Friday, January 27, 2012

Let the Workshops Begin!

It's time for our annual Art of Craft event this weekend!  Three days of creative workshops taught by friends and artists from near and far.  If you haven't been to a workshop at French General and would like to try one - this is the perfect time.  Project based classes, each three hours long and all the materials are provided.  We still have a couple of spots left and would love to have you join us!  Please call the shop to sign up and we'll save you a seat!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Molly, the Magic Coat and an Ikat

A couple of summer's ago in France, we were digging at a flea market in Caylus, and I came upon an old quilted coat. I wasn't sure if I liked the idea of a quilted coat, but I loved the idea that there were two different fabrics, the liner and the outer fabric. Both fabrics, I thought, I could use for our Moda fabric collection. I took the coat back home to the chateau and showed it off during our show and tell time before dinner. Molly immediately gravitated towards it (or did I make her put it on?) and modelled it for everyone to see the beautiful details and masterful stitchery. We laughed and laughed and then, somehow I put the coat away and almost forgot about it.
Until a week ago, when I was sorting through a pile of old fabric from France, looking for inspiration for our new line, and found the coat. The first thing I did, was put it on and was instantly reminded how much we laughed that summer in France when Molly would wear the coat - just to stay warm at night! We made up fanciful stories about the old, grand chateau owner, who had no heat and resorted to having one of his 18th century quilts made into a robe or smoking jacket...just to stay warm.
Pulling the magic coat out, I realized I had forgotten that inside the lining of the two fabrics, was yet another fabric - one that had been covered up by a 19th century floral. I spent a weekend (yes, a whole weekend!) completing the task of pulling out each and every stitch so I could remove the outer layer of fabric and get to what had been hiding underneath. I had no idea what I would find, but after seeing a small corner - I knew I liked what I saw.

What I found was an 18th century French linen ikat - in perfect shape, not a hole to be found. I think it had probably been covered simply because someone was tired of the design and wanted to update the quilt.
An ikat fabric is woven using a very complicated dyeing technique. The dyes are applied to the yarns prior to weaving which will create designs on the finished fabric. Depending on the pattern, specific areas of the warp and/or weft threads are are protected from dye to prevent them from absorbing color. When the threads are dyed, each thread will have different color pattern along its length. When the threads are ready for weaving, each thread has to be lined up perfectly on the loom. The warp thread is first to be set on to the loom, and then one must keep all threads in position very carefully to achieve the desired pattern in the final weaving of the textile. There is natural movement in these threads, which give an slightly feathered, or blurred look to the final textile.
To say I was blown away - is to put it mildly! Funny how one little textile can create so much excitement and then spur me on to search for as much information as I can get my hands on. The funniest part of the magic coat story is that I would have never known the little gem that was hiding inside had I not been curious...and taken the coat apart. So, I guess the moral of this story is....always look deeper, there may be something beautiful hiding inside!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Working on a Notion or Two....

The new year has started off with a bang - and a whole lotta work! We've finished all of the final details on the new paper crafts line and are getting ready for the launch at CHA (Craft and Hobby Association) at the end of the month. CHA is a yearly show held in Anaheim, California that showcases all sorts of paper, fabric and jewelry crafts for the trade.
EK Success asked us to help make a short video featuring the inspiration behind the line, as well as some fun, creative ways to use the collection. Luckily, my brother-in-law, Ryan, happens to be a talented film and video master, so we were able to work together to create a snappy, fun video showing off the Jolee's Boutique French General line.
After working on the collection, for almost a year, I am excited to see if everyone out there will have as much fun with the line as we are having. The notions and embellishments are some of my favorite bits...and makes me remember (almost 15 years ago when we opened French General) my dad saying - "Are you really sure this notion idea is going to work?"
I'm hoping it does work! We'll have plenty of samples in the shop in the next few weeks, so please come by and see what we have been up to!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th and other Fears

Wow - I am overwhelmed by the honesty and insight from so many people who left comments. Thank you for digging deep and writing down your desires, dreams and fears. To our lucky winner Kate, I think at one point in all of our lives we have all felt this way - the good news is, once you leave behind the fear of being yourself, you will soar and become the person you were meant to be. Good luck!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Un, Deux Trois Club Giveaway

For the past few years, we've had a jewelry club at French General called Un, Deux, Trois, which consists of a necklace, bracelet and earring kit that can be worn together. It's been a fun run and we've designed over 40 sets that have been filled with vintage glass, old brass findings and charms.
But, alas, all good things must come to an end...the Un, Deux, Trois Club will be around for just three more months. If you would like to sign up for our last three months, you have one more chance!
In celebration of something new and exciting coming from something old, we thought we would give away our January Un, Deux, Trois Kit. The Fleurs de Nuit kit has all the soft shades of old white accented with brass flowers and old Japanese glass pearls. You need just a couple of jewelry tools and a bit of glue to create this set of jewelry.
Leave us a comment about what you are leaving behind to make way for something new in 2012 - we'll chose one lucky winner on Friday, January 13th.

Bonne Chance!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Where Did the Time Go?

The last time I looked at a calendar it was December 21st...I was throwing our annual tamale party - which had been scaled down due to the fact that everyone I knew was sick or about to be sick or just getting over the sickness. How does that always happen right around the holidays??
It was just that kind of Christmas. Christmas Eve at my parent's house and a couple of weeks spent walking, talking, eating and relaxing. A friend texted me and said, "You're not in college anymore Kaari - you can't just move home for two weeks!" But I said - yes, yes you can. All seven of us moved home for the long haul.
My parent's live near the beach, so a lot of time is just spent looking south out their windows, towards Catalina Island. It's an amazing view - it's hard to take for granted. "Oh look there goes another pod of dolphins...or whales..." You can understand why we don't get much done - besides walking the beach, sitting at the kitchen table, eating and looking out the windows.
After doing this for two weeks, you start to forget about regular life. You forget about work, school, deadlines and any sort of stress. It's a great way to start the year - I highly recommend it. Then New Year's rolls around and I thought I had everything back in order only to end up cancelling our New Year's Dinner because there were too many sick guests! Welcome 2012!