Monday, October 31, 2011

Teen Angels

First there was the search for the had to be silver and somewhat celestial.
Then came the paint smattering and glitter throwing - covering the dresses with a galaxy of tiny stars.
A tub of Rit Dye to color the sneakers midnight blue and then a spray of sparkles.
The driveway after a day or creating.
And finally, the costumes were donned - glittery dresses, cut short at the last minute, silver garland as headbands, and the eyes. Yes, the eyes.... which took the majority of time! Every last star had to be placed perfectly to complete the perfect teen angel or galaxy girl or celestial goddess....take your pick!
Happy Halloween...hope you had fun creating a costume or two!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Gilded French Holiday Workshop

We are busy planning our Gilded French Holiday workshop here at French General! On Saturday, December 17th, please join The Gilded Life and French General to celebrate the holidays and make some pretty things! A five hour event filled with three workshops, inspiration, holiday treats and champagne - think of it as a holiday treat for yourself!
To save your seat, please sign up at French General
Seating is limited.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Creativity Defined

An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail

- Edwin Land

All ideas from Li Edelkoort

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Frugal Friend

This is a photograph of my favorite frugal friend - Elizabeth Baer - or Buff to those of you who can say they have been in her cellar! For the past ten years, Buff has been teaching me the importance of saving every scrap of antique fabric that falls into my hands.  I love this picture, because it shows Buff doing one of her favorite things - sewing with the fragile bits and pieces.

Here's how I imagine it:
On one of her many buying trips to France, Buff finds an abandoned 18th century chateau.  After finding the linen sheets in the armoires, Buff spots a pair of chateau curtains in the grand room that had been hanging for over 200 years.  Partially bleached and badly weathered,  Buff cuts down the panels and returns to her home in Bath.  She cuts the panels into 16 equal pieces and creates elegant chair covers for her 16 dining room chairs. With the extra scraps she either sews a patchwork dog bed or a set of curtain swags for her granddaughter's room on the third floor of her 18th century Georgian home.

Buff's whole home, including the four large wine vaults in the cellar are filled with her handiwork and collected French textiles.  Well known decorators, actors and editors flock to her home regularly to pick up the latest 17th century hemp sheets, embroidered curtains and hand-blocked fabrics.  Buff and her husband Derek, 93 years young, travel back and forth between England and France to find the best of France profound - the rural life of France.

My mom originally found Buff for me - she sent me an article in a old issue of Victoria Magazine, which featured Buff and her piles of ticking that she had uncovered in an old barn in France.  The Queen of Ticking they called her!  The next time Molly and I were headed to London to shop the flea markets, we called on Buff, who immediately invited us both down to Bath to stay the night.  After being picked up at the train station and brought home to her estate, we were shown to the vaulted cellar rooms - where I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Room after room after room was filled to the beams with piles of hemp, linen and even thistle.  We sat and enjoyed tea and crumpets in the cellar until I could no longer contain myself - I had to start unfolding, touching and smelling the fabric.  I wanted to remember all of the fine details about each piece - not knowing if I would ever return.  Many of the ticking we have designed for Moda have come from this very first visit to Buff's.

Years later, I have not only returned to visit Buff and Derek, but have become good friends with them and treasure every visit.  I am way overdue for another visit and have to make the trek soon - to learn a handful of new ideas - she is a wealth of information on all things textile related.  I would love to plan a group tour of the area with visits to Buff, The American Museum in Bath, Christine from Cabbages and Roses and my old friend Polly Lyster, a master natural dyer.  Anyone want to go to Bath?

A quick look at Buff's blog and I noticed a patchwork of posts with titles like: Embroiders Follow the Thread, Linen is for Life, A Fling in France, Kelsches are in Fashion, France is Only a Long Swim Away and Stains on the Characters.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bryan Ferry Love

There's no hiding it, I've had a couple of musical crushes over the years - there's Bono and then there's Johnny - but Saturday night I got to experience Bryan...and he may be my favorite one yet.
To kick off my birthday week, John Cohn took me out for dinner and an evening at the Greek Theater here in Griffith Park. Although I grew up listening to Roxy Music and then Bryan Ferry, I never quite realized his style range. He rocked the Greek for over two hours with a ten piece band - all the while jumping between musical instruments. It's nice to know you never have to give up your early crushes - they just keep getting better and better!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Becher Idea

Ever since we started designing fabric for Moda a few years ago, I have wanted to design a quilt, but have found it extremely difficult. I can design jewelry and fabric...but a quilt...not so easy! As I was walking through the MOMA last weekend, I stumbled into the photography gallery on the second floor and saw a collection of Bernd and Hilla Becher prints.
Bernd and Hilla were German artists that worked together as a collaborative duo. According to their biography: They were fascinated by the similar shapes in which certain buildings were designed. In addition, they were intrigued by the fact that so many of these industrial buildings seemed to have been built with a great deal of attention toward design. Together, the Bechers went out with a large 8 x 10-inch view camera and photographed these buildings from a number of different angles, but always with a straightforward "objective" point of view.

This idea of different angles, but with a straightforward point of view intrigues me. Like the Becher's, I love the idea of the handmade traditional quilt - and I also relate to the basics, nothing too complicated, the straightforward "objective" point of view.

I was immediately inspired to design a collection of quilts using the Becher idea as my starting point. Contemporary, yes, but with a look back to the classics - finally a quilt idea I can sink my teeth into! Jody can you hear me?!

Framework Houses is the first publication the Bechers produced. The work is a beautiful documentation of German timber houses, but also iconic images as they relate to the Bechers' lifelong project. The "Framework House" depicts a stout but strong architectural symbol, starkly framed with a muted gray sky and dramatized by the black and white process.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

KC Willis Workshop

Driving across the country eight years ago, from New York City to Los Angeles, we stopped in Santa Fe for a few days. It was late Spring and there was snow on the ground. Besides visiting the Tesuque Flea Market - I dragged Sofia and JZ in and out of all of the American craft galleries I could find. In one gallery I saw a piece of stitched work that really resonated with me. It was a pictoral collage about an early cowgirl and the road she walked (or rode). Maybe it was the old ticking or the old burlap used in the piece, maybe it was the hand-stitched lettering and parchment paper - whatever it was, I was immediately envious of the artist and knew she spent hours creating small stitched stories. KC Willis - she burned a whole in me.
Enter Facebook and friends of friends of a friend of a friend and I see one of her stitched pieces on my page - and I thought "I could be friends with her!" Eventually, I wrote to KC Willis and asked her is she would ever consider teaching a class at French General. Low and behold, she wrote back and said she would love to! She's on her way out West this month!
KC created a hand-stitched book workshop that we are honored to present on Saturday, October 29th from 10-4. If you know KC's work or would just like to come and experience her method, please join us! Feel free to bring any personal photos, paper or notions that you would like to incorporate into the project - but of course, we have plenty of materials to work with should you want to arrive on your horse!
For more information about KC Willis and to sign up for the workshop, Le Book Class Extraodinaire, visit her site. If you scroll down a couple of feet, you will see all the details of the workshop. Seating is limited.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Small Details, part quatre

Just returned from almost a week in New York City - and feel so inspired! The weather was perfect and I spent my days looking at old textiles, visiting friends, digging for notions and wandering through the MOMA. If you happen to find yourself in NYC between now and November 7th, run (don't walk) to the Willem de Kooning Retrospective on the 6th floor of the Museum of Modern Art. This is the first major exhibit devoted to the full scope of his work - and the amount of his work will amaze you. I think he must of gone in to his studio everyday and just painted until he was exhausted - such a prolific artist.
As I wandered downstairs, I was struck by the modern masters and how many were speaking to me...Rauchenberg's bed with his own quilt, Mondrian's quilt like patterns, Leger's hat, Torre's-Garcia's grid like pattern of familiar objects, Schwitters collage, and Burri's burlap and thread on canvas. I had never looked at these pieces through a crafter's eye before and all of a sudden I saw a whole new way of separate but similar concepts coming through. And then I saw Cornell's work...but that's for another day.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Calling all Chocolate Lovers!

Ok - I had no idea there were so many guilty chocolate lovers! Let's just say, since everyone loves chocolate it is not a guilty pleasure - in fact, it sounds like a national pastime! Collecting fabric, well yes, I am guilty of that too...but I like to think of it as building my archives. Amazing - I guess we are all alike after all!
Now down to the winners - I can't promise you will all get precuts - but you will love what you get - I promise!
*Patti who steals moments of bliss when she shouldn't.
*Joanna who enjoys a glass of merlot in the middle of the afternoon.
*Miss Melis who loves homemade bread and jam.
*Sherryl who spends time re-watching favorite old movies all by herself with a rum and coke and a big bag of salt & vinegar chips that she eats until her tongue hurts!
*Karen whose biggest guilty pleasure is fresh red raspberries with cream and sugar. (Karen - that is not a guilty pleasure - that's breakfast!)
Thanks Moda for the fun hop and for supplying me with wonderful giveaways! Lucky winners, please shoot us an e-mail with your address at with Blog Hop Giveaway in the subject line and we will ship out a French General surprise box. Thanks for playing and sorry about the tardiness of the post last week - but I think I caught it just in time!