Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Chance to Vote

Good morning on a THURSDAY!

Today is the last day to vote for the before and after photos at Natural Built Home FB page.

The contest features four great kitchen makeovers and Shelly's Design Studio submitted one of the projects.

Voting ends at the end of business today. If you haven't voted yet, please do, by clicking the 'like' button on the photos you like the best.

(Shelly's Design Studio is photo group 1 of  4)

If you have voted, thank you for your support. The first prize is a professional photo shoot of the project. This would be fabulous!

Have a great thursday! Check back tomorrow... for friday's post.
After photo submitted to the contest
 To see the before photo, you will have to go to the contest! Enjoy, it is quite a difference!
To the left of the Range

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Burned Out on Inspiration- Too much of a Good Thing

Back in the studio....

The task of taming the inspiration. I believe this is the culprit that incites overwhelm. There are magazine tears in boxes. Ten of them I think... pretty full of magazine photos and articles of things that I wanted to read, integrate and just plain find beauty in. I have had these in my possession for many years.. they are the reason I no longer purchase nor subscribe to magazines.

I found that I was backed up with unrequited and unfulfilled creativity that were tucked away in these Ikea boxes.

Two of Ten..... 
The articles, represent the knowledge I fear I am lacking. The photos represent the beauty that others are creating, that I could only hope to achieve.

Well, I have been looking at that through new eyes.

With the vast access to information as well as personal accomplishments over the years, the information is outdated, integrated or accessible online. So, out they go!

Some of the photos, I found were still truly inspiring... calling to the artist that I long to be, while other things, I have integrated into my design work and my creativity. Still other things were of the 'What was I thinking?' category... I promptly tossed them onto the floor as well.
Magazine pages of articles and once inspiring photos

Making it through six boxes, there are four to go. They are the fullest ones left, but I am in a purging mode. First gleaning through fabrics, then magazine pages.. we will see what I am inspired to do next.

There were a few articles that I now dispute, based on my experience and knowledge, myths that once believed, had become a barrier that had to be charge through.. I will share some of those design related tales at for another day.

Paula, at has been in a stash busting mode as well. She is much more graceful about it than I. It is such an emotional thing for me to let go of things... I have struggled with this all of my life.. I keep the weirdest things sometimes...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Drawing Down from the Ethers, Order from Chaos

In sorting through all of the totes and bins of late. I happened upon some finished pillow covers, some I had made, the other, I purchased when on a trip to Paris.

The orange tree tapestry pillow cover from Paris
The one, is a cover I had made a long time ago from the same vintage fabric as the curtains in the living room. I have decided not to put anymore time into them, the next place, the bottom portion of the panels will be taken off. the polyester is a horrible choice. It doesn't hang well, the seam where it is attached is not pressed well, as it has a very LOW melting point. So, it will be refurbished in the new space or a later space. For now, it is a little dumpy, frumpy, cottage-ey look, that serves me just fine.
The frumpy cottage curtains

I have been considering tackling making a slipcover for my sofa, but that is a huge undertaking and a time commitment. Not sure I am ready to start something like that. Someday I will.  I have a couple of fabrics that I could work with, but none really capture the vintage cottage look I have now.

Then there is the idea of bedspreads and bedskirts. There are several fabrics that I have in mind for that too. But again, time and space commitment are challenging, the biggest challenge being, the unmade fabric takes less space and is easier to store than a finished slipcover, bedskirt or bedspread. So, I must take on those challenges first.

Well, this is good, if not now, when? Why?

Do you have silly excuses for not doing something? I can bet that if this is going on in my creative world, it is all over the place in other areas of my life as well.

Is it a matter of prioritizing? or simply taking action? (Taking action, apparently, isn't that simple for me!)

For some reason, I feel like I would make a bigger dent, working on smaller things. Things that take less time, less space and are easily given away. Really? Would I give anything I made away? I have a hard time parting with something I have put that much energy into. The other thing is, I know where all of my flaws are. I know the 'imperfections'. It would be horrible if others were able to find them. I would lose all credibility.

On the other hand, if it is a project that is particularly well executed, I would want to keep it. Because in my possession, I have proof, a reminder, a sample of my progress.

Does anyone else find this silly? Does anyone else have this circular way of thinking? Does it work for anyone else? It is very self defeating for me. I find that I am becoming more and more 'afraid' to jump in and do something because I am becoming so much of a perfectionist.

There is a difference between knowing and doing. Knowing is the concept, having worked all of the details out in one's mind ahead of time. Minimizing surprises, accurately predicting results and working out the theories and relationships ahead of time.

Doing, the practice of, is just that. It is a practice. It is taking the concept and all of its workings into an experiential world, a sensual experience. Sensual in that, it is experienced, not in the mind, as a concept is, but instead, by seeing, touching, hearing, tasting, smelling, emoting, a full-bodied experience.

It is the disappointment of something not being the way I want it that I am afraid of. I am my worst critic. "I know better" is my underlying statement. It is my inability to control matter that makes me absolutely crazy. In my life, I have been the observer. Watching relationships of people, things, colors, sounds, tastes, smells. A quest to understand the workings of physical matter in this material world.

That is my fascination with how design works. It is the source of the workings of reality. Taking an idea, a concept, a vision and drawing it down, through the ethers. First it is an illusion, a vague vision, in the deep recesses of the subconscious. It is a feeling, an emotion. It elicits a response. It then goes into the mental process or ordering, identifying and predicting. It is still not real. It is still a concept.

The emotion is the experience. To align with the feeling incited at conception.  It is this layering of the emotion to the desire that thrills and exhilarates.

The action of bringing all of the visualization elements into this reality, this dimension of being, is the business of laying vulnerable, ones power within the universe.  To know ones self and passions well, is a strong foundation, it is a channeling of energy to live one's truth. At those times in life, when, what one knows and what one experiences are so powerfully connected, a manifestation of confidence that is unmatched, is witnessed.  A confidence that is not mistaken for arrogance. It is the most alive feeling I have ever experienced.

A vision realized, almost

What is your most vivacious creative experience? What part of the process empowers you? What part of the process is your most vulnerable?  I would love to hear your comments, on your experiences, if you are relating at all to my experiences, or if the whole thing just doesn't make any sense to you at all.. or might I be crazy?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oops It's Wednesday!

Design Project
Here I thought I was being so efficient, adding gallery pages and such to and commenting on Shelly's Design Studio Facebook page and Natural Built Home Before and After photo contest, I didn't realize, it is Vibrant Threads Post Day!

Well, there you have it, that is what I have been up to. I have some serious housecleaning to do for tomorrow, or I will have to set plates for the dust bunnies to dine with us! (The Ladies who Lunch are coming for the day, a great way to spend my Birthday!) Yesterday wasn't very productive in the area of housecleaning either, I talked with my mom for almost FOUR hours! Apparently, we had a great deal to catch up on.

After the conversation, I would just like to declare to the world, I have the best mom and dad! I love them both so much and am so thankful that they are still here to chat with.

It was so refreshing yesterday, because mom didn't do the mom thing and try and fix anything, she listened like a friend and offered her empathy with the situations that are going on. Yes, there are some struggles, but then who doesn't have them. They are for private discussions however, and there is no place for them on the Internet for me.

Lately I am starting to think of spring coats. I am in desperate need of one, so I will start gathering inspirations. I have a variety of spring green fabrics, that I think in combination would be a great spring coat. I just have to decide on a style.. must get to housecleaning.... have a great day and don't forget to check out the contest and vote! Thank you in advance for your support.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Contest Voting Alert!

Hello all of my reader friends! Just recently I entered one of my kitchen remodels in a contest.

Voting is open until the 28th of February. Please take a moment to review the entries and vote on the before and after photos you like the best. You can vote as many times as you like..

Thanks for your support... All of the projects look really great!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Creative Friends

It is a rather gloomy looking monday morning.. somedays that just seems to go hand in hand, doesn't it.

As I sit on my sofa, writing and planning my schedule for the week, getting it all out of my head and onto my calendar, the overwhelming feeling of the past few weeks is subsiding.

Thursday, the Ladies who Lunch are coming to my house for our creative conversations. Then in the evening, I am going to join Paula for the Lecture at the Goldstein Museum. We will have a great deal to talk about on Thursday. Paula just published her first blog post. It is a beautiful site and the photography is lovely. As someone who knows Paula, pretty well in her creative being, the website does capture her personality and I suspect... there are glimpses, of some surprise insights, as well. I look forward to following her creative journey! Here is the link to her blog...

Judy has showcased a fabulously detailed ensemble for the Go Red 'Hearts for Fashion Show', recently held at the Mall of America. I am quite happy to have been able to attend. It was great to be able to support a friend. Seeing the rewards of diligent work and dedication culminate in success! I took some photos, but they were very blurry, so nothing to show for it on this end.

Edith is just fun. She is enthusiastic regardless of what is going on with her personally. She has had some big challenges lately. Edith is always supportive and positive, providing wisdom and true caring.  Edith has big things ahead for her. She has a big goal, she is quite accomplished with her past work, but it is incomplete. There is a gift for the world there. I trust that it will emerge when the timing is just right. Sometimes setbacks are there to pace us with the rest of the world, they aren't quite ready yet... soon.

Yesterday, I spent the day with my friend Shelly Ann, finishing sorting through her mothers buttons. We sorted them mostly by color and then by size. There seemed to be a million little shirt buttons that were the prettiest green. Most likely from someones grandpa's flannel shirts. I gathered a few more for my projects, I ended up with a quart. She also found a lovely black satin collar that had been embroidered with white beads. It will be a lovely addition to a jacket I think. I know just the fabric, or two, they may have to audition with a few patterns, as well..

Beaded collar with two possible fabrics, depends on the pattern...
I look forward to getting together with my friend Kris, from college, to create something! Last month we got together and just spent the afternoon working on a short afternoon project. A crafty project, those are a good creative block buster! We covered cheap candles with decorative papers. I think we should have a creative day every month of just silly projects that are pure creative expression, with no end use in mind.

It is refreshing to be with friends who get me. Who allow me to be in the creative waters of my inspiration and imagination. Friends who are genuinely interested in the source of the gleam in my eye when another great idea strikes. Creative friends gather inspiration from each other, we support each others strengths and work through the weaknesses. (which are usually self induced, mentally!)

Do you have a group of likeminded creatives? Look at the support network available to you currently in your life and actively seek out others who will support you in your creativity AND WHOM YOU ALSO WILL SUPPORT. It is so enlightening to be able to hear the creative wisdom that is so easily taken for granted, when you share something about one of your experiences. Creative networks are truly a give and receive endeavor. Just sharing experiences and insights, provides the answer another may be seeking. Creativity works that way... mysteriously... Serendipity.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A whole lotta nothin'

It feels like a whole lotta nothin' is going on right now.

There has been much writing at the computer. It has been all over the place. Finally I feel like there is a tool to keep me on track and stream line the thought process when it comes to my self.

Snippets of writing have been happening for two days now. Some related to business plans, some creative ideas, some outlines for workshops and seminars. As the ideas come in, I create a new page or a new outline. It is a flood of ideas none very organized- Chaotic writing. I will glean information, connect the dots and it will be a finished picture of what I want my life to look like.

Right now is between design projects and it has been interesting and scary the thoughts that are allowed to come forth when I am not in partnership with others. I like collaborating on projects with others. I like to think of myself as a visionary, although when it comes to my own life, I haven't been much of that lately. The visionary for myself is starting to emerge.

Lately dreams have been insightful and interesting. My subconscious has been speaking to me in terms that I can understand and when I wake up in the morning, I can feel the resonance in my body as I correlate the symbolism of the dream highlights. With such clarity happening at a faster rate, I feel like there is something very exciting right around the corner. So, it is still important to explore everything and gather as much information about it all, as the window for 'application' and 'action' is about to open.

It is interesting to see the creative cycle. Is it a circle or is it a wave?  Inspiration, gathering information, putting it all together, making a plan, taking the action, completing, destruction and grieving of the end of it all. Maybe it is more of a wave, the well is the end and the next thing, building until it seems it will overpower. That may sound weird to many, but for me it is very real. I grieve the purpose and excitement of being the catalyst for discovery for others. To see their face light up when the moment of  uncertainty has passed and the vision is taking form, promising more than they had ever imagined.

Hmm, I see something in my own process. Why I have created the specific cycle of challenge I have recently found myself in? I am creating my life. There is the part of me that is all knowing and divine, connected to source, that has the vision and the master plan. As things have been progressing over the past few months (from my perspective, being in the dark in regards to the plan, it seems like nothing has been progressing) it is that very perspective, that lack of trust in the visionary of my life, my inner self, that creates the challenges of the journey. My inner self is much stronger than I, in the face of my distrust and uncertainty. Much like I am with my clients. When I know something is going to work, I hold the space for the vision being created. I am not influenced by their discomfort. If I am uncertain and they are uncertain, that aspect gets redeveloped and less risky, so as to ensure success. I am a risk taker, when I am certain of the outcome. I am also a risk taker when I am comfortable with the consequences of failure... this is an area I must expand, becoming more comfortable with potential consequences, for they too, create new opportunities.

It is time for me to finally have that trust within myself. After all, it is that wise, inner self that is the source of the visions created for my clients. I am merely the channel to make it happen. There is, in my life as well; I am the channel to make it happen. I am ready to see the vision... so, what has been in the works higher self? I am asking my Self, "Do share, I am on the edge of my seat"... I have a feeling that those who know me well, have seen glimpses of it all along. Now it is time for the Revelation, the mystery to be revealed. I hope it is soon! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Activity Update

Well, another wednesday, I did not have a blogpost prepared for today, so, it is time to catch up on what has been happening and make a plan for the following month. 

With the launch of Shelly’s Design Studio webpage and blog, sorting buttons, and working downstairs in the studio, the perfect studio plan, is being researched on a subconsious level. It will be time again soon to document what emerges and share. 

I have been writing a color series on the Shelly’s Design Studio Blog. Posting days are Tuesday and Thursdays for Shelly’s Design Studio and MWF for this blog. For now. 

The button sorting activity with my freind has inspired me to go even deeper into the 32 totes of fabric that I have shelved in the basement studio. I have sorted 4 totes to be donated to the Textile Center garage sale which happens in April. I am also going through magazines.. Quilitng magazines at the moment. I am scanning inspirations into my private library, keeping the magazines intact and donating the rest. 

I plan to do this with many of my magazines. With the availability of photo inspiration online and sites like, my need to keep so many magazines, of which are useless without a retrieval system of what I am looking for has greatly diminished. 

I will keep some of my favorites, but, my time has been spent being in action the past week. I will have more to write about soon. 

There is an apron that I cut out, it is a quick sewing project, maybe two hours. I had the perfect pink thread, that I took out of the box to sew with. I don’t know where it is. Apparently, I am to be doing these other things. I have a feeling as I write this, it is already on my sewing machine.. maybe next week. 

Now I am on to plan a design workshop for do it yourself interior design. More on this at another time. 

Have a Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

A New Inspiration

As I open totes to assess their contents, I came across ‘pages’ of small decorating fabric samples that I had cut from sample books that had been discontinued, layered by color and type and stapled onto a sheet of heavy paper. 

Now, I have found these smaller shaped peices and have wondered, just what on earth am I going to do with them? They are upholstery weight and approximately 6 x 5 and some are 9 x 10. Initially, I thought, little bags, wallets and purses. I do not have many patterns for such items, however, I can easily design a bag, wallet or purse and make it, documenting the pattern as I go, so that is one idea. 

Then on Sunday morning, as I checked my e-mail, Pinterest had the most popular pins for the week... so I moved down the page and someone has a board on bookmaking. I did some of this in college and really enjoyed it, and a few years ago, I bound a book, of a story I had written for a long time and very dear friend. The book turned out great. I didn’t allow myself enough time for the illustrations, and that is a disappointment to me. 

However, we talked of other types of books I could create and it was quite inspiring.  

Now I am thinking my little chunks of fabric can be used for bookbinding as well...  

Friday, February 8, 2013

How do the oddities make it into your Collections?

This piece of silk is my most prized piece of weirdness in my collection. I don't know on what occasion I would ever drape such a thing across my body, fit or not! But there is something about the color, something about the texture, that immediately caught my attention in the little silk shop on Rue d'Orsel. It is one of my favorite places for fabric.

The first time I entered, there was a roll of this pepto pink silk laying on the table. It was as if it said... "look at me, have you ever seen anything like me?" I remember thinking to myself, that is the ugliest fabric I have ever seen in my life! (pretty strong for me to be thinking 'ugly', I like most anything.

I walked over to it and found myself touching it, thinking. "What on earth would anyone make from this fabric?"

The gentleman from Pakistan, one of the shop owners, excitedly approached me and said "You like?" I didn't have the heart or the communication ability to tell him what I really thought, especially without it sounding rude.

And then, in my minds eye, I saw it, the vision of what this fabric wants to be! As I touched it, I saw a long floor length gown, with a tuxedo type collar, double breasted, bloused at the small of the back and flap pockets. A very 1940's style dressing gown.. As my mind was reeling from the vision, I was called back to reality, as the man said in broken english, "You like? You take, just for you, better sale, you take all!"

As if in a psychedelic drug induced state, I smiled and said, "How much?"  The Euro hadn't been introduced yet, so converting from francs to dollars, I have no idea how much I paid for it! After he measured it out, a whole 5.5 m he gave me an extra 20% off the sale price. So it must not have been too bad, I had money left. That was a good shopping day, I found many goodies in Montmartre that morning... Come to think of it, later that afternoon, I met the man I was to marry. (That is a completely different story! Not married any more, but great friends!) It was a good day. Maybe that is why I am unwilling to part with the fabric, it has a great story attached to it?  I am a lucky girl!

What is your favorite fabric story? What is the strangest thing you purchased that is still part of your collection? What are your plans for it? Will you do something with it? Me... I am in search of the perfect vintage pattern... and of course the buttons will have to be special, although, they could possibly be self covered fabric buttons... ah, Paris... maybe if I get some projects sewn, I can go back and peruse the shops again...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Button Collections

Buttons for a Red Spring Coat

There are intentional collections and unintentional collections. 

When one sets out to collect something, it is specific. There is a hunt, an obsession around it. An item that would seem to complete a set or a group of something of value to the collector. 

Then there is the unintentional collections. As the previous post mentioned, magazines tend to fall into this catagory. Another, unintentional collection is Buttons. 

The button box has been a staple item for the sewer throughout history. Fancy buttons, plain buttons, utilitarian buttons and decorative buttons. Buttons are fashionable, they speak to an era, the color, the shape, the detail, the materials, all make for an interesting story about a button. 

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to sift through Fran’s buttons. I didn’t know Fran to be a sewer, I knew she did craft projects, she loved doing Christmas decorations. I think Christmas was her favorite holiday. She baked, decorated, sent Christmas cards and worked on her projects. 

When my friend told me her mother had 18 quarts of buttons, I have to admit, I was a bit surprised. I mentioned that I would love to have some of Fran’s buttons, as she was very supportive and interested what I was sewing over the years. 

When I was in high school, I made a fur teddy bear, dressed him in a tuxedo, his little white shirt had pintucks and I embroidered his face, I think he had plastic eyes. I showed him to Fran when I completed him. I thought he looked a little wierd. She loved him! She said he had a personality and was one of the cutest things she had ever seen. 

So, I gave him to her. Recently, my mom told me that Fran had said she still had the teddy bear, he had a place of honor in her bedroom. I am not sure if he sat on the bed or had his own little rocking chair, but she said she would never get rid of him. That really touched my heart, that she felt that strong of a connection to my wierd little bear’s personality. 

On Sunday morning, my friend and I set to work about going through the buttons. There are about a quart that I have taken home with me. I strung like buttons together during the Super Bowl. (I am NOT into sports at all and was quite happy to have something else to do, while housemate and his son watched the game). 

Below are some photos of the fabulous buttons that I found in the stash of buttons that Fran and her mother and possibly her grandmother collected. Truly inspiring and I have some great ideas of fabric and pattern pairings for them to be revealed when I get to that stage of the process. 
I call this the honey bee button. I may design fabric for a dress to go with this one and make a jacket using the button to go with it.  This button is, I think, my favorite! 
Dragons on wood, lovely! I have teal/green wool, Perfect! There is a matching plaid, too!  Maybe a skirt & jacket. The buttons below could show up on the skirt, I also have a plain weave cotton shirting that is woven with the same colors yarns as buttons below... 
Love the iridescent faille covered buttons, remember these type with the band? They don't make this type of  button  to cover anymore... I must pull the shirting to verify the match. 

A classic leopard covered coat button.. the wheels are turning.... maybe a fall coat... I have some ultra suede of the carmel color.. trimmed in leopard.. lots of scrappy pieces for that... 

There is a large weave blue cotton on the summer sewing page.. or there are two pieces of wool, one a solid and the other with a silk thread running through it in vibrant colors as a small windowpane plaid.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Sewing 'Collection'

In the midst of my adventures here, I felt like I have been going in circles, moving things from one spot to another, one tote to another, in and out.. but now, I am having a better idea of what is there, and how the collection all fits together. Because that is what it is, a collection. A collection of sewing items. 

Collected, acquired over time due to some inspiration or another. It is now time to look at it and see, what my core desires are with sewing. I must expand and challenge myself. I know this for sure. I had become somewhat bored with just the basics, something took my attention away from it, something had me feel like it wasn't the best use of my time. However, when I sew, apparel especially, I feel more connected to my SELF. Expressed. Like I am doing something for me and no one else.

 I do not like to sew for others, however, I love to share my knowledge and experience of sewing with others.  The clarity is welcome as I begin to take the action of letting it go. Assessment is nearing an end. I know it seems redundant to assess and then go back through it all to purge, but in assessing, I can relate my emotional attachment to each thing in context to the whole collection. It is like trimming off the fat. Some has to remain for flavor...and eventually it gets removed. 

What has made the decision process more clear for me has been:
1: Seeing it all in the big picture, I can more easily identify the 'orphans'. 
2: Determining what it was that inspired me about an item in the first place, then asking myself the following questions:
a. is that inspiration present in another part of the 'collection'?
b. Can it be duplicated or replaced easily? 
c. Is the inspiration dated to another time, another place, an outgrown part of my personality? 

I am applying these questions to my wardrobe as well, and will also apply to patterns. That has been my process. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Color and Technology

Yesterday, I spent the entire day creating albums in my iPhoto Library. There are over 3300 photos in there! Things move pretty slow, then there are the photoshop images and bridge images, which I am not even sure how to access.

While I love the results of technology, the learning curve is time consuming. This morning I spent photoshopping a picture of a box of color crayons for a blog post on Shelly's Design Studio. 'My Color Secret'. Check it out if you are so inclined.

The other day, I found how to create my client color palettes in Adobe Illustrator. Now, to find all of the documentation for past projects. There have been some beautiful palettes that I have put together, after a move, a computer upgrade and an email change over, I have no idea where they all are.. Space has always been limited and if a client is inactive for a couple of years, I clear space from my archives. I will be digitally archiving from now on to have access to the information indefinitely.

Color Palettes will be a feature I am thinking to incorporate into Shelly's Design Studio's website.

Now back to my photo library....

Many of the photos I have taken catalog patterns, fabrics, wardrobe and projects in various stages. There is an album of completed work, work in progress, projects and stash.

Stash is materials and supplies that have not been allocated. Some of these, are so inspiring, they may never become something. The beauty of a full width of fabric, in its full repeat or even the pattern made from the repeat, would be compromised it it were cut, folded or manipulated in any way. These are archival pieces. Maybe someday the perfect thing will come along and it will be ready to manifest into its next life.

For now, it is time to clean the kitchen, what a mess!