Friday, January 27, 2017

Now you can follow me on Feedly!

Thanks for asking me to add the button.  I'm not Feedly savvy...




follow us in feedly

Fabric as an artist's medium...

I fell in love today.  With this...


Maison Margiela 2017 couture


And to truly appreciate it, you have to see this...



Carry on... if you can still breathe...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Led a Speakeasy today (1/20) oh... and today (1/21) - oh and writing about it today (1/25)!

Took a while to begin writing this post... why?

Life's been a bit busy, I'd say!  Well, actually, that's a wildly inaccurate understatement, as I've done nothing but push through appointments, lead tours, and pound out piles of work over the past two weeks or so... but I digress...

I led two Speakeasies last week, and, just as an aside, I must mention my obsession with Wasabi, a UK based fast-food sushi place on the corner of 40th and 7th, that does their job so perfectly, I don't even know how to adequately express my fascination with it.  The lovely bites are always perfectly fresh (whether vegetable or fish) and beautifully presented in meticulously artful to-go (or stay) arrangements, and wonderfully priced for what is offered.  I really enjoy dining in or taking out, and just the speed and efficiency of this place make the whole experience enjoyable. Great energy food, by the way.

So... What happened on the Speakeasies?  Frankly, we all saw too many great things to crunch them into one blog post, so I will list the highlights... (Note: I'm mixing the days together, so not everyone saw the same stores... There's only so much time in a day!)

Botani - Have you seen their new fabric space? We (speakeasiers) casually walked past a sign boasting customizeable fabrics, just to take a peek... I asked the question, "What do your mean, customize?" - I got the answer.  All of the aspects you weren't even thinking were customizeable.  Color? Yup.  Your own color? Not a color card they give you?  Yup.  Fiber content? Yup?  Custom blend? Yup.  Okay, so they will go pretty far to meet your specifications.  When you're done you've got something no one can duplicate, because no one else had it made for them!  Totally unique.  Others can imitate, of course, but that takes time, research and investment... good luck with that, right?

Pacific Trimmings had a delightful arrangement of clasps and wildly fun things as usual. The rainbow toothed RiRi zipper option was a fun sighting, as it always is!

C&J - wowza.  As always.  A special look at the prints and specials on the shelves made the visit wildly inspiring.

B&J - Do they ever disappoint?  Nope.  I don't think so. What a glorious selection of cottons, ponte knits, printed silks, unusual blends, and beautiful colors!

MJ Trimming - While they have reduced some space and inventory, they still have great stuff to offer!  The clearance area is also particularly interesting!

NY Elegant - Upstairs always yields surprises, the rack of panels always yields sighs, and the main floor... need I say more?

Fabrics & Fabrics - What a joy. Whoever is pulling out rolls of "special" goods to highlight on the floor is REALLY doing his/her job right!

Okay, while I could list about seven or eight more stores, it was a blast for all of us on both days! Really intense visits in a tight sequence with no wasted time, tired legs, and heads spinning! It was a true fabric lovers' celebration!




New York Fabric and Trim Show - Updated!

You won't believe me when I tell you this, but the first picture below what you are reading is... fabric.  

Really.

It is.

There are no gems in the photo below.  This is a simple photo of the fabric, laid on the table. I took this picture with my phone. The fabric is a digital print.  I don't know if this print has a name, but I've decided to call it "Bling", and frankly, you've gotta see it to believe it.

Elliott Berman


I've been to this show (formerly called "DG Expo") before, but this time was different. I visited the show on Thursday (1/19), looked at the offerings of many businesses familiar to me from previous shows, noted the absence of many others I have seen over the years, but had very interesting conversations and creativity-fueling introductions and idea bubbles with businesses I had not encountered before, that really got my wheels turning. The fairly light attendance made the vendors hungry to talk and engage, and anyone visiting the show benefitted from that.

I'll just have to summarize the rest at this point, or this post will become a novel!

I ADORED so many of the fantastic offerings from Elliott Berman. The two fabrics below offer just a sliver of the great fabrics they have to offer.  Some sold out at the show VERY quickly, but believe me, there are still enough other choices to light anyone's fire.

Elliott Berman

Elliott Berman


While this was the true highlight of my experience there that day, I also discovered a few businesses I did not know about before. 

This post is being written gradually.  I am going through my notes and goodies, posting as I go... Visit again later, and there will be more updates!



Benno's Buttons

I found an interesting Texas-based business, Benno's Buttons and Trimmings, which had a really intriguing arrangement of steampunk buttons on the display table.  Beyond the steampunk collection, they had a lovely and interesting button assortment that drew me in.  While there is no shortage of button businesses in the garment district, the uniqueness of their offerings, friendliness of the vendor, new website, and tiny minimal order requirements make them particularly appealing to small businesses, and businesses outside of New York City. Be sure to visit the website, to get a feel for how well curated their button offerings are.


Rainbow Leather

Psst...They have a showroom in College Point, Queens, too... (By appointment... and that only matters to those who dare to venture, but I find it kinda exciting! )  Check out the website, and you will see that they do a lot with textures, painting, and perforations. Really interesting samples at the display table, and they are very serious about what they do!


Planet Bling

Normally, I really wouldn't care about this kind of stuff, but this business (in addition to having some really dynamic personalities representing them) had some very high quality transfer work on the display pieces exhibited at their vendor table.  Intricate detail, in vibrant colors, navigating tight corners and curves...  For promotional goods, patches and stuff, I would sincerely consider them.  Visit their website here.


Yara African Fabric

What a lovely display of sturdy African fabrics, which are hitting a trendy high note right now.  Website is absolutely worth visiting.


Basic Adhesives

Interesting for a variety of reasons.  Serving the handbag, belt, footwear, and leather good production process, this company provides environmentally friendly adhesives and edge stains.  As a sponsor of the Independent Handbag Designer Awards, they have plenty to share about what it takes to make a great one.  On display, was a recommended book by Emily Blumenthal, entitled "Handbag Designer 101" and an offer to try their adhesive and edge stain sample kit, which is only $24.95 INCLUDING shipping and handling.  Great and enthusiastic sales presence, from a confident, and, by all appearances, knowledgeable source!  Visit their site for more info!

So... in a nutshell, worthwhile and very interesting visit.  More information than I can take in, and creative fuel for thought!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Do art with... A teen's perspective

My daughter's self-portrait

If you have been following the blog for a while, you may recall that some time ago, I introduced my daughter to my readers.  Since then, she has grown and developed in wonderful ways, and has started a blog of her own, which I will link to this post as soon as she is ready to share with a wider audience.

"Do Art With.." will inspire your creative endeavors by giving one artistic challenge to meet per project.  She will explain far better than I when the site is live, and I will provide the link here when that moment arrives.  

Very exciting!

While we wait, here are some past "Teen Perspective" posts:

The "waist case"

Fashion musings

Creative Siphoning

Urban Superhero




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What is the New York Fabric and Trim Show (aka the DG Expo), and... why do I care???

Note: If you regularly attend the FIT Design Source show that happens in January each year, it has been postponed this year, and a new date may be posted for the spring of this year.  So that is not a choice... but many of the same vendors come to the DG Expo/NY Fabric and Trim Show (described below).

Reposting again (yes, the 2nd again!), since the date approacheth  is nigh! -

CURRENT NY Fabric and Trim Show/DG EXPO is happening NOW

*Originally posted 12/10/12

Folks, I must tell you that I am so jazzed about this event after having a phone conversation about it this morning, I just HAVE to give you all the deets on the DG Expo (so named because it is based on the resources with low minimums featured in their designer's guide) NOW.

You may have heard of the DG Expo (and if you haven't, don't worry).  The official blurb is below:

"The DG Expo features a two day Textile & Trimmings exhibit for Designers, Small Manufacturers (producing Apparel, Accessories, Homefurnishings, other Sewn Products), plus Private Label Retailers, Fabric Stores, Event/Party Planners. Exhibitors are Wholesale Suppliers (including Mills, Converters, Importers, and Distributors) who have low minimums, and many have in-stock fabric and trims." 

This Manhattan event will take place on February 5 and 6, 2013  right now, and despite its wonderfully ambitious goal of linking up small designers with the information, suppliers and services they need, I have not seen/understood much advertising for the event, nor have I explored a clear explanation of what it is, or why it is even important.  Maybe I haven't been paying attention?  Well, it seems I've been asleep on this one.  I'd like to spare you the same fate. So here goes....

To make sure the information I share with you is accurate, this morning I picked up the phone, and called the contact telephone number for the event, where my call was warmly and enthusiastically received by Susan Power, who really filled me in on what makes this event so worthwhile, important, and valuable. Having grown from one ballroom last year to two this year, the DG Expo is growing and maturing into an industry treasure for the small designer.

So, why would you go?

The DG Expo is not a retail fabric buying opportunity.  It is for businesses.  This is the one-stop-shop relationship-building and wholesale pricing information station you need to cost/produce your items accurately and efficiently, which leads to selling them profitably. Admission to the event itself is free, but there are fees for individual seminars.

*Note - seminars and networking have already happened for this one.  Today is a shopping day, primarily.  On the Monday of the event, there are no exhibits.  If you have lots of questions, Monday will be the most valuable day for you to attend, since it is a heavy networking and seminar day.  (So plan for next time) It is the day to get familiar, get comfortable, attend seminars, and get all of your questions answered.  The seminars are wonderfully priced, considering how elusive so much of this information can be!

And what are low minimums?  Well, that could be a minimum quantity of something, like a roll of fabric or an amount of yardage, or a minimum dollar amount you would need to buy to benefit from wholesale buying status. And I'm talking wonderfully low minimums for some of them, like amounts I've spent on yardage for my own private clients.

If you want to attend, there are things you can do now to get ready.  First, do your research.  If you aren't clear on it yet, figure out what you need, how much you will need, and what you want to do. Learn to correctly name the services, fabrics and supplies you need. Bring business cards with you, and be ready to exchange them!  This will also help to keep you from feeling intimidated by the much  more experienced and well-known manufacturers who regularly attend the event.  Watching them interact, however, can be a great learning experience for you, as you grow!

But... Let's say you aren't a small manufacturer quite yet, or you are still studying, planning, thinking and dreaming... not sure what you need yet?  Here's what you need to do.  Come early and/or stay late to get the best quality interaction with others.  Attend the seminars on Monday.  Keep in mind that everyone at the event is there wanting to do business, so be ready to engage and participate in a mutually time-efficient and business-oriented way. Beyond that, the DG Expo site is still a wealth of information, links and resources, in ADDITION to the event.

Who will you meet there?

Susan Power is the leader who brings her industry experience, resources, and expertise to the event, along with other presenters and exhibitors.

Follow this link to a list of the suppliers. Look at that list for the names of some of the businesses I've featured on the blog!


Location: 

Hotel Pennsylvania
Penntop Ballroom + Skytop Ballroom, Penthouse
18th Floor, 401 Seventh Avenue 
(between 32nd & 33rd Street) 
New York City

Whether you attend or not, you can also purchase the Designer's Guide or the Sourcer's Guide to help you find your way through all of the info we know the garment district is so skilled at keeping to itself!

When is the next Speakeasy?

You can always find out when the next Speakeasy is scheduled to take place here.

And right now, the next dates on my calendar are:

January 20, 2017

and 

April 14, 2017

If my dates don't work for you, you can request a custom tour for yourself alone, or with a group.  

If you have an idea for a tour you would like to propose, share it with me, and we can offer it, and see if it is a "go" based on interest and sign-ups.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

In the District...

So last week, I had the pleasure of strolling around in the district, getting some errands done, and checking out some regular haunts. 

My first random sighting of the day was this sign, next to an empanada cart, with the slogan "best empanada ever", and some very unique artwork... That's quite a claim.  If I am feeling like having one, I may try the next time I pass by, because I am an empanada lover, and they are only $2 each.  I'm generally leery of food carts, but they have the guts to have a FB page, which is a bold invitation for feedback, so I feel they must be quality oriented. Looks like 5 stars is the commonly held opinion. I will try one. Has anyone else had one?


My next stop, was LoLou buttons, since I lost a button on my beloved Miyake coat, and I needed to replace it.  They no longer have the buttons I used, so I needed to look for new ones.  I found a button I love, and, without missing a beat, the owner looked at my choice and said to said to me, "Just replace the top button, and leave the others.  It will be perfect.  It is, and I thank him.





Then, while walking down the street, I ran into one of the owners of Rosen & Chadick, where I originally bought the fabric to make the coat.  We hugged, said our hellos, and she stroked my coat with love.


A picture doesn't do it justice...

Then, there were scraps of this breathtaking leather at Day to Day, which I bought as a heavily discounted pile of small pieces.  The leather is a a beautiful soft purple color, with raised silvery flowers, which is not conveyed in the photo above.  What will it be used for?  Shoes.  How long will it take?  Only the good Lord knows!  You'll know when I get there, because I'm sure I won't be able to shut up about them once they are done!


Bra closure
And this bra closure I bought at SIL Thread  for a special custom bra I'm making.  I'd share more info, but it may be in the TMI category, so I'll just keep that one to myself...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Wrapping up...

Looks like my interests in things Japanese (and Asian, in general), literature, and shoemaking, have somehow converged...

One of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou, wrote an autobiographical novel, entitled All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes.  I own it, and have not yet made it through, since this book's time has not yet come in my life ( I have quite a few books like that, awaiting their moment on my bookshelves - some of them signed!), but the power of that title has always resonated with me.
According to Angelou, the title of Traveling Shoes comes from a spiritual.[13] African-American scholar Lyman B. Hagen reports that the title comes from the spiritual "All God's Chillun Got Wings", Angelou's "clever reference"[11] to her ongoing search for a home while being aware of "our ultimate home".[11] The title demonstrates Angelou's love of African-American spirituals and deep sense of religion that appears in all of her works. Critic Mary Jane Lupton finds the appearance of the word "traveling" purposeful, since it emphasizes the journey theme, one of Angelou's most important themes of the book. Like Angelou's previous volumes in her series, the title contributes to its plot and thematic impact.
Ultimately, it appears to me, that you can make any kind of shoe you want, but the challenge is getting the right soling materials and the right professional to adhere your soles properly for you, to get a fully functional, and superior pair of shoes out of the deal.  This is absolutely not something I am considering as a business venture.  I will selfishly undertake this effort for myself and my interested loved ones.

Yesterday, a friend of my daughter's (a teenage boy) wore high heels to an event they were both attending. If you live in New York City, you know that yesterday was a day that REQUIRED snow boots.  So I thought about this for a while, wondering... why is his shoe choice so important on a day like today? And, what I came up with, was really, why is it important to anyone, on any day?  Regardless of your position/opinion on his shoe choice, what governs it for the rest of us?

So, on my shoe journey, I'll share that the shoes pictured below are wildly interesting to ME, made by a Japanese company, and offered here for sale in the US... (link below photo).  If you are wondering why they have split toes, the details can be found here.

http://www.sousouus.com/product-category/tabi-shoes/


Now, if that isn't thrilling enough (I consider them thrilling), there is also this...

Bojagi (Korean) or Furoshiki (Japanese) both refer to wrapping techniques used for gift presentation.  This idea, applied to shoes?  So interesting!

Note to self: keep in mind, eco-friendly and exciting way to present a gift to fellow appreciators.






Now to put this knowledge to work.  I will update on this specifically, but I can't tell you when...

Friday, January 6, 2017

On shoemaking

Well, here we are. I am OBSESSED, and frankly, it is just an endless, bottomless, chasm.  Having said that, I can't really form this particular dispatch into one neat, cohesive post, so, please, my fellow mad creatives... please appreciate this weird romp along with me.  Where the heck do I begin?

Well, I found a book at the library on shoemaking.  Let me not forget to say, for the record, that I asked the woman at the information desk in the creative/art section of the library if they had any books on shoemaking, and she literally ROLLED HER EYES, as if that would be a ridiculous pursuit for ANYONE to embark upon.  She referred me to a section, not a BOOK, and I was eventually able to find, after diligent internet searching (on my own!), a book that they needed to retrieve from their basement!


click photo for Amazon link

And I have now studied almost every single word of it. I would like to own it, but, as you can see, if you click on the above link, it has a ridiculously high price on Amazon.  Truth be told, I'd spend less by pretending to lose it, and pay the library for it... hmmm...  I won't do that, though.  It would be dishonest. Darn it.

So... my fascination begins at the point that I really love unique shoes, have very few pairs (by choice!), but there are a million ideas in my head, so I want to experiment and explore.  After about two months of research and supply sourcing, I must say that one can learn the technical challenges and common techniques, but the rest, much like clothing making, is unique, sculptural and magical.

What I love the most, is that while watching a professional make a shoe using factory equipment and tools, finding creative ways to construct something like a carpenter would, using your hands, and carefully planned pieces, calling on your local shoemaker to do the soling part for you (toxic glue fumes, professional equipment) if you want to do something truly special, you discover that you can indeed create something lovely and lasting for yourself!

This video would be wildly ambitious for anyone who has never tried to sew sneakers before, but it is a great education in what all of the shaping and sewing entails.


I like to assemble failing things, toss them all, and replace them all at one time.  More practical than crazy, I would argue.

And here's another thing.  If you're anything like me, you long for some favorite pair of shoes that you had long ago, or are no longer made.  You can't duplicate them exactly without the tools and materials, but you can absolutely use them as inspiration!

Now, explaining how to make a pair of shoes is as complicated as trying  to tell someone how to make a dress.  There are endless levels of quality, complications, etc.

So, let's say you just want to do the sculpting and artistic side of things... you can leave the soling up to your local knowledgeable cobbler or shoe repair person!  If you want to do the soling yourself, you can buy soling sheets and cut them (try Manhattan Wardrobe Supply or Amazon), and/or you can buy pre-made soles, ready to glue.  You can also buy insoles, rather than make your own.  There are many options for comfort. Explore the options online, and you will find some great supplies to help get you to a beautiful result.

I was happy to learn about a great shoe supply resource (in Brooklyn), named Brooklyn Shoe Supply, and will visit once I have completed my first pair/several pairs, so that I will be able to proceed with a bit more confidence.

As for the drooling/shoe eye candy aspect of things, I made a Pinterest Page with ideas and inspiration, and I have watched some wonderful You Tube videos for ideas and thoughts. 

Wrap shoe.  Food for thought:




About ballet shoes (not because I dance, but informs my shoe thinking):






The video below begins the process of making a very basic ballet flat, but if you read the book I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you'll see what advice is given there, and you can improve on/deviate from the suggested methods given here, if you like.  No matter what you choose, it seems some trial and error/discovery will be necessary to your development.


Over the past few weeks, I have explored and learned a lot about fabric choices, leathers, dyes, closures, leather stackable heels, looked at shoes in museum exhibits...  I have DEVOURED every bit of information I have found inspiring, and cannot wait to use my hands to sculpt some shoes.  I will share results when appropriate!

Note: Now there is a shoemaking map on my maps page, if you'd like to know where to go!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Creative Siphoning (and a teen's perspective) the weird liquid shirt

Reposting: I wear this shirt so often (today included), I probably owe the universe an apology at this point.

si·phon ˈsīfən/ noun: syphon 1. a tube used to convey liquid upwards from a reservoir and then down to a lower level of its own accord. Once the liquid has been forced into the tube, typically by suction or immersion, flow continues unaided.  verb: syphon 1. draw off or convey (liquid) by means of a siphon.

 This was our creative syphoning experience - not of a liquid, but a "flow" of ideas, inspired by a cool fabric.

I make a shirt. My kids see that shirt. My son (9) wants insists on a hoodie made using the same fabric.  My daughter (13) wants insists on a shirt just like mine. 

Note: I didn't specifically suggest it to either of them.


The magic fabric from Fabrics World USA, blogged about here...



This pattern, dated 1985, has a Miyake-esque vibe... dontcha think? I have made about 5 versions of this top over the years, always the EXACT same size (shows how fit standards have changed! It was HUGE then), since I was about 14 years old.  


A glimpse of the shirt...

If this shirt had a soundtrack, it would be...Enjoy the Silence, by Depeche Mode.  I have never had such a reaction to something I've made, like I got from my kids this time.  The amount of "oohing" and "aahing", trying it on, stroking the fabric... it was just... WEIRD.


I had to ask...

"So.. what happens when you wear something sorta weird around your friends, they ask about about it, and you say 'My mom made it?'  Is that particularly cool/uncool, or nerdish... or is it even something you mention?"  

"I don't know.  For us it's different.  It's your profession.  You're a designer. 'My Mom made it' doesn't mean the same thing for us. I mean, it's not like you're at the kitchen table..."


Fabrics World USA

252 West 38th Street
NYC