Monday, July 11, 2016

Side Table Decoupage Project

This past weekend I finally worked on a project that I've been thinking about for quite a while. And do you know what motivated me?  I wrote it down on a piece of paper.  I made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish. That's all it took. 

A while back, I found a nice little Ethan Allen side table at the thrift store. It was in pretty good shape- great stainless steel modernist base but the wood finish was marred and stained.  Still- a great find at $12.00.  I've been using it since I bought it but each time I looked at it, I realized it needed something.  I decided to revert back to one of my favorite crafts- decoupage- and give it a new look.
I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go so decided to make a template on freezer paper.  One side is matte and the other slick.  Which side to work on? Flipped a coin in my head and placed the matte side up. My first idea was to create a design with paint chip cards. The first was too thick so I peeled it up and abandoned the idea.

Then, I remembered the calendar*.  It had been hanging in my studio but I always forgot to switch the months over and when I did I tore the holes where the nail held it up. I had put it in a drawer until I could figure out how to hang it again. It was prime for a project.  Each month was a different artist's rendering of Frida.  Lots of interesting imagery to work with.

This was the first time that I'd adhered the paper imagery to another surface before applying it to furniture. It was sort of an experiment to see what would happen.  It made it easier to work around the curves.  And my work table is a better height than having to bend down to the low table.

I chose a few images from the calendar and arranged them before gluing them down.  Then I cut the oval shape from the paper and applied it to the tabletop. I then added another four coats of Mod Podge after letting each dry for about an hour.

Here you see it next to another thrift store project- the mid-century chair I found for $15.00 and had it reupholstered in a beautiful leather remnant a friend had given me.  I like the way they complement each other. 

*For the Love of Frida

The calendar. I think it's important to credit the artists whose work I'm using, even though it's for a personal project. The calendar was designed by Angi Sullins, a film director and owner of Duirwaigh Studios, a design studio that creates products and services that inspire soulful imagination. The artists names of the pieces I chose from the calendar are: Johanna Stull, Maria Kane and Kinga Britschgi. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hippie at Heart

Patchwork and embroidery have been around for a long time and why not? It's a fun way to lengthen and enliven the life of your clothes.  I recently started a couple of these denim projects that have taken on lives of their own.

These short term projects that really have no end date are perfect for my collection of small textile scraps.  So many little pieces that I can't bear to toss...Hmong embroidery, braided trim,  pieces of indigo dyed cotton. And this project is perfect for learning to start something,  put it down for a while and then pick it up again.  Anyone else have that compulsion to finish something once you've started it?  This has turned into a form of meditation.

The thread used for boro and sashiko stitching is different than regular embroidery thread. It's more dense and you don't have to separate the individual threads.  Of course I thought my idea to prethread the needles was ingenious but I'm sure I'm just really late to the game on this one.

Japanese sashiko stitching is very structured and neat.  It is traditionally done with white thread on indigo cotton or the reverse- dark stitching on a white background. Boro stitching is looser and used for what is called "visible mending" I love that term.  Clearly I landed on the boro side.

As with most of my work, this project is unplanned and free flowing. It just sort of evolves.  I start by gathering a stack of my favorite textiles and then cutting them to a certain size and sewing them down.  Some of this project was actual mending of holes but most of it is just a patchwork of things I love.

I suppose that I shouldn't really call this "finished" but here are the jeans in their most current state. I used machine stitching for the vertical strips on the left. Couldn't bear the thought of all of that hand stitching.  And, I like the mix.

Here's a pair of shorts that I'm working on now.  Sometimes it's hard to know where to go next. This is sitting for a while until I'm ready to proceed.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Paul Smith, Gentleman Designer (and me)

As I set up the ironing board and prepared to tackle a month's worth of 100% cotton shirts and pants, I thought I might as well watch something on television to help pass the time. The first two selections (Spy and The Martian) weren't doing it for me so I checked M2M.  I found a documentary about Paul Smith, the British designer, and pressed play.

My knowledge of Paul Smith is limited. I own a pair of eyeglasses of his design and one time walked through one of his retail stores in London.  I remembered something of a "cheeky" design aesthetic in the shop.

The film about his life and design hit many chords with me.

The cleaning cloth in the spectacle case was a design of the British flag from measuring tapes.

I collect vintage extension rulers
He admits that for years he felt embarrassed calling himself a designer because he never went to design school and was self-taught. He learned by "doing it." Not having much money for fancy textiles he asked himself how he could take affordable white cotton and make a shirt that someone would want to buy. Maybe if he used interesting buttons and added small details not found in the average men's shirt? "Special without being silly," as he put it.

From the Paul Smith exhibition at London's Design Museum

I love buttons
His focus on those details differentiated his work in the late 70s and early 80s and with time, he created a new kind of dandyism in men's wear.  People who wear his clothes feel happy wearing the bright colors and mixed patterns that permeate his work.

Paul Smith's mixed print men's shirt

I enjoy mixing prints, as well
He takes inspiration from vintage clothing and other flea market finds. He doesn't copy old designs but looks for interesting sleeve treatments, buttons closures, etc. Seeing him pawing through racks of clothes and kidding around with the sellers showed his sense of wonder and joy with design.

Flea market shopping is the best
Unlike many of his contemporaries, he doesn't know how to draw and is unable to provide his designers with illustrations of his ideas. Instead, he spends time talking with them and batting ideas back and forth.

His office space is full of his collections- vintage robots, 19th century fabric books, mechanical toys, Russian nesting dolls, and many gifts from customers and friends all over the world. I find this fascination with collections and toys charming.

He surrounds himself with things he loves

I will never be a mimimalist
Mr. Smith is in his 60s and his customer base is aging. One of his challenges is how to bring in a younger customer while maintaining the loyalty of his existing customer base. He does it partly through a variety of labels/collections that go in somewhat different directions. His fun loving personality helps him to establish rapport with a young design team.  Another aspect to the aging process is that he sees his own designs in vintage stores. "Because I'm old," he says.

Ha! Had a similar experience lately.

I rescued one of my designs from a thrift store last week. A bargain at $5.99! of his favorite hobbies is photography. He takes his camera everywhere and takes pictures of everything.  I really love that about him.

What a joy to discover so many similarities in someone I admire.  It encourages me to continue doing what I love.  Thank you, Paul Smith.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fabric Design on Spoonflower

Have you heard of Spoonflower? It's a place where you can upload your own design- something as simple as a photo- and have it printed on 21 different types of fabric...everything from basic quilting cotton to silk crepe de chine to upholstery weight twill. You can also have your design printed onto wallpaper and wrapping paper. Fabric design and manufacture is no longer limited to those who can afford to order hundreds of yards. You can order as little as an 8"x8" test swatch up to multiple yards. The site is user friendly and easy to navigate.

I designed fabric on Spoonflower several years ago from my collages but since then, they have added a wider selection of fabrics and improved the site immensely. These pieces were designed from my original Spoonflower Collage Collection which are still available.

Clutch designed with "For the Love of Frida"

Makeup bag designed with "Wanderlust"

Handbag designed with "For the Love of Frida"

Clutch designed with "Scentual"

My newest idea was to transfer my drawings onto fabric. To do this,  I had to learn how to do a repeat design.  It was a little tricky because I don't use Photoshop or Illustrator.  I had to remind myself that fabric was designed a long time before computer graphics programs. It just required more hand illustration and time. I ended up creating 41 different fabrics-  8 different designs in up to 7 different color ways. Here's a screen shot of the website interface showing how simple they've made it to order custom fabric in any amount you choose.

Visit my Lorimarsha shop and click on Fabric Collections. There you can view all my fabric designs. To purchase, click on the design you like. You'll next see a screen that looks like the one above where you can select the fabric you like and the size and amount.

Here's a great gift idea: Order a fat quarter (21' x 18") of Linen Cotton Canvas in my "Liqueured Up" design and make this bar towel.  It's perfectly sized- all you'll need to do is stitch up the sides. Use it to wrap up a bottle of whiskey and tie on your favorite cocktail recipe. Voila! Housewarming, birthday, Father's Day...a bottle of whiskey is appropriate for every occasion.

A fun idea is to upload a handwritten family recipe card and have it printed as a tea towel. It would make a great personalized gift. Here's an image that I found on Martha Stewart's blog:

Image from

The gift ideas are endless! I hope you enjoy visiting Spoonflower and that you are inspired by the possibilities.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My March Confessional

February has come and gone. March is half over. And I have a confession to make. My goal for February- to reduce alcohol consumption to the weekends only- was unattainable. I tried, my friends, I tried. Turns out I really enjoy that glass of wine in the evenings, bragging rights be damned.

So there.

I did, however, participate in the 29 Days of Drawing through the website, Creativebug. If you're not familiar with the site, they offer a wide variety of online classes in drawing, sewing, paper arts and jewelry design. Each day during the month of February, they offered a drawing prompt which participants uploaded to Instagram. They offered a prize at the end which included a trip to their studio, etc. I learned a few things about myself throughout the exercise.

1.  I don't mind being told what to draw.

2.  I do mind being told how to draw it.

Here are a couple of the drawings from those 29 days.

I have also immersed myself in fabric design. Over ten years ago I created my own fabric and had it printed for handbags and travel accessories. At that time the only fabric choices were polyester. Now, the website Spoonflower, has opened the door to independent fabric design. They offer 20 different fabric options upon which you can print your uploaded designs.

My goal was to create fabric designs from my drawings- something I hadn't tried before. My prior fabrics were scans of my collages, so this was something entirely new. Not having experience in Photoshop or Illustrator (the software that most fabric designers use) I challenged myself to learn how to do a repeat design by hand.  After working through a major learning curve, I created several designs and ordered print samples in a couple of different fabrics.

You can click on the above image to be directed to my online store.

So that was February.

My March goal is to take a minimum of three yoga classes a week. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, February 1, 2016

"No Shopping January" is in the rear view mirror

Near the end of December 2015 I decided to approach the new year differently. Instead of setting goals as I usually do, I decided to set a different goal for each month of the year.

For January, I resolved to limit my spending to only the essentials- groceries, gas, household supplies and such. 

It was a little more difficult than I expected and for the very reason I thought it would easy. In December I had honed my shopping skills for the holiday season and a bit (!) of that shopping was for myself. I got into the habit of "one for her, one for me" and overbought. I assumed that all of that shopping would carry me through January. However, I found that I had created a habit that was difficult to break.

To ease the cold turkey effect, I set up a Pinterest board called "Not Today, I'm Just Looking."
If I saw something online that I liked or thought I needed to buy, I pinned it to the board. Kind of like putting something in the shopping cart and walking around the store for a while. Except that once I pinned it, it was gone from my mind. A few times during the month I visited the board and ended up deleting things that I realized I didn't really need. Kind of eye-opening, to say the least.

I almost made it through the month.  On the 27th realized I really needed some art supplies to be able to continue my design project. So I ordered $38 worth of pens, paper and other items. I suppose I could have waited a few days but I was on a roll.

Do I feel like I can return to the hog wild behavior of December now? No. Do I feel like a little trip to Marshalls is in  order? Perhaps.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I love starting a new year. A clean slate. A fresh start. A time to think about setting goals. It's just what I love to do.  Similar to list making, there is something about written goal setting that I find very helpful.

For each month in 2016 I've set a goal in an area of self improvement. My hope is that after 30 days of focus I'll have some carryover into the next month.   For January I've decided to limit my buying to only essentials such as groceries, gas, etc. No spontaneous Amazon purchases. No "extra 25% off the sale price at Anthropologie."

Half way through the month and my "no buy except for the essentials" is going well. It helped to set up a Pinterest board that I named "Not today, I'm just looking." It's kind of like putting things in the shopping cart and walking around the store for a while. I'll admit that it helped coming off of December which was a big retail month. However, it's also a little more difficult having been in that buy buy mentality.

Future goals include reducing alcohol consumption (very specific); increasing creativity with gift-giving in mind; and daily meditation.