Sunday, December 7, 2014

The agony and ecstasy of December Nights

This past Friday and Saturday, San Diego's Balboa Park hosted our annual December Nights celebration.  Spanish Village and all the museums stay open till 11 PM both nights, and the park is filled with food booths, live music performances, thousands (millions?) of twinkling lights, even a zip-line ride for the first time this year -- and about 300,000 people when the two days are added together.  

Along with my amazing husband (who didn't have to be there but chose to) and several of my studio partners, I worked the 3-11 shift both nights in Studio 40.  Many people came in to look, arriving in waves, with the studio empty in between just long enough for us to catch our breaths and sit down for a moment.  A few of them even bought some art from us.  

We chatted with everyone, kept a vigilant eye out for shoplifting, and frequently visited the hot cider/hot chocolate booth opposite us and the kettle corn booth right behind that.  There were tedious hours, and some exhilarating moments.  Finally, each night, we brought all the work back inside, locked up, and limped back to our cars near midnight, footsore and completely exhausted.

The studio looked great, filled with our work and all dressed up for the holidays, with a "teaser" table out front.  Now it's back to normal hours (11-4 daily except Christmas and New Year's Day), with hope that locals and tourists will holiday shop till our shelves are all but empty, leaving us in the black and busy making new work come January.

(This year's December Nights also marked the kick-off for the 2015 celebration of the centennial of Balboa Park, which was created out of chaparral-covered hills for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.  Many special events and exhibits are planned through the year.  Check out the park's list of centennial events and exhibits.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Felting through the fall

We're having our first round of what passes for fall weather here in San Diego, and it's quite lovely:  deep blue sky between lots of puffy clouds, both white ones and gray ones - which brought our first rain of the season this weekend; spectacular sunsets; and chilly evenings that require a jacket.  I really love this season, after the exhaustion of summer heat.  It's likely to warm up again this coming week, but nothing like the 100-degree-plus days we endured in recent months.

This storm only brought a third of an inch of rain, and we need so much more to start reversing California's serious drought.  Fingers crossed for winter!  In my studio (as throughout the house and garden), I've been trying very hard to conserve water.  I now reuse and store soapy water for multiple days' projects, and I pour almost all used water that needs dumping into my garden.  And I ponder, how bad does the drought have to get, and how severe the water restrictions, before the responsible thing for me to do is to stop felting altogether?  Hope it doesn't come to that.

I've shifted my focus for now from vessels, of which I have a good supply, to cuff bracelets and what I'm calling "gossamer" scarves.  The latter are sort of cobweb felt plus, with extra layers to make them easier for buyers to handle and to clean than the ones I offered last fall.  They're still light, airy, and colorful and only weigh about 35 grams (an ounce and a quarter.)

The cuff bracelets use new and repurposed felt, repurposed fabric, hand embroidery, and beading - whatever the piece needs to make it fun and special.  The first dozen bracelets went on sale last week at studio 40, and there are plenty more to come.  I just need to get back in that studio and get busy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lessons learned

Merino wool cuff bracelets:
MFS students' work

Some lessons I've learned this summer:
      1.  You can never produce artwork as quickly as you think you can.
      2.  Life will always get in the way.  Best recent example: My husband's broken finger, on his dominant hand, four weeks before (with surgery two weeks before) my first-ever four-day sale event.
      3.  I hate working multi-day sale events.
      4.  My work doesn't show well out-of-doors, especially in a steady breeze.
Finn wool vessel: 
MFS student's work
I spent much of my summer preparing for the four-day US Sand Sculpting Challenge & 3D Art Expo, which ended on Labor Day.  It was an eclectic event held on the B Street pier in downtown San Diego, attracting thousands of people -- but not necessarily thousands of shoppers.  A fellow artist made me a very good offer to share a booth with her and two others, and I knew it was the best opportunity I'd ever get to see what a multi-day show, and an outdoor show, was like for me.  Now I know. 

As planned, I did make about 100 mini vessels this summer, most for the Expo, and a few nice, larger ones.  Unfortunately, few of them sold there.  On the positive side, I won't have to make any mini vessels for quite some time in order to keep Studio 40 supplied! And sales are going well for me at Spanish Village, so really I can't complain.

My week at the Midwest Felting Symposium (MFS) was well worth the trek to Wisconsin.  I learned what I'd hoped to, and more, from my three classes with Pam Macgregor.  I saw beautiful things being made in other classes too, and drew a lot of ideas and inspiration from being surrounded by all that felt and all those felters!  It was great.

The summer heat is far from finished here, but I am moving on to make work for the cooler months:  scarves, cuff bracelets, and who knows what else?  I look forward to getting wet, soapy, and wooly again -- just as soon as I can tame the chaos that the Expo left in my home studio.

Finn wool vessel:
MFS student's work

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer of felt

I'm in the midst of a very busy summer, and it isn't even officially summer yet!  

Right now I'm cranking out miniature vessels for both Studio 40 and the 3D Art Expo on Labor Day weekend -- halfway to my goal of 100. Then it's time for some floral-themed pieces for sale at Art in Bloom. Next I'll take a break from vessels and work in two dimensioms for a while, scarves and wall art.

Later in the summer I'll spend a week at Midwest Fiber Symposium in Wisconsin,  learning more about vessel-making and about felted jewelery.  I expect that when I return, I'll focus on adding bracelets and brooches to my line.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

All new!

April has brought big changes for the better at Studio 40 in Spanish Village.  We have a new leaseholder (the person who actually leases the space from the city) as of April 1, painter Neal Evans, who has completely remade the space in the short time since he took over.  Compare these photos to the ones in my previous post and be amazed.

This panorama shows 90% of the studio, with its new walls, paint, shelving, lighting.

And this is the main display for my felt:  vessels, pictures, and more to come.
Along with me, Pierre Bounaud, Mindy Turk, and Kathleen Romero continue to share the space with Neal.  Susan Salazar has moved on and will be in studio 34 beginning May 1. We will miss her as our new team moves forward.

The studio is open every day of the week between 11:00 and 4:00.  I still work every Friday (unless I'm out of town).  Please come by and see what's new in sculpted felt.