MAKING A DIFFERENCE

As the year closes, I thought I would put together a list of those people and organizations who have made a difference for me in 2011. For a moment, let’s celebrate just a few of those who are creating inspiring works by striving toward a better, more beautiful, sustainable world.

The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva, have been producing inspiring material for years, as producers of such programs as Hidden Kitchens, Lost and Found Sound, and now, The Hidden World of Girls. One particularly inspiring piece, the film “White Gloves,” by Courtney Stevens and Les Blank focuses on the Oakland Museum Women’s Board. The short piece is poignant in its focus on volunteerism, women, and the relationships that bond people together.   The Kitchen Sisters never fail to tell important stories and create moving art. (Images at the top of this post from Francesca Woodman.)

The book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, offers a challenge to the notion that more is better and instead emphasizes the importance of locally-centered commerce, politics and culture. The author, Bill McKibben, challenges us to consider why we buy what we do and urges us to think about our role within a community at large. McKibben makes appeals for action, but he also leaves us with a sense of what is possible. I believe in community and the fact that change is possible.

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THE YEAR IN EATS (AND A RECIPE)

In the spirit of “The Best Of” week as we move towards New Year’s Eve, I had to recap some of the best meals of my year – and they were plenty (despite my detox).

2011 started with a trip to Blackberry Farm’s Taste of the South with an amazing array of chefs and artisans.  The weekend is somewhat of a blur – perhaps because of all the wine tasting with Angie Mosier, and Charles and Kristie Abney.  I remember a biodynamic wine that was a glowing, beautiful orange color. (Charles and Kristie – if you are reading, can you remind me of the name of this wine? I would love to share it with others!)

Pardis Stitt will not let you leave her house, restaurant, or presence without a “to-go” box. And I know this may come as a surprise, but one of the best meal moments of my year was eating freshly cooked homemade chips and charred onion dip from Bottega in my car, on my way home to North Alabama. The recipe for this deliciousness can be found on page 23 of Bottega Favorita: A Southern Chef’s Love Affair with Italian Food. I have not been able to replicate the perfection of that afternoon in my own kitchen – must have been the “Pardis Love” that made the difference.

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2011 – A REVIEW

It seems unbelievable to me that 2011 is coming to a close.  The Alabama Chanin journal has covered so many topics over the 2011 year and we have been so grateful for the opportunity to share our thoughts, travels, milestones and inspirations with you. As the year’s end approaches, we thought we would recap some of the favorite topics of the year.

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US @ ALABAMA CHANIN

The holidays have snuck up on us once again. It seems that so often we rush through the year and then into the holidays while forgetting to enjoy the beauty of the season. These days, as we all prepare for parties, enormous dinners, and the giving of gifts, I hope that we also find comfort in tradition, the simplicity of family, and in our own unique ways of celebrating. My wish is the same for our Alabama Chanin family. As we prepare to leave for the holidays (we will be closed on Monday), we leave you with a few stories, favorite memories, pictures, traditions, and things we cherish about this time of year.

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PAISLEY

It took me years to come to love the paisley pattern. I first became aware of the distinctive design during my days working in India and throughout my years as a stylist: men’s ties, patterned shirts, dresses, and scarves just scratch the surface. Since that time, I have avoided using it at Alabama Chanin simply as I felt that it was just SO often seen across the realm of textile design. However, my strict stance has mellowed recently and the pattern is highlighted in Chapter 8 of our upcoming Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, entitled “Fabric + Fabric Maps.”

“The paisley – a tear-, pear-, or kidney-shaped curved figure – is a common motif in almost all cultures across the globe.”

Historically, paisley has been present in fabrics worldwide and there have been an array of books written on the pattern. I suppose a designer could spend their entire career just working with this simple shape.

The stencil is now available from our Online Store and shown above embellished in back-stitch reverse applique from Alabama Studio Style.

SAVAGE BEAUTY

I was greeted at work today by the most wonderful discovery – I  literally gasped when I saw the copy of Savage Beauty on my desk. Thank you Natalie!
 It’s no secret that I’ve been obsessing over Alexander McQueen for the last several months, watching past runway shows, and sending links with reckless abandon. 
The work is breathtaking.

I will now give my computer a well-deserved rest from endless McQueen queries so that I might devote the day to 
complete immersion in one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. The book 
You’ll find a couple of beautiful photos below, but there really is so much more.
-June

P.S.: Thank you to Andrew Bolton and the entire team at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute for the stunning retrospective. Read the New York Times article about the show and the man: Designer as Dramatist, and the Tales He Left Behind

 

WEEKEND WORKSHOP WINNERS

The response to our Weekend Workshop Give-Away on our Facebook Page has been tremendous and inspiring, but also difficult in that we don’t know how to choose a winner.

This might have been one of the most difficult decisions we have had to make all year. So many people, so many deserving stories… The result is that instead of giving away one Weekend Workshop, we are giving away five.

Drum roll…

We want to congratulate Janette Danley for her daughter’s beautiful story of her mother selfless love and Sarah Straud for understanding the true essence of giving by recommending Janette Danley – rather than herself.  Their stories are below. We look forward to sharing the weekend with these two women in our studio this coming April.

And since we couldn’t stop there…

We would invite Julie Glasgow Higginbotham’s mother to our Weekend Workshop in August and Anne Heartness’ friend Melissa to our weekend workshop in November.

If the winners could please contact us via email office (at) alabamachanin.com, we will complete the registration. We look forward to sharing these stories in the coming year. Thank you again for all the beautiful stories and happy days to all…

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BARBEQUE COLLECTION

About this time last year, I agreed to create a barbeque inspired collection for our next Fall/Winter line – yes, that’s right, barbeque. Although it seems impossible, time moves SO QUICKLY and it is time to get started. John T. Edge is headed to our studio today to discuss the upcoming work, as the barbeque collection will be shown at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi, next year.

In preparation for that collection, I have been working on a series of barbeque inspired Textile Stories Quilts for the Taste of the South auction next month.  When thinking about barbeque (and we have our share here in Florence), what better place to start than with Joe York’s film Cut Chop Cook.

I love this quote from barbeque master Roosevelt Scott (it starts at the 4:48 minute mark):

“After building the fire, while the fire is getting ready put the pig on the pit.  And after you put the pig on, when the coals get ready then you start putting the coal under the hog.

We take the shovel.  Scoop it in there.  Scoop up what we need.  Take it on the inside and we have an open door at each pit where we go under with the shovel and spread the heat at both the ham and the shoulders.  No where else.  And all the heat meets in the middle.

You hear folks all over say they use the wood.  But then they say they use wood chips, or they may use a few pieces of wood.  They might smoke for a little bit. This right here?  All wood.  Nothing else.  One hundred percent wood. Nothing but wood.

Cut. Chop. Cook.  It’s all right here.  In the wood.”

You can almost smell the barbeque.  Food for the soul:

CUT/CHOP/COOK from UM Media Documentary Projects on Vimeo.