I would like to introduce you to one of my treasures.
It is from 1888.
A ledger that tracks two years of bills paid and received.
The calligraphy (which was just someone's handwriting. Can't imagine.) is breathtaking.
Every single page has this watermark. Can you see it?
Here is a close-up of the last page - 320. I truly think it was handstamped. Can you imagine being a book maker (or an apprentice perhaps) and stamping page numbers on a newly made book? I think it might be quite a meditative experience actually. I wonder.
This is the inside paper. I am a freak about inside book paper (clearly, I need to learn the vocab for book parts). Book liner? Anyways, this one was disappointing - a bit too thick and glossy. I'm wondering if it's newer than the rest of the book? Maybe it's 80 years old instead of 100+.
The binding. I can't even look at it without thinking of the person who made it. Swoon.
Katie's studio is in the basement of Maven, a wonderful boutique and candle store in Maplewood. Her partner Garnet Griebel has a studio in Kansas City.
Katie moved into this space earlier this year and she loves it. "I'm always here," she said. The studio is big enough for her to have a space for creating, for business and marketing, for teaching and for displaying her work.
Katie, a former biologist, met her partner Garnet through mutual friends when those same friends bought an online store front. Katie was selling her jewelry on her own in South Carolina and Garnet was in Missouri. They met online and worked together for over a year long-distance before they met.
Now they get together a couple of times each month when they are in production mode. Right now they're especially enjoying creating in stainless steel, copper, wood and brass.
They love to make one-of-a-kind pieces and incorporate non-traditional elements in their work: vintage beads, auto paint samples ("They are in the best colors," Katie said.), make-and-bake plastic.
The earrings below are made with porcupine quills.
They've also started designing with bullet casings.
It's been an exciting year for Scarlett Garnet. Katie and Garnet are both now working full time to build their business. Their design spectrum has also grown. At one point, Katie and Garnet did all of their cutting and filing.
They still do, but now they have their wood and metal components water- and laser-cut.
Here is Katie's creative work space. The posters that surround her are posters from past shows. Katie and Garnet traveled this year to shows in New York, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati. And of course, their work is recognized and sought out throughout Kansas and Missouri.
Here is Katie's creative space looking toward her office space.
Katie invited me in the morning after a show, if you're wondering where the plastic bags come in. Isn't it fun to see all the components before they're put together?
Here's another design looking in toward the classroom area.
You can find Scarlett Garnet at indie boutiques around the country.
It's official. Every baby shower celebration we attend from now on will find us carrying a paper cutter as our gift. Not kidding.
The good reason is this: paper chains are awesome! They're so festive, they're so easy to make, they're so inexpensive (a chain made from old homework papers would be recycled and so fun), they're timeless. The "preachy" is this: We were at the dentist this week and in the waiting room there were TWO televisions with movies playing and a video game offering. On top of that there were children in that room playing with their own video games - I guess what was available wasn't good enough. Sorry, but it was the proverbial straw for me. I was sitting in the room thinking, "We are not parenting our children in a new, innovative way...we are collectively pathetic."
And that got me wondering: How often do kids sit and work in a way where they have to just think, daydream, imagine? And the answer for too many of our children (I'm including my own too) is not often enough. I did not walk 5 miles in the snow uphill both ways when I was a kid, but a generation ago kids did occupy their own time at their bus stops with no props, they sat in the car during errands and looked out the window, they made up games at the doc's office while waiting to be called...
Don't even get me started on how this led me to think about this issue and its connection to nature-deficit disorder! Anyways, my answer to this collective pathetic is paper chains. They are almost therapeutic in their quiet and calm making and kids of all ages love them. Love. Them. Babies love the colors and the paper (with supervision of course), toddlers can help with the order of the chains and the tape holding, and this is a great fine motor activity for older kids of all ages. My kids can sit and make them for a very long time. It's time for us to teach our children the lesson of what can be learned in times of quiet.
Today we are visiting the studio of Rachel Kluesner, owner of Dyeabolical, hand dyed yarn and fiber. Rachel's studio is in her home - utilizing one bedroom, and lots of corners here and there throughout.
Rachel is a long time fiber artist and her company's story is a fun one. After learning both during her childhood, Rachel gave up knitting to focus on crochet until 2005 when she began working at her local yarn shop. Here, she rediscovered knitting and it is now what she looks forward to most at the end of her days.
About four years ago, her family gave her $100 in dying supplies as a gift.
She took her hand-dyed yarns to work to show the owner and sold them on the spot, wet off the hanger.
She went home, made another batch, and it happened again! Wet off the hanger - her yarn was sold and a passion was born. "The sock yarn world has exploded," she said, "but at that time, you couldn't get those really saturated colors."
Rachel started Dyeabolical and worked part time whenever possible in her 500 square foot apartment. A year ago, she went full time and she and her husband moved to a bigger home where Dyeabolical could have its own space.
Let's start with the business side. Here is Rachel's shipping station.
Her business center.
And her library.
In the middle of the room is the production studio. Deborah is here today, Rachel's friend and assistant.
Rachel is carding up custom dyed Blue Faced Leicester (pronounced "Lester") wool.
I hope you can see its beautiful grey shade?
Deborah is working the mechanized skein winder.
See it smiling at her?
Behind Deborah is Rachel's light box. Rachel estimates it takes her eight hours to photograph two weeks of her work, or 15 to 20 pounds of fiber and yarn. She says the light box has been a tremendous asset in her marketing.
Four years after that $100 gift, Rachel has opened an etsy shop, she has participated in many shows, she teaches, she designs (her most popular pattern is here), she blogs and she has a national clientele for her work.
Next year she hopes to do one out of town show and she's taking sign-ups for her first ever Sock Club and Fiber Club (peek fast - they're almost sold out!).
Here is one of the corners of her home that I mentioned. Rachel spins her yarn here (see first photo). It's very zen.
Her loom is also outside her studio. This is one of Rachel's husband's creations. One piece of advice that Rachel would offer a beginning fiber artist is this: get to know your tools. "I didn't know that my $100 spinning wheel was a well made machine until I took the time to really learn how it was meant to be used," she said.
And while she can always make her own yarn, Rachel still loves to shop from her peers, "I love using my own wool, I love hand dyed and hand spun yarns, and I love knowing an actual human being took care to make my yarn."