Friday, May 26

ship out!

These are the trims I'm sending out.

Because of A Series of Unfortunate Events, I'm sending to four people--which, in the end, is not unfortunate at all. Three of you know we're swapping; the fourth is my partner in the blind round robin. Hee! So I haven't marked which is whose. You'll just have to wait and see!

If you are doing the trim swap (and it looks at this point as though this is going to be Round One, as there have been many plaintive emails), please note that your packages must go out by Tuesday! If you're in the States, that means tomorrow and Tuesday are the only possibilities. Get crackin'!

Hmm. I thought there was something else I meant to say.

Oh, yes:

I'll be closing down my shop for a while, so for the next two weeks I'm running a sale. All orders up to fifty dollars, use the code 'tenoffspring06' to receive 10% off your total purchase. And if you've been saving for that special splurge, well, it's your lucky day! All orders over fifty dollars, use the code 'springsale2006' to receive 20% off! Both coupons can be used as often as you like between now and June 9th. There will be secret updates all fortnight, so check back often! And thank you so much for your continued support and patronage.

On a related note, if you're in Minneapolis, the Design Collective is running their Spring Sale, too--and many of my things are on sale for as much as 40% off. My summer line (pictured on the models above) will be in stock starting next week.

Thanks for putting up with the advertisements. More interesting things later this weekend, for sure. Hope it is a good one for you.

Thursday, May 25

backing, tacking

I signed on.
I was resistant.
I struggled with the patterns.
I gave up.
I drew my own.
I hated the body.
I redid it.
I got neurotic about her face.
I finally made her a lined dress.
I gave her a bouquet of flowers and a necklace of buttons.

I'm headed to the post office to mail her off to France.
More photos once she's arrived!

Monday, May 22


A while ago, Meranie asked to see the insides of the skirts I make--to get an idea of how they're made, see the process as well as the product. She knows my skittishness about this, but I agree that the underneath matters--is sometimes as interesting as the outside.

That's the hope, at least, right?

And it's been on my mind to write about why I blog, as per the question posed by Lisa (of the new Underdog Ink shop--have you been there yet? The coral-bell earrings are mine!).

And then Blair went ahead and posted this thoughtful analysis of her own practise.

Dawbis, too, is thinking about what the 'point' to all this is. And it all came together--it's not just about the outsides, after all, this blog.

But that's what I thought, when I began. I thought it would be about my shop, a way to get the word out and very little else. I felt shy of opening up to strangers. I didn't want to presume that my ordinary life would be interesting to anyone. So I blogged, at first, as a sub-action of making a shop.

I generally feel like an outsider, but I compound this by disdaining, in the Groucho-Marxian tradition, the clubs that will have me as a member. So I assumed, from the beginning, that I wasn't part of the circle, that I wasn't going to make friends. And then I began to 'meet' people , and they have been some of the dearest presences in my daily life.

I still blog to show what I've made and to talk, a little, about what I'm thinking. But now I feel much more in conversation with other women, and it's not so lonely. It's more about the insides, if you see what I mean.

I want to write about making by hand and how that fits in with everything but I imagine this is plenty for today.

Friday, May 19

afternoon (the long version)

I can hear the bell ringing from the elementary school down the street. I hear it every afternoon, and I like hearing it. There are few things as evocative for me as the things connected to the insular, ordinary world of grade school. The smell--all of them smell the same, don't they? Kind of chalk mixed with kid sweat and the overtones of hot lunch?--and the way the chairs feel and the sound of the bell.

Too much talking. On to the pictures, then.

Reader, (as Jane Austen would say, oh Jane!) I got two packages this week. One, which I sent to Vanina in January, apparently circled the globe and came right back to me. Here it is--a piece of mail art in itself, wouldn't you say?

The other, a sweet present from a kind + talented lady, only had to come from San Francisco. Luckily, I sent Vachu a second parcel to make up for this one's being lost, so I can keep the wool that's inside this one! And everything Lisa sent was so sweet--buttons from the show she's making, papers I loved, cute flocked fabric (I already know which skirt I'm going to use it on), and a tiny pink-and-red bird. Just my taste. Thank you, L!

Birds are chirping just outside my screen. I'm so glad spring is finally here!

(Heralding things like craft fairs and fashion shows and getting to work on my work instead of schoolwork....)

Speaking of shows, the St. Paul Craftstravaganza is coming up in July--so the gears are turning. I've also had the weird experience of a couple of wholesale solicitations--how do you even manage that, those of you who make for wholesale? Crazy. Seems like a ton of work. Hmm.

But anyway. I've been working on a new product lately--it's going to be a packet of bath supplies, très luxe and very sweet--and I've come up with a version I'm happy about. Just a little vinyl pouch with handmade soaps etc. inside. I've decided to sew washcloths for these, too--I like that, because one side if terry (a little rough) and the other is flannel (soft). Actually, one of the first swaps I ever had I had with Toni, and she sent me a yellow washcloth she had made. I use it as my special face washcloth. It is that special. Maybe I'm just a sucker for pretty doo-dads (imagine!).

And--finally--the trim swap is still open for sign-ups, until Monday at 9 a.m. CST--so as long as I get your email before then, you're in. I figure at this point is is going to be huge and crazy, so it may as well be really huge and crazy while we're at it. Please read the post below and be sure to email me your information, even if you think I already have it. That way, I can more easily track who is in. I'll email everyone on Monday night with partners' names/information and the details of the swap. Thanks for being so eager to participate!

See you soon.

Thursday, May 18

trim swap

I sort of expected one or two people to jump on the trim-swappin' bandwagon...not ten! But ten there are, and maybe there will be a few more as people trickle on down here. So what I propose is a circular swap.

Comment here first to be involved. Then, send your contact information--name, address, weblog location--to me (ohbara at gmail dot com), and I will send each swapper one name/address/etc.

Let's have the swap begin on Monday (22 May)--that way, if there are latecomers, they can still get in on the action--and have the packages mailed by the 30th (the Tuesday after Memorial Day, for those of us who are Stateside).

Let's swap for five yards of trim--that would be five one-yard pieces of ribbon, bobble trim, lace, etc.--and please, please give as good as you would like to receive. It would be lovely for everyone to end up with some new-to-them trims that are of very high quality. Don't feel you have to rush out and buy things, though--using what you have is great!

One more note: if you are signing up for this swap, you are agreeing to send either domestic OR international mail. It should be fairly cheap, regardless of where you're sending--if nothing else, those using USPS can use the $6 Global Priority Envelopes.

Ready to swap? Comment here, then email me! Cheers!

Wednesday, May 17

la la la la, la la la

I'm listening to the Cowboy Junkies and feeling the satisfaction that comes with a full day's work. A day of enjoyable work. I love vacations--I love the schedule of school--because there is this huge build-up, with lots of stress and too many things going on at once, and frustration about lists and non-accomplishment, and then all of a sudden it's over and I am flying, floating. And I go out and do all my tasks leftover from the semester, and I make two skirts a day. And then, apparently, I yap about it here.

SKY skirt

This is for my dear friend, S. I don't think she reads my blog, so I am risking posting this before she receives it. We graduated together and she is a poet, too, and liked the fabric I printed with Gertrude Stein's poems. Since it was translucent (to say the least), I made an underskirt out of the yoko fabric I used for Lisa's skirt. One of my favorite ribbons (you know how that is, don't you? Favorite ribbons?) is the bow on the front.

bateau skirt

I have been all about the complementary color combinations recently. And the stripes. And the seersucker. As you can see, this skirt (one of a set of two) accomplishes the trifecta. Need I say more?

EB skirt

And this one, last but not least, is a commission based on the same pattern as the Alice skirt from yesterday. It's a bit simpler, though, as it doesn't have any underskirts or a lining; the cotton is stiff enough to have a good deal of flair (I feel like I'm in Office Space every time I think that word, oy!) on its own. A good twirling skirt, is what I'd say, if I were a skirt-dealer.

Now I'm just being silly. Have you really gotten this far? It's my first day with no pain at all, and I had a frivolous coffee-icecream drink thing, so I am way up.

What do you think about a trim and ribbon swap? Say, 5 yards for 5 yards? Yea or nay in the comments, miladies. And go'de'n to all!

Tuesday, May 16

curiouser and curiouser, said alice

CGM in my skirt; shirt by Arden B.

This skirt was a commission for the model who is wearing it. It's fully lined, with a form-fitting upper lining and two layers of ruched tulle underskirts, a hidden zipper, and a paste-jewel button at the back. Tiny bows hold the gathers of tulle in place.

I got the fabric yesterday and sewed all night and finished this morning. It feels so good to be in making-all-the-time mode again.

Now, if I can only grade my students' papers this afternoon, I'll have tonight to work again!

Sunday, May 14

not too much; just enough

for back-tack3

I've been listening to songs about missing, songs about love, songs about leaving. Been writing letters and making sketches, been learning from my students. Been reading novels for pleasure. Been thinking about writing something longer, myself. Been imagining. Letting new ideas run through my hands like small, smooth stones. Letting the materials take me where they want to go.

Happy Mothers' Day to those of you who are or have one.

Friday, May 12

il faut choisir

This is me, looking quite dignified and wise, and not at all silly. Can you see my hood? That's the mauve velvet thing around my neck where normal people wear a collar. Très, how-do-you-say, classy.

The ceremony was three hours long. Oy! But I like the feeling of closure that comes with rtiuals like this one. And I love "Hail, Minnesota," which is both our state and college anthem, so I stayed to the end. Almost said "the bitter end," but I am now (as you might recall) a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and we don't make such cliché mistakes.

And so, (as Edna Millay would say) 'the world stands out on either side.' And it's a little overwhelming, but suddenly--yesterday, after an afternoon of fabric-shopping (results later next week)--the scope is narrowed just a little.

A letter arrived--or should I say, est arrivé?--from the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.

If you accept, it read, you'll be teaching English to French highschool students in Besançon next year.

OH AND ALSO, did you see the OFFICE season finale? Gasp, gasp, gasp.

Tuesday, May 9

onwards, ever, etc.

So I am back now, from the quakey tower of academia and the scary recesses of the hospital. Thankfully, I had the best and kindest carers in both places (the ER nurses: amazing. I couldn't even feel the IV being put in, and one of them, after I said I didn't think he should ask patients to drink iodine--for CT scans of soft tissue--without having drunk it himself, did drink it, completely impressing me) and I am feeling much better. In a way this has been a nice, if forced, break for me. The end of the semester is so harried and hurried, and it's a mixed blessing to be sure but it was good for me to have to slow down.

Thank you all for your get-well wishes and your sweet words. Details: a "lacerated liver," bruises on right leg, cuts on right hand and chin, bruised diaphragm (solar plexus). Not fun, but it could have been worse and I'm glad it wasn't. This is my right hand. I had never realized how integral to movement, lifting, holding a pen, etc., the pinky really is.

Now--better things.

When I needed a money pouch fast for a show where I had a booth in April, I whipped one up out of some swanky fabric samples a friend gave me. It worked so well, I added a strap the next day. Mine is made of wool and ultrasuede; the ones beneath it are wool/cotton (green/dark grey) and wool/ultrasuede (corn-yellow/off-white). The fabrics are so pliable and strong and of such high quality, I can't stop touching my purse. It's almost embarrassing. Almost. But it's so cute--who could blame me? These are part of my summer06 collection.

After hanging out with Megan, I decided that, yes, a buttonmaker was something I wanted to spend my money one. I've been busy putting it to use, and I have several "theme" sets of buttons I'm working on. Shhh! Think turn-of-the-century collegiates, your high-school schedule, ways to carry a poem with you every day. More news as these evolve.

And last but not least, part of what I worked on for the last five weeks in the printshop were these fabrics, which I printed myself. The text one has words from Gertrude Stein's book Tender Buttons on it in red and yellow; the other has coral (two sizes) in four colors of red. I'm planning on skirts out of each.

In other news: a new baby, a change in the wind, a robin singing in the morning.

Still not sure what my summer holds: with one of my major forms of transport (bike) ruled out for the next 6 weeks, things are changing a bit. But I'm still planning to sew, write, send out, travel, make, print, draw, read (oh! reading for pleasure! I've just read two novels this week and it feels so good), see friends, dance, do research, and be happy all through it.

How about you?

It's good to be back.

Saturday, May 6


I passed my exam but I was in a bike accident and was in hospital until this evening. Not much up for the internet, but thank you, everyone, for your kind words. It went very well and my advisors were pleased.

Wednesday, May 3

this time, it's official

I defend my thesis at 11 a.m. Central time today. I can't believe my three years in an (coughivory towercough) MFA program are really finishing up--not to mention that this really could be the last spring I spend in a university. It's a strange thought.

In recognition of this most solemn moment, I give you one of the most shocking discoveries of recent times: a fragment of tapestry that better allows scholars to understand true Medieval culture. Click to enlarge/examine closely.

(Originally found here.)

Wish me luck!