Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fleurs d'Haiti

Donating money to Haiti right now is the best way for us each to help in our own small way. I donated to Partner's in Health, an organization run by an old friend Ophelia Dahl. Ophelia has worked with PIH for the past twenty years as well as worked closely with the founder, Paul Farmer. Paul's work is the subject of Tracy Kidder's 2003 book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.
Partner's in Health mission statement:
Whatever it takes
At its root, our mission is both medical and moral. It is based on solidarity, rather than charity alone. When a person in Peru, or Siberia, or rural Haiti falls ill, PIH uses all of the means at our disposal to make them well—from pressuring drug manufacturers, to lobbying policy makers, to providing medical care and social services. Whatever it takes. Just as we would do if a member of our own family—or we ourselves—were ill.
Still searching for a way to use my creativity to help Haiti, I found an answer in my new friend, Rebecca Sower. I got to know Rebecca this past November while we were both teaching at Silver Bella in Omaha. Rebecca has been visiting Haiti for years and supports an organization named Haiti by Hand . Rebecca goes down to Haiti and sits and teaches crafting skills to help empower women to bring in their own income to provide for their children and families. When she returned from Haiti this past month, Rebecca opened an etsy shop showcasing handcrafted pieces created by this group of artisans in Haiti. Since the terrible earthquake destruction a week ago, Rebecca has sent out a call to artisans throughout the United States. Haiti By Hand will now host a community of artisans who are donating their work to be sold with all sales going directly to Haiti By Hand.
I knew this was the perfect way for me to donate my creativity and to make a small impact somewhere in Haiti - with the help of Rebecca. I just sent off a dozen Fleurs d'Haiti bracelet kits to the Haiti By Hand etsy shop as well as the above finished bracelet to be auctioned off. If you would like to purchase a bracelet kit - which will help a group of Haitian artisans survive right now - please keep an eye out for the kits on the Haiti By Hand etsy site. I am hoping Rebecca sells out of the kits and I have to make up another box next week! Merci!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Button Winners

I saw this poster for a mourning warehouse and almost flipped - can you imagine - getting it all in one place - oh to dig in that basement for a while! I like how they offer merchandise for both families of the highest rank and to those of limited means - I guess no one escapes it. Thanks for entering our little button contest - two lucky names were drawn out of the old black hat - Babsarella and Kelli - so please drop me a note and I will put together a little package of mourning buttons for you to craft with. Merci!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Treasured Notions

It's so exciting right before a new book comes out. Patiently waiting for this next book, I completely forget about the angst that went into crafting, shooting and writing it. I think about how thrilling it's going to be to look at each page - to try and see it as if it was the first time. I guess it's like giving birth - as soon as we finish a book I say - "Well, that was so much fun - Let's do it again!" Funny how during the middle of it I usually have a break down - but I can't even remember that part right now. Now, I am in that happy place - waiting for a box of Treasured Notions to arrive so I can sit with it for a while and just breath a sigh of relief. To answer the typical e-mail we have been receiving: I believe this next book - which is completely inspired by Tinsel Trading's basement (pre-move) - will be available in April. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon now - or wait to order a signed copy through us. I think it's a gem and hope that you will too.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Mourning Paraphernalia

I am normally not a big fan of the color black. In fact, I didn't even know it was a color until my friend Megan (I think we were 5 or 6) told me her favorite color was black. Odd...I thought.
But.... I collect mourning paraphernalia - which seems like a contradiction, but color collections know no boundaries.
First, I started collecting mourning stationery - the paper cards that were sent out after a woman had lost her husband - the width of black ink around the border of the card denoted the length of time one had been in mourning - the wider the band the closer to death. Eventually a woman would write all of her correspondence on a card with a very narrow band of black ink around the edge - I guess so everyone else knew she was in mourning - for the rest of her life. I've just started collecting mourning handkerchiefs - which were probably used mostly by women - again lots of different widths of black to show how long a woman had been in this dark period. I love how the mourning period was turned into a fashion culture. What about the woven hair lockets? Or buttons made with photos of the dearly departed? Maybe my favorite are the jet buttons that were sewn onto their mourning attire. Those clever Victorians.
My favorite old bead dealer just unearthed a box full of glass mourning buttons - on cards. If in need or curious, leave us your name and Sofia will draw a lucky winner out of an old hat on Friday.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

January Workshops

We've gotten into the swing of things with our classes at French General - instead of Thursday nights - we've switched most classes to Saturday mornings - we found that some people we're having a hard time getting to class after work. We've planned a few great classes this month - including a special workshop by a visiting friend and artist, Tracie Huskamp. I met Tracie at Quilt Market in Houston and when I saw her work I knew she would be the perfect paper artist to teach at French General. Tracie, inspired by nature, incorporates paper scraps - old ledger paper, photo mats, dictionaries and books - and teaches a technique how to sketch from a photo - as well as incorporates poetry and prose into small artwork. If you are in the Los Angeles area and would like to join us - sign up for this workshop at We've also got Jody Rice coming in - which is exciting - since she's gone back to film work full time. Jody is teaching a millinery flower class - always a big hit, once people's flower unfolds in front of their eyes. Finally, our jewelry class- a charming Valentine bracelet - sold out within a couple of days - a first! Look for our February workshop schedule soon - lot's of hearts to come!