Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Musings on Success

My husband Rob always says that when I become successful at something, I ditch it.  In a way he is right about somethings.

  For example, when my Salsa Dress appeared at the fashion shows, it took three years before people clamored for it.  By then I was on to some other designs, because the nature of the fashion business is that you always have to come up with something new.   I had stopped production on the Salsa Dress, could not make any more because the fabric was long gone.  To this day, I still get clients coming up to me telling me how much they love that dress, they throw it in the wash, in the suitcase, dress it up and down.

It's been three years since I showed in NYC at Atelier, Moda Manhattan, and one year since Chicago.
I think it is good to step back.   I can see the strengths and weaknesses of the collections--that is hard to do when you are in the thick of planning shows and new lines 24/7.     I feel much better about what I created the last decade, I know what I would like to bring forward with a new twist.   I have learned more about the consumer being on the retail end of things with Porter Studios in Hamilton.    It takes about three years for the public to come around to new designs.   

My nature regarding design is to seek out what will be the styles in the future.   Being a client of Peclers Paris think tank taught me to be aware of not only the new textiles but the changing eco-trends and global economies.   I learned to twist and turn silhouettes of the past, infuse them with disparate textures so that light reflects many planes.    And those lessons take time to seep into the public's consciousness.

So ditching early is something I need to work on for 2011.    I need to simmer the ideas, patterns, textures.
Introduce them, but not expect a big response, because  it is a new idea and people need to think about it before they adorn themselves.    Learning the balance of creativity and financial success is the biggest challenge I face.     Keep designs simmering, add a dash of spice for freshness.    Bring my experiments forward in glimpses, like jewels in a case.   Fill the racks with silhouettes that people love to wear now and forever.

Happy New Year to All!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Tafa Team Blog

Thanks to Rachel Biel who works endlessly to promote fiber and textile artists, we have a new blog!

Tafalist Blog

Click on the link to experience a visual feast!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Always Leave Room for the Other Guy

On this Father's Day, I think of my dad and his wisdom about the economy.  Dad was an amazing business person, he had a sixth sense about what was about to happen between human beings..   His skill of building relationships was one of the strong foundations he imparted on me.   He believed in fairness, negotiation, not bulldozing someone and taking them for what they had.   Dad said, "you always have to leave room for the other guy.  He has to make a living, too."  This value is especially important now.   

Being an entrepreneur since age five,  my self concept is that I sit on a beautiful carpet in a bazaar selling my wares.  It's who I am.  I am keenly aware of markets in all sizes and shapes... how things trade between companies, individuals, online auctions, or set prices.  

We are moving into an age of online purchases of sales that will overcome bricks and mortar very soon.   What I see in these markets is a vast array of pricing--fair, cheap, and clueless--way overpriced because the person did not bother to do the market research.

   What Dad taught me was  to buy things that I loved because I might be stuck with them.
"Buy things at a good price, then mark them up enough to make a decent profit," he said," but leave some room for the buyer to succeed too."   

Dad understood market dynamics.  To keep the cash flow moving you have to price things right.  If you charge too much, or what the "book value" is,  then the item might sit there for a very long time and you will be forced to lower it.    Dad was always about cash flow... "that is what keeps the economy moving--if money does not move around, we stagnate."

I think about this and my current endeavor of running a gallery in Hamilton, New York.   Art is not selling, people do not have the money.  Even if they are well off, they are hanging on to cash.    I feel that one of the biggest mistakes artists make is that they do not know the value of their work in the market.  Artists do not take the time to see what else is out there, what prices things are selling at all over the country.    My feeling is that alot of work is overpriced.    A painting may have taken them months to complete.  If the artist figures the price of a painting based on the time they spent and cost of materials, it may be way off the current market.   This is true if the work is good or bad.    An artist should not define themselves by the dollar amount at which they sell their work,  it should be the quality of the work.

We are in a period of deflation.  Everyone has been forced to cut back, alot have lost jobs, or work two or three to make ends meet.    Deciding to work for less, in my opinion, acknowledges reality.
We need to get the market moving again, and the only way to do it is to come up with a new body of high quality work that you can sell at affordable prices.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Artisans of Mid Century


 About one month ago I found a pin in a junk shop, it was very well made and sculptural.  Researching led me to discover a world I grew up in but never knew, the 1950's and 60's, post war boom of American Costume Jewelry.   Manufactured  in the USA, Providence , RI was the center of this beautiful art form.
The elegance, quality, workmanship of this era is unsurpassed by anything we are doing now in affordable fashion.   In fact, we are not doing anything, because it is all made in China.
      The more I look at the pieces by Vendome, DeLizza and Elster, (Juliana), Coro, BSK, Trifari, Lisner, I see dreams of my parents' generation -- making a better life for their kids... ie, us baby boomers.
And they did.  We are the richest generation in our country but sadly we will not be passing this down to our offspring because we do not make things in America like this anymore.

     Each piece of authentic vintage American jewelry preserves an America where work ethic and quality reigned.   Our parents were busy, they took pride in making things.  I looked at the old photographs of  women stringing beads in the 1950's factories.  At a table with other women they create sparkly necklaces that embody dreams of glamour and attaining a better life.  Of course, the industry was not without labor abuses, as some owners worked their women long hours without benefits.   But what I want to focus on is the quality of the work which is derived from dedication to making something excellent.

    Looking at the photographs, I imagine the pride in making a beautiful creation.  When you work with gorgeous materials, it can't help you feel good.   I know that if I am surrounded by beautiful fabrics and threads I feel that I want to produce the most creative item I can imagine.   All this is a process of course, as each item we produce leads us to the next one, we learn and master through commitment.

     Growing up near Manhattan in the 1950's, "What's the latest" was an assumed state of mind. 
It meant, who is making what, what new computer is being designed in Poukeepsie,  what new fabrics were on the shelves in B. Altmans's,  or what's chic in Vogue Magazine.   Back then we made our clothing from gorgeous fabrics milled in the USA.   With great sewing patterns used over by every cousin, aunt, and friend, you could customize a unique dress from the same pattern.  If you could not afford to buy nice ready to wear, there was an option for you.  Our family did not have the money to be big shoppers, but we absorbed the bulk of "What's the Latest" by DIY.   As a young lady, my  hope was that I would buy ready made in the future with increased economic prosperity.

    Mid twentieth century costume jewelry regaled an exuberance and elegance of design, with a splash of humor reminding one not to take oneself so seriously.   The clarity of the rhinestones, the handmade Art Glass, the movement of color and shape sparkle happiness.  It was a brief  time of hope, innocence, and fantasy, yielding to the Cuban Missile Crisis, civil rights unrest and Vietnam in the 1960's. 

    Do we have dreams now or do we just fear?  The oil spills, terrorist plots, what will the news bring next?
I feel like we trample from one tulip craze to the next, never learning from the past or taking time to think.  Scrambling to survive,  or so we think.  Layering debt that our children will pass on to theirs, I am sure they will not have something they can truly call their own.

      I am collecting pieces of this genre because it reminds me of an idealism and when Americans actually made something.    Their sculptural qualities, color and elegant design also inspire me for my artwork.  You may soon see screen prints on my fabrics hinting at this luxurious past.

                     DeLizza and Elster Milk Glass with Copper Fluss             

Vendome Art Glass

Unsigned Art Glass Bracelet                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                     Juliana Red Siam Brooch         

Monday, May 3, 2010

Working Backward

 While the antique tribal rug show is still up in our gallery, I have been moved to depths by the artists who wove them, how they loved their animals, the efforts to collect the dyes, spin the yarn and knot the rugs that were their home.   The collection transformed my perception about "oriental rugs".  Each  rug is the home of an ancestor, the paintings detailing their life.  Nomadic or village , you see the pride and love they transfer onto a  necessary structure, the only essential structure, the textile..   As I have always said, what do you do with a flat piece of fabric?

Working Backward

Rolled in home
my essence of luxury
Was the abrash painted before the spinners song
You have to unweave to know
Green in the ancient abode
Mark of the dyer
pomegranate's fate made him

How far for stones that transformed plants' hue
or pilgrimage for treasured insects
Who tended wild roots of turkey red
three years would pass before harvest
Earth and heavens, temperment of soil,
water fluid or drought
defined softness and color

When did she have time to weave
the daily routines kept her hands busy
like a 21st century woman
her hands forming knots of forms
layers of meaning in stripes
like sedimentary rock
unearthing but preserving the past

You hear your drums
foot patterns make paths
in lyrical borders that dream
your next sojourn

Palette of treasure records
bonds with all around
and happy animals' souls
eternally bed you

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Dimensions

I've had the pleasure of becoming a member of HandEye Magazine, edited by Keith Recker.
 Rachel Biel of TAFA list sent out a blurb on it... so I click on and am blown away by the articles that cover so many different ideas, history, techniques--permuations of thought that stretch your imagination.  Thank you Keith for bringing this to us! 

All textile addicts, please go to HandEye now!  You will not be disappointed.  It's a new way of life, a new beginning for yourself and our planet.   If you enjoy Selvedge, you will love HandEye.

An example of how valuable the articles are--Michele Wipplinger of Earthues shares her secrets of dyeing with indigo.   I studied with Michele for 10 years.... this is a fantastic article, brought to you by HandEye.

Energy and excitement from discovering talented, caring humans... just got to keep myself plowed with energy drinks so that I can keep focusing on actually DOING something versus thinking about new ways to do things.

Couldn't resist sharing some of the NUNO fabrics that I have collected over the years...see the lead story of Handeye.  There is an exhibit of their fabrics at The Textile Museum in Washington, DC.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Making a Mess--My Creative Process

I'm not sure of the prospect of snow tonight is making me punchy, but the atmosphere is changing rapidly and it is a wierd day.

People often ask me what is the process I use to create fashion accessories?  Basically my mind is going all the time putting together fabrics, ideas, techniques.  I think having as many interesting and off beat fabrics is essential.
Then I make a mess, on the floor.  All my materials are in boxes,  they are labeled accordingly, such as "French Chantilly Lace" , "Italian Wool Lace" or "Embroidered Velvets".   I pull out what I think I might like to use.

I have one starting point, it can be an object, a fabric, a photo in a book.  I use the colorway of whatever I pick as my basis for combining fabrics and textures.  Most of the time I have no idea of how anything will come out, I just start cutting randomly, nothing is straight, it is very intuitive.   I then start playing with the pieces and laying them out.  Once I've finalized the design, I sew  and sew and sew until I'm happy.  And then it goes through my finishing process that I described in an earlier blog.

I'll work like this until I am bored, then one day it will make it's way back into the organized boxes when I get the urge to experiment.

Here's a few pics from today:

My family is dismayed at the mess I make, there is not one flat surface in the house that I don't cover.  I think they are relieved when I go up to the gallery in Hamilton. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Gem in Olde City Philadelphia

I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Craig Wallen, owner of Gallery 51 at 51 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia.  Craig is an expert in antique textile art, specializing in 19th century Anatolian woven pieces.   Step into his warmly lit gallery and be enveloped by rich natural color, pattern and texture.  Each piece Craig has chosen is very special, you can feel the weaver's personality in the knot, the choice of color, the pride of workmanship for an textile meant for everyday use.  In the 21st century, these textiles adorn the walls as art.

Craig's taste is exquisite and he is willing to share his wealth of knowledge with those who are truly interested.   If you treat yourself to an hour examining the stunning pieces, you will walk away with a renewed energy from gaining new insights into a nomadic culture.  And if you are an artist, your brain will be imprinted forever and it will translate into your work.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Design Challenge: What Can You Do with a Flat Piece of Fabric?

This challenge is to take any length of fabric and see what shapes, styles, accessories, garments you can make without stitching.  You can pin, cut, fold,  embellish, but no sewing/gluing or permanent fastening.  You can alter the shape into a circle, trapezoid, rectangle, square, etc.  Narrow goods are also in the competition.
The object is to be able to fashion  anything out of a single piece and have it be reusable later into something else.  Think of it as this:  If you only had 1 piece of fabric to take with you on a deserted island, how would you use it? Or if you were going to be in fashion week, what would you have walking down the runway? 

I'll put together a panel of textile mavens to consider the ideas.. Winners!  Prizes! Someone will receive a very very special gift from my personal stash.

Submit your ideas, photos to, or post comments and photos on this blog.
Entries are due March 31, 2010, and Winners will be announced May 1, 2010.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Icicles Get Weirder by the Day

Location:  Chadds Ford PA
Scene:  Transom window  in bedroom, looking out toward courtyard.

I am photographing these daily since the storms.  They are growing and getting more interesting in shape.  Trying to come inside, but are diverted from the glass.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Snow is Over for Now

Even though we got over 55 inches in one week, and the roads are still not cleared, that we lost power and all communications, heat for 36 hours, I still managed to be creative in a 56 degree house.  My studio is southern facing so it did not lose as much heat, when the sun came out it warmed to a workable temperature.

I spent hours playing with fabric.  Could not sew, but did alot of design work.

I'd like to thank Rachel Biel for creating the Textile and Fiber Art List where more and more interesting artists are joining every day.   It's just great to see people from all over the world post their work and share ideas.

My goal for 2010 is to increase my internet communication skills.  I am a neophyte when it comes to technical stuff, I can't even operate an I phone.. But the artists on TAFA have been very generous helping me navigate the web and sharing technical information on how to make it work.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Light Bulb Goes On

What a week, I feel like the learning curve of this tech computer social networking stuff is finally making a neuro
pathway into my boomer brain.  I have just met some of the coolest textile people via the net, and one in person. 
Let me share the sites with you, I am sure you will find inspiration in their work and ideas.
First , there is a new blog, "TAFA, the Textile and Fiber Art List."    Rachel Biel has created this great forum and I encourage you to check it out.  I found out about it from the Fiber Arts and Mixed Media site.

Up in NYC earlier this week, I went to HAYKO Fine Rugs at 857 Lexington Ave near 65th.
What an awesome place, I just loved everything and he has it arranged so that you just want to poke in every nook and cranny.  He teaches rug weaving, his back room looked just like my dye studios with yarns, naturally dyed, hanging off the shelves.   I was selecting rugs for an upcoming show at Porter Studios and Fine Arts Gallery on March 27, Professor Peter Balakian will be giving a talk on "Village and Tribal Rugs."

And finally, I have been getting alot of my kimono fabric from Juliet "Shibori", and we finally made human voice contact this week,  learning that we share so much in common.    How would this possible if we did not have the net?

The snow is so deep, we can't get out, waiting for a plow.   On these days when you are stuck inside, hone your computer social networking skills.  With the economy in the dumps, you are laying the groundwork for the future.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Time for Inspiration

After this week of politics and wild markets, it's time to break out inspiration from Peclers Paris, my absolute favorite  forecasting and styling agency.  This is the cutting edge zone of new ideas and thinking.  What you see on the pages of their publications is beyond anything in  your wildest imagination, the artwork, the thought process, the lifestyle forecasts and changes, the color palettes.

I was a client of Pecler's Paris during the years of my fashion design and selling in NYC, and to go back and review the books, the ideas not only seem classic now (at that time they in another galaxy) but they still project a sense of cutting edge transmutation of history combined with current electron energy.

What does that mean??
Well, imagine your favorite all time classic piece of clothing... like maybe a riding jacket.  The basis of the riding jacket is in the jacket design, but the lines, silhouette embody an energy of the present and future.. it does not get staid, so that if you are wearing it today, you will wear it in 2 more years, 5 years, 10 years and you will be cool.

I don't know how they do it, but maybe it is just because each idea is so unique and cool, it never becomes trendy. 

There are very few people who can pull this off, but my favorite scarf designer who resides in London does it.  Pookie Blezard,  with her  genius in graphic layout, print design, sense of history, and combination of eclectic, precious materials continually pushes the envelope.  I have been a collector of her work for over 10 years and to revisit her collection and process is always an inspiration.

Her label is Pazuki, London.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Art of Finishing Textiles

We all love to create with our fibers...yarns, knitting, weaving, sewing, crochet... yet how many of us take the time to finish our art so that it looks its' best?

Here are my tips for finishing.   I realize many of you will not have access to some of the machines or products that I use so I will give you alternatives.

My finishing process:
First, all pieces are soaked in white vinegar and water to set the color.  The vinegar also strengthens the fiber.
Then I wash the finished work in my Miele washer on "wool" or "silk" settings.  I use "Perwol", a German product for delicate fibers.  I also put "Snuggle" fabric softener in the rinse cycle.  For Black or dark pieces, I use "Black Magic" by the same German manufacturer.   This soap helps retain dark colors instead of fading them in the wash.
**After the washing cyle, I hang the piece over the banister to dry, or if it needs to be blocked, like a sweater, I block it on top of a towel on my dining room table to dry.

For scarves, they are pressed twice with a Rowenta steam iron or Naimoto gravity feed iron, using distilled water.  The result for the silks are glorious... wonderful soft drapes and fabulous sheens.

Usually the sweater does not need any more finishing as I take care in the blocking, smoothing out all the wrinkles wihile it is wet.  The finishing process for knits and wovens is  very important because it evens out all the stitches and sets the knit/ weave.  It "fulls". 

Alternatives:  If you do not have a washer with a gentle/wool/silk/handwash cycle, soak your work in warm water with some blue "Dawn" dish detergent  after the vinegar soak.  The original blue "Dawn" is pH neutral.  Conservators use it for their textiles.   Drain your piece a colander, never squeeze or wring.  Put it back in the sink to rinse.  Drain again.  The final rinse will have the "Snuggle' fabric softener.  Drain in the colander again.
Roll the piece in a towel to absorb excess water.  For scarves or sweaters, follow the directions above **

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back from Indigo, Direction and Premiere Vision

The best part of the trends and textile show was Peclers Paris, a trend forecasting company with cutting edge ideas.  I sat down at their booth and paged through the new 2011-12 Inspiration Book and was blown away.

The palette is gorgeous.  Subtle, rich, elegant.  I wanted to swim in the colors.   The artwork, photography and text excited my mind-- new ideas swimming, building on the old, taking the twists farther and farther out into the universe. Everything is melding, think circular, think complexity of hue and shades gradually transforming themselves into a form whose origin is indiscernable.

This is one book I may have to spring a fortune--having been a client of Peclers Paris when I was a fashion designer, their books are timeless.. Archives of cutting edge ideas.  You will finally see the ideas from 3-5 years ago appearing on the US streets and stores.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting Ready for the Sale

Just Back from NYC--European Preview, Indigo and Direction Shows, and Social Networking panel discussion.  Will review the shows in future blogs.    Hamilton, NY,---setting up the studio/gallery for a sale on yarns, knitting needles, felting tools, handknit accessories... stop in from 11 am to 5pm starting
January 15th...Saturday hours... 10am to 2pm.
Porter Studios and Fine Arts Gallery
20 Broad St
Hamilton, NY  13346

Friday, January 8, 2010

Recycling Serger Scraps

I am serging away beautiful vintage kimono panels, and the little strips are lovely...what to do with them?
For bead makers, how about using them to wrap around those straws?  The silks are so lovely.
Spinners.. tie them together, then use for plying with your handspun for extreme crazy yarn.

By the way, an excellent source for vintage kimono panels is Juliet B's shop on Etsy.
Her quality and service are excellent.  I have been working with her for the last few months for my vintage kimono scarf line that I sell at One of a Kind Show in Chicago and in our gallery, Porter Studios and Fine Arts Gallery.  She is willing to go out of her way to help you.  By the way, she just emailed a photo of what she does with her kimono scraps!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Fashion Trends on

For those of you who want to be cutting edge in design, next week is Premiere Vision in NYC...
Also the Direction and Indigo Show. --great ideas in prints and fabric design.

You can find more information by going to

You will find small mills from Europe weaving unique fabrics, laces, and prints.   A synopsis of the think-tank forcasters such as Promostyl, Peclers Paris, Pantone and more.  Great storyboards on the themes of Spring/Summer 2011.  So be ahead of the pack!

Sign up for current trends in fashion, accessories and home decor at

Just received Earthues new class list.  Check out the site for their latest classes.  I studied with Michele Wipplinger for 10 years learning the process of natural dyeing.  She is a master at color and an excellent teacher.  If you want to expand your skills and creative ideas, spend a week in the Earthues studio.
Partner Kathy Hatori will keep you smiling.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Armenian Christmas

Happy Christmas to those who celebrate the holiday on January 6th.  I feel hopeful about the earth with many people trying to make it better. 
Let's celebrate all our differences!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


A New Era in Marketing

Check out the Etsy Storque blog on social network marketing... it has so many new ways to present yourself on the web...Creativity rules!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Rebuild, Replenish, Renew

It's the second day of a new decade and it's up to us to make it better. Think of all the things you can do with what you already own or what skills you have. Think outside the box. Can I create something new with all the stash on my floor?
What new skills do I need to accomplish my ideas?

I invite you to sort through your stuff, attitudes, dreams and come up with something positive for yourself.