Shut Door; Open Window

The time has come for me to transition into something new. Developing an identity as a crafter, becoming an artisan and a teacher and then running my practice as a business has given me a focus and a flexible occupation while my children needed my active support. I have explored this side of my personality and now I’m satisfied with what I have learned.

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In 2006, I discovered the art of turning wool roving into felt by borrowing books from the library and diving in. After working on my kitchen table for two years, then moving into a small studio in my basement, I rented a studio in the BallardWorks building in November 2010.

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My hope was to concentrate my full energies on exploring the tradition of feltmaking, methodically moving through material, process and technique. The studio gave me the space to get really messy, and to begin teaching.

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Over 4 years, I moved into successively larger studios, expanding what I was able to do with each new space.

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The highlight of my time was spent teaching a fiber arts class to several families in Seattle’s homeschool community. Supported by a student intern and a friend with eight arms and a bottomless well of enthusiasm we stitched, felted, wove and explored the varied forms of fiber. It was an exciting year. However, being the midwife to my students’ learning forced me to shelve my own creativity, and when the year was over I found I was tired, and didn’t have the energy to fully commit to running a business.

If I was to pinpoint the biggest reason behind my decision to move on it would be the strain caused by the relentless self-promotion required to make this business thrive. In the end, the endless marketing required was not an authentic or sustainable part of my personality. And despite tweeking the business innumerable ways, following all of the best advice from  indie marketing gurus, the business was not profitable. I put in too many hours to continue working for free. If I’m going to work without a wage, I would rather be a literacy tutor or a child advocate, where I can make an impact on someone’s quality of life rather than flog my latest creation.

This transition is not without discomfort. First of all, I have no easy answer when people ask ‘what do you do?’ Right now, the answer is ‘I make lists’. There are boxes, bins and drawers full of materials I need to move along to new owners. Anybody want 1000 kraft boxes? What about a mismatched set of pine stools? Following are photographs of some items that need to find new homes before I can close up.

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I have a large stash of wool fleeces bought from farms on Whidbey and Lopez Island. Some are washed, but most are still ‘in the grease’. There are lots of dyed locks and dyed silk noil still avaialbe. If you’re on Ravelry, I’ve listed my inventory in my ‘stash’ tab under ‘willing to trade or sell’. The prices I paid for the wool are my sale prices. I’m just trying to recoup my costs. My username is ‘kneek’.

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Feltcraft 40″ Rolling Machine – $1800
This gently used rolling machine takes the back-breaking labor out of the feltmaking process, though it does not eliminate all of the steps. Fiber is laid out on the blue bubblewrap, wet down with a soap solution, rolled up and placed in the machine where it rumbles along for 10-30 minutes at a time. Production feltmakers rely heavily on rolling machines. It works very well for nunofelt, enabling the fibers to fully embed in the fabric before the fulling process.

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Gridwall display with 5 halogen lights and hanging components, currently listed on Craigslist.

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Recycled whiteboard in a painted upcycled frame $75

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Rotating powder coated aluminum card stand with heavy base $80

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3 IKEA sawhorses, adjustable height, pine, unfinished – $25 each

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2 IKEA cabinets, particleboard, three shelves, stackable – $40 each

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4 IKEA LACK floating shelves – $5 each

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6 pine stools, varying heights, various manufacturers – $15 each

Additional items not pictured: lots of wicker baskets, a set of 3 japanese paper lanterns printed with designs, and an amplifier with two speakers. If possible, I would like to avoid having a large garage sale. Prices are negotiable if you’re willing to take several items off my hands.

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As for the studio space on the main floor of BallardWorks, I am leaving it in good hands. Amy Hamblin, the multimedia sculptor who has shared the space since April 2014 is taking over the lease. Be sure to stop in to see her on the 2nd Saturday Ballard Artwalk.

To everyone who has supported me over the years, I thank you. I couldn’t have made it this long without you. If you’d like to know more about what it takes to run an Etsy business, I have some valuable lessons to share.

Holiday Sale at Spark Studio

There’s been a whole lot of activity around the studio in the last couple of weeks. I’ve made a batch of felt soaps, coasters, geodes, flowers and super fluffy sheepskins.

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My studio mates have been sewing sweaters and pounding silver hoops. We’re excited to include the work of Starbelly Handmade and handblown glass of Katrina Hude in our sale this year.

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The walls are filled with the dynamic wire and copper work of sculptor Amy Hamblin. I purchased several pieces of Amy’s work last weekend at her open studio sale. I will definitely be wearing them this weekend.

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One of my talented students, Daisy, has crafted a basket full of adorable flower fairies. The proceeds from the sale of these cuties will support the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project.

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We packed up the work tables, scooted storage bins, swept floors, draped and arranged displays yesterday. The studio sparkles. It’s going to be a fantastic weekend.

Laying It Out

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You know that feeling when you’re a bit too strung out in too many places? I’ve been posting photos of work-in-progress, event announcements and upcoming classes on the SpiderFelt FaceBook page, and also on Spark Studio’s Facebook page. Sometimes there are just too many places to be at once, and writing carefully and thoughtfully, as I expect blog posts to be done takes more time than I have. Some nights I just want to dive into my book or walk through the neighborhood with a friend.

On Friday, I will bring new work to Sassafras in Belltown for a trunk show from 6-9pm during the Belltown Artwalk. If you haven’t discovered Sassafras yet, it should be on your list of places to visit. The clothes are gorgeous, handmade, flattering and designed to fit all our curves. To introduce me to the Sassafras public, I was interviewed by Amy Tipton, store owner. You can read our interview here.

While I’m posting links to articles, a little while ago Lorraine Edmond, a fellow artist from the Surface Design Association, asked me about my studio practice for the SDA-Washington blog. It was a pleasure to chat with Lorraine as I worked. She has an easy conversational manner that made it easy to describe my process with her. I’m delighted with the resulting article.

Run to Woolstock on Lopez Island

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.

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More details at Island Fibers

Reid Jamieson In Concert at Spark Studio

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.

reid_carolyn-1That 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

LINKS: http://www.reidjamieson.com

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.

reid_daisies-1A 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.

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“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)

VISIT Reid at home: http://www.reidjamieson.com
LISTEN on Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/reidjamieson
WATCH on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/reidjamieson
FRIEND on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/reidjamieson
FOLLOW on Twitter: http://twitter.com/reidjamieson

Holiday Gift Sale

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.

Becoming an Artist on a Mother’s Schedule

Several months ago I was asked to contribute an article to Beams and Struts, a magazine for hungry minds and thirsty souls, describing my practice as an artist and the roots of my work. After several rewrites and careful editing, it has just been published.

If you have the chance to look around the blog, I highly recommend it for the thoughtful writing. After I make a cup of coffee, I’m going to snuggle down in my couch to spend a little time with a lengthy piece by Chela Davison, Doing Your Work: your life, your calling, our world. This is the sort of thinking I need to do on a Monday morning.

Color Contest

There was lots of discussion last night about the color of this nunofelt wrap.

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Neither blue, green or teal is quite the color to describe it. Mary Harris, owner of the Fiber Gallery and my business host for the Phinneywood Artwalk suggested Duwamish Tide (the Duwamish River being an urban waterway polluted by years of industrial contamination and vital to the region’s economy).

The peanut gallery sitting around at the end of the evening suggested naming this color would be a great contest.

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Leave a comment with your name suggestion here, or use the contact form at SpiderFelt.com. The prize will be a nunofelt scarf kit with instructions, silk, and merino roving to make a simple scarf in these colors. A winner will be selected at random in two weeks, on May 26th.

Edit May 29th: And the winner is CraftyB, selected by Random Number Generator. Many thanks to everyone who left a comment and color suggestion. I think I will add all of the color suggestions as tags in my Etsy listing.

Phinneywood ArtWalk

I’m thrilled to be showing two new pieces of fiber art incorporating luscious color and natural wool locks at the Fiber Gallery this weekend during the Phinneywood Artwalk. Have you seen the new space at 8212 Greenwood Ave N? Gorgeous! To see a full list of participating businesses and download a map, head over to the Phinneywood Artwalk website.
The finishing touches are being put on the hanging mechanism for these pieces, so I can only offer a sneak peek at the work in progress. I will also have a selection of brand new nunofelt scarves and accessories on display Friday night from 6-9pm, though the fiber art will stay through the end of the weekend.
Saturday night, I will be in my studio at BallardWorks, 2856 NW Market St, for the Ballard Artwalk. While I plan to be demonstrating in my studio, there is a photography exhibit by urban teens from Youth In Focus hung around the building. Several building artists will also have their studios open for visitors.
If you are interested in trying out a feltmaking class, or learning a more advanced method, my full class schedule through the end of 2012 is live at SpiderFelt.com. Leave a comment through the contact form to register.
Most classes are offered several times before the end of the year; if you are interested in a class but can’t make it on one of the listed dates, let me know. I’m sure we can work something out for you.

Eggs, Chicks and Nests Class

While it may not feel like spring around Seattle with the blowing rain and near freezing temperatures, I know something fertile lies just below the surface. Before long we’ll see the first buds poking above ground.

Maybe felting something fuzzy and yellow, or bright and pink will bring warmth into your home. To help you on the way, I’m offering an introductory felt class in a few weeks: Eggs, Chicks and Nests on Thursday, March 29th or Sunday, April 1, 1-4pm. This is a great place to start if you’ve always wondered what the difference is between needlefelting and wetfelting. We will try both methods so students can learn how each technique can be used best.

We will needlefelt some blobs of yellow into chick shapes, wrap big rocks to create hollow egg forms and pull together some nests for these creatures to call home.

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These photos were lifted from a post I wrote two years ago. If you’d like to see another style of nest, I wrote a tutorial after felting with my daughter’s second grade class several years ago.

Calling Seattle’s homeschooling community: young students are welcome to participate when accompanied by an adult. Special family pricing for parents with several students.

Pre-registration and payment required.