Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why do I Create?

This post was inspired by Tara Scoutie Girl's post on the topic: http://www.scoutiegirl.com/2010/12/why-do-you-make.html
In the Beginning

I make because I can't not make, I can't help myself. I taught myself how to sew at age 4, it's all expanded from there.  I don't remember what inspired me then or where I saw it - no one in my family sews, but I had to do it.  Now, if I didn't I think I'd explode. It's essential for my peace of mind. It's my stress ball.
My first sewing project

I would beg my mom to take me to the fabric store. I loved walking through the isles of fabric, touching them all. I'd pour over patterns - so many options my brain would go on creative overload. I'd wrangle the fabric bolts up to the cutting counter, and tell the clerk confidently how much I needed.  Without fail she would look from me to my mother, and then ask my mom if it was the correct amount. She would look at the clerk and reply flatly "I have no idea, I don't know which end of the needle to thread". They'd cut my fabric, I'd skip to the car and squirm all the way home with excitement to create something.
The children's isle in craft stores was like a friend just waiting to be picked to play and I couldn't get enough play dates. I made hook rugs, paper flowers, paint by number paintings, pet rocks, paper mache, sun catchers with baking crystals, and many, many more. All eventually evolving into a minor in Art at college - I had three principle focuses at the time; ceramics, photography & jewelry making.  Then after college, I think out of boredom, I took some outside classes and discovered I had a knack for knitting.  Which I became completely obsessed with until I knitted it out of my system.  That same year I picked up candle and soap making too. I also love to alter things; for example, I found a fantastic men's tail Tux coat in a beautiful and subtle stripe.  So I decided to "give it some character" here is the result:

And now I make hats
Something I fell into while planning my wedding.  I was searching for a mini top hat that wasn't too expensive but wildly over the top in blue and purple, to match my dress. I couldn't find one so I ended up making my own.

Then I started finding tutorials on felting hats and exploring millinery techniques, then my husband bought me a Millinery Instruction Kit for my birthday.  I am learning more all the time. Which is a big part of what I love about it,  there is so much to learn, I also love that there are so many creative options with hats; size, shape, themes, colors, fabrics, bows, feathers, found objects.  There really is no limit and each one comes out unique. I think that is my favorite part.
Here's the latest creation:

So Why do I Create?
Sometimes I see something and think "I can make that" - better, cooler, cheaper, in a different color
Sometimes I need something that I can't find and think "how can I make it?"
Sometimes I need something for my hands to do so my brain can relax.
Sometimes I need the challenge of learning a new skill or refining old ones.

How about you? Why do you create?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lush Family

Latest hat: listed on Etsy, new larger size, covered in Sparkle Tulle
And a Debate
I'm having a debate... in my mind. It's about moving and where to go. As some of you may know, my family lives in Texas, in the suburbs of Dallas but also have a house outside of Tucson, AZ (don't ask me why they have two hot homes). My husband's family lives near Pueblo, CO and we live in Denver. We are seriously considering moving from Colorado to either... wait for it... Dallas or Portland.

What? Really? That's a CHOICE?
Yes, I know to many this is not a debate and I probably seem nuts.  Those who are not from Texas, do not understand it, or why Texans love it so much. Those from Texas can't understand why everyone doesn't love Texas as much as they do. Dallas is the 5th largest city in the US and has a little bit of everything, including hellish heat/humidity, the bible belt, a fashion mart, killer food and a low cost of living. As for Portland, well, it's cool as in hip and cool in temp, artsy, lush, beautiful, fiercely liberal, near the ocean...and wet and dreary and somewhat expensive - except when compared to Denver. For that matter, many people I know can not believe that I would for any reason ever want to leave Colorado.

Of Closets and Bathrooms
When Greg and I got engaged, my son and I moved into his house. It's cost effective, cute, has a great school for Ely and Greg truly enjoys having a house vs an apartment (not sharing walls), but I miss my old apartment. The problem lies with the size of the house, which was perfect for him & his daughter while he was a bachelor. However, we're a little smooshed for space, well, that is, a lot smooshed.

I had to put most of my belongings into storage, and he had to put a bunch of his in as well. I miss my books, my photo albums, and knick knacks, all of the decorations that always made my home mine.  At this point our bedroom closet - which is dark and is the size of a door... gives me a mini panic attack every time I look at it.  I have to keep the majority of my clothes - I have excessive amounts - in the basement for the same season and in storage for all the rest of the seasons along with the majority of my beautiful shoe collection - which I can't wear anyway due to my feet and knees having a full on mutiny, refusing to allow me to wear any kind of heel for over a year... but I digress and that's another story. My reaction to this confinement and claustrophobic panic is to leave most of the few clothes I can wear crumpled on my desk. This is not very adult of me, and while I have separate mini panic attacks over the growing desk pile, it's only enough to get me to clear it off & hang everything up about once a month - or two - sometimes three. Arg! I know. I'm ashamed.

My poor husband has to keep his clothes in the basement...I did try to clear some space in one of my two dressers but he didn't utilize it so I took it back. I know it could be worse and this is my spoiled side coming through... but still.  My reaction to cramped, is malfunction.  I will try not to go on about my last apartment, but the BEST thing about it was the bathroom, which was huge, had a long counter, a wall of mirrors, double sinks, a garden tub and a walk in closet you could fit a king sized mattress in.  Now THAT's what I call a bathroom/closet. I LOVED it. But I love my husband more. Our house has one bathroom (even my apartment had two full baths - it had double master bedrooms, okay I'll stop) with four occupants. In our small bathroom there is only a stand alone sink, no counter, more ARG! No SPACE.  Beside all of this, in the rest of the house there is little room for crafting, which is what I do. So more of the Arg!  Not that this is in any way anyone's fault - it's just the situation.

We must move
We all agree, we must move. Initially we thought the cramped would only be for a year (I told myself, you can live anywhere for a year, suck it up) & then we'd move into a larger place, but given the neighborhood, the very tiny school district, and the cost of housing in Denver, that's no longer looking like an option. Even if we move to a different district it just doesn't make much sense to us any more. We can't afford to buy a house here, not and be anywhere we want to live in the Denver area.

So now what?
At the same time we were discussing where to live we started discussing where we really want to be and what we want to be doing. Both of us are creative types and are pursuing those dreams.  We are working towards living off our artistic endeavors - and quiting our "day jobs".

In the midst of this, my health is not conducive to staying in Colorado. The climate is simply too dry for my system and I've been told by my doctors as long as I stay here I will continue to be sick. Period. I need to live in a moist climate in order to be (more) healthy. I have been fighting with the dry for 17 years, and have chronic non-allergenic rhinitis - no allergies.  Chronic inflammation of the sinus cavities due to anything in the air I breathe getting stuck in there, worsened by the dryness which turns into a sinus infection because I've had almost all of the mucus membranes in my head removed and in all, my sinus don't work properly.  This is a whole long topic in of itself, but let's wrap it up by saying I have had 4 sinus surgeries which have only helped in that I am still alive. Whoop-di-do.

According to happiness studies, a big part of being happy is being close to friends and family.  I believe that my son will benefit from being closer to his grandparents.  He is very close with them and they really saw me through the hard times of my divorce.  They are retired now and in their 70s. This is a huge component in this decision.  Of course this means my husband will be farther away from his parents while I'd be closer to mine (quandary). We also have some "extended" family in the Dallas area - it's where most of the "Village" who raised me live.

Another added benefit is that since my parents do have two homes, they'd be willing to let us stay at their Dallas house, while they live out of their AZ house so we can get settled - find a house of our own, figure out school districts etc.  So the transition here would be fairly easy.

As for work, you may be wondering what the plan is with that. We are hoping Greg will be working "from home" full time by then, in which case he can work anywhere. We hope I'll only need to find a part time job, perhaps in a craft store, to fill in the finances from my Etsy business which I hope to expand beyond hats as well. Dallas has a fairly good job market, did I mention they have a Fashion Mart? And they have lots of craft stores.

But then there's the heat...
Which kills us. I am not a heat person, unless I am in the swimming pool, then bring it. Seriously, my body temperature regulation system is that of a lizard. However, with the approach of my 40's I now have no cold, only hot. Over hot... most of the time. Night sweats are no joke. I now understand. And I thought it was bad when I was pregnant and would run into the bathroom and lay on the cold tile floors to cool off. Nope this is worse. So that is a definite negative, but as my mother always says, everything - I mean everything - is air conditioned in Texas. And I do love to swim, and so does the rest of my family. So then that's a bonus. Hummm, this is tough.

To Recap
Dallas = cost effective, family support, healthier Darian, transitional housing, a bigger place to live for roughly the same amount of money, better job options, swimming and closer to parents approaching elderly - just in case.

And then there's Portland
It's beautiful and lush. The humidity will be just as good for my health. It has a very creative atmosphere. Havi, and Chris live in Portland so that's a plus.  Maybe I could get to play at the playground. And according to them Portland is fabulous.  There is the issue of a terrible job market, but as mentioned before we hope to not need to really be looking for jobs there. But it leaves very little fall back room.

And then there is the whole, Portland underground culture; the actual underground - there are even walking tours of it, plus underground music, art, films and fantastic foodie restaurants. Mmmmm so much good to explore. And the heat won't really be an issue - another one in the plus column. The lack of sun may become one, but after 3 years in the Netherlands - which has very similar weather, I think I'd be okay with it.

Here is an interesting statistic...  this is just a Darian quick internet research evaluation. Based on the three cities DMA ranking:
Portland is listed as the 22nd largest US City. It has 265 stores listed under Arts & Crafts in Yelp.
Denver is #17, it has 140 stores listed.
Dallas is #5, it has 169 stores listed.
So my logic says there are more craft stores supporting more interest in crafts for the population of Portland given it's relative size. This is good since what I do is craft and my ultimate goal is to own a craft store.  It is a crafty town and has a community full of crafters and creative people. On the other hand, perhaps Dallas needs more craft stores.

In my heart of hearts, I know it's going to be Dallas. At this point it simply is the best option. But I keep thinking of Portland as the place to be.... perhaps in 10 years when Ely is off to college and it's just the two of us Portland will become our retirement home, our future dream shop.  We are planning a trip out to Portland towards the end of March. Perhaps this will be the deciding factor. One way or another a decision has to be made in the next few months as our lease is coming up the end of May.

Figuring out the logistics of making two life long dreams come true when stacked up along with family and health is a daunting task.  I know we'll figure it out and we'll make the best of wherever we are.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Halloween Monster Costume Photos and Hat Update

Monster Smash
So the Monster costume discussed in my last post came out great once it was all put together. Some lessons learned, for instance, that when making monster feet, don't get too extreme with them.  By this I mean, when I made ours I made the feet & toes really big, going for maximum monster effect, but wasn't accounting for how much wear & tear the strain of the additional length would have on the whole piece. After going to the Colorado Railroad Museum on Saturday for their Trick or Treating and walking around for an hour or two both Ely & my feet broke. Ely's in a more spectacular way, practically exploding off his foot while chasing Cyrus around an open area.  Mine on the other hand only split one foot down the side from walking.

So there you are, lesson learned: Keep Monster Feet/Toes only 1-2" longer than the shoe (mine were approx. 6-8" longer than my shoe).

So on Sunday night Greg & I went out to The Church nightclub and I had to wear boots instead, which was probably for the best since my toes probably would have been stepped on had I been wearing the monster feet, and dancing may have been an exercise in not falling.
Here are a couple of photos from both events:

So after Halloween, I experienced some kind of energy lull. Perhaps adjusting to the time change. Obviously I wasn't posting on here, but I also wasn't making hats.  I think I just need a little time to recover from the Halloween rush, it came upon me so quickly this year, I was unprepared and was rushing to complete my many mini witch hats in time.
Steampunk Inspiration
Now that my creative batteries have been re-charged, I'm back at it. I was inspired by THIS and have just listed on Etsy a fabulous new Time Travel inspired Steampunk style hat that has a clock work "flower".  It was so much fun to make and figure out.

More to Come
I am also working on several vinyl - the shiny PVC kind - hats, and working on another version of the snow leopard fake fur hat, so much in the works!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Think Monster

It's creeping around the corner in high top sneakers (he's one of my favorites)
So here we are 3 short days until Halloween.  There is still the possibility of a couple of last minute orders getting out - with some additional shipping costs for any of you who are last minute costume shopping.  Anyone still need a fabulous witch hat for their costume? Let me know!

It's been a great first run at a holiday season - so far.  I figure Halloween is my primary season for hats but there are some new products in the works to extend my reach. I have ideas, I'm brainstorming and open to suggestions, too.

On another note... a Purple Monster Note
This Halloween I've been so occupied with making hats, I was having a hard time feeling inspired for my own costume... until I came across a link to this tutorial while researching sewing techniques the other day - How to make MONSTER FEET!  What? Easy to make fabulous MONSTER FEET??? Yes, really! It inspired me to no end, setting off a completely manic spree of Monster Feet making that lead to my inevitable conclusion... I MUST be a One Eyed, One Horned, Flying Purple People Eater for Halloween this year! Yes, definitely!

Now, how to pull this off?
Well, I learned how to make dreaded roving wool hair falls.
Then I made a Hat - because of course I have to wear a hat.
And I needed to have only one eye... so I made an eye patch
And I needed a horn, so I made two, but will only wear one of them for this costume. 
And I'd need some kind of Monster Fur Shirt - I added to a purple tank top I already had
 And I'd need arm and leg warmers out of Monster Fur too, of course!

But what to wear on my butt? Well a TUTU of course! With purple tights and fishnets over the top to look like scales and black bicycle shorts to make sure I'm covered. As I'm sure those who know me are aware, I already had the tutu. 
AND MONSTER FEET!!!!! Not the best picture, there will be more, but yes, my toenails are painted silver, because everyone knows that girly monsters like silver toes!
Oh, and one last thing to top it all off... I had to have some kind of Monster purse to carry for the night, a normal purse simply wouldn't due! (Covered a small cardboard box & made a lid & a chain shoulder strap.)

I think that does it. BUT just in case, someone might want to see... here are the MONSTER FEET we made for my husband & children.  Madelynn made her own in silver and Ely & I worked together on his (green) & Greg's (black).


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Here's the latest & greatest - to date

So I've been working hard and have created some very glam new hats. And on a side note, it seems sales are continuing to come in - so YAY!

Heads up - For most US locations ORDERS PLACED BY MONDAY 10/25 CAN ARRIVE BY HALLOWEEN. Check out all of the latest designs at Etsy

And Now the GLAM:

Snow Leopard Mini Top - Front

Snow Leopard Mini Top - Back

White Witch Mini - Front

White Witch Mini - Back

Purple Stars & Dragonfly Mini Witch - Front

Purple Stars & Dragonfly Mini Witch - Back

Silver Mini Stovepipe Top - Front
Silver Mini Stovepipe Top - Back

Friday, October 15, 2010

Applying My New Skills

I'm so excited. I've been learning so many awesome new techniques that I just have to show off my latest creation. There will be much more to show on Monday but for now, just a small peak...

Allow me to introduce: MONSTER MELT (scroll down for the pics)
I've actually learned how to cover the frame/base of my hat with fabric. And even better, I've learned how to finish off the inside so it looks more professional. And making bows has always been a challange for me but i believe I've found a solution. Check out the listing on Etsy.

Coming Soon
In a couple of days, furry snow leopard print fabulousness AND the shiny is making an appearance! I am in the process of making a hat out of alligator print silver vinyl covered with fishnet that will knock your socks off. Tons of ideas and new hats in the works.  I've got plans for a true Steampunk inspired hat: brown leather with shiny brass gears and watch parts. It's going to be - well, fabulous!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Inowanna Iguanas and New HATS

I've been bad

So I lied. Time got away from me and I haven't had the passion the time, I would have liked to post here. Been struggling with the iguanas (iguana = anything you don’t feel like doing). Inowanna! (thank you Havi). Wasn't feeling very inspired to write or do much of anything for about a week there. So, bad me, bad creator and blogger! I failed immediately following stating my goal to my blog reading public. Hum, does that sound familiar? *long pause* Well at least I got that out of the way. I, however, am not going to stop. Because, I'm like that. I have finally pet the iguana and I feel much better now. And inspired again.

What's really inspiring?

Well, let me tell you. I sold 3 hats in two days this week! For a creator on the edge of loosing hope after only having one sale since mid-August, (and that one in August being the only one at all) I was beginning to get a teeny tiny bit discouraged. But yay Halloween! And Costumes! And fabulous mini hats! Time to make more!

New Hats

I have created some fabulous new Mini Witch Hats. The two seen in this entry have been posted to Esty and I have two more in the works. Tonight I'm working on a Frankenstein Green and Black one, with a veil/train thing - oh! and rhinestones - that will be fabulous. So much fun it's going to be hard to part with these little guys.

I've also found some new materials and have plans in the works for a black and white vinyl mini top hat as well as a blood red and black mini top covered in "Monster Melt"... I'll keep you posted on my progress. Since I'm using new techniques on almost every hat much of these creations are trial and error, which are then followed by fantastic mistakes - meaning mistakes that turned out fabulous!

Learning Stuff - Lots

In other news, I have started my classes in how to make straw hats and it's very interesting. Next step is to take the plunge and buy some vintage hat blocks off of Ebay. This is very exciting! I'm looking forward to finishing my classes and starting some adult sized hats. But where will I ever find the room for the blocks? May need to move up to a larger storage shed.
In addition to this I've been researching a ton of new hat accessorizing methods and implementing them in my new designs. The coolness is getting cooler. And more fun for me to try out new stuff. Fun is good. It keeps me motivated and moving and happy.

So here's to happy and another blog posted... if only a week late.