Weekly Theme - Tools of the Trade

We are about half way through our planned adventure in Ireland which floods me with mixed feelings ranging from desire to stay and make this our home while the United States weathers their raging political storm, to excitement of returning to our cozy handmade cabin in the woods, our family, friends and creative endeavors there.  The not knowing what is next, becomes stressful so this week focus is on getting some creative work under my belt.  The scrap project I am working on with Avoca is inspiring new collage techniques and deep satisfaction in contributing to the well-being of an heirloom company by turning their waste into a revenue stream.  In addition, I am super excited about offering a couple more half day Used Clothing Alchemy Sewing Sessions to a growing group that gathered last weekend for the first Irish workshop of my career.  (Sure wish I had thought to take pictures!).  Each participant brought a piece of clothing that needed transformation for a range of reasons from wrong size, to wrong length, or blemishes.  Everyone left with a garment they were excited to reincorporate into their wardrobe.  On Friday afternoons I am helping Martina Tarpey, our warm, welcoming, and crafty school principal with her crafts club of 5th and 6th class students.  Each girl is making a quilt!  Lucy took a great interest in the idea and is off to a running start.  It is super fun to be in that setting and have an opportunity to get to know the children in Lucy's class a bit.

In addition to the beautiful antique sewing machine that belonged to my granny, I purchased a new machine and now have a cabinet full of all the things needed to get some samples made for Avoca and carry on teaching.  Super EXCITING! I might just make myself a steady stream of income here helping open our options for what is to follow our family adventure winding down at the end of April.  

Shown above is a collection of some of my favorite tools to work with found in my Etsy CrispinaMaterial Shop as well as around the Etsy marketplace.  For more information - including how to purchase, any of the items featured you can click on them and be taken to the corresponding Etsy shop. (Regrettably this feature is only available for the theme week.) Part of my mission here is to shine a light and encourage cultural support of these hand-makersand/or vintage sellers. 

What are the tools of your trade? Readers are encouraged to participate!  Submit an image by Wednesday that pertains to the weekly theme and be featured in Friday's 1000 Words post right here.  Along with your original image please send your name, location of the image, email and website if you would like your image linked.  5 images are selected each week.

1000 Words ~ Let There Be Light

Each week this journal has a Theme that helps me organize and focus on current goals +/or projects.  As the world stomachs the outspoken bigot in the White House my focus is on all that is right in the world.  This week's theme was Let There Be Light.  Now if we can let that light shine on us and let us continue to shine it forward we can harness our power.

Check EVENTS for upcoming Themes.

The week begins on Sundays with a gallery of images from Etsy that speak to the Theme.  The week unfolds with posts that circle back to the theme and on Fridays 1000 Words is published - a 5 frame gallery of images submitted by readers that link to their online presence and speak to the theme from their point of reference.   Readers are encouraged to submit original images for consideration to Crispinaffrench@gmail.com with 1000 WORDS in the subject line.  Submissions should be horizontally formatted jpg files, sized 960x480px (we can resize if needed) with your full name and location.  Thank you to all of you who submitted!  Here is this weeks collection:

Shire City Sanctuary - Pittsfield MA

Shire City Sanctuary - Pittsfield MA

Traught Beach - Kinvara Galway

Traught Beach - Kinvara Galway

NY Times - A Beautiful Apolgy

NY Times - A Beautiful Apolgy

Healing Harvest - Kinvara Co. Galway

Healing Harvest - Kinvara Co. Galway

Full Moon - Doorus Co. Galway

Full Moon - Doorus Co. Galway

1000 Words ~ Silk Screen Printing

Each week this journal has a Theme that helps with organization and focus on current goals +/or projects.  As I embark of the stencil-cutting aspect of my work with The Dolphin Studio, Silkscreen Printing is our focus this week. 

Check EVENTS for upcoming Themes.

The week begins on Sundays with a gallery of images from Etsy that speak to the Theme.  The week unfolds with posts that circle back to the theme and on Fridays 1000 Words is published - a 5 frame gallery of images submitted by readers that speak to the theme from their point of reference.   Readers are encouraged to submit original images for consideration to Crispinaffrench@gmail.com with 1000 WORDS in the subject line.  Submissions should be horizontally formatted jpg files, sized 960x480px with your full name and location.  Thank you to all of you who submitted!  Here is this weeks collection:

Sofia Hughes - The Dolphin Studio, Stockbridge, MA

Sofia Hughes - The Dolphin Studio, Stockbridge, MA

copyright Anne Silber 2017 - Boston MA

copyright Anne Silber 2017 - Boston MA

Anne Silber - Boston, MA

Anne Silber - Boston, MA

Judy Bates - Berkshire Poster - Lenox, MA

Judy Bates - Berkshire Poster - Lenox, MA

Dylan Morehouse - Wandering Oak - Pittsfield, MA

Dylan Morehouse - Wandering Oak - Pittsfield, MA

Weekly Theme ~ Screen Printing

This week I am beginning to search out artists to show at Shire City Sanctuary's professional BINGO! Gallery.  Shire City Sanctuary is the Not For Profit my hubby and I founded in Pittsfield MA.  It is a Makerspace focused on Screen Printing, Sewing, Technology, and a beautiful Commercial Kitchen.  Gallery shows will focus on artwork produced onsite or with tools we have onsite - helping people understand what is possible in the Makerspace.  While my head is wrapped up in getting the word out to possible showing artists, I thought it would be good to show you guys some inspiring screen prints (also known as serigraphy) I found on Etsy.  Take a look here and let me know if you, or someone you know is an artist who might be a good fit for BINGO! 

For more information - including how to purchase, any of the items featured in the images above you can click on them and be taken to the corresponding Etsy shop.  Part of my mission here is to shine a light on hand-makers and encourage cultural support of these folks. 

Weekly Themes are back!  Submit an image by Wednesday that pertains to be featured in Friday's 1000 Words post right here.  Along with your original image please send your name and email. 

Textile Recycling Next Steps

The over-consumption culture of the US is, evidently, nationally specific.  This realization came to me while scouring each Irish town we visit for thrift shops seeking raw material for my creative process.  So far, thrift shops here are small, unorganized and mostly kinda dirty.  Most clothing is not wool and fairly well worn.  Funny in this land of Aran sweaters and sheep in every other meadow that wool is so scarce - or maybe it just doesn't get discarded. 

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Before Christmas the girls and I went on a yarn hunt in Galway for making some of the gifts we were giving.  The vast majority of what we found available were colorful synthetic fiber, which, I dare say, we find unappealing.  Seems like we must be missing the mark on our findings – maybe there are places we have not found where at least wool yarn is for sale in an array of magical colors and textures.  We’ll continue our search and keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I’ve been kicking myself for foolishly thinking that I didn’t need to bring a nice big warm wool sweater with me on this adventure.  I felt sure there would be plenty of time to make one here.  Never did it dawn on me that the United States’ overconsumption problem is real – and so apparently cultural.   Most of me relishes this knowledge – but I sure would love a nice big zipper hoodie on my morning walks.

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Difficulty in finding suitable recycled materials is sparking an interest in researching wool textile manufacturers and planning trips to visit them to discuss waste capture and repurposing.  When I was a kid, before we emigrated to The States we lived in Co. Wicklow near Avoca.   We will plan a trip across the country to visit there after the New Year. 

Today we are off the Limerick to witness horse racing first hand.  It will be a first for all of us – the girls are STOKED!

Happy Birthday Lucy as we Settle In

Happy 11th Birthday to Lucy today!  We all had a wonderful day celebrating our amazing kiddo.  She got an iPad, which she was super happy about.  Now we need to set parameters around its use. 

This picture was taken a couple weeks ago - a perfect visual of Lucy's spirit

This picture was taken a couple weeks ago - a perfect visual of Lucy's spirit

Mostly we will be using it for home schooling during our family hiatus.  We are planning to get started with that on Monday. 

Meanwhile, getting settled into the time change always takes a few days.  Kids were up til midnight and we had to drag them out of bed at 11 am.  Daylight here is fleeting.  Sun comes up around 9 and goes down by 4.  Twilight lasts an hour on either end of the day. 

Yesterday we went into Galway to see Auntie Ellie who has landed back in the hospital – seemingly due to the stress of her heirs fighting over who is in charge.  Arg!  Selfish/UnkindHoping to have a positive impact on it all.

Galway was packed with the Irish Christmas spirit.  Ferris wheel, carousel and carnival games, face painting and market in Eyre Square were a wonderful happening to stumble across.  Family tickets for the ferris wheel were €15.  We got a birdseye view of this ancient city on the sea and loved the slow turning pace. 

We are working on securing a car.  It is seems impossible to get car insurance here – the woman on the phone (at the third company we contacted) said they can’t insure artists!  Also need to decipher affordable and efficient phone communication.  My new iPhone from the states seems unable to place or receive calls – while Chris’ phone (my old iPhone) is fine. 

These challenges are easy to surmount.

What about Donald?  The more I read the stranger it gets.  Ivanka is going to play the role of First Lady??  This is no dress rehearsal peeps! 

Oooffff from here it sure looks like life as we know it in the grand ‘Ole US of A is rolling away from the comfort we have lived in.  Looks like our democracy is crumbling and we are tumbling into an abyss of judgment and division without a handle to grab. 

Looking forward to seeing what happens with the Electoral College on Monday. 

There are good things about this buffoon we have on our horizon.  He has encouraged engagement in our governmental process.   May all the good people working for a healthy harmonious planet come together as one golden force of light and make things right.

We walked to the pub for a pint of Guiness last night as the girls snuggled under heavy blankets in our cozy Irisih digs.

agricultural fairs

makerspace/ shared workspace

theatre and the performing arts

the beach at cape cod

Woven Community

This summer I have hosted two ‘Clothing Drive and Public Potholder Rug Weaves’ which have been well received and hugely gratifying to me. The idea came about via my desire to support and participate in community events to build awareness of creative reuse and environmental stewardship with community connection. IMG_2657

My friends Alan and Nancy Timmons came up with the idea of a clothing drive at the event Alan organized for Earthday at The Great Barrington Fair Grounds.

Genius! A mutually beneficial way to support and connect!

I added the rug weaving aspect to fulfill my desire to create and eye-catching way to bring people in and participate. It works out to be pretty darn magical on so many levels. Neighbors, Friends, and total strangers spend time connecting and physically weaving an amazing rug – from trash.  All the materials used are cut from discarded clothing including sweaters, sweatshirts, tshirts, and even socks.  What symbolism! In this age of violence and disconnect we connect and become greater than a sum of our parts.

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This past weekend a Clothing Drive/Public Potholder Rug Weave was hosted as part of Becket’s Hilltown Brouhaha and it was amazing! Even in the rain people came out with donated clothing and the willingness to make what turned out to be a super beautiful 2.5x3.5ft Potholder Rug.

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Now I need to buckle into the details of making these events complete by closing the circle and selling the rug – with proceeds donated to the Becket/Washington PTO (in this case). The hard part has been figured out. We collect clothing, we cut the material into weavable strips and we construct a rug – and at the end of the day there is this glorious fruit of the day’s labor that needs to be sold.

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Now there are two of these amazing rugs ready for new homes and two amazing organizations in need of support to make their missions fly. I am looking for ways to bring in the communities and organizations invested in the project to reconnect for the sale aspect of this work. I’d love to figure out a way to run an auction with bids running for a week following the event.  Does anyone know how to make that happen?  These first two charity rug sales might be a little rough but let me gather the pertinent email lists from participating organizations and then, stay tuned! I'll let you know when/where you can place a bid and let’s see where this will take us!

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