Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Something New....

I love it when a business model changes and evolves into something new and different - something to shake things up a bit.
This weekend we are trying something that we haven't tried before - and although it has been a lot of work in the planning - I think it's going to end up being a lot of fun - and that's what the big payoff is for me - having fun while doing something I love.
The Art of Craft is three days of creative classes at French General - coinciding with the Craft and Hobby Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center. So besides it being a fun way to introduce all sorts of new crafts to people, I get to see a handful of old friends who are coming into town for the show and to teach workshops at FG. Shea, Debbie, Tracie and Marilyn, Anna, Molly and Charlotte - all wonderful friends and teachers.
We've reconfigured French General into a working workshop space - five long farmhouse tables, covered in old linen sheets - seating for up to 30 people. All five of our workshops have sold out - so I think we're on to something new here....more to come after the weekend!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Dress-Up Trunk

Sometimes you get lucky and fit into all of the clothes in an old trunk...dress up the way it was meant to be!
Sofia in New York trying on custom made dresses from the forties and fifties.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Small Details, part deux

Sunday we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art - one of my favorite museums. Maybe it's because I met JZ there, or maybe it's because I worked in the Film Department and Jackie Kennedy was good friends with my boss Karl Katz - so I got to put her call through to him on a daily basis. Or maybe it's because I can lose myself for hours and actually get lost - have no idea of where the labyrinth begins or ends. On this visit, I found a room I had never been in before - the Museum Archive Room - just behind the Period Rooms in the American Wing. The Archive Room houses much of the collection which is not in current use - so everything that the museum is holding or storing for an exhibit in the future. It felt like being in the worlds greatest antique store - and it was filled with amazing small details!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Metallic Thread, Silk Flowers and Glitter

Visiting Tinsel Trading in New York is always a treat - but if you happen to be friends with the owner....well, then it's an extra special treat! For years I begged Marcia to let me down into the vault of her grandfather's shop - I wanted to see the boxes overflowing with turn of the century gold and silver trims from France. Eventually, Marcia agreed - although I had to secure a book deal so she knew I was seriously interested in seeing the goods. A few summer's ago, Molly and I spent days down in the basement which had been storing old decorative goods for over 70 years. Covered in dust and dirt, we emerged with handfuls of old beauties that we used in crafting our little projects in the book, Treasured Notions.

This past week, Sofia and I walked into Tinsel Trading and after we had said our hellos (we were only going to stay for a quick visit) I asked Marcia if we could go to the basement...just to have a little look-see.
Before I even had the chance to hear the answer - Marcia was leading us down the steps into the "new and improved" basement. Don't get me wrong, I loved the old basement on 38th Street, but in this basement, on 37th Street, you can actually find what you are looking for - be it crimped gold wire, ombre ribbon or pompoms - everything is labeled or at least organized by material.

As well as stocking aisles and aisles of beautiful old treasures from France - sequins, beads, metallic thread, silk flowers and glitter - Tinsel Trading has a secret atelier hidden in the basement. Behind an old piece of burlap, hides Wendy Addison's East Coast studio. Tucked behind all of the production and vintage materials is a small creative space where Wendy dreams up her fantastical art. Drawers of old labels, tassels and ribbon sit next to boxes and boxes of old glass glitter - all used to create Wendy's repertoire of goods. Each original piece, handmade by Wendy, is then set into production using all of Marcia's vintage materials. This combined effort, or harmony between the two, is seamless and produces some of the most exquisite, original collectibles, boxes and whatnots. To see some of Wendy's art, check out Tinsel Trading's website or visit Marcia's shop in Manhattan at 1 West 37th Street - you will be charmed!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A New York Bead Dig

Sofia and I have been having a little fun - spending the last few days in New York City - seeing friends, visiting old haunts and eating at some of our favorite restaurants. On Monday, I snuck out for a bit and dropped in on my friend Mr. C who owns one of the deepest bead digs in New York City. Room after room after room after room - stuffed with boxes of old glass cabochons, beads, buttons and notions - Mr. C owns one of the last great places that still sells vintage by the pound. Whenever I arrive, and I have been coming here for years, Mr. C takes me into each room and explains where everything is - the pearl room, the chain room, the Napoleonic room, the Victorian room, the Austrian crystal room and on and on and on. The funny thing is - I know all of this already - I know exactly where I want to go and what I want to dig out - I probably hid it there the last time I was excavating. After Mr. C gives me the full tour and tells me to play nice - he leaves me to dig through the boxes to find the gold. I usually overspend and carry out way too many strands of old glass pearls - but I can't help myself - and it doesn't help that Mr. C is constantly reminding me that the supply is running out - get it while you can!  It doesn't get any better than this - a true, honest to goodness New York bead dig - just what I needed!

Monday, January 03, 2011

A Handful of Winners

Reading over all of the comments this past week, I was struck by how many people have resolved to start sewing with their daughters or granddaughters. Sofia has started sewing this past year, and continues to come up with her own creations every time I put a pile of scraps in front of her - over the holidays she dressed Mr. and Mrs. Mouse in their opera mode - seems they needed a night out on the town.
The lucky winners of our Petite Ecole Scrap Giveaway include lot's of sewing moms and a grandmother: Paperbird, Diedre, Chook, Maggie, Noah's Nest and Mary - please send us your address at and we will send off some fabric for you and your daughter to have fun with.
Thanks for all of the great craft resolutions - as for me, I will be finishing off my new sewing room (the garage) by installing french doors, lights and a heater or two! Happy New Year and thanks for playing!