Friday, July 6, 2012

New Works at Artichoke Gallery & Collective

Since I last wrote, I have switched creative gears from fibers to wood collage, and have been really enjoying this new-to-me medium. Unexpectedly, 3 of my new works have been accepted into a collage show at Artichoke Gallery & Collective (  The opening reception is tonight from 7-10pm.  If you happen to be in SE Portland, please stop by, have a drink with us, and see my work in person.

"this way and that"
"nowhere to go but up"

"there might be something to this"
 Thanks for reading! Enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Modified Style

Modified Style is an annual fashion fundraiser held here in Portland, OR.  Designers are given bags of scrap fabric and have to make a wearable outfit for the big runway show.  Proceeds from the event are then given to local nonprofit organizations. It's alway a blast, and I enjoy the challenge of making within certain restrictions. This year I opted to participate in the 24 hour challenge, which meant that not only did I need to make something (hopefully) beautiful, but I also only had overnight and the next morning to do it.
Me hard at work in the studio.
Leading up to the day, I had sketched out some ideas of what I might like to make, but without knowing the types of fabric I would be given.  I thought I wanted to make hot pants or some sort of leggings, so I was banking on getting some sort of stretchy knit material, and I did! Score.

My cutting table, a.k.a. the hardwood floor.
I ended up making a pencil skirt instead, as my outfit was quickly taking more of a tribal chic feeling, over the urban street style, as originally intended.

Me on the runway. I was the show opener!
A shot of the back side. Sorry for the blur. Guess I was strutting too fast!

Close up. Dig the war paint?
The runway show closes with a silent auction of all the wares.  Perhaps someday I'll see someone strutting down the streets of Portland in this one of a kind. Who knows?

Rescuing sad, yucky fibers -- Part 2

Here's a look at the next step in the felting process--wet felting.  I prefer to use Kiss My Face Olive Oil soap and warm water. The tray I use is like a large baking sheet, but I think it came from an auto parts store. The back textured mat is just a section of plastic no-slip flooring material from my friendly neighborhood hardware store. It's striped texture is just enough to effectively felt the fibers...with plenty of rubbing and elbow grease.

Here you can see the the fibers are starting to meld together and the batt is getting denser. But it's not done yet!
photo by Alyssa Kail
Now it's done! Amazingly, it shrunk down to about 1/3 of it's original size.

photo by Alyssa Kail
So, I rinsed it and hung it up to dry.  It currently resembles a misshapen animal pelt, and I'm not sure what I'll make with it at this point, but I'll be sure to post the finished product.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rescuing sad, yucky fibers. Step 1

photo by Alyssa Kail

Exhibit A: a mound of mangled, sad, yucky fiber. Stored improperly, dirty, and all mashed together, this fiber mass is about as appealing as dryer lint. But I see potential! Hard to believe, but true.

photo by Alyssa Kail

The first step is to pick and card. Literally, pick out the debris of grasses and other organic matter and then card (comb) the fibers into soft tufts.

I then laid out the tufts into a rectangular shape creating 3 batts with 4-5 layers of roving.  I lightly needle felted each of the batts, but will rely mostly on the wet felting process, which is the next step.

photos by Alyssa Kail
Stay tuned for Rescuing sad, yucky fibers - Step 2, wet felting!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

felted cuffs with metal 'buckles'

These are a limited edition series of felted cuffs using wool roving and buckle embellishments that I found at SCRAP.  That's why they're limited edition, because I'm limited to the number of buckles SCRAP had available.  This can be a challenging aspect of creative can't just run to your local craft store an pickup more supplies.  On the flip side, it keeps my work fresh and experimental.  Once I run out of a certain material, I am forced to find an alternative or move to a completely different type of project.

Beginning tomorrow, these cuffs will be available at a cute, new little shop located in my neighborhood called Montavilla here in Portland, OR.  Maven is located at 7819 SE Stark St. and features a wide variety of second hand and hand-crafted clothing, accessories, and goodies for your home.  Stop by, say 'Hi', and maybe purchase a cuff. $34 each. Limited edition of 11 available.

Many thanks! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Found Metal Objects with Fiber Embellishment

One of my favorite daily rituals is to walk through the store at SCRAP for inspiration and to scrounge random metal and wood objects to use as the foundation for my work.  Full disclosure, I work as Program Development Manager at SCRAP, but began my tenure there as a faithful shopper and volunteer back in 2007 because I love their mission and the stuff they have.  Now I'm lucky enough to spend most of my days on site, helping them to grow and succeed.

Last spring, I walked past the Metal section and found this amazing metal mesh bowl that had been previously used as a candle holder.  Unfortunately, it was caked in white wax, but I could still see that it had great potential.  So, I bought it for $1 and brought it to my home studio.  There it sat for a few months while I pondered and imagined.  Thanks to a dear friend who invited me over for a craft day, I was forced to come up with a project that was mobile.  Equipped with a skein of hand dyed, hand spun yarn that had been given to me, the metal bowl, and a large needle, I set off more my craft date.  I really didn't have a vision at first, but just started weaving the yarn in and out of the mesh structure.

What began to transpire were these amazing organic lines that resemble something like sea flora or mossy branches. I finished the piece off with some wooden beads, also found at SCRAP, and a circle of chartreuse wool felt to line the bottom.  While I clearly didn't have a plan at the onset, I did end up with an amazing centerpiece that I now use for a fruit bowl.

I find that it's so important in the creative process that if I feel stuck, to just start doing something.  I don't attach anything permanently until I'm sure, but I just start weaving, or cutting, laying out the materials I'm working with and seeing how it goes.  Working with primarily fibers and in 3-D, I'm a very tactile person and therefore like let the materials speak to me.

Here's another example of a found metal piece with fiber embellishment.  This is a metal ceiling tile sample with precut slits.  I think the thing that attracted me most to it is the faux wood pattern that covers the metal.  It's so very kitschy, but attractive.  Similarly to the process I just described, I overcame the initial hurdle by just starting to cut strips of the darker orange ribbon to length and then weaving them in. The icing on the cake is the fantastic key I had laying around.  A little hot glue and voila!  I call this piece "Aha!".

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more about my work and the fantastic possibilities of creative reuse.