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.

Friday, July 21, 2017

What's On Trend For Fall And Winter 2017

This week, I have done some really amazing things like take a shower, brush my teeth, wash my face, put on make-up, and do my hair in the same room. I've used the microwave and the dishwasher is running as I type. There are baseboards in every room and some of the closet doors are in place. As the raw edges get covered up, I'm feeling so much better. I'm hopeful that the work will be done by early next week and then I'm planning a short break before getting the work in the suite done so it's ready to rent by the first of September.

A few weeks ago, I bought a desk at the 50% off sale at the Re-Store in Kamloops. Last weekend, I painted it a light grey that doesn't compete with the wall or the table and blends nicely with the cabinet colour in the kitchen. The desk is set up in front of the patio doors in the dining room with a view of the pond just on the other side of my fence.

I had a piece of glass waiting to go to the thrift store and decided it was perfect as a mat since it wouldn't impact the colours I'm working with and would protect the desk top. On the desk top, I have the tools I use all the time plus a small computer for taking Craftsy courses. I'm on another workshop now about dimensional wire wrapping and almost ready to start the assignments.

A trip to the dollar store yielded boxes and trays that are perfect for sorting supplies and a glass vase from the thrift store is the right size for two spools of wire. There is still plenty of space for more supplies if needed as I begin to develop my work... or for storage for finished pieces.


I'm still working on the quilt for our bed. I started by dividing the top into nine sections and quilting them individually. In the picture above left, I'm sewing one strip to the back and one to the front of the quilted section with the right sides of the strips facing together. The darker grey strip is for the front. I pressed it up and away and then pinned the raw edge to the next quilted section.

That seam was stitched and pressed flat and open and then the dotted fabric was pressed up and the raw edge turned under and slip stitched in place on the back using the stitching line as a guide. On the front, the darker grey strip joins the two sections and the seam allowances fill the hollow in-between. After this picture was taken, I top stitched the darker grey strip. I have two more seams to slip-stitch in place and then the top will be all together and ready for binding the edges. It'll be nice to have this task done. I have a couple more to do before getting back to sewing clothing however...

... I have started looking at inspiration, patterns, fabrics, and what's on trend for fall and winter 2017. I went through several websites and took notes of what worked for me - which wasn't everything - but was actually quite a lot like silver, denim, cozy knits, neutral plaids, polka dots, florals, deconstructed garments, square shoulders, and velvet. Some of the sites contradicted each other especially about colour which really doesn't matter that much to me since I only wear the colours I love anyway. Turquoise and pink as well as black and blue worn together where mentioned and red is apparently the colour of the season. Since I never wear red, some version of fuchsia or magenta could fill that space. I'm excited to get back to clothing. I plan to start with "cozy knits".

Speaking of which... I purchased this sweater by Sarah Pacini in black from our local consignment store for $44.00. I remember seeing it in a boutique for somewhere around $400.00. A great find and a fun beginning to my fall wardrobe. YES YES

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - baseboards

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tedious Tasks

There are so many fires in British Columbia right now that the sky is often filled with smoke making it difficult not only to see but to breathe. When smoke obscures the sun, the light is different with a strange glow. It's an eerie feeling. As you go about your day, you're constantly aware that somewhere relatively nearby is smoke and danger - a looming shadow.  Yesterday, the sky was clear, the sun shone, and I spent the afternoon visiting with a friend - a nice break.

With all the busyness and noise of the renovations in progress, I've been working on tedious tasks where I don't have to think too much. This week, I finished gathering the bed skirt for our room and recovered the seat of an ice-cream parlour chair that I'd bought years ago for my daughter's room. The original cover is a dirty, torn leather and my daughter's cover was a combination of pink and green. This time...


... I used one of the piece of canvas I'd painted several years ago when I was started to experiment with fabric painting and surface design. I started by making a template of the top, adding a seam allowance, and cutting it from an interfaced section of the fabric.

For the side piece, I measured the diameter and depth of the seat plus an added piece of foam for a bit more cushy. It's not a fine science so I pin fitted and kept altering the diameter until I liked the way it fit the top correctly.

For the bottom edge, I created a casing and then used shoe-lacing to pull it in snug to the bottom of the chair. I tied it with a knot and then tucked the ends inside. This way, I can take the cover off and easily launder it.

The wooden underside of the cushion is screwed to the metal frame of the chair to keep it secure and safe. I like the finished piece although I'm waiting until the room is finished before I add a layer of was just in case I want to add any more colours. It's going in the kitchen near the barn wood table that I'll be using as an island.

The next tedious task is to finish the quilt for our bed that I started either late in 2015 or early in 2016 by cutting a king size duvet cover into strips and quilting them individually. The next step is to piece the strips together to form the entire quilt top and then add the binding around the edges. One side of each seam will need to be hand stitched so I'm hoping to have them together by Monday for when the electrician is adding a new sub-panel and the power will be turned off. No electricity is great hand stitching time.

Talk soon - Myrna

- two tedious tasks done

Friday, July 7, 2017

A Hint Of Turquoise

After four and a half weeks of renovating, I am beyond sick of dust and very tired of workmen in the house and - thankfully - it's nearing the end although as you'll read later, it's also nearing a beginning.

This journey started with changing the countertop in the kitchen and moved from there... like a row of falling dominoes... which I knew it would... which is why I put it off for as long as I did. Yesterday, the beadboard started going up on the back splash in the kitchen. YES YES - what a difference that makes. Fewer raw edges. I couldn't resist adding a pop of colour. I'm hopeful that all but the paint will be done by Friday and that I'll be able to do that on the weekend and then "move" into the kitchen again.

With my decorating scheme, every room has some turquoise in it for continuity - and probably because it seems to be my latest colour love. When the thought of adding a hint of turquoise to the interior doors popped into my head, it was immediately followed by no, I should paint them white. As in play it safe. I don't do should anymore. I painted them Crystal Springs, a light turquoise from Benjamin Moore. Lime and turquoise work well together and, along with a wide white trim, will really show off the doors. I love this style of door. I've renovated a lot of houses and this profile is new for me but one that I've always loved in older homes. It's fun to be doing something new and something I've always loved in my retirement home.

On the weekend, Howard and I went for a walk at Canoe Point. It's a beautiful, up and down, curving path with two areas of boardwalk that I particularly wanted to see since they were featured in an exhibit at the art gallery last year. There are several things I wanted to do more of when I moved here - like hiking and biking - that weren't possible the first year due to falling down the stairs and have been delayed this year with the renovations BUT... that's an excuse. I need to take the time especially as hiking and biking fits into my goal of holistic health and improved fitness.

My youngest son is working at a bible camp for the summer and has decided to wear a cape every day as his distinguishing factor - you know... Kyle... the guy with the cape. On Monday, I sewed him a red one with black seams serged to the outside and painted details. I added a pocket with a pen so that everyone can sign his cape. He'll enjoy this souvenir of his summer.

My tenant gave notice a few weeks ago and is moving out mid month. Each time a tenant leaves, I want to do upgrade something in the suite until it's the way I want it to be. For upgrade, read more renovations. Sigh. This time, I plan to do the kitchen and I've spent three days looking for used kitchen cabinets at every possible store between Kamloops and West Kelowna. I haven't found any cabinets. I did find a desk. At the ReStore in Kamloops, there was ten minutes left in their 50% off anything in the store sale. I bought it for $30 and it's perfect for jewelry making with the narrow drawers for storage and a good work surface. It just needs painting.

It was fabulous having a friend here for a visit. I actually spent some time in the studio and one of the projects I worked on was refashioning this pendant. The original piece was the assignment in one of my on-line classes and turned out less than wonderful because I made the edge as wide as the widest part of the stone instead of as wide as the narrower edge it would be wrapping. Good learning. So I...

...popped out the stone, hammered the shape with a rawhide hammer, and added some wire remnants from my work station to make this pendant for my ex-boss. She wanted a pendant on a 36" chain. On the left, is the look before the patina and on the right is the look after the patina. I don't have a lot of experience photographing shiny objects so the pictures are not as clear as I'd like. That's something else I want to learn as well as create some kind of photo booth for the pieces.

I also finished a baby sweater for a friend and painted the taupe pant pieces that I'd cut out a few weeks ago thinking they were grey.  I started with a black stencil of squares and then added turquoise, blue, copper, and more black, set the paint, sewed the pants, waited a day, washed them, and the copper splatters mostly washed out. I loved the splatters and without them the fabric is not nearly as wonderful - plus the pants are quite stiff - so I'm not sure if they will stay pants or morph into a purse. This stencil - however - is fabulous. It's new and I can see using it again.

The only thing I've done since my friend left is work in the garden, the start of painting upstairs, and the cape for my son. Not one room in my house is fully functional, furniture and closet "stuff" are in all sorts of places they don't belong, and - as mentioned previously - there's dust everywhere. Even in the studio. I don't work well in a mess and have been going out as much as possible. I try to think of things I can do away from the house and one is to work on a life list.

In my journal time, I'm reading The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau in which he writes about finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life. It's a slightly different perspective than I'm used to differentiating between a quest and a goal but the information is similar in many ways. I'm still trying to figure out what part of my life is a goal and what part is a quest.

The author mentions life lists often - the things you want to do before you die - and that seems an excellent question for me to consider. I know I want to buy an electric bike and ride more often and I know I want to take an extended holiday along the east coast of Canada and I am thinking strongly about do I truly indeed want to write another book or start another business and learning will always be a part of everything I do but what do I want to learn next. I haven't sat down and written things out because I'm not inclined toward lists however, in this case, it might be a good idea.... to make sure I know what I want to do so I can do what I want to do. Like a map. For the rest of my life. Do you have a life list?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - beadboard