Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh and P.S.

I’ve sworn of Facebook, and it is day two.

I am feeling more productive, alive, etc., and a lot more engaged with the world than I thought I would be. I think the voyeurism that Facebook encourages tends to actually make me feel less involved in the world since I’m not actually interacting with anyone, just watching.

It’s strange.  It’s a heck of a lot easier for me to give up Facebook than it is to go on a diet.  Yeah, I’m supposed to be doing that too.  We’ll see.



Gift for a Musician

So you say you’ve got a musician in your life and you need a special gift. Something that he doesn’t have, something that she’ll treasure forever.  A gift that is as unique and as beautiful as the music she plays, and that will outlast and survive his changing style. 

Well, I have an idea.  How about I make a guitar strap for you (also works with bass, banjo or dobro) for you, and I will personalize it with up to 1100 characters of your choosing.  You can write a love song, you can collect quotes, you can write a poem, or a short story. Anything you possibly want, as long as it is 1100 characters or fewer, and I can put it on the strap for you.

This is the Smokey guitar strap, and I think I made my very first one in either late 2008 or early 2009 (even though the Smokey pattern was one of my first patterns and made its debut in 2004, it didn’t make it onto a strap for a few years), and I have since made over 200 of them (in several different colors). 

The wonderful thing about this piece is that even though I’ve made 200+ of the “Smokey” strap, every single one has been different. We all find meaning in different songs, words of wisdom, scripture, or messages, and all have something entirely different that we want to communicate to those that we love.  The Smokey line is a great way to do that.  Whether it is a wallet, a guitar strap, a belt, or a purse, you can give someone a gift with your sentiment right there on it. Your personal message for them to carry with them always.

I’ve most often seen the ee cummings poem “i carry your heart” requested on various pieces (though oddly I don’t think I’ve seen it on the same thing twice – wallets, guitar straps, etc.) and in my mind this one is totally suited for an inscription for a loved one.  There was a slightly… dirtier? ee cummings poem that someone asked me to put on a wallet for her husband.  I can’t find the response, but he absolutely treasured the wallet, and wanted to show all his friends.  I think it’s so sweet that you can give a gift with a sentimental message that your loved one will be proud to show off.

We a Smokey wallet to my mother’s boyfriend, my daughter’s fourth grandfather, with a  message from his kids on it a few years ago, and were taking bets in the car on whether or not he’d cry when he opened it.  He did.

And truthfully, a lot of people do when they open this gift.  Here are some of my most recent feedbacks about it:

“I got my guitar strap last week, but wanted my husband to see it before I wrote you. It's awesome. He loved it, he kept telling me that the present he got for me was so lame compared to the guitar strap (I also showed it to my mom and she cried). Anyway, the strap is well made and beautiful and you got it to me so fast! Thank you so much. If I ever need something like this again, I'll definitely go to you.”

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your beautiful products! They arrived over the weekend, and I am stunned! They are all incredible, and so, so special. You are a genius! Thank you so much!
Now I just have to wait to give them to my husband and my Dad!
Thank you so much, Caitlin! I'm sure I'll be back!”

And now it is time for bed.



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Studio, coming soon.

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This is my current hovel.  And the day that this photo was taken it was actually pretty clean. I’m a little terrified to measure it but I think it is probably around 200sf.  In the basement where it is cold, cold in the winter.  I do have a small darkroom off to the side where I dye and pack the pieces, as well as a tiny display wall.  All told, really, I think the entire thing is the size of a small bedroom.

But last month, my sweet, sweet, husband finally let me talk him in to this:

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A 20’ by 30’ garage.  Unfinished.  In need of love and style, but absolutely huge.  I think you could fit four cars in there.  And I’m going to use it for my studio.  HURRAY!  The very day it was officially ours I went to the ReStore and found some used building materials to help it along.  I’m going for an Industrial/Modern English Garden sort of look.  Crazy?  Sure, but I think if anyone can pull it off I can.


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That’s the tub.  A bathroom just doesn’t feel complete without one, and my studio needs a bathroom.  I thought I’d go for a clawfoot or some sort of pedastal, but when I found this I fell in love with the lines.  I think surrounded by some brightly colored tile it will be perfect.


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And these are the cabinets, less the cardboard cut-out.  They’re vintage metal cabinets, which is what I decided I wanted, and are in great condition.  They’re clean and are all white, with a hideous countertop I plan on removing (more on that later). 

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This, although awesome, I didn’t buy because I just couldn’t justify finding a place for it.  I love little drawers but find that I don’t use them.  I really need to be able to see where things are, and I haven’t mastered the x-ray superpower yet.  So I let it be.  Besides, $250 seemed a little insane.

So that’s the current studio status.  I’ve been planning, and planning, and planning what it is going to look like.  I’m excited and totally anxious.  I think I’ll be moving in spring!!




Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm swearing off Facebook

Just for the month of November.  Maybe the rest of 2011.  So if you want me, you are going to have to email me - works every time.

The reason, you ask?  Well, I've found it is a giant suck of my time.  Not that I don't care what my first boyfriend looks like now or what my bff from childhood ate for dinner last night, but the truth is, I need to make flasks, and play with my baby.  Possibly not at the same time. So for a few months, while things are busy around here, I'll post to the blog, and if you want to say hi, tell me you love me, tell me you hate me, whatever, just drop me an email.  I promise I will answer.

Though, if you're wanting something fabulously custom for the holidays, I'd drop me that email sooner rather than later.  My dance card can get mighty fool the closer to procrastination we get!


Friday, October 28, 2011

I have no idea how this happened…

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But yet, I took off my gloves, and there it was.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A little something

I don’t really have it in me to blog right now, so I’ll share this customer appreciation photo instead.  It makes me smile.

Totally love my customers.  You guys rock.




This is the Smokey Guitar Strap in action.  Part of a line of personalized Smokey Pattern pieces that come with an inscription of your choice.  Totally custom.  Totally you.  These honestly make the best presents ever. I mean, really, anyone you love enough to buy a fabulous Moxie and Oliver present for you probably love enough to tell them the sentiment behind it, right?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And the winner is....

BANJO!!!  Congrats to the pattern's creator, Cari Reynolds.  She has one $500 worth of Moxie and Oliver merchandise, which I personally think should all be in the Banjo pattern.

Also worth an honorable mention were the two runners-up.  New Nouveau got quite a few votes, and I love the possibilities that this pattern has.  Odds are pretty good it will be made into something as well.  Peacock and Blackberries were also very popular, and had I been able to vote, I would have had trouble choosing.  I have ideas/plans for these patterns as well.  So, sufficed to say, out of this lovely array of pattern choices, though only one gets the grand prize, there were many good ideas that deserve to be brought to fruition!

On a very personal side note, this pattern contest was an emotional roller coaster for me. I am highly aware of the ability for anything involving online voting to become a popularity contest.  To try to mitigate this, I pestered my friends and family while voting was up so that I could get as many unbiased votes in there as possible.  I wanted to make sure that the best pattern really did prevail, and when all is said and done, I'm confident that the winning pattern truly was the favorite among unbiased voters.  Vote counting took me a little longer than originally anticipated because I looked for the source of each vote, and took that into consideration when making the final determination of who the winner was.  The reason that I'm sharing this is that I want you all to know that I value you, your ideas, and the fairness/justness of the process.  I did work in law, after all, and have never been able to shake the extreme importance I put on truth, justice, and equality.

That's all for now.  Winner, finalists, and entrants should receive an email from me shortly.  If you do not, please send me one with your pattern name/number! All of you deserve a special thanks for participating in this creative contest.


Friday, October 14, 2011


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Sweetest kitten ever.  Sprawled out on my desk. Looking for tummy rubs.

The daily, or nightly, Stella.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Studio Table


This is what is currently on my table. Maybe she is in progress – she is eating a lot these days – but she seems pretty perfect to me.  She just sits there and purrs, and purrs, and rolls on her back and purrs some more.  She’s lovely.


The wider view, with Jax and Delilah.  I’m starting to feel like I am running out of space for me.  Which is why a new studio is coming soon, though I do believe I will take them with me to the new studio, every day….



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pattern Finalists

So today was an exercise in endurance.  I don’t sketch, but for the pattern entry finalists, I had to sketch out each pattern.

It’s a little funny since I don’t know if these are how people really intended their patterns to look, but I did my best from the descriptions that I was given.  There are a few that I see as versatile patterns that I could put on anything and everything in my collection, and others that are a little more limited.  Some of them bring a new direction to the line, and some fit in like they have always been there.

So, in no particular order, here are the sketches.  You have to go to my Facebook page to vote, though!

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new nouveau


pictures and words


Sunday, October 9, 2011



I’m way behind in my blogging.

Last weekend we went to Ellensburg to pick up Stella from our friend Barbara. Kevin and I first met her when she was a wee little kitten (back in August) and he fell in love.  She was the runt of her litter and such a sweetheart. He carried her around for our entire visit.  Unfortunately, though, she already had a home and it wasn’t ours.

A few weeks later we found out that Stella could be ours.  The home that she was going to had a different request, so Barbara offered her to us.  We were excited, and a little nervous since we had planned on getting two boy kittens.  Neither of us had ever really bonded with a girl kitty in the same way we had bonded with our boys.  But, we figured since he’d fallen so in love with her initially, it was meant to be.

So we talked about her, and Kevin suggested that we name her Olivia.  I love the name, so last Sunday we went to pick up Olivia.  As we’re sitting in the living room of Barbara’s house, I’m holding the kitten, thinking, I don’t really want to name her Olivia.  I think she is more of a Stella.

We have our visit, pick some plums, squash, carrots, and all sorts of other amazing things that Barbara has in her garden for us, get in the car, and hit the road.  We are in the car for about ten minutes when Kevin says to me:

“I bet you don’t want to name her Olivia.   I bet you want to name her something like Stella.”

To which I respond with a series of half words, gasps, squeaks and other forms of startled exclamation as I try not to veer the car off the road.

“How in the world? Did I say that??? HOW DID YOU KNOW???”

He never did answer me.  And I think I asked him about every five minutes for the entire drive home. 

So Stella it is.  And when we call her, we say “STELLA!!! STEL-LA!!!!”

And she sits on my lap, and my desk, and cuddles and purrs, and lets the baby pick her up.  She is a sweetie.  I really, really adore her.  We all agree that our home feels better with a kitten in it.  It just hasn’t been the same without our meows!





(and to those of you who ask why we didn’t rescue a kitten since there are so many that need homes – we would have, but my husband is allergic.  And there are not many Siberian kittens to be rescued.  Kevin was sweet enough to put up with Oliver for seven years because we were a package deal, but new cats have to be hypoallergenic).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shoe School



So in late September I traveled to Port Townsend and learned how to make shoes.  This post has been a long time coming, and has backed up some other posts I want to make (like about the kitten!!!) so I have to get it done.  Anyway, here are some photos of the process.  It was amazing in many ways, and very stressful in others.  I’m not used to being away from my daughter (who is 15 months), so this was the first time I really ventured out into the world.  And I’m not used to following instructions – one of the pleasures of being self-taught – so there was a little bit of an adjustment there for me as well.  I did learn some new tricks for my own work, made a pair of shoes, drank a lot of coffee, and made a new friend.  It was, all in all, a good five days. 

And here are some photos….


Beginning  of day four, I think, with my shoe outsides all stitched together.  And a big cup of coffee.  Seriously – 24oz Mocha.  INSANE!



“Heel Counters” on the backs of the lasts.  Basically tooling leather molded to the back of the shoe last to keep form/structure in the shoe.



Alan, the instructor, on the left showing Mark how to last the liner on his shoes (pulling it tight, gluing in place, hammering down, to create a smooth upper on the shoe).



Shoe uppers waiting to be lasted.  I think those are John’s in the front, and mine in the back.



Uppers lasted, heel counters on, waiting for the “toe puff” or toe cap.



Toe puff in the toaster oven, me waiting to see it.  Coffee in the foreground.  Lots of it.



Me smoothing out the toe puff.



THEY LOOK LIKE SHOES!!!!  Toe puff in, uppers fully lasted, just waiting for some sole!



Shoes sitting on the sole.



John lasting his shoes.



Me breaking the shoe off the last.






Shoe insides.



Lasts after having been broken off the shoes we made.



John modeling his new shoes.



All of us with our shoes.  You’d think we would be happier about it!



My new shoes.  Blucher Oxfords, with a little of my own style added in.  Don’t they look fast?




Monday, October 3, 2011

Pick a Pattern!

So the entries are in!! And there are a lot of them.  So in no particular order, here they are.  Choose your favorite based on the descriptions, and leave your choices in the comments below.  Some people did submit drawings, but I have left those out so as not to skew any voting.  Good luck to all those who entered!


1.  Crowned Kitty: Kitty with a crown sitting on a moon.  Stars in the background, and lines of little diamonds that look like strands of jewels.  A Victorian chandelier is hanging from one of these strands.  The pattern would be just one color, with the design branded in. The feel would be Victorian and glamorous.

2. Dachshunds: Simple dachshund dogs playing in different positions/stances, and a few bones and paw prints to fill in the empty space.

3. Woodland Forrest: The center would be a big knotted Lord of the Rings style tree with woodland creatures - bunny, skunk, chipmunk, owl, fox, raccoon, hedgehog – and some mushrooms at the tree base.  Colors would be traditional browns and greens.

4. A Bit Witchy:  Simple black background with suns, moons and stars in warm tones.

5. African Language:  This pattern would incorporate elements of an ancient West African language called Adinkra which is composed of symbols.  The symbols are simple graphic elements, representing strength, adaptability, energy, harmony, unity, and other qualities.

6. Blackberries: Prickly, but with the reward of a sweet fruit, this pattern would be composed of blackberries and brambles.  It represents the person who is slow to warm up, but worth the reward.

7. Unity: Two wolves sleeping together, with their heads towards the center of the image.  One wolf has her head down, sleeping, while the other has his head up, keeping guard. 

8. Wings: Angel wings in creamy whites against a caramel colored background, at all sorts of angles.  Dreamy and rustic,

9. Aspen: This piece would incorporate the seasons of the Aspen tree, and the complexity of the leaves (simple at a glance, but complex close up).  It would have leaves in the changing colors, and trees in several seasons.

10. Grass:  Blades of grass in different shades of green with one tiny red ladybug.

11:  Dragonfly: Fluffy white clouds with a turquoise sky and one dragonfly.

12: Minimalist Hiker: Dark brown leather with leafy vines as the border to the pattern.  In the center, a top-down view of a stump.

13. Roots: A tree laying down roots in many directions, trying to find the most stable structure.  The result would be more like a texture than an image.  Colors would be muted shades of red, green, and some purple, with brown to represent the earth, stability and body.

14. Peacock:  The body of the bird would be smaller, and the tail feathers would be the focal point (tail feathers closer to the viewer).  The colors would be blue, green, purple, gold and black and the lighter colors would be spattered/dripped as accents. The eyes of the feathers could be cut out (on items that can have holes).

15. Night Gardening: Dark blue or antique black background with white flowers in the foreground, moon above and moths flying up to it, possibly the green Lunar Moth.  Stars in the sky and a moth silhouette against the moon.  The design would evoke the feeling of walking through the garden in the moonlight – quiet and peaceful but awake and magical.

16. Anteater: Tamandua anteater (smaller species) with black and gold coloring with its tongue out, eating up ants, stars, hearts, snowflake, flowers, berries, and all sorts of other things.  The design would be flexible and customizable by changing what the anteater is eating.  The design would be sweet, fun, original and quirky with meaning enough to make it special.

17. Pegasus: A Pegasus inspired by Roman myth. Colors would be night blue and an elegant black creature.  Deco style pattern to evoke both the ancient Egyptian and Roman styles.

18. Flamboyan Tree:  The pattern would be a Flamboyan tree with the 2 o’clock sun casting an elongated shadow, and the branches blowing in the wind with flowers flying off.  There would be a wild brown goat taking shelter from the sun in the shadow of the tree.

19.  Pictures + Words: Inspired by surrealism, this pattern would combine words and images.  One example would be a piece inspired by the Chinese proverb “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think”  where the words “its later than you think” are written in a circle, making the face of the clock, with the hands of the clock being made up of the words “enjoy” and “life”.  Or a pattern with a sunset and the words “tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week” (Spanish proverb).

20. Thrifting: Inspired by handmade cotton doilies, this pattern would have a single round doily carved into the leather as though it was just placed there, off center, in unexpected colors.  Dark brown and black against lighter colors, as though someone forgot to move a doily before painting the table, or they left it there for decades exposed to the sun, and when they took the doily off it revealed the beautiful damage – a happy accident.

21. Summer Squash: Inspired by gardening and farms, the pattern would be a combination of squash, squash blossoms and squash leaves.

22. New Nouveau: This pattern would have vines and roses, buds and flowers with a few leaves and thorns.  The vines would be twisted and climbing with butterflies in between. It would symbolize growth, development, transformation, and pure beauty with a bit of sadness and unspoken pain (the thorns).  Roses would be red with deep green leaves and vines, the butterfly would be off-white for purity, some would be teal/turquoise, orange and yellow, and an antique black background.

23.  Banjo: A banjo fretboard that has come to life. Silver lines representing the strings and climbing around these lines are vines with deep orange Japanese lantern flowers and small teal lotus flowers. A few little scrolls in silver to represent the inlay. 

24. Crazy Quilt: This pattern would be made up of fan shapes that are formed by vertical bands of colors in varying widths with pointed tips.  The bands would be outlined by branding marks for the “stitching” and the colors would be teal, orange, magenta, pink, purple, black and metallic.

25. Archer:  For the straight-shooter, this pattern would be made up of boldly striped arrows in teal, orange, red, black and silver with simple feather tails and copper tips.


Thanks to all those who entered!!! There are a lot of amazing ideas here.  I look forward to seeing who the winner is!