How do I wish I could be in multiple places at once. Three years ago, I was lucky enough to be on Lopez for the weekend while this event was happening. Without a doubt, I can attest the fleece I bought here changed the way I approach making felt. There is nothing close to meeting the producers and seeing the variety of fleeces in a venue like this. If you can swing a trip to the San Juan Islands (and who doesn’t want an excuse to take that ferry ride), it is worth the trip.
It is time to announce the next series of classes beginning soon at Spark Studio.
Interested in taking a class with the special young person in your life? Try the Treasure Pouches. How about learning some embroidery stitches? Pretty Pin Cushions is for you. Want to stretch your felting skills with a new technique? Funky Felt Hats will open up worlds of possibility.
Classes require a minimum of two students. Should you see an interesting class offered on a day when you can’t make it, rope in a friend and we’ll set up a date that works for everyone.
Let us know if there is something you would like to learn, but don’t see in our current offerings. We would love to hear your feedback.
How about I give you a little backstory before the cut and dry details? Why should you care about Reid Jamieson? Why would I want him to play at my studio? Last September, I decided the best way to celebrate my 40th birthday was with music and theater. Corin Raymond was coming to Vancouver, touring his show Bookworm and the same weekend Lindsay Robertson was performing with several other musicians at the cozy Cafe Montmartre. What a way to celebrate! Some people hike Kilimanjaro to mark milestones. For me, it doesn’t get any better than a concert and a play while staying with my oldest friend at her funky art-filled home.
That night, I got a taste of Reid’s music as he backed up Lindsay on a couple songs and performed Rail (see the video below). Chatting with him after the concert, I found he was doing a house concert in Seattle in October. When the day came around, I wasn’t sure what to expect (sometimes the intimacy of a house concert is intimidating), but I went out into the dark stormy night on my own. What an amazing night. Reid performed two sets with his songwriting partner, Carolyn Victoria Mill. They bantered between songs, shared the stories behind the songs and in short order wrapped the audience around their fingers. We were held captive, as a collective body.
For the next week, I played the three albums purchased at the concert non-stop (you can listen to them all on Soundcloud, starting with this set of besties - right now I have “Lost” looping in my brain as the best earworm ever). I couldn’t stop gushing to everyone I met about how magical the night was. Reid and Carolyn are charismatic, charming, and magnetic. Their voices are dreamy together. The vibrations resonated through the floor, and up the chair legs into my seat. It wasn’t long before I started scheming about getting them back to play on my turf.
WHAT: Reid Jamieson (Vinyl Cafe) ~ Intimate Concert at Spark Studio
WHEN: Saturday April 27, 2013 doors 7:00, show 8:00 pm
WHERE: Spark Studio 2862 NW Market St, Seattle WA 98107
TICKETS: $20 online $23 at door
Alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase
WHY: “Gorgeous, sun-struck acoustic soul” – Globe & Mail. Vancouver’s Reid Jamieson shines his light with an incredible voice, therapeutic lyrics, and a magical way with melodies.
A regular on CBC/NPR’s Vinyl Cafe, and winner of the grand prize for folk in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Reid is well known for his compelling covers, impressive guitar playing, and rather moving original songs. A male kd Lang, or Roy Orbison’s long lost son – the comparisons continue to come in but Reid remains uniquely himself. You won’t want to miss this very special performance in such an intimate and inspiring venue. Reid will be accompanied by his wife and songwriting partner CVM. Join them for an entertaining evening of stories and song.
“He’s become a favourite in the Canadian heartland (on Vinyl Cafe). But, a record as good as ‘Staring Contest’ shouldn’t be held back by radio frequencies, regional borders or time zones. Its simple songs are endearing and unforgettable and should expand his audience to a size that reflects his undeniable talent.” – NoDepression.com
“Neither derivative nor nostalgic…The Unavoidable Truth, is a work of elegant, understated beauty that juggles elements of plaintive folk, rock and countrified pop while enveloping the listener in the atmospheric glow of his soulful vocals.” – Paste Magazine (4 to Watch)
Several weeks ago, a customer asked me to create a pair of ottomans upholstered with sheepskins, similar to this previous project. She liked the concept, but wanted something taller and narrower that could double as either a footstool or a seat.
The first step was felting enough sheepskin to cover the foam cores. This is not a true sheepskin in that there is no animal slaughter involved. Wool locks are laid over a wool batt. The locks felt to the batt to create something that looks similar to a sheepskin. I chose romney locks over carded romney batts because it makes a solid, durable felt and the romney locks have a beautiful lustre and curl. I laid out my full 8′ x 4′ workbench, but chose to cut it up into pieces to work in sections rather than felt the whole thing as a single piece.
Next I sewed several pieces together to create a slipcover, which I stapled to a piece of plywood in the base.
The last step was covering the staples to create a seamless bottom. A piece of woven upholstery fabric cut to size, spray mounted in place was covered with twill tape and upholstery tacks. This was more time consuming than I expected. Getting the tacks through the layers of fabric and sheepskin was difficult. I bent and broke twice as many tacks as I used.
Some little rubber feet keep the bottom of the ottoman off the floor.
The finished pieces measure 18″ tall and 14″ in diameter. The rigid foam creates a dense core which will not collapse, slump or squish. As with every custom project, I consistently underestimate the time involved, but I learn a lot along the way. I owe my mother an enormous hug for swooping in during the middle of the process; she sewed muslin slipcovers for an inside layer between the foam and the sheepskins to hold the plywood base in place. She also nursed me through the flu and took care of my family while I convalesced.
An important of the design process is sending new products out for testing. Currently under development is an idea I have had kicking around for a while. Since my cat loves curling up on the sheepskins we have on our sofa, wouldn’t a cat bed lined with wooly locks be the cat’s meow? Today I felted my first cat bed: several layers of merino and blue faced leicester roving were felted with an inner layer of romney locks. The finished pod reminded me of an Inuit umiak.
My studio partner, Maude, offered to take it home to test it out with Henry the Bold, a cat who hasn’t met a box he didn’t like.
Reports from the testing lab show a few modifications are needed, starting with a larger opening. Back to the drawing board I go.
The studio was bubbling on Saturday with the activity of six children and three mothers as we created nests, then birds and finally eggs.
We started with a base of willow branches woven together with yarn. Next we needled some clean wool locks in layers, building up the sides to create the soft part of the nest. This was the most difficult part of the day for some as it appeared to take a lot of very gentle poking before the wool held together. One mother designated herself official nest builder; she found the repetitive nature of the process meditative. There were bits of ephemera added to the wool: colored roving, ribbon, feathers and yarn to mix in the nest just as a bird might pick soft bits from the surroundings.
Next we needled together a bunch of peeps. Again, one girl spent most of her morning focused on creating a single, perfect bird while others were content with a pile of fluff with eyes, a beak and wings.
With an hour left in the workshop, we began wetfelting around styrofoam eggs. These two girls could have spent all morning working in the warm soapy water.
With children between the ages of five and ten years old, it was interesting to see which activity held their attention or captured their imagination.
The mothers wrote to me later in the day to tell me how much their children were captivated by their creations. Each family took home wool and kits to continue creating to their heart’s content.
If you would like to join in the fun, there are four spots open for the next run of this class on Saturday, March 2nd. Send a message using the contact form to register.
A very special commission came my way recently: a liturgical stole for the ordination of a Lutheran minister.
The only direction I was given was with regards to color: deep orange shading through red to burgundy. My first step was to order some custom dyed merino roving from WoolGatherings on Etsy.
After felting several large pieces with four layers of roving, I cut them into small slices, then arranged them into a vague color progression, trying to keep a bit of randomness in the sort. Next I sewed the strips together with a zigzag stitch, abutting the edges.
The last element was a ball of flames symbolizing the Holy Spirit. I cut a piece of silk paper then machine stitched it in place.
The final piece filled my studio with a fiery warmth. It was an honor to create something of such significance.
Follow the smell of mulled spices to the open doors of Spark Studio for a holiday gift show on the main floor of BallardWorks. Leah Adams, DenBerg Designs, Maude May and Gail McCallen will have gift items in every price range. Lisa Snow Lady and Stephen Gilbert will have paintings, prints and more for sale through the open doors at Art & Soul.
Not sure what to give the creative people in your life? How about a gift certificate for art classes at Spark Studio? We will create a custom gift certificate in various denominations and mail it directly to the lucky person.
Look what greeted me as I entered my studio recently! My fab studio partner, Maude May, created this gorgeous banner to celebrate my 40th birthday.
It made my day. Now it is my pleasure to turn this into an occasion for you to celebrate. For the rest of September, enter coupon code ‘birthday’ in my Etsy shop to receive 10% off any purchase. I have several new items to list in my shop, which will be appearing in the next few days. Check out my facebook page or twitter to keep abreast of new listings.
My children keep asking me if I feel old yet, but the reality is I feel better than I ever have. In my twenties I was unhappily searching to find myself, in my thirties I was exhausted by the pressures of young motherhood. Suddenly, I feel energized and full of potential. In fact, I’ve been posing as a woman in her forties for a couple years, trying to blend in with my friends and colleagues who have the confidence, experience and street credibility to be successful. Now I can finally own my age and stand proudly.
When a prominent museum gift store asks what new products you have for their store, the gears start turning. Taking a friend up on an invitation to wander around Capitol Hill for a morning, we went for coffee, wandered around Volunteer Park and then visited a few mid-century design stores. By the time I made it to my studio that afternoon, I had an hour to work on an idea that occurred to me as we drove through the city. Pulling out a felt remnant, I stitched some irregular shapes in imitation of topographical maps.
My first prototype received a green light from the buyer at the gift store, so I set to work on the real thing. Inspired by the distinctive colors of Puget Sound, the alpine meadows around Mt. Rainier and the paloose of central Washington, I imagined three colorways reflective of the colors in these regions.
After creating sheets and sheets of merino prefelt, I cut hundreds of circles. Pulling together the colors was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.
The riot of color was intoxicating. Once everything was felted, I cut the circles and machine stitched the lines to create greater definition and contrast.
The next project was deciding on the packaging. Price point and hand-feel were the two factors that led me eschew any fussy plastic packaging. People need to touch something this soft. Maude May designed the tags and branded the coasters, inspired by USGS map TWA 1627 Glacier Park, TWA 1623 Frosty Meadow and TWA 1680 Methow Valley.