Parting Thoughts: Going Solo @ Chasing Bright Shiny Objects

After four years of blogging with a quartet of talented women at See How We Sew, I am going to take a leap into solo blogging. Starting this coming Friday you’ll find me at Chasing Bright Shiny Objects, a blog about whatever strikes my fancy. Sure, there’ll be quilts and sewn crafts in the mix, but with my own blogging venue, I’ll be exploring a broader world of creativity and random other things.

Before I head out, I’d like to take a look back at some of my favorite posts and shared moments with Christie, Darra, Laura, and Pati. Just to reassure you, dear readers, SHWS remains in the capable hands of Laura and Pati.

Do check back on Friday for a preview of Chasing Bright Shiny Objects. I’d like to invite you to join me on my new adventures—the road map is a work-in-progress!

Favorite Profile

No question—Candace Kling. Writing a blog is a great excuse to marshal courage and contact the more iconic figures in our creative realms for interviews. I’ve long admired Candace and it was a treat to meet her and visit her outrageously wonderful studio: rough around the edges in its warehouse setting, but a true Aladdin’s cave filled with glorious examples of her art and collected vintage wares.

Inspiration-J: Candace Kling's Studio
Examples of Candace Kling’s outstanding floral ribbon work.

Favorite SHWS Project

Again, a clear favorite for me, Achoo!, a collaborative pattern we developed for the debut of Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer line. It’s not easy to squeeze in shared sewing time when we have such crazy working and life schedules—remember Laura had her daughter’s wedding in that interval—but somehow we managed to design and sew the quilt, plus write the Achoo! pattern instructions. Yes, we were breathless by the end, mostly because we had to make an additional quilt for the Robert Kaufman Fabrics trunk show, but we very happy with the result. Truly, the team collaboration has been the most satisfying experience in this last year. (Laura is awe inspiring as she power sews!)

Handsome Freddy (last name Reddy, yes, Reddy!) guards our secret project.
Handsome Freddy (last name Reddy, yes, Reddy!) guards our Achoo! quilt.

Favorite Team Event

It too was madness, but so much fun: Quilting in the Garden 2012. That’s where our original quartet, Christie, Darra, Laura, and I, were featured artists for the outdoor quilt exhibition in Livermore, California. What a fun weekend we had visiting with fellow quilters and visitors to Alden Lane Nursery. Laura returned this year with her long-time collaborator, Diana McClun, for a retrospective exhibit of a quarter century of shared quilt making. They have an astonishing number of them in their archives–we’re talking hundreds of quilts!

From left:  Christie, Jennifer (Christie's BOM), Darra (Sunbonnet Sue & a baby quilt)
From left: Christie, Jennifer (Christie’s BOM), Darra (Sunbonnet Sue & a baby quilt) at Quilting in the Garden 2012, Livermore, California.

Favorite Personal Post(s)

Yikes, that’s a tough one because there are several that resonate with me still. As a writer who spends most of her professional time crafting sentences that have a neutral voice, taking those first steps to sharing my own voice has been both scary and thrilling. My first post, Designing Quilts One Grocery Bag at a Time, was a complete improvisation. I experienced something that tickled my fancy and I wrote about it. It was weird inspiration, but that spurred me to share the moment with photographs. My peanut gallery of males (i.e. my all-male household) thought I was demented as I tried to figure out how to photograph groceries on my kitchen table. Par for the course as it turns out with this blog–we have each grown our skills as we’ve navigated this endeavor. Next fave personal post: My Quilts Have Feet–it makes me teary eyed. I miss my little fellas, even as I adore the grown men they have become. I absolutely do miss them when I have large quilts to photograph though. They know the drill and, as I mentioned in this recent post, my new crew needs some pointers.

J-Inspiration: Groceries II Minus Chips and Ice Cream

Favorite Collaboration

Ah, this one was a true pleasure: the African textiles and quilts series that culminated in a virtual quilt show of African quilts (Part I, Part II). This mega international project would have be impossible without Paula Benjaminson, art quilter, ambassadorial wife, and former U.S. foreign service officer. We most definitely spanned the globe with this extravaganza: Paula and I were in touch via email as she traveled from Africa to Europe and the U.S. The images from the collection of posts are still favorites for Pinterest pinners and for those who love African textiles.

A wondrous array of colors and prints on display for sale in Libreville, Gabon.
A wondrous array of colors and prints on display for sale in Libreville, Gabon–photographed by Paula Benjaminson, SAQA member.

Wow, four years and somewhere around 50+ individual posts, it’s been a blast here at SHWS. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me in the Comments section, it’s been a true pleasure getting to know such a talented and passionate array of crafting people. Keep the pedal to the medal with your sewing and do consider joining me on my new blogging journey.

Jennifer Signature

 

Advertisements

A See How We Sew Tradition: Our Top 10 Posts for 2014

Inspiration-J:  Xmas Tree

Hello dear readers! Hope the holiday season is  treating you well. We’re enjoying the closing days of 2014, and looking forward to all sorts of crafting and sewing adventures in 2015. You’ll remember that last year we shared our Top 10 Posts for 2013 and we’re establishing a New Year’s tradition by looking at our results for 2014 and sharing them with you.

Like last year, you favor learning about techniques, notable textile artists, and products:

  1. Patterns
  2. Walk Your Stitches Out of the Ditch
  3. 10 Things I’ve Learned From Hanging Out with Candace Kling
  4. Drafting Part 2:  Making an 8-Pointed or Lemoyne Star
  5. Candace Kling, Masterful Manipulator of Fabric & Ribbon
  6. Prewash or Not? Quilting’s Perennial Question
  7. Feeling Frantic?  Check Out These Last-Minute Goodies
  8. Gallery
  9. Soft & Stable:  An Alternative to Batting
  10. Creating Curved Pieced Blocks and Landscapes with Sue Rasmussen

Enjoy the waning days of our Winter holidays and do check back to see what we have in store for 2015!

Signature 1 line

 

 

Top Ten Posts for 2013 at See How We Sew

A peek at a portion of Candace Kling's vast ribbon stash.
A peek at a portion of Candace Kling’s vast ribbon stash.
Candace’s posts were widely popular this year at See How We Sew.

As bloggers, my SHWS sisters and I review our readership numbers regularly to see what posts have been popular with viewers. That certainly helps us figure out if we’re writing about topics that are appealing, informational, and–we hope–fun.

Here’s the rundown for 2013. Clearly you like clever people, projects, products, and how-to guidance. Some pre-date 2013, which shows that we’ve truly hit on a topic of universal interest.

See How We Sew’s Top 10 Posts for 2013

  1. FREE Patterns
  2. He’s Here, He’s Here! The Santa Claus Block is Ready!
  3. 10 Things I’ve Learned From Hanging Out With Candace Kling, Ribbon Worker Extraordinaire
  4. Candace Kling, Masterful Manipulator of Fabric & Ribbon–Giveaway Today!
  5. Gallery and How-To Videos
  6. Soft and Stable: An innovative alternative to batting. A perfect choice for Placemats & Totebags
  7. Neutral Palettes: Sophisticated and Sensational!
  8. Working in a Series: Gwen Marston and 37 Sketches
  9. Walk Your Stitches Right Out of the Ditch: Fresh Ideas for Quilting with a Walking Foot
  10. Housing Projects: Schoolhouse Quilts, Then and Now (Part 1)

    "Small Study 10" (2010) by Gwen Marston, from her book, 37 Sketches
    Another fan favorite this year: “Small Study 10” (2010) by Gwen Marston, from her book, 37 Sketches.

Other Matters of Interest on the Eve of a New Year–Pati Fried Gives Herself an INSANE Challenge!

UFO Marathon

Giveaway Winner

The winner of my Santa Smiles Tree Skirt pattern giveaway is Jennifer Willard–congratulations!

On the eve of a new year, we wish you the very best and fun/safe frolics!

J-Signature

10 Things I’ve Learned From Hanging Out With Candace Kling, Ribbon Worker Extraordinaire

Inspiration-J: Candace Kling's Studio
How wonderful are these pretty blossoms? I absolutely love the satiny texture of the ribbons and their colors.

1.  Candace Kling, the subject of my Tuesday post, has a wonderful studio with plenty of room to spread out works-in-progress and storage for supplies, tools, and everything else. It’s a shared warehouse space with a surface design artist/art professor, a print maker, and a fashion designer.

Candace's main work center with the super-cool map drawer set.
Candace’s main work center with the super-cool map drawer set.

2.  Candace is wonderfully organized in the best-possible, non-anal way. Shelves display labeled boxes filled with wondrous flowery and ribbony treasures; a re-purposed set of map drawers in her primary work area holds her most useful supplies and tools; and file drawers stock class curricula and other material for her life as a working artist. The atmosphere is hip-creative and yet not precious or overwrought with “studio” design.

Inspiration-J:  Candace Kling's Studio

3.  She’s well connected. After 30 years in pursuit of her craft, she’s got ties with a huge community of artists, collectors, crafters, collaborators, curators, peers, students, suppliers, and so forth. There’s a lot of activity in her orbit–a vintage hat discovery by a friend in an L.A. resale shop could be the start of a new exploration.

Straight from her worktable--a pretty blossom with handmade stamens and a center with cording hand dyed by a student and sculpted by Candace
Straight from her worktable–a pretty blossom with handmade stamens and a center with cording hand dyed by a student and sculpted by Candace

4.  Relatedly, Candace knows her way through private and museum costume collections.  Much of her work and teaching derives from close-up study of these garments. Her detailed analysis and documentation preserves our understanding of historic clothing and our appreciation of antique workmanship.

A mid-20th century cashmere sweater with wonderful ribbon work and embroidered details.
A mid-20th century cashmere sweater with wonderful ribbon work and embroidered details.

5.  Speaking of learning from vintage goods, she has an incredibly precise eye when she examines these fragile wares and has developed a variety of hands-off techniques for measurement. Often all she can use is a piece of thread for determining the dimensions of each element she’s studying. Her academic background in figure drawing and garment design/construction certainly honed her skills and raised her comfort level, and gave her the confidence to tackle even an 18th-century gown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Precision? These perfect tiny blossoms are probably 1/2" in diameter
Precision? These perfect tiny blossoms are probably 1/2″ in diameter.

6.  Candace has a sublime resource library of ribbon, stamens, leaves, etc. A good portion of her stock is vintage goods culled from her finds and purchases from collectors. The new materials come from specialty shops and online stores. Everything is sorted, categorized, and labeled. And she’ll also custom make some of the elements, like stamens, when she needs a particular color or shape.

Inspiration-J:  Candace Kling's ribbon collectionInspiration-J:  Candace Kling's StudioInspiration-J:  Candace Kling's Studio

Inspiration-J: Candace Kling's ribbon drawer7.  All told, she takes a fine-arts approach to her work, which is very thoughtfully composed, almost as though she’s painting a portrait or still life. There’s great deliberation in placement, proportion, size, depth, and shadowing.

This still life is a casual sketch combining old and new flowers--the vase is a re-purposed vintage handbag
This still life is a casual sketch combining old and new flowers–the vase is a re-purposed vintage handbag.

8.  Candace goes to extremes. Really? Yes! Most of her work can fit in the palm of a hand, but she’s been known to blow the roof off fine-art installations. Her sculpture, Massacre at Bridal Veil Falls, is 17 feet tall. Countless yards of hand-pleated and pressed sateen wrap a constructed plinth and cascade across the floor in sculpted, undulating waves.

"Massacre at Bridal Veil Falls" by Candace Kling
“Massacre at Bridal Veil Falls” by Candace Kling
Close-up view of the hand-folded and pressed pleats, and sculpted into undulating liquid-like shapes.
Close-up view of the hand-folded and pressed pleats that have been sculpted into undulating liquid-like shapes.

9.  She has all the material, research, and images for a new book . . .

What's on Candace's work table? Trippy Japanese lanterns, rosebuds, and other fanciful flowers.
What’s on Candace’s work table? Trippy Japanese lanterns, rosebuds, and other fanciful flowers.

10.  Meeting her changed me. (No, I’m not a vampire now, Twilight fans.) I’m about to turn my dimensional applique process on its head by paying much more attention to how I use fabric on the bias and straight of grain when building my flowers. Using a bias-cut pattern piece on the back side and a straight-grained piece on the front will enhance my ability to sculpt my flowers–I guess I should’ve paid more attention in Home Ec.

Oh yes, the giveaway of a copy of The Artful Ribbon . . . did you read my reply to yesterday’s comments? Candace Kling has bestowed 2 autographed copies on me for the giveaway. And so, without further ado the winners are Pam S. and Laura Tawney! Congratulations, you’ve won a fantastic book!

I will now repair to my small, uncool studio/laundry room to work on flowers ala Candace Kling . . . later crafters, quilters, and sewists!

J-Signature

 

Candace Kling, Masterful Manipulator of Fabric & Ribbon–Giveaway Today!

Good enough to eat? Candace Kling's delicious "Eye Candy" may fool you, but the confections are made of fabric!
Good enough to eat? Candace Kling’s delicious “Eye Candy” may fool you, but the confections are made of fabric!

I don’t think it’s a secret here at the blog that I’ve got a case of floral love. I’ve a habit of posting flower photos when I blog and dancing around blossomy themes and colors in much of my work. Which makes me think you’re not going to be shocked when I reveal that my fave crafting book is about flowers.Giveaway-Gold

Do you know The Artful Ribbon by Candace Kling from C&T Publishing? Not only do I have an update on Candace’s further flower adventures here, but she gave me an autographed copy of The Artful Ribbon as a giveaway to one of our readers! (See details below.)

Book-J:  The Artful Ribbon by Candace Kling

Isn’t that book cover spectacular?

Lucky for me, Candace lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She joined me for lunch last Friday and, even better, she invited me to her studio so I could see her handiwork LIVE!

Pansies and fuchsia
Pansies and fuchsia made with fabric and ribbon

Reading The Artful Ribbon was transformative to me. I poured over its pages and experimented here and there with her flower-building instructions. Did I become a fabulous hat or dressmaker as a result? Nah, I just had a heck of a great time playing with ribbon and embellishing handmade decor. Nonetheless, apprenticing to Candace via her book taught me much about translating the natural world into sewn form.

Inspiration-J:  Candace Kling's flowers
The rosy nosegay shows her incredible skill with “sculpting” floral shapes, the tiny flowers show her dexterity.

Meeting her turned out to be somewhat life changing as well. I set out to interview a renowned craftswoman, but I walked away with incalculable insight into creating floral artwork. A long-time teacher, imparting know-how is as natural as breathing to her—even her hands speak as she describes sculpting petal-like shapes from ribbons and fabric.

Inspiration-J:  Candace Kling's flowersCandace is a child of the Sixties; actually, she’s a true flower child who is Bay Area born and raised. While she has formal training from leading art schools in drawing, fashion design, and costuming, what she knows about embellishments she gained first by working in an East Bay vintage clothing store called Bizarre Bazaar (Facebook link) as a seamstress and then by studying the collections of leading museums and private collectors.

At that time, BizBaz was the locus of heavy trading in garments of all 20th century decades, some even earlier. The shop was hands-on learning of the best sort because Candace tailored and fit the vintage garments for the buyers who wore them out into the world. The museum wares she studies even now are handled very gently and worn only by mannequins on the rare occasion of a public exhibit and are otherwise strictly hands-off.

Inspiration-J: Candace Kling's cockades etc.
Intricately folded cockades perfect for finely tailored clothing

Her renown as a resource about vintage clothing and embellishment, and her growing skill at ribbon work, helped her build a very busy schedule of teaching and lecturing opportunities that continues today. It turns out that ribbon work is a skill that crosses many disciplines so Candace can bring her expertise to the widest range crafters from milliners to interior designers and costumers. She teaches actively in Northern California at guilds and shops like The Ribbonerie and The Sewing Workshop in San Francisco and travels outside of California to other venues as well. Visit her website for her teaching schedule.

I was so dazzled by our visit that I realized I couldn’t possibly fit everything I wanted to cover in one post. On Friday we’ll visit Candace’s studio to see recent work and other wonders. That means the turnaround for the giveaway will be super quick. Leave me a comment by this Thursday, January 24 and I’ll announce a winner in my Friday post.

Inspiration-J:  Candace Kling box of confections
“Eye Candy” by Candace Kling–visually appetizing and easy on the waistline

FYI: Visit Candace’s website and/or find the resource page at the back of The Artful Ribbon if you have questions about resources for ribbons and embellishments.

See you Friday!

J-Signature