Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I Need Your Help Please

Right now, I'm working in the garden. Last Thursday, I spent three and a half hours pulling weeds out of the walkway that I started building in the spring. The path is cleaner and ready for the sand, gravel, and bricks that come next only that will have to wait until spring. Friday, I spent another three and half hours cutting down plants and moving them around and on Saturday, I trimmed the edges, mowed the lawn, and moved more plants.

Yesterday, a friend came over to give me advice on designing and fine tuning the layout. She used to own a nursery and I'm new to gardening which makes me very lucky to have her input. Tomorrow, I'll move a few more things around and decide what to do next. There are large piles or rocks that need to be moved.. yet.. still.. again. I am giving myself until Canadian Thanksgiving on October 8th to work outside and after that I am absolutely going back to work in the studio where...

... I have spent not nearly enough time this spring and summer. This pendant is the fourth "designed by me" piece that I've made. It's inspired by the work of - and tutorials that I did by - Nicole Hanna. Her primary method of working uses long wires that weave and bend throughout the entire piece. There are only four base wires in this piece that started at 40" each.

When I began the pendant what is now the right side was - I thought - the bottom and then it shifted and what is now the left side was - I thought - the bottom and then, when I was done, it shifted again to the orientation you see. That's such an important aspect of free form creativity - to remain fluid and open to change. If you allow a piece to evolve, rather than attempt to control it, it will become the best expression possible.

Being fluid is something I learned starting in 2004 with my year of play. It's not something that came naturally to me. I was quite controlling and overly planned before that and yet now, after years of practice, being fluid has become my best way to work. Now, I get quite itchy, anxious, or bored working in any "paint by number" kind of way.

The chain on my pendant is a failed Viking knit weave which, now that I've researched it further, was not nearly as failed as I thought. I made a three loop weave and drew it down to the narrow width shown only the sharp end of each new wire was sticking through. I trimmed the ends and wrapped two more wires around the outside of the entire chain, redrew it, and then used liver of sulfur to add a patina. I've since learned that the ends will poke out and to turn them inward with round nose pliers. I'm ready to try again with a wider chain similar to the one in this bracelet also by Nicole Hanna.

Because her layered, textured, flowing style is similar to mine, I've been working through several of Nicole's tutorials to learn how she thinks in wire. I've also been talking to her via email and she has been TREMENDOUSLY giving. It's so amazing when we can connect with someone helpful, encouraging, and inspiring like her online. That's the best of the Internet.

I made the pendant to wear with the outfit that I sewed for my older brother's wedding on the 16th. I have one younger (left) and one older (right) brother and this was the first time the three of us were in the same room in possibly twenty years. We're not actually sure how long it has been. They were making fun of me since I don't drink and I'm "so tiny" as they say. I'll take that. I do plan to get pictures of the outfit at some point soon... when I get back to regular blogging... which will be after Thanksgiving... since I'm gardening until then. It was a comfortable combination of my favourite t-shirt and my favourite pant patterns.

Going back to work last year as a hairstylist answered a question for me. Although it was wonderful from a creative perspective, it was not so great from the being in control of my own time perspective and that's something I've come to really value so hairstyling isn't an option anymore. Putting it aside had me thinking about what I want from any job I might take on which turned my thoughts back to teaching. I've been described as an innate teacher. It's something I really enjoy. I love supporting and encouraging the creativity of others and teaching new skills and abilities that allow them to express their own unique creativity. It's not the only thing I can do but it is something that resonates. This fall I'm teaching a  friend how to alter ready-to-wear garments to be more creative and flattering to her larger frame. That kind of teaching energizes me especially because it grows the creativity of my students.

I'm doing debating my options and WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE your feedback. Feel free to email me privately if you don't want to comment below at myrna@myrnagiesbrecht.com. I am debating writing and illustrating online workshops that teach the skills and abilities students need to put together creative everyday clothing and accessories. Having taught before, and become quite burned out in the process, I want to take a sensible approach that maintains work life balance and solid financial management. SO...

... my plan is to start with non-interactive, downloadable workshops that would be offered year round and if that goes well to move on to interactive workshops that would be offered two to three times a year and if that works well to look at in real life workshops that would be offered once or twice a year. Here are some of the questions I'm debating...

1. Is there even a need?

This is the most vital question. Each teacher has their style and way of presenting material. Different teachers will present the same material differently and it can be valuable to study with a variety of teachers HOWEVER... that doesn't necessarily mean there's a need. Perhaps this is an area that is already well serviced. I want your honest answer around this question because I can invest my time, money, and energy in several directions that I would enjoy equally and I want to invest them wisely. Be honest, even if you think it's not the answer I might want to hear.

2. If there is a need, what workshop(s) would you like to see me teach?
3. What is your favourite length of workshop - such as 3 or 5 lessons?
4. How much is too much information? Some workshops are overwhelming.
5. How much is too little information? Some workshops feel like a money grab.
6. What is a good price range?
7. Which are you more inclined toward - non-interactive or interactive workshops? Why?
8. How important to your learning style are photos?
9. How important to your learning style are videos?
10. Would you travel to take a real life workshop or would you sponsor one?

Having taught on-line before, I am absolutely confident of my ability to write and illustrate an informative workshop that is well worth the cost. I have worked with textiles for over forty years and I am very good at what I do. I love learning new skills and sharing them. That said, I'm not well known in the area of creative clothing and it's been almost ten years since I taught textile art meaning that I'm not so well known there anymore either. Whatever I do, I would want to start small and to have the support of and positive word of mouth advertising that would come from working with all of you.While opinions will differ and while ultimately I will have to decide what works best for the direction I believe I'm heading in, I certainly want to invest my time wisely and need your help to do that... please. Based on the responses, I'll decide what direction to head in - teaching or something else - and so all responses are welcome and wanted.

THANK YOU - talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - direction.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

FAQs & Other Topics

Today - the first day of school - is still one of my favourite days even though I no longer have children in school. It's the day that I sit down, assess the past year, evaluate my goals going forward, and look at what I want to add, subtract, or change in my life.

One thing I learned this summer is to take on less at a time. There were too many things on the go, mess everywhere, a lot of starts with not enough finishes, and definitely not enough time in the studio. It wore me out. Thankfully, I am now finished the suite and my new tenant is in and the kitchen is mostly done. I still need to paint the lower corner cabinet doors and touch up a few things but it's functional. YES YES!

When I bought the house two years ago, this is what the kitchen looked like. It was closed in, tight and tiny, with a huge dining area. Although it obviously functioned for the past thirty-some years, it's functioning a whole lot better now and I'm grateful for more openness and better flow.

This is my less than elegant version of Nicole Hanna's The Elegant Charm. It's a tutorial she offers on her website although it's about to be retired so if you like it, buy it now. My version is not nearly as curvy and flowing as hers, perhaps in part because I didn't have the correct gauge of wire, however... what I'm finding helpful about following tutorials is learning to think through a project and how to carry and shape wires. I'm developing technical ability. Every instructor has a different way of working with wire. By following their instructions, I am learning how to create in a combination of ways that will result in developing my own style and voice in wire although it'll always have the layered textures, curving lines, and boldness that I love.


This piece above left is by Daryl Adams of Adams Handcrafted Jewelry and was part of a contest that Nicole had on her site. Its FABULOUS and definitely the type of statement piece I'm working toward. It incorporates some of the individual flowing wires I see in Sarah Thompson's work. I took her Wire Weaving Bracelet Basics course  in April and made the class sample shown. It's obvious why - but still interesting that - we are attracted to the work of artists whose lines are similar to our own. I've seen that in my own life with garments, knitting, decor, textile art, and so much more.

SO... as I look at the year ahead, learning more about wire weaving and making wire jewelry and exploring the possibility of combining wire and fabric in jewelry pieces is on my agenda. So is sewing more creative clothing. I made a blouse a few weeks ago that I haven't blogged about yet and I'm spending this week working in the studio which means that I will have things to share when I get back to regular postings sometime in October.

AND... I really need to alter the blog format. I'm the type of person who likes to sift and sort, change, create, eliminate and add to the flow of things so they feel like the current me. The blog does not and I think that's making it harder for me to post. One thing I'm thinking of adding is some pages so I'm wondering what would be of interest to readers. Do you have any questions for an FAQ page? What would you want to know about me on an About page? What topics are worth of an individual page? I can't promise to incorporate all your suggestions but I'd appreciate them as a starting point. Thanks.

Talk soon - Myrna

grateful - a closet organizer in the closet in my bedroom and my clothes hanging in place, accessible, available, where they are supposed to be - such a lovely thing.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sometime In October

It's not that I have nothing to say. In fact, all kinds of  topic ideas are jumping around in my head. And it's not that I have nothing to show. In fact, I have several projects ready to photograph, post, and talk about. BUT...

... what I seem to lack is the energy to actually sit down, organize text and pictures, and put it all together. In my head, it's doable. In reality, by the end of the day I just don't have what it takes. It feels like the last few weeks have been hair straight back trying to get the suite ready to rent and the house inhabitable and this week, we're looking after our two grandsons so it'll be all about the boys and not much more.

I have found bits and pieces of inspiration like the pieces shown here and I've been thinking about my coaching assignment of combining a simple neckline on a garment with a statement necklace - both made by me - however, that's as far as it has gotten AND... much to my annoyance...

... my daughter's purse is no further along that the last time we talked. The pieces are ready to sew together. The lining is complete. The straps need studding and the buckles buckling and it's sitting on work island. I really want to finish it next and I don't know if that'll happen. I'll have to see how things go after this next week of grandson-sitting.

Speaking realistically - it's most likely to be sometime in October before I get back to a regular routine so if there are postings before then, consider them a bonus and if there are none, I am coming back.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - several major projects are nearing the end

Friday, August 4, 2017

Two Very Long Days - Two Fabulous Days

Last night, when I would normally have written this post, I decided to lump on the couch instead and write it in the morning only in the morning, I decided to lump on the couch some more, and then go journal, and then have breakfast, and then write it which is why I'm later than normal in posting.

Last week's post must have appeared a little unusual to some of you. When I typed in the quotes, I was intending to come back and finish the post only I completely forgot about it between spending one entire day removing tile flooring in the suite and another in emergency with Howard... with kidney stones... which have since passed. Two very long days. It made me giggle that that post got so many comments. I wondered if I should just include a few quotes more often.

One of the things I've really enjoyed about blogging is the opportunity to meet others who love what I love. I met my friend Mary on a trip to Calgary four years ago. When I needed some more cabinets from a store near her, I asked if she'd be willing to pick them up, deliver them, and come for a visit. I was SO GLAD to see her. Not only do we have a lot of fun together, it meant no more renovation work and two fabulous days in the studio.

Mary worked on two tank tops, one of which was this perfect combination of fabrics. I knew you'd enjoy seeing it. She also made a muslin of a pant pattern that she's tweaking into perfection and we found an alteration that just might be the final click. It's so fun to talk "sew language" with someone who gets it, whose eyes don't glaze over and roll back, and who can bounce ideas around with understanding.

I worked on Katherine Tilton's Butterick 6325 which turned out wonderful only I have so many images for this post that I'm going to save it for another time. One thing I celebrate is that I've come to a point with fitting tops where I can make the alterations, sew the garment from start to finish, try it on, and it fits exactly the way I want - 99% of the time - and when there's a glitch, it's usually the fabric. I'm aiming in that direction with pants too.

The bedskirt is still folded and on the shelf in the studio - mostly because I don't feel like wrestling with mattresses by myself - however, the quilted bedspread is finished and on the bed. I'm quite happy with how it looks. There was - of course - an entire pile of scraps left over ready to be made into another project. I remain amazed at the amount of scrap one project can create.

And, I am - FINALLY - working on my daughter's purse. She's chosen the round studs and we're debating whether to put them on the patterned fabric or on a solid black. They're actually silver only I've messed up some button on my camera and it's not photographing things quite the way I'd like and, at the same time, my dinosaur of a photo editing program didn't survive the last forced upgrade from Microsoft and is now non-functioning so I'm attempting to learn a new, free, one - GIMP - which is similar so hopefully that goes well.

Today, I want to finish the lining of the purse - of which Jessica so excellently chose this gorgeous lime - and get started with the studded straps. Over the weekend, I'll need to paint the basement suite so it'll be finished and ready to rent for the 1st of September. It seems like summer has gone by in a haze of dust, smoke, and renovations and I barely stopped to enjoy it. Hopefully, we'll have a long and beautiful fall with time for walks along the lake.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - restful creative play dates with a friend

Friday, July 28, 2017

On Getting Dressed Daily

Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman. - Coco Chanel

Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress on their days off that is most intriguing. - Alexander Wang.