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30-something mother, wife, lawyer, writer, design junkie, craftaholic, cook

likes: clever tools, snazzy colors, working for justice, kid wrangling, Meyer lemons

dislikes: inefficiency, civil discovery, most shades of purple, Tori Amos

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Entries in i want that wednesdays (3)


I want that Wednesdays #4

Today I decided to feature two crafty items for which I have long held a torch.

Such a Cut-up
I cut a lot of paper. Not in clever, nifty shapes. Not into amazing pop-ups or silhouettes. Nope. I cut a lot of rectangles.

My first real foray into designing cards or stationery was when my husband and I designed and made the invitations for our wedding. All 100+ of them. And, of course, because I'm me, it was an elaborate affair of paper on paper, of odd shaped cuts requiring surgical precision, of nightmarish color matching (try matching colors onto cream stock using a solid ink printer--try it!). But we (I) got exactly what we (I) wanted. Although I do look back with some dismay on the font I chose (Lithos) and the way the full justification added some imperfect, wonky spaces between words, I am still proud as hell of my first stabs at digital illustration (hooray for the perfect simplicity of cherry blossoms) and my custom maps. And the color palette holds up four years later, too, I think.

I digress.

Anyhoo. That was only the first of many, many long nights of cutting, of obsessing over slivers of an inch.

I have two different tools for cutting straight lines from paper: a standard guillotine arm trimmer (with two missing pads on the bottom--not nice for keeping things steady), and the little thingie that came with my Xyron 900 laminating machine (which is one of the world's greatest tools/toys.) I can only cut one sheet at a time with either of these and with varying degrees of accuracy. This does not suit me.

See, I am a very messy (not dirty--just messy) person, but I crave order and precision. Making perfect cuts is my version of coloring in the lines. When I'm in the groove, it's soothing to see order spring up out of the chaos that is my creative process. When I'm not, every missed milimeter feels like a symptom of the disarray that threatens to consume me at any minute.

So this heavy duty ream cutter is my idea of a good time. Perfect, precision cuts. In, like, MORE THAN ONE PIECE OF PAPER PER MINUTE. Insane.

I want that.

They Don't Make 'em Like They Used To
It was the Christmas of either 1982 or 1983. That Christmas was a craft bonanza. I remember paintable suncatchers; collage assortments of pipe cleaners and pom-poms and dyed pasta; and awesome marker sets that smelled like blueberries and limes or somesuch. But without a doubt, the most memorable gift of that year (and nearly any other year) was the Fisher-Price weaving loom my parents gave me.

This was no rinky dink potholder loom (not that I don't enjoy those). No, this was a real, full-fledged loom. It took a multi-page manual to describe its proper use and no small amount of patience (as measured against the typical amount of patience possessed by a seven-year-old) to prepare the warp yarn. It had two shuttles (two colors of weft--shut up!), and a hand crank that made the weaving part pretty easy. It was packaged with a skein of hideous, scratchy blue acrylic yarn, but you could use it with any worsted-weight yarn, of which my grandmother had a plentiful, if cigarette-tinged, supply.

The only project I remember ever making to completion on the loom was a clutch-style pocketbook featuring the complimentary blue yarn, but I do also distinctly remember weaving with some of my grandmother's substantially more hideous variegated brown yarn (Shout out to the Naval commissary!).

I held on to the loom for years before my mother finally made me give it up. The only picture I could find of one is from a now-expired ebay listing, where the damned thing went for $4.99. Unbelievable--it was one of the best-made, most educational and entertaining toys ever. Given my outsized affection for this thing, I guess it's not surprising that I had grossly misremembered its size: in my memory the loom was huge--two or three feet long. Not so much. According to the listing, it is acutally 10 inches. I can only believe that means 10" across and more like 18" deep, but still, it's much smaller than in my memory.

But it's not so much the specific toy that I want (though, you know, for $4.99, I will definitely take one off your hands!). What I really hope is to be able to provide for my child the same joy and wonderment from toys that teach and inspire him--whatever his passions may be. Yeah, I want that.


I want that Wednesdays #2

Have you ever taken a craft or art workshop? I think the last time I did I was about 8, and my white paint got tainted with ochre and I ended up with yellow clouds on my painting of some old building in Charleston. I want to try again.


Last week I decided that I'd create a recurring feature for my blog, "I Want that Wednesdays." Kinda cute and snappy. And consumerist.

And, look, consumerism gets a bad rap, especially these days, but I think that there is room for consumption that is conscious and conscientious--like buying handmade or "upcycled." I don't know much about physics, but I believe in the words "conservation of mass-energy." We are all here on earth for an indeterminate time, and we all have to find a way to entertain ourselves, make ourselves useful, and try to bring comfort and joy to others. I think that people who make things with their hands for the enjoyment of others are making the most of this mass-energy balance--entertaining themselves with their travails and entertaining others with the fruits of those travails.

So, this Wednesday, I want that. I want the spirit of thinking and making and giving that animates the best of art and craft. And I am feeling it more than ever as I reconnect with old friends, find new outlets for my ideas, and encounter the stunning richness of creativity that is but a click away thanks to the internet. More than ever, I am at home in my own abilities and able to enjoy the talents of others without jealousy. And I want more of that. More! I want to foster more connection and more encouragement. More friendship and more cross-pollination.


I remember the first time I bought a bead and strung it on a wire twenty years ago. My friend Nia had received these beautiful amethyst earrings for her birthday. I can still see them clearly: three smooth, round, deep purple (don't ask--I make an exception for amethyst) beads, each hung from a graduated silver pin. So simple, but so lovely. And I coveted them. So I got my mother to take me to the only store in Mount Pleasant that sold beading materials back then, and I bought some purple glass beads and eye pins and earring wires. And I had no idea what to do with them. I found my dad's rusty needlenose pliers and set to work. After hours of struggle, I had a decent pair of earrings--nothing nearly so fine as the ones Nia had been given, but attractive nonetheless. But the thing was so much less valuable to me by then than the making of the thing. I had imagined something and made it real, and that was exhilirating. I wanted the thing. What I got was so much more.


When my husband and I got married, we didn't have time or money for a honeymoon (I started law school the same week). And I have been fantasizing ever since then about a different kind of trip. A learning trip. There are several schools for art and craft within driving distance of our home that offer one- and two-week courses in all sorts of disciplines. I can imagine him spending a week on photography while I do a week on metalsmithing. Or he could do a week of lithography while I do a week of bookmaking. Sounds dreamy, right? So far, I've bookmarked the John C. Campbell Folk School, the Penland School of Crafts, and Asheville Bookworks, but I'm sure there are lots of others within range.

In the meantime, maybe a shorter workshop closer to home is a good idea? Redux Studios is a local print studio that has been offering a wide array of classes for the past few years. Hmm...

Any suggestions for other drool-worthy craft-nerd immersion programs? Experiences?


I want that Wednesdays #1

Ok, so Wednesdays can be a drag--the shine of a new week has long faded, but the weekend is still days away. I thought it would be good to highlight a nifty product or supply or craftsperson every Wednesday. You know, so that while we are all hung up pondering global economic collapse, we can remember what's truly important at least once a week: craftiness.

Without further ado, today I want one of these do-it-yourself, error-proof Kirigami card kits.

(partridge in a pear tree--available singly or as part of the 12-card pack--because these are DIY I'm sure I could make this in a color other than purple.)

I have always loved crisp cut paper silhouettes and pop-ups. These have a very clean, spare aesthetic reminiscent of Robert Sabuda's Winter's Tale.
(All of Sabuda's work is amazing, and for it he is deservedly famous; Winter's Tale is my favorite of them all.)

Anyhoo, I think these would be a great gift for a precocious kid or even a sodden old fogey like me. Having a nifty card to give as a gift is part of the allure, but even more exciting to me is to feel like I could have my hand held as I learn to reverse engineer these designs and adapt the concepts to my own use. Nifty.

So while we're talking about pop-ups and silhouettes, I should give a shout out to some other amazing paper artists who inspire me.

Matthew Reinhart
Matthew Reinhart is Robert Sabuda's partner in crime. He has what I could only describe as a more textured aesthetic than Sabuda. His shark pop-up book rocks the house.
He also went to my high school and was friends with some of my friends. He would certainly not remember me, but aside from him being all famous now, he is memorable to me for having been (and continuing to be), um, kinda insanely good looking.

Patricia Zapata
Patricia Zapata is a multi-talented designer from Texas (I have been following her adventures in textile design over at Spoonflower, too). I guess she falls more in the paper-cuts silhouette category, but her pieces are so dimensional that they are almost pop-ups. She sells kits to make her adorable little gift boxes, but I think that one of her paper collages would make a very special heirloom gift:

(morning mist wall art)

David A. Carter
In David Carter's pop-up books, art meets engineering and confounding puzzles. My cousin gave us Blue 2 for Christmas the year Marshall was born, and it is a family favorite. The only thing that would make it better is if this book were called Blue 4.*
He has a ton of amusing titles, ranging from the silly to the serene. Marshall's favorite is Alpha Bugs, and I must admit, I usually cringe at alphabet books because I know there will be a minimum of 26 pages (don't judge me), but I enjoy Alpha Bugs every single time.

* When I was a little kid, my favorite number was 4 and my favorite color was blue. There was a television station in town, Channel 4, whose logo was (and still is) a blue 4. To me, it was the most perfect thing in the world. One day, as my mom and I were driving somewhere, I saw the Channel 4 billboard. On that day, I was particularly happy with my mom, and I turned to her and said, "Momma, you're a blue four!" Since then "blue four" has been a code phrase in my family for a really great thing. My husband even had it engraved inside my wedding band. Aw.