LOS ANGELES BOUND

ONE-DAY RETREAT @HEATH CERAMICS- LOS ANGELES. PHOTOGRAPHER: COREY MILLERIt’s no secret that we (heart) Heath Ceramics. And we are fortunate enough to have one HEATH collaboration under our belt (with a new design coming in May).

Our collaboration plates and dishes are a daily treasure in my home. My daughter sighs, “I want to eat on the star plate this morning.”  “Star plate for a star student,” I reply.

HEATH was founded in 1948 by Edith Heath. “She was a talented ceramicist with a great respect for craft and material, and a strong point of view on the product that her company would make — simple, good things for good people.” Over 65 years later, the company is still dedicated to that same simple, functional (and beautiful) line of products.

My friends Cathy and Robin took over in 2003 and will soon be celebrating a decade at the helm of this company with an amazing history.

Dinnerware and tile are staple products under the Heath Ceramics name, but visit their website or store front and you will find an array of merchandise and collaborations in textiles, home accessories, glassware, and more.

ONE-DAY RETREAT @  HEATH CERAMICS - LOST ANGELES. PHOTOGRAPHER: COREY MILLER

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LOVE AND SAVE

LOVE AND SAVE Take 15% off the things you love from Alabama Chanin through February 7, 2013*

Enter code LOVESAVE at checkout

*Excludes workshops

(P.S.: Don’t forget to order in time for Valentine’s Day.)

For Valentine gift suggestions and delivery options: call +1.256.760.1090.

DR. RUTH (AND THE LOVE OF LITERATURE)

DR. RUTH (AND SOME VALENTINE'S LITERATURE) There is no denying that I love stories and storytelling.  In various and changing stages of my life, I have transformed from an obsessed to a simply avid reader, and everything in between.

These days, I have to admit that I have a hard time staying awake long enough to get through all the books on my nightstand, as some nights I seem to fall asleep before six-year-old Maggie.

Over the years, and as my love for reading grew, I developed numerous ways of moving through literature:

Choosing an author and reading everything: Hermann Hesse, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Mary Renault, Steven King (the early works)…

Finding a theme and following it through: Good Business (Paul Hawken, Bill McKibben, Samuel Mockbee…), Classics (Homer, Chaucer, Dante, Shakespeare), The Nature of Love (D.H. Lawrence, Laurence Durrell, and Marquis De Sade), Southern Short Stories (Harry Crews, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, George Dawes Green)…

Genres, and subgenres: pioneer, mystery/thrillers, vampire, Southern gothic, cookbooks, and, yes, erotica.

Last week, I was on the phone with my dear friend Lisa who talking about Dr. Ruth and organizing a book reading with the famed doctor in the mattress section of a well-known store.  Genius.

Dr. Ruth was suddenly on my radar and, in the process, I discovered her Twitter account (follow Dr. Ruth; you will thank me). So, as one thing leads to another on the internet, I follow one of the links to the video below, which brings me back to literature, specifically erotica:

I started pretty early in my reading life with classics like Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Story of O, and afterward moved seamlessly from De Sade to Anaïs Nin, from the (rather boring) Memoirs of Fanny Hill by John Cleland (I prefer Erica Jong’s version) to Anne Rice’s (trashy) Sleeping Beauty series, written under the pseudonym of A. N. Roquelaure.

So, I admit that when the Fifty Shades Series arrived on my radar, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Many women today are reading this series openly. I see school moms posting about the characters on Facebook and little old ladies sitting in coffee shops with the book proudly lying open beside their tea.  So while I am thankful that erotica has found its way out-of-the-closet, I found the series (ahem) not as engaging as some of the classic tomes from my earlier days; however, I ADORE Dr. Ruth’s take:

All of this in a round-about-way to say Happy Valentine’s Month ahead of us. Here’s to a bit of literature (erotic or otherwise)–perhaps read aloud to a loved one.

These days, I mostly enjoy Ivy and Bean, recited aloud by my budding reader (if I can stay awake long enough).

LES BLANK (A LOVE LETTER)

LES BLANK (A LOVE LETTER)I’ve written a couple of times about what happens when your heroes and heroines become friends. For me, it brings about a feeling of connection to the ever-expanding universe; all things are possible.  A girl from the countryside in Alabama can dine with royalty (in all its meanings).  The picture above is proof.

When I look at this picture, I laughingly think of The Death of Roy Batty in Blade Runner:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain….”

However, those moments will not be lost. Knowing and dining with Les Blank gives me a connection to the stories and tiny details of human nature that make me a bigger, and better, person.

His contribution to the genre of documentary film is exceptional; his contribution to my life is priceless.  His clear vision of humanity (like that of The Kitchen Sisters)  helped mold the designer, story lover, and human being I am today.

I am so sad to write that my friend, and hero, is very ill with a protracted cancer.  The City of Berkeley, California declared January 22nd the official Les Blank Day and wrote this:

“With a soft spoken demeanor, an eye for beauty, an insightful mind and great enthusiasm, Les Blank has captured the essence of aspects of American culture,” and “through his respectful, quiet presence, and non-didactic style created films that allow his subjects to reveal their true selves in a unique way.”

Well deserved.  The world is a better place because of Les Blank, visionary wayfarer.

P.S.: Photo above with Les and Alice Waters from April 2008 at The Edible Schoolyard (where Les first filmed and then cleaned everyone’s plate).

HOMEGROWN GOWN

NO'ALA BRIDALWe (HEART) this story in the newest NO’ALA Magazine (on pages 110-117) about our custom made Bridal gowns:

NO'ALA BRIDAL

It takes a village:

“Once the elements of the gown are chosen, Diane, the master seamstress, measures the bride and Carra-Ellen cuts the fabric and prepares the pattern. Steven, the production manager, applies the stencil to the fabric using an airbrush technique. And with Natalie’s stamp of approval, Olivia prepares the kits for the artisans.

The artisans, who are all from the North Alabama area, are independent contractors, who charge per square inch, depending upon the intricacy of the stitching. This cottage industry-style production model allows artisans to work from their own homes and set their own wages.”

NO'ALA BRIDAL

Plan ahead:

“Brides should allow three weeks for online orders and several months for a custom gown. ‘It’s a slow process,’ says Lyndsie, ‘but it’s well worth the wait.’”You can contact Lyndsie: office (at) alabamachanin.com and read the whole story here. Look for our new bridal line to launch soon.

NO'ALA BRIDAL

P.S.: What did you wear to your wedding(s)?

“A handmade silk slip underneath a silk brocade, baby blue fur-collared evening coat from Anna Molinari, heels, and a diamond choker,” says Natalie. “Totally 1996.”

TIE THE KNOT CORSET

TIE THE KNOT CORSET

While cleaning up for our recent Garage Sale (stay tuned for another coming towards the end of February), I found a bag of our Cotton Jersey Pulls cut into 4” lengths. Most likely, these were prepared for button loops, but no one in the studio can remember exactly why they were prepared and cut.

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RED VELVET CAKE + HOMEMADE SPRINKLES

RED VELVET CAKE AND HOMEMADE SPRINKLESRed velvet cake is as much a Southern tradition as fried chickenpot likker, and cornbread. So when the idea for red velvet “Valentine’s Day” cake came up, it was a given that we would be eating the cake at our weekly office lunch.

In our community, this three layer cake is traditionally topped with a cream cheese icing – although I have seen it with buttercream, chocolate, as well as with a combination cream cheese and chocolate icing. I prefer the subtle tang in the cream cheese version, with or without the commonly used addition of chopped pecans or shredded coconut. We’ve added an Alabama Chanin touch of homemade pink sprinkles in our Facets stencil pattern cut to fit perfectly over our cake.

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RED PINK ROSE

RED PINK ROSE

The colors of a season include shades, tones, and hues that are sometimes steeped in meaning:

Red: The color includes shades that run from deep blood red or plum and burgundy to apple, fire engine, and carmine.  The meanings sometimes associated with this color can be as diverse as the shades, themselves. Red is said to be connected to energies, actions, passion, blood or, sometimes, when those things go unchecked, rage or revenge.

Pink: with shades like blush, nude, and bashful, has been said to represent unconditional love and nurturing. It is also associated with a girl, all things girly, a ballerina, and can even signify something sickly sweet or bring to mind Pepto-Bismol.

Rose: the name that shares its origin with the flower of sweetness. It’s not quite magenta, which is strong and bold, but somewhere between the passion of red and girly nature of pink – more playful, summery in nature, and sometimes wild.

Books have been written about the history, meaning, and commerce of each color. Portrait painters through the centuries used combinations of colors to tell stories about their subjects, businesses have been established on the premise of helping you “find YOUR true color.” The funny thing is that our own personal memory plays a huge role in exactly how we feel about every color.

I remember a Valentine’s cake from my childhood that was sweetly pink on the outside and blood red once the first cut was made.  I remember the colors vividly, the taste acidic in a bad strawberry sort of way.  Sometimes public restrooms have a fake bad strawberry kind of smell. Maggie was given a hand-sanitizer that smells the same way.  Every time I have a whiff of a restroom that smells of strawberry, I think of that pink and blood red cake.  Never fails.

From hearts to shades of red and pink, come back this week as we continue to explore the theme of the season.

(Get this bundle of organic cotton jersey, specially priced for exploration. Or, take your time and explore each shade individually.)

 

VALENTINE’S SPECIAL

Now through January 30th, buy one February One-Day Studio Workshop at full price and get one for $295*

February 2, 2013

The Factory
462 Lane Drive
Florence, AL 35630
9am – 4pm

*Includes two DIY Kits, all required materials, and a catered lunch featuring local fare and a glass, or two, of bubbly.

Click here to register.

2013 WORKSHOP DATES:

Two-Hour Workshop
May 4 @ Southern Makers, Montgomery, Alabama
July 12 @ The Factory, Florence, Alabama

One-Day Studio Workshop
February 2 @ The Factory, Florence, Alabama
May 10 @ The Factory, Florence, Alabama

One-Day Retreat
March 16 @ Heath Ceramics, Los Angeles, California
April 20 @ The Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley, California
May 31 @ ZingTrain, Ann Arbor, Michigan
June 22 @ 1600 Meeting Street, Charleston, South Carolina
September 14 @ The Photosensualis Building, Woodstock, New York

Studio Weekend Workshop
April 12-14 @ The Factory, Florence, Alabama
August 16-18 @ The Factory, Florence, Alabama
November 8-10 @ The Factory, Florence, Alabama

BELOVED COMMUNITY

Schools, government offices, and many businesses are closed today to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We are closing our studio a few hours early and to take part in MLK’s Day of Service.  In the spirit of King’s Beloved Community, we will take some time today to serve others, while reflecting on our theme for the year: peace.

From The King Center’s website:

As early as 1956, Dr. King spoke of The Beloved Community as the end goal of nonviolent boycotts. As he said in a speech at a victory rally following the announcement of a favorable U.S. Supreme Court Decision desegregating the seats on Montgomery’s busses, “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”

Read more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s teachings and achievements here.

P.S.: Please share your reflections with us.

*Photo above from The Kodak Gallery. Photographer: Charles Moore, Alabama, 1958.