And made it into an alligator.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jenny Hart @ Home Ec.

I took a class tonight. It was at Reform School, through their Home Ec. department. I can't remember the last time I took a class. (Note to self: Take some classes.) It was nice driving there and knowing I didn't have to get materials prepared or spend the night running around and showing people things, I could just sit and listen and sew and learn.

It was an embroidery class taught by Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. She has needle-handedly resurrected the art of embroidery with her embroidery kits and their fun patterns and easy-to-follow instructions. Anyone who's anyone in the craft world has heard of her.

Class started promptly at 7:00. Jenny Ryan, I mean Mrs. Jenny Ryan, even took roll (I love the whole school theme they have going there.)

Jenny (Hart, that is. Man, there are a lot of Jennys in our generation) started out showing us some stitches:

We worked on our Sublime Stitching patterns and she walked around and helped people.

Her mom came along, which I thought was great. She was the one who taught Jenny how to sew when she was little, just like my mom taught me. Thanks be to moms for keeping the love of sewing alive.

I stitched this cupcake, then tried out some stitches:

. . . and created possibly the world's ugliest sampler, but that's okay because it was just practice. I haven't embroidered in years, not since the skirt I made in college when I was working at the Dragonfly (you can see it here). I spent a few months behind the desk stitching pictures onto scraps of fabric left over from clothes we altered. At the end of the semester I turned it in as my final sculpture project and got an A. I also nearly gave myself arthritis working on it and haven't embroidered much since. I realized tonight that I miss it. I wish I would have known back then some of the stitches I learned this evening. It's never too late too learn, though. French knots are nothing to fear, they're fun!

Jenny talked about how she started her business and how it's grown over the last 8 years. It was interesting to learn that as well-known as she is in the craft community, she hasn't become rich off it. I'm not surprised though. It's the price you pay for not selling out. She's been able to maintain complete control of her work - from the sourcing of materials to the design of the packaging to the shops that carry her kits. Best of all, she's created a catalog of images that have been stitched onto surfaces by people all over the world. That spells success in my book - knowing that people love what you create and that they appreciate you helping them create their own. Who needs mansions and fancy cars when you've got that?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Renegade Swap-o-rama rama Recap

Another Swap, another crazy busy creative inspiring experience. I made it a point this time to remember to stop every once in a while and take some pictures during the whirlwind event. Here was the view behind me:

And here was the view from my Applique Station.

I brought a bunch of stencils and fabric that I frequently use in my kokoleo creations and swappers were free to use them or create their own with a little help and HeatnBond from me. Someone, while I was ironing on her applique, asked me why I would want to give away my favorite fabric and stencils and sewing secrets for free. Until then, I'd never really thought about it like that. I told her that I get a kick out of helping to inspire creativity in other people and even though I may not be getting rich off it, I'm getting tons of kokoleo-collaborations out into the city and beyond. It's good p.r., I suppose.

I wasn't able to capture them all, but here are some things that we made:

From the quick glimpses I got of the other stations, the other designers were equally as busy:

Events like this (with nearly 300 participants!) don't happen without lots of helper-outers. I'm sure I missed recognizing some and I'm sorry for that. Big props though to Lori Petitti from HipLine Media, our fearless leader and organizer extraordinaire:

There are talks of another Swap happening in the fall so start setting aside your clothing contributions. I'll keep you posted. It'll be a great way to make some one-of-a-kind gifts for the holidays.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Swap-o-rama rama at Renegade

Okay L.A. peeps, here we go again - clean out your closets and come join me tomorrow for some DIY fun!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

kokoleo in kids LA magazine

There's a new parenting magazine on newsstands in Southern California called kidsLA. When I first saw it I was struck with it's unique style and awesome photography, as well as it's local interest stories and emphasis on green living. After reading the issue I bought a subscription and wrote to Jemma Gafford, the editor-in-chief, to offer my craft tutorial writing services for any future issues.

And that's how I came to be in the summer issue:

That's me up there in the corner sipping an old-skool pop tab Pepsi at Wrightsville Beach circa 1976.

And here's the article I wrote on sun printing:

Sun printing is a fun project where you lay objects on top of specially treated photo-sensitive fabric (I got mine here) and end up with one-of-a-kind shadow prints. The kids enjoyed making them and I enjoyed writing about our experience. It's the kind of project that inspires even more crafty projects to happen. Here's a shirt I made for Erik with the sunprint he designed with his paintbrushes:

And here's a hanging pincushion I made from a sqaure decorated with my sewing notions:

We still have 12 squares left and I can't wait to make a new batch. I'm already envisioning patchwork scarves and garland flags for the kids rooms. Thanks kidsLA for the inspiration and for allowing me to be a part of such an awesome magazine!


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