Category Archives: THE SCHOOL OF MAKING

PICTURES + STORIES

A few years ago, my friend Sara helped me work on organizing my collection of books into a (very loose) library format. The tomes were divided by a “genre” that I determined by somewhat random method but that made sense to me.   Books on textiles got a red sticker on the spine and books on design a white sticker with little ### symbols, etc. I did this as a way to make the search for a particular book easier, re-shelving mindless and to create a system to loan books without continually losing them. What shocked me when the library was finished was that the largest category of books was not fashion design or textiles or craft but photography.

Thinking back, this should not have been a shock as I started collecting photography books as design student. Over the years, these books are continually the ones I search out over and over and over again.   Writing about Richard Avedon yesterday made me nostalgic for other heroes who have story telling at the heart of their work. When I look at Avedon’s pictures, I dream that I have an audio file from The Kitchen Sisters telling the story with the dual voice of photographer and subject.   Let Us Now Praise Famous Men comes about as close to telling the story with the imagery as you can get; however, the book does not satisfy my hunger. I want the photographs of Dorothea Lange to come to life and sit down with me on the porch.   As that is not possible, I take one of my books of Dorothea’s photographs, listen to Studs Terkel and dream that I am an oral historian.

AVEDON FASHION 1944 – 2000

The Museum at The International Center for Photography will be showing the fashion work of Richard Avedon: Avedon Fashion 1944 – 2000.

One of my all time favorite books of photography was created by Richard Avedon: In the American West. This genre of photography as story teller has been an inspiration to me since the day I first started working. They are images that make me want to HEAR the stories too.

Visit The Richard Avedon Foundation for more.

P.S.: I literally ran into Avedon in a book store in Montauk, New York, some years ago. Backed right into him. As I turned around, I lost all calm and stumbled right out the door.

NASHVILLE STORIES #2

Anna Maria Horner made a surprise visit to our Trunk Show in Nashville on Friday. Nine months pregnant (#6) and shining, her smile, and bubbly disposition are contagious. What a pleasure to have had a short time to catch up and find all of our common threads in life!

We have now officially traded copies of Alabama Stitch Book and Seams To Me.

Anna Maria left the show with one of our t-shirt kits, for which she found an inspiring purpose.

We emailed yesterday and she sent me this lovely sentence which I think says so much about her joy for life:  

“Was out in a fresh green 68 acres of hip-high wheat grass yesterday with 2 pregnant friends & a photographer working on the book.  Many contractions, naturally, but oh the beauty, well worth it.”

Wishing her the best of luck with her upcoming delivery of Roman and I am looking forward to our many, many future conversations…

Photo: Anna Maria Horner

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

I am, obviously, a bit behind in my efforts at blogging.  Or maybe there has just been so much good recently.    Either way, this great Op-Ed was sent to me by my friend Matthew from Savannah. It reminds me of Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell – which I have been heard to (loosely) quote from recently.   The bottom line – and great news – is that we can all do just about anything that we set our minds to do…as long as we are willing to practice being good at it.  I can hear my father saying over, and over again, “Practice makes perfect. Practice makes perfect.”  I guess that he was right.   

Genius: The Modern View
By DAVID BROOKS, New York Times, May 1, 2009

Some people live in romantic ages. They tend to believe that genius is the product of a divine spark. They believe that there have been, throughout the ages, certain paragons of greatness — Dante, Mozart, Einstein — whose talents far exceeded normal comprehension, who had an other-worldly access to transcendent truth, and who are best approached with reverential awe.

We, of course, live in a scientific age, and modern research pierces hocus-pocus. In the view that is now dominant, even Mozart’s early abilities were not the product of some innate spiritual gift. His early compositions were nothing special. They were pastiches of other people’s work. Mozart was a good musician at an early age, but he would not stand out among today’s top child-performers.

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HEATH AGAIN

I returned home from my travels last week to find a box from Cathy and Robin @ Heath.

Inside the box was my new, and now favorite, book for inspiration.

The colors, textures and beautiful simplicity take my breath away:

Heath Creamics : The Complexity of Simplicity

A heartfelt THANK YOU to Cathy and Robin for making a difference.


MY MAGGIE THANKS YOU

I keep thinking, over and over again, about this quote that I read on Treehugger.com in the midst of the Earth Day celebrations:  

“Writing in Mother Jones, Joel Makower waves the white flag. Green consumerism, it seems, was one of those well-intended passing fancies, testament to Americans’ never-ending quest for simple quick, and efficient solutions to complex problems. It’s only a matter of time before… the public recognizes that for every pound of trash that ends up in municipal landfills, at least 40 more pounds are created upstream by industrial processes – and that a lot of this waste is far more dangerous to environmental and human health than our newspapers and grass clippings.

At that point, the locus of concern could shift away from beverage containers, grocery bags, and the other mundane leftovers of daily life to what happens behind the scenes – the production, crating, storing and shipping of the goods we buy and use.”

Read the whole story here.

It also reminds me of The Story of Stuff and that, as designers and consumers, it is our responsibility to consider the impact of each and every decision in the design, development and manufacturing process.

As I told a group of students at SCAD last week:  For a very long time, designers have been at the core of the problem, creating product, after product, after product without regard to the consequences.  It is time for us as designers to solve the problem and design the solution.

My Maggie, pictured above, thanks you…

MOTHER’S DAY

My grandmother Christine once told me that she “sewed every dress that the girls” – her three daughters – “wore until they left home.” I remember as a little girl how she sewed everything from nightgowns and underwear to prom dresses and quilts.    Although her eyes don’t see well enough to sew these days, she is an inspiration to me and can sit for hours telling stories about fabrics, scraps and how one can tell the weather just by looking at the sky.   I am starting tonight to make “Mamaw Chris” these flowers (pictured here) in time for Mother’s Day on the 10th of May.   If you already own a copy of our Alabama Stitch Book, start making flowers today for your maternal heroes…

**I wanted to name my daughter after Mamaw Chris whose full name is Fanny Christine.  I have loved that name since I can remember hearing it; however, she made me promise that I would not “do that to a girl.”

 

HEATH CERAMICS

Bravo to Cathy and Robin @ Heath for their commitment to quality, exceptional design and community.

From The New York Times:

April 23, 2009 A Label of Pride That Pays
By TRACEY TAYLOR

In a timeworn factory in Sausalito, Calif., 67 workers turn out Heath ceramics, doing everything from mixing the clay to applying the finishing glazes. Twenty miles away, a Japanese robot called Ziggy works day and night in a converted brass foundry in Berkeley, making precision-cut office furniture.

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