Monday, March 26, 2012

Bodhisattvas and saints

In my Etsy shop, I have little felted sitting people. They're about 6 inches tall, and I usually make such figures as calm seated women, St. Francis of Assisi, and Buddhist monks in red or saffron robes.

Last week I had the most inspirational custom order request by a man on the East Coast; he wanted to know if I could make three inspirational Buddhist figures:
Kwan Yin...

Thich Nhat Hanh...

and John Muir.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We make Portland awesome: MerciBlehBleh

"We make Portland awesome" is a weekly series. I’m interested building our community of artists by helping us all find out more about each other.
This week: MerciBlehBleh
Who are you?
I'm Irina Beffa.

What do you make?
 I'm an artist and designer, I sell screen printed art, block prints, and greeting cards. In the future I plan on printing on textiles and other objects as well.

Besides making things, what do you do?
I'm also a professional art director and graphic designer.

What inspires you?
Things that are in between worlds, surreal themes, dreams, fiction and fantasy, collapsing buildings, ancient and futuristic civilizations.

Where can your work be found?
In Portland at Tender Loving Empire and Betsy & Iya.

What do you love about Portland?
Portland is mysterious and eerie. It has an intense energy that not everyone can handle. It tends to attract people who have a strong stomach for the strange, who as a result sometimes compete with each other to be the weirdest. It's also hauntingly beautiful but also constantly gloomy. Another Portland paradox!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

We make Portland awesome: Where The Moon Goes

"We make Portland awesome" is a weekly series. I’m interested building our community of artists by helping us all find out more about each other.
This week: Monique of Where The Moon Goes

 Who are you?
My name is Monique Soiseth. I started Where The Moon Goes on Etsy in collaboration with my mom (who prefers to remain "behind the scenes") in October of 2010. We've lived at opposite ends of the country from one another for many years and so this is mostly a project I came up with to keep in touch with her creatively. She's a mad crafter with anything having to do with needle and thread and an inspiration to me. I grew up with an eye towards the arts, always drawing and painting, and took that up into my college years. But then I went to work and, for the most part, "put away" my art supplies. So this little business was also a way for me to purposefully reawaken that part of me which has been slumbering for some time. At the moment, my mom and I are simply having fun in our exchange of design ideas and methods and reveling in our little successes. We have notions to get our work in some local shops but who knows where it all will lead!

What do you make?
We're revitalizing bead weaving. We both fell in love with it a couple of years ago and do it all by loom, mostly cuff style bracelets but also chokers, rings, anklets, belts, and headbands can be found in our shop. We each have different styles; mine tending more towards geometric patterns and my mom's more imaginative and free-flowing. Between the two of us we've put together, I think, a rather handsome and diverse collection.

Besides making things, what do you do?
I worked in hospitality for many years at a local hostel and afterwards a guesthouse so I really appreciate the importance of traveling far and wide, especially when you have very little money to do so. I've been fortunate enough to do a little bit of traveling but mostly I do a lot of dreaming about it. I love languages and studied Spanish in my last university bout. I wish I could study so many others. I really enjoy volunteering to aid those learning English as a second language and have so much respect and admiration for those pushing themselves to learn it, be it from choice or circumstance. I like dancing an awful lot but don't get to do it nearly enough.

What inspires you?
I think it's true that both my mom and I grab inspiration for our beading designs from a range of interests; nature, dreams, archaeology, astronomy, art history, textile patterns, etc. Whatever happens to come across our path and we think, "Ooh, how can I transmute this into beadwork." For myself, most recently, would be the beautiful hypnotic patterns in all the Moorish tiling I saw on a recent trip to Spain. Plenty of inspiration there. Of course, it's always very encouraging to hear "I love this!" from a complete stranger and then they proceed to hand over their hard earned money so they can take it with them.

Where can your work be found?
We're on Etsy:
We may also be found at craft events like Crafty Wonderland.

What do you love about Portland?
I didn't grow up in Portland but have lived here now for a little over 13 years, my entire "adult" life. As a small town girl from North Dakota, Portland was a very easy city for me to move to - welcoming, friendly, safe feeling, affordable, slow-paced. Even though in the last decade it's grown quite a lot and rents have gone up and the atmosphere in general is a bit more competitive, I think, relatively speaking, it's retained all those qualities that I initially encountered. Not to mention the temperate weather, great food, undying devotion to personal and environmental health, all the bicycles, the rivers and bridges, vistas, and super close proximity to lots of nature. In my work in hospitality I've had countless conversations with people from all over the country and the world visiting Portland for different reasons. I know I'm living in a very special place…like a dream really.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good words: Spring, by Mary Oliver

a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her–
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

We make Portland awesome: Zig & Hersh Designs

"We make Portland awesome" is a weekly series. I’m interested building our community of artists by helping us all find out more about each other.
This week: Jennifer Harbick of Zig & Hersh Designs

 Who are you?
I am a lover of all things creative. Being creative and making things has always been a passion. As a kid I think I took every art, music and dance class I could convince my mom to enroll me and still take random classes for fun to this day. Ballet was my last adventure. I mean why not! I am truly a jack of all trades a master of none and I wouldn't want it any other way.

What do you make?
Handbags, clutches, wallets and other little accessories.

Besides making things, what do you do?
I just got certified to teach indoor cycling classes and am super excited about that. I also am an esthetician and am looking at having my own waxing studio in the very near future.

What inspires you?
Anything and everything can inspire me. Be it blue skies or cute puppies...I know that sounds corny but it's true. Definitely other artists and crafters inspire me as well.
Where can your work be found?
Knack and Etsy at the moment. The street fair season is coming up soon too and I will definitely be at Mississippi and Alberta..and many others I am sure. Even though they are a lot of work street fairs are so fun and really the way I love selling my bags. I love interacting with my customers.

What do you love about Portland?
I grew up all over Oregon but when I was able to move on my own I packed up my car and headed north. I had never been here, had no friends, no job and no money! But I knew it all at 19 and figured it would all fall into place. That was 20 years ago so I guess I was kind of right! There is something special about Portland and I don't know if it's the general quirkiness of it or just the simple beauty of our city...all I really know is I love it all and it is my forever home.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The tiniest doily in the world

If you know me at all, you'll know that I am pretty much obsessed with making crochet doilies these days. I make regular doilies (size 10 crochet cotton with a #7 hook)...

...doilies around stones (also size 10 crochet cotton with a #7 hook)...

...a doily rug (a huge plastic crochet hook with recycled t-shirt yarn)...

...and now, the tiniest one I've ever made! It's tatting thread with a #12 hook, the smallest in the store!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

We make Portland awesome: Prunella Soap

"We make Portland awesome" is a weekly series. I’m interested building our community of artists by helping us all find out more about each other.
This week: Prunella Soap

Who are you?
My name is Janell and I've lived in Portland for just over 10 years. I've lived in Oregon all of my life except for a brief two-year stay in Boston after college.

What do you make?
I have been making soap since the summer of 2010. I also have a line of greeting cards ( that I started in 2010 as well.

Besides making things, what do you do?
Explore new spots around Portland, visit my family in Silverton, learn more about photography and think about what I want my businesses to accomplish in the short and long term.
What inspires you?
I love modern architecture and furniture design, all things European (especially Italian and Scandinavian) and "slow food" - cooking with simple, organic and local ingredients.

Where can your work be found?
In two Portland shops, Tender Loving Empire and Betsy & Iya

What do you love about Portland?
I really love all the different neighborhoods in Portland, that many people are living consciously and considering how their consumer and lifestyle decisions impact the earth.

Friday, March 2, 2012

My new old suitcase

I found this old vinyl suitcase at a thriftshop for $4.

 It was in pretty good condition but I wanted it to be cuter.
 So, 3 hours and about $12 worth of supplies later, I have a beautiful new old suitcase!
 The outside is a printed vinyl (the kind some old chair seats used to be made with).
 The inside is regular quilting cotton. I sewed some useful pockets inside too.
Exactly what I wanted for weekending!
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