Spring Arrives with a Bounty of (Fabric) Blooms . . . and a Giveaway!

1-Giveaway IconWe’re more than a month into spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the evidence–both cultivated and wild–is emerging (and in some cases, exploding) around us in a shower of color and scent.

Nothing says "spring" like a bed of tulips! Photo by Darra Williamson.
Nothing says “spring” like a bed of tulips! Photo by Darra Williamson.
Floral "sunshine" dresses a white picket fence. Photo by Darra Williamson.
Floral “sunshine” dresses a white picket fence. Photo by Darra Williamson.
A swath of red enhances the seaside landscape. Photo by Darra Williamson.
A swath of red enhances the seaside landscape. Photo by Darra Williamson.
Delicate pink blossoms in the wild. Photo by Darra Williamson
Delicate pink blossoms in the wild. Photo by Darra Williamson
A single wild iris blooms against a Pollock-like tangle of greenery. Photo by Darra Williamson
A single wild iris blooms against a Pollock-like tangle of greenery. Photo by Darra Williamson
A "natural" display of color and texture.  Photo by Darra Williamson
A “natural” display of color and texture. Photo by Darra Williamson

Fabric Blooms coverToday, to celebrate this “blooming” season, we’ve planned a special giveaway. Lark Crafts has generously donated two copies of its brand-new, 128-page book, Fabric Blooms by Megan Hunt. The projects are adorable and doable–made from felt, cotton, jersey, and even faux leather!–and range from headbands and lapel pins to nosegays, wreathes, and fairy lights. Best of all, the patterns for all the flower parts are given full size. You don’t need to draw or enlarge a thing!

So, here’s the deal. Leave a comment below by noon (PDT) Thursday, May 1, telling us what you consider to be the first sure sign that spring has arrived, and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of Fabric Blooms. The two winners will be announced in this Friday’s post.

A peek into the pages of Fabric Blooms
A peek into the pages of Fabric Blooms

Finally, an announcement of sorts. After three wonderful years of visiting with you here each month, it’s time for me to join my former SHWS blogging sister, Christie Batterman, as a See How We Sew Blogger Emeritus. Today marks my final post as an active member of the SHWS team.

While it’s difficult to say goodbye, the change is happily motivated. My husband Brooks and I are slowly beginning the lifestyle-changing transition from the bustling Bay Area to a small, off-the-beaten-track, incredibly beautiful, artist-friendly village by the sea on the Northern California coast. As a writer, I know I’ll want to write about the experience, so you can be sure that “I’ll keep you posted”–no pun intended!

Coming soon . . . Photo by Darra Williamson
Coming soon . . .
Photo by Darra Williamson

I’ve loved the time I’ve spent working, playing, learning, and creating with Laura, Jennifer, Pati, and Christie, and look forward to returning for a guest post now and then. Also, like you, I’ll be eagerly following the latest here at See How We Sew. I know there are some fabulous things in store!

So that’s it for now. ‘Til we meet again (soon, I hope), happy stitching!

Darra-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

 

April Showers Bring May Flowers…and a New See How We Sew Feature!

As we enter our second year of blogging (still can’t believe it!), we’ve decided to add a new twist to our format. Each month we’ll choose a theme, and each of us will do one theme-related post that month. The “theme” post may be an inspirational photo, news of a new fabric line, a book review, quilt collection, project, tutorial, or maybe even a recipe that relates to the monthly theme. I am excited to see how this idea evolves as we each bring something different to the table. Please enjoy this first post in our May “flower” theme.

I decided to take a slightly different look at flowers, and captured the following photos while on my morning walk today through the local Ruth Bancroft Gardens. These gardens do not have the usual “sweet and charming” look of many popular gardens, but instead are rich with a wide variety of succulents and cacti. I always enjoy seeing how the plant world puts on a colorful display for us during the spring months.  I often find inspiration for a new project from their colors, lines, and textures.

Even spiny, prickly cacti have colorful flowers.
Love this fuchsia and green color combination.
This was one of my favorite photos - one flowering plant overlapping another. Guess I like bright and showy.

What an interesting coincidence! Look at these two Aboriginal prints by M&S Textiles Australia. I just purchased them yesterday at my local quilt shop, The Cotton Patch. I’m so happy that they are carrying these beautiful Australian fabrics . . . and yes, there are several other designs available. Notice any similarities between these prints and the previous photo? Am I just that predictable? What colors, patterns, or shapes show up regularly for you?

I can't wait to start a new project with these exciting Australian prints.

The winner of Christine Barnes’ book is Laurie Spear. Thanks to so many of you for participating in the drawing.

Wish I could hang a basket of freshly picked flowers on each of your doorknobs today as a way of letting you know just how special you are to us. Happy May everyone!