Monday, November 30, 2009

A Winner...Thankfully!'s taken me quite a while to chose just one winner for our Charming Giveaway - an almost impossible task! When I asked people to let me know who in their life they are thankful for - I had no idea the overwhelming response would be our grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters - which is so wonderful - so many people want to thank the women in their lives. This was a tough giveaway - at one point Sofia got ready to throw everyone's name into the hat and randomly choose a couple of names. Gathering around our kitchen table this past weekend, we all read and re-read many of the comments and after much debate and discussion, I think we were all able to agree on a few thank you's that seemed much needed and would make someone feel appreciated for what they have done to help others. Megan's appreciation of her step-mom who cooked, cleaned and crafted while running a household of ten; Kathy G's note about her mother-in-law who took her to chemo when her own mom couldn't; and Cindy's thank you to her mother-in-law - who fills in for her mother who has passed away - all seemed like thank you's that you don't hear very often. I hope you agree with us. If you are one of our winners, please e-mail me your name and address and we will send off a bracelet kit. Merci!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Charming Giveaway

I've finally unpacked the boxes shipped back from Silver Bella and lo and behold I found a handful of our bracelet kits from our Charming Bracelet Workshop. This was a great first class for learning jewelry techniques - charms to glue, plenty of jump ring work and some of the girls even got fancy and linked a strand of cranberry glass beads for an extra bit of color. Since it's a special week of thanks, leave me a post about who you would like to thank - maybe you would even make the bracelet for her - and we'll pick a lucky winner (or two) on Thanksgiving. Merci!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Career Switch

For years, all I ever wanted Sofia to be was a botanist. I dreamed we would move to Paris and she would study at some old Royal Jardin Academy. She would discover new types of fiberous plants and develop an undiscovered weave - something as light as linen but as hearty as a hemp. We would discuss colors of leaves and learn the Latin names for the roses - it all sounded right up my alley - and living in Paris suited me just fine.
Last Tuesday, I changed my mind - I have a new ambition for Sofia. Classical Pianist. That's right - I bought a piano and Sofia bought a dress and together I think they make the perfect pairing. Somebody told me I could set my mac on top of the little upright piano and youtube would actually teach Sofia to play - voila! I also asked Sofia if she would consider being a personal assistant since she was able to order a dress online and it fit perfectly. She told me she would have a personal assistant but she would not be one. Oh - maybe she is capable of choosing her own path....after she practices her scales!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holiday Workshops

As if things aren't busy enough....I thought I'd add in a few holiday workshops for the month of December. If you happen to have some extra time on your hands over the next few weeks, sign up for one of our workshops being offered at French General every Saturday. Just for the fun of it, we've added in a girl's day on Sunday, December 6th, where we'll be making up pretty jewels and then decorating sugar cookies. Since I don't love spending my weekends away from Sofia - I am trying to figure out how to incorporate workshops and Sofia - so a holiday cookie party seemed to be in order! We've also got an angel ornament class, a millinery flower class and a sugarplum necklace class. Our classes run from 11-1 on Saturdays and the shop will be open till 4 (or 5) for a little holiday cheer. Sign up for a class at and come enjoy a day of crafting at French General!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Post Script

About a year and a half ago, I posted this story about my favorite painting:


Provenance, from the French word provenir, "to come from". Literally meaning - the origin of something - where something originated, was made, the history of something or someone. I love that word - provenance - it just sounds important.
I own this signed Fiore painting - I bought it from an art dealer in New York City, almost ten years ago. Joel, the dealer, bought it out of an upper east side brownstone. I know that this was painted by an artist named Joseph Fiore, who attended Black Mountain College under Josef Albers, Ilya Bolotowsky and Willem de Kooning, from 1946-1948. He then studied at the California School of Fine Art from 1948-49 and taught at Black Mountain College from 1949-1956. Besides all of this, I know very little about Joseph Fiore - other than I believe he is still alive. I wonder if he misses this painting.
About a year ago, Sofia and I came home after school and from the outside window, we saw that the painting had fallen off the dining room wall. The canvas was laying atop one of our dining room chairs and had been pierced by the two wooden finials that frame the back of the chair. Pierced! I ran in and let out a huge litany of my favorite curse words. The painting was slashed in two different places, 2-3" each slash. I thought my love affair with the painting was over - I mourned. And then one day, my brother John, who is a painter and general master crafter, repaired my painting! He lined the back of the two slashes with linen tape and then ever so gently, painted over the ripped canvas until the slashes disappeared. I can't even remember where the canvas was pierced - it's invisible to the naked eye. I hope Joseph would feel the same way.

Last week, I received this comment on the posting:

Anonymous said...
This painting was painted by my Uncle Joseph Fiore who died quietly in his home on Sept. 18, 2008. He was a wonderful artist and would have been delighted to know how much you loved his painting.

I was happy and sad at the same moment. I always wondered about Joseph Fiore - how amazing that someone followed a thread and then passed along a message. Provenance complete - at least for now. Very cool - thanks Anonymous.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Omaha hold'em

When I signed up - almost a year ago - to teach at Silver Bella, I had no idea of the level of craft that is going on across the country. I spent the last 5 days with women from all over the states - women who gather to share their talent and be with others who have a passion for the old and unusual. I always thought I was one of the few who loved the bizarre, odd bits that were found in someone's address book - or the flowers that were pressed into an old autograph album. Who knew. I taught four jewelry classes to some of the most creative women I have ever met, many who had never made jewelry before - but every one of them finished the projects.
Before the madness began, we traveled down to Freemont - just 45 minutes west of Omaha - where we spent some time doing some serious digging in the antique shops. I found an 1840's catalogue of home necessities, upholstery needles and a collection of old ledgers. I loved the antiques we saw - old, old farm equipment, heirloom quilts, early craft books, tons of ironstone and lot's and lot's of old, slightly creepy, medicinal supplies. Everything seemed too big or too heavy to actually ship back - but a driving tour through the midwest to pick up some good old American antiques is surely in order!
This past week was played and worked as hard as a good game of poker - and we would do it again in a heartbeat! Thanks Teresa!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pam Garrison

This card was sent to me by Pam Garrison. I somehow found her on etsy and ordered some of her cards for my sister Molly Meng. Thanking ME for ordering from her - she sent me this card - which sits on my mantel at home - I love the sentiment. I got to meet Pam in person about a year ago - or so - when she came into the shop with Charlotte Lyons and introduced herself. When I asked her what she did she went out to her car and brought in the most amazing scrapbook I have ever seen. "I kind of doodle and draw" she said. Doodle and draw she does! Pam creates beautiful artwork with a balance of color that is beyond comforting. Just a little shout out to you Pam for all of your help and support - especially these past couple of weeks - see you in Omaha! Read Pam's adventures here.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Under Pressure

Lately, this song seems to be contstantly running through my head - good thing it's one of my favorites (and doesn't Freddy look fine!). It's that time of the year when everything just starts to happen a bit faster - things I thought I had a week to do are suddenly due today. I'm already thinking about workshop plans for next Spring - and our Moda Fall line, Maison de Garance, is already at the mill. Next week, Dawn and I hit the road and head to Omaha, Nebraska where we will be teaching four classes at Silver Bella. Silver Bella is the annual craft getaway that offers fun, fellowship and craft workshops. Besides offering our jewelry workshops, we will be participating in the vendor night on Friday evening - offering up all sorts of vintage craft kits and signing a book or two.
Like Peter Pan says on the Disneyland ride - here we goooo!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Sunday was a great day at French General - lot's of new and old friends stopping by to toast the new space. Everyone seemed to agree that they loved the flow and spirit of the workshop on Riverside Drive. After my friend, Alice Roth, came and presented us with a certificate of welcoming from the mayor, someone came up to me and said "You have such a great support system - no wonder you can do this and make it feel so simple" - and I thought - "That's right - I do have a great support system - my whole family plus some great friends!" Thanks to Dad, Mom, Molly, Ryan, JZ, Sofia, Dawn, Christine and Jenna - all who helped throw a wonderful Sunday afternoon soiree!