Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Science Faire

Did I mention that Sofia received First Prize for her science fair entry this year?!  Dying Fabric with Natural Plants was an ingenious idea - if I do say so myself - and Sofia took hold of the reins from the get-go.  First she picked out the fabric - I convinced her that using 19th century hemp would make this project more organic - she agreed.  Choosing the plants was easy - she had seen the way the turmeric root stained my hands yellow every time I was cooking with it.  Beets were on the list - that was a no brainer.  Then, just to see what would happen, she chose blackberries, coffee and spinach.  She boiled 1/2 cup of each of the ingredients in a vat of three cups of water to make the dye bath.  She dropped in three pieces of 4x4 hemp to each bath.  After one hour, she took out a piece of fabric from each pot - and continued removing fabric squares after one day and then finally, three days.  Sofia kept a log of what happened throughout the experiment: the state of the plants as they were cooking (beets loose all of their color) and how the fabric looked once it had dried.  At the end of the three days, she had created a very natural color palette out of each of the plants.  We were surprised to learn the the turmeric and beets gave off the least amount of color and the blackberries and coffee gave off the most.  
Since she (we?) won first prize at her school, she was invited to go to the Los Angeles Science Fair and compete with over 400 middle school students.  In her category, applied science, she received honorable mention!  Not bad - not bad at all!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And the Winner is.....

I am always getting myself into situations and then thinking - why did I do that? Perfect example - this month's giveaway. What was I thinking asking people to name their favorite club, think back to their childhood and tell us all about their club memories? There were so many great ones, it's been really hard to chose just one! Here are just some of my favorites...

Britvit Club
Peter Pan Club
Science Fiction Club
Creative Spirit Club
Teen Scene Club
4H Club
Symphony Club
Mom Club
American Sewing Guild
The New New York Craft Club
Paula's Kit Club
Doll Club
La Francophonie Club
Vintage Tablecloth Club
Stitching Club
Future Homemakers of America Club
Neighbor Club
Kit of the Month Club
Hookers Club
Yarn Club
Book of the Month Club
Collage Club
Scrapanos Club
Hysterectomy Club

But my favorite - if I had to chose one....was The Custom Couturieres Club - here's what Lola wrote:

"My favourite club is one I just started. I am a high school teacher at an all-girls' private school and I just started a sewing club. In recent years, sewing and all thing domestic have been frowned upon by the school's administration, but there is real hunger among the students to learn how to MAKE things, clothing in particular.

So, we are up and running. I have been overwhelmed by the response, both from the students and from fellow staff members, even men, who are keen to donate supplies, expertise and time and keep telling me how great they think it is that I am helping the girls to learn important skills.

We have started by learning to make our own skirt patterns and will be making the skirts, starting this week. The girls are so pleased with themselves and quite surprised that they are able to DO things like make a pattern and then make a skirt."

Thanks to all who filled me in on how you pass the time in a creative way!  Lola please send me your address and I'll send off the last April Un, Deux, Trois Kit to you!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Un, Deux, Trois Kit Giveaway

We have a club at French General called Un, Deux, Trois - a jewelry club where members are sent a necklace, bracelet and earring kit each month. The kits are made up with limited, vintage materials - there are only so many kits I can make - so the kits aren't sold outside of the club. Because of this, our club is a bit exclusive.  A year long subscription to the club costs $600, plus $30 shipping - so not everyone can afford to join. It's a one time charge  to help eliminate paperwork.  I get an e-mail once in a while wondering about the cost, the kits, and how one can purchase the kits individually.  I have to remind myself that 36 jewelry kits at$17 each isn't so bad - paying all of it upfront is! 
Our club reminds me a bit of Club 33 at Disneyland. Club 33 is a private restaurant designed in the early sixties by Walt Disney as an exclusive place for his friends and visiting dignitaries to relax. What I like about Club 33 are the rules - there are quite a few and they all make perfect sense if you want to attract a limited amount of members.  They like to brag that membership, like all good things, requires patience. Joining requires a couple of hand written letters and can take as long as 14 years before you hear about your status.
Ok - so joining our club is not that hard -but not affordable for everyone. Just for fun and because I have an extra kit this month, I thought I would offer one of our April Un, Deux, Trois kits for a comment about your favorite club. There are a lot of great clubs these days - my mom is in a mahjongg club, a book club, a tea club and is a member of the tennis club. Phew - that's a lot of clubs!  We'll pick a lucky winner on Tuesday, April 21. Bonne Chance!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Desert Hot Springs

Sofia and I are still having fun - now we're in the desert - staying at one of our all time favorite places - Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel. We drove out on Monday and have had perfect weather - days in the eighties and nights in the seventies. Sitting around the pools for hours on end, we have met some interesting locals. Built in classic Mid-Century Modern style, the 50-room hotel offers eight natural hot mineral water pools – one Olympic size pool and seven large circular jacuzzi and soaking pools ranging in temperature from 70°F to 104°F. Today, we headed south to Palm Springs and had a wonderful Mexican lunch on Palm Drive. Back to reality tomorrow - we head home and I send off the final designs for the Moda Spring 2010 line...never a dull moment!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Little India

For the past couple of years, I have been fantasizing about traveling to India. I probably have some romantic notion about staying in some grand old Indian palace, eating authentic Indian food, and observing the old textile printing factories by day.
So when Sofia told me that her class was representing India this year at her school's International Day - my desire for all things Indian couldn't be contained anymore and we headed south of Los Angeles for a day trip to Little India. Just 40 minutes south of Hollywood, off of the 91 east, lies a short block that is filled with Indian culture - the 1800 block of Pioneer Boulevard.  We started in the clothing shops - looking for a sari....until a nice Indian man told us they could be difficult to wear and maybe we would be more comfortable in linen pants and a linen tunic...YES! Next stop was the beauty salon where we picked up a small tube of freshly made henna - for the necessary embellished hand tattoo. Mango lasses and kachori for lunch. The last time I had kachori was in an Indian restaurant in New York where the menu listed it as: very good, but too difficult to explain. The lunch spot we found, The Standard, explained it as Indian nachos. After lunch we strolled through the markets amazed at the 10 pound bags of lentils and cloves! Then a quick stop at the jewelry bazaar for bangles and bindi's - home by 3 - I love LA.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Remnants of the Past

I am hitting the road this month and heading up to the Remnants of the Past Antique Show on Saturday, April 25th. Organized by Judy Watkins, this twice a year event promises antiques, embellishments and rare finds. The show gathers over 50 antique dealers together for a day of inspiration and creativity - not to mention lots of good old stuff! The show is located in the barn at the Dana-Powers House. I'll be signing copies of our books and teaching a charm bracelet class. If you happen to live in the area and would like to join in a class, e-mail Judy at judy@remnantsofthepast.com for a $40 class ticket. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Finish Line

It feels so good to actually see the finish line on the horizon - to know that a project is almost finished and to think about all that extra time that may be coming my way. In reality - as soon as we finish one project another has already begun. I received the final Moda fabric prints this week - ahhh...it worked - I think! The reds are old, the pinks are soft and the naturals are calm. At one point when I was looking at the fabric samples, I thought I was looking at old fabric - old fabric that I really wanted! The next step is the International Quilt Market in May, where the line will be presented to craft and quilt shops from all over the world. Pittsburgh here I come!
We're also just days away from finishing our book about Tinsel Trading's basement - Small Beauties (the working title) has turned out to be a precious little book filled with old materials and small, beautiful crafts - chenille birds, button jewelry, entomology boxes and embellished goose eggs. An eclectic mix of everything Molly and I found in the basement those few sweltering days in New York City last summer.
I keep telling people I am going to retire after these projects are finished - maybe what I really need is week of sitting in the hot springs in the desert!