Monday, November 2, 2009

Kiva. org

Every year I pick a giving theme in December. Last year, I "adopted" endangered animals from around the world in the names of friends and family members. This year, I would like to help entrepreneurs in third world countries by loaning them money through is an online organization that helps individuals start businesses in areas of the world where business loans are difficult, or impossible to get. Loans come from all over the world in small amounts. $20 is a reasonable amount to loan and be helpful to someone who needs help in establishing a viable business!

So, I am started to look into businesses to help support. In the month of December, a portion of all of my profits from selling Xmittens fingerless gloves will be used to create this loan (minimum $50). As I narrow down my search, I will post my top three choices. So far, I feel a connection to the Aqlema Group in Afghanistan, a small group of women who run a quilting business and needs new sewing machines. **Aqlema Group became fully funded as I was finishing this post up. Wonderful!

In the meantime, if you have a minute, check out and feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments below as to who you think I should support.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pittsburgh Gives!

Today is a good day to donate to a Pittsburgh non-profit. The Pittsburgh Foundation is sponsoring a day of "gift matching". In other words, your donation will be added to by the Foundation, so that it can go even farther in the non-profit of your choice. Some of my favorites include:

Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society

The Carnegie Library System

and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania.

There are so many organizations that need a little extra TLC. Have fun searching through the extensive database of wonderful organizations that make Pittsburgh a culturally rich city.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Madrid, Frederick and Lawrenceville

Planning on traveling anytime soon? Well, if you find yourself in Madrid Spain, Frederick Maryland, or in the Lawrenceville area in Pittsburgh, make sure to visit one of the three new stores carrying my work!

If you find yourself in need of Xmittens while in Madrid, visit Little Miss Maimum. Little Miss Maimum opened in September and is the kind of shop I would want to peruse while traveling. So much color and a thoughtful variety of items. This is the first international wholesale order for me, so this is shop is extra special.

The Muse in Frederick, Maryland is a fantastic boutique that also offers classes, artist demos and now offers Xmittens, too! Plus, the boutique was voted as a Top Retailer of American Craft in 2005, 2006, 2008. Whitney Bingham, the owner, is a sweetheart with great taste, so make sure to stop by!

And the latest to join the list is one of my favorite local boutiques, Pavement. I have always loved Pavement- I buy as many shoes as I can afford there, including my fave winter boots EVER. Pavement will carry a variety of both Xmittens Fashions and amtextiles hand-dyed accessories some of which you may see on live models at the Local Motion Fashion Show later this week.

Other news:
~Sprayblog, the fantastic art blog, asked to interview me about my artwork. They published the interview this week. Go to to read it and see some photos (old and new) of my work. Sprayblog is pretty cool overall, so make sure to read up on other artist and artistic happenings!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Business Tools for Artists, Crafters, whomever needs 'em!

Let's face it- we all need a little help when it comes to some area of our business. For me, though I love the business-y side of things, I need a a starting point to jump off from. So, i have been searching the internet, the library and bookstore for business ideas and advice. Here's some online sources that have been helpful.

Biz Ladies on Design Sponge is my new favorite for getting in-depth, but easy to read business advice. Usually oriented towards artists (Wow!), articles such as Microenterprise Development and Fortune in the Follow up have been helpful as I continue to create a successful creative arts business. There are even more articles than the last time I checked. I can't wait to read about Media Kits, since I am putting together some this week!

And, of course, Modish Biz Tips is amazing, as well. I especially like the monthly goals check-in. It's informative to read about how people develop their business and creative goals and how we all deal with meeting, or not meeting, the monthly goals. Also, there are series such as Brick-by-Brick and Biz Basics the latest of which was written by Tara Gentile of Scoutie Girl ( current blog fave).

Got any business resources you want to share? Leave a comment with your favorite!

Monday, September 21, 2009

More Disappointing News From Pennsylvania

I hate that I am still having to post these disappointing updates about the Arts in PA. However, there are still a few more days to make changes to the budget! Here is the latest news from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and Citizens for the Arts:

Proposed State Budget Includes Sales tax Expansion

The new proposed state budget agreement removes a sales tax exemption on tickets to museums, theaters, concerts, opera, ballet and other similar activities as a means of raising revenue for the state. According to an article in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer "Sources familiar with the final package said the deal calls for the creation of a special fund for cultural institutions and the arts."

As the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council continues to work with partners across Pennsylvania to determine a unified course of action, local arts advocates can help by calling their state legislators.

1) Let them know that you are opposed to the sales tax expansion and that this is "taxing" ordinary citizens out of the cultural experience.

2) Ask them why the arts have been singled out for this tax, when other forms of entertainment with much greater revenue generating potential, such as movies and sporting events, are exempted?

3) Demand that if Harrisburg is going to create a dedicated arts fund, then the arts need to be invited to the table to talk about it.

If you need a phone number for your legislators visit the Citizens for the Arts website. The budget will take at least 10 days to pass, so the time to act is now.

For up-to-the-minute information regarding arts funding in the state budget, follow the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.

Please forward this message to your contacts or networks who are supportive of the arts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Art funding in PA, there's some, but not all...

For people in Pennsylvania, this is really important. Call you legislators today!
Call Your State Legislators Now!

During a press conference this morning (9/11/2009), members representing both caucuses in the Senate and the House Democratic caucus announced that an agreement had been reached on the state budget for FY 09-10. It is reported the budget includes $10 million for arts grants (down from $15.2 million) through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and $1 million (down from $1.3 million) for administration of the Council.

This increase is a huge testament to your advocacy efforts considering the ZERO offered in SB 850. However it still represents a cut of almost 30% over last year's approved appropriation. There is a brief window of time to CALL your legislators. Express your appreciation for including the funding for the PCA but urge them to fund arts grants at a level between $12.5 million - $14 million. Arts funding supports jobs, programming in schools and at senior citizens centers, and helps revitalize our downtowns. Remember to tell them why this is a priority to you and your community. Tell them the many ways that we all benefit from an investment in the arts. CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY.

You can locate phone numbers on Citizen's for the Arts in PA's e-advocacy site at .

Friday, September 4, 2009

Crafts N'At Indie Craft fair this Saturday!

Need something to do this weekend? Want to get a heads start on holiday shopping?

Come to Crafts n'At at the Union Project in Highland Park, Pittsburgh. All the new styles of Xmittens will be there!

10am-6pm this Saturday! Crafts, Music and a Benefit to the Parkinson's Foundation...Find out more here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Inspiration came on a Tuesday

Last month, I took a jewelry course at the Society for Contemporary Craft that has gotten me addicted! I can't wait to have a little more time to put towards soldering, riveting and constructing out of metal. My favorite piece I finished is a sterling silver thumb ring inspired by the skyscrapers outside. Here are some pictures of the ring and the skyscrapers and me interacting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Xmittens and Xmittens coupon offer!

Let your voice be heard AND save on Xmittens! Go to this Xmittens survey, fill it out and receive a coupon of your choice!

You could save on any style of Xmittens fingerless gloves (including the new Utili-Xmittens shown in the picture) or other Xmittens accessory.

This will really help me in my endeavor to finish writing my business plan, so thanks ahead of time!

In the meantime, be well!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Xmittens get a new look, plus my new addiction

Xmittens have a new look! Check out my new logo banner (designed by the lovely Heather Mallak of DYHM design)!

In honor of my new logo and all of the crazy amount of planning I have been doing, I have revamped my pricing structure in my Xmittens shop on etsy. Most items have LOWER prices! Check out the new look and new prices at! Mention code TWOFER in the message to seller to get $3 off when you purchase 2 or more items thru Sept. 1, 2009!

Like the cool font she used? has all sorts of great fonts to use for your crafts, documents, websites, wherever for free and as an open source. You can even preview a word or phrase to see how it looks: check out my preview of "Horror" fonts here. This site will help me create better looking wholesale catalogs for Xmittens and amtextiles , plus all the other promo materials I have been working on.

Have fun font hunting!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Photo Shoot Outtakes

My lovely friend and model Jenn is awesome! We work very well together at photo shoots. We shoot the breeze, catch up with each other and take some amazing photographs of both her loveliness and my amtextiles and Xmittens fashions.

Well, I also make her laugh. You know, like blow milk out your nose laugh. And, I get to catch it on film! So, here are some of the latest creations from my studio and Jenn being her funny self, plus a little one of me showing off my soon-to-be-unveiled Utili-Xmittens. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Business Planning for Artists- the Daily Worth

Last year, as we were looking into buying a house, I researched how to clean up my credit. It took a little bit of time, but so very worth it! Had I known about the Daily Worth I would have started working on this even earlier.

If you are a crafter, artisan, self-employed, a nine-to fiver, or just have some questions about personal finance, this is a great blog and email series to read! If you sign up for the Daily Worth emails you will receive short and sweet email messages about various financial topics like: Budgeting, cutting your credit card debt and being efficient and making more money this blog has something that everyone can learn. As their website says:

" DailyWorth is a
free daily personal finance
email for women. We deliver
practical tips, empowering ideas
and the occasional kick in the pants."

This is geared towards the ladies, though everyone can learn invaluable advice. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Inspiration Wednesday- New Jewelry Class!

As a birthday present from my mom (thanks mom!!) I am attending a great beginning jewelry making class this July. I love that I get to saw metal, solder silver, rivet rings and all sorts if crazy cool things that I have always wanted to do!

Here are some pictures of what I made during the first class. A copper pendant that I sawed, filed, sanded and drilled. I used a newly blossomed tiger lily from my garden as inspiration for the lines of the piece. I plan on doing a little bit more with it during the next class. Maybe round the "petals" a bit more? We'll see....

As I left class, I saw a beautiful sunset with the downtown skyline as a backdrop. Here's the pendant "squishing" one of the skyscrapers in downtown Pittsburgh...

What's your inspiration this Wednesday? Leave a comment about it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Recycling Fabric- Ribbon

Recycling fabric is something I do every day in my studio. Some people may call it upcycling. Whatever the official name is, I make sure to not throw away anything that can be used again. As a new and regular blog subject I will be posting about recycling fabric ideas every week or so.

Today, Recycled Ribbon! I use a serger sewing machine most days. The cool thing about the serger is that it can be really interesting three dimensional ridges that I use to design on fabric frequently. The downside to this is that as it cuts the fabric to make the thread details, it leaves behind a thin piece of material. Since I use it a lot, this means I have a lot of very thin strips of fabric that are not use-able for many things.

Then, I got smart. I started to tie these thin strips together. This make beautiful ribbon! I use the recycled silk ribbon as gift wrap for my amtextiles line of art-to-wear and for gifts for friends and family.

Any kind of fabric will work. Or, tie scraps of ribbon together to make multi-colored ribbon. Just make sure to knot the fabric strips together at least twice so it is strong enough. Hang it around the house for easy decoration, wrap it around a vase, your wrist or decide! If you don't have leftover fabric, check out my etsy supply shop for some already made recycled ribbon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Arts Funding still in Jeopardy!

After a few weeks of good news, eliminating ALL Funding for the Arts in pennsylvania is back on the table. Here is an excerpt of an email I just received from Jenny Hershour who is the Managing Director of Citizens for the Arts:

We are facing a disaster in state support for the arts.

The outlook for state funding for the arts has taken a dramatic and significant turn for the worse. Your immediate efforts are needed.

Senate Bill 850, that eliminates all funding for the arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, is back under consideration.

But it is worse.

The proposed budget in SB 850 would need to be reduced by an additional $1.7 billion to balance the budget. That’s billion, with a “B.”

We need more help from you.

Join us and tell your friends about the upcoming Arts Rally at the Capitol on Tuesday, July 14 at 11 am in the Rotunda of the Main Capitol. Your presence will make a powerful statement of support for the arts.

Please contact 5 other people to get them to sign up for advocacy alerts and to send a message to their legislators by using the Citizens for the Arts website.

Thank you for contacting your legislators in support of the state funding for the arts. We know your message is being heard. As the legislature and the Governor develop a budget for next year we must keep them aware of the strong support for the arts among our fellow citizens.



11 AM


Do what you can to save the arts in PA!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our backyard

We bought this house last year. Both Adam and I have owned other houses, but this is the first we picked out together (awwww....). Anyway, we love being outdoors. We love the convenience and diversity of living in a city. As we found out, it can be hard to find a place in the city that has outdoor space.

Well, we found it! I have posted pics of the fabulous sunsets we get up here already. This summer we are working on making our backyard into the relaxing space that we have always wanted (so we can enjoy those sunsets). currently, we are building a garage and we already built a fence. Of course, since we are quirky, the fence has bird house turrets with hand-dyed dowel rod perches and a photo opportunity straight from the circus fun house!

Here are some pics of friends that poked their head through our gate only to find me taking their pictures. Adam painted the "Anonymous Rebel Leader" and I painted the "Lil' Goldilocks". Can't help but have a little fun with what's around us.

Friday, July 3, 2009

YART Sale at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

It's going to be fun! I went through my studio and packed up lots of fabric (some hand-dyed!), jewelry and jewelry supplies, plus some of last year's Xmittens fingerless gloves! I know some of the other artists and they will also have good stuff, so visit if you can!

Here is what the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has to say about the Sale.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Strategic Planning for artists

It's summertime and not only does that mean I am busy making wonderful new things to unveil in fall, it also means I have been creating my yearly strategic plan. Yep, an artist who thinks strategically is not a person to mess with :)

Every morning before I start working I create a new visual journal entry inspired by business plans, strategic and creative businesses practices...basically, things I never thought would be pertinent to me, but now I find fascinating.

The picture is of an entry based on how I envision myself and my creative business to be at its best, along with what I am already good at. Things like "Outline Brain is Fun", "I can Focus" and "If I could pick my skin colors, I would pick the colors of sunset" help me sort out what is important to concentrate on and what is not.

One of the main strategic goals I have right now is to improve my blog entries by planning ahead and writing regularly along with cleaning up my Textile Arts newsletter email list. In this theme, here is a link to sign up for my e-newsletter. Either sign up for a Bi-monthly newsletter with exclusive product updates and coupons, or sign up for the monthly newsletter with in depth featured artist interviews, plus textile art news, reviews and special deals in my online shops.

By the way, I am using the book "The Creative Entrepreneur" as my guide in this process. I really recommend it to those looking for some structure in their creative business.

Happy Creating!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Art Installation Photo in the Paper

Wow! My Gestures 12 Art Installation was on the first page of the Arts Magazine in the Post-Gazette yesterday! Nice way to wake up!

Check it out here.

If you are ever in Pittsburgh, definitely go to the Mattress Factory museum. It is one of the few places that still encourages art process as much as art product. Their annual Garden Party is this Friday from 7pm-11pm. I donated a piece of wearable art that used the art material theme they provide, Vinyl Records, to create Japanese Shibori surface design on the cloth. Since it is the Urban Rock Star Gareden Party this year, the Art-to-Wear Wrap Shawl is a bit Spicy...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A little bit about "Echoes of Objects"

Since I featured the other textile artists in the Gestures 12 Mattress Factory, I thought I should share something about my own.

In the end, about 25 people donated "unseen objects" from their lives to be in the show. What are unseen objects? Well, I defined them as objects that are in our everyday lives, but we don't even see anymore. Knick knacks, things we need to fix, but haven't yet, sentimental objects you don;t know what to do with anymore...

Some of the items I got were:

A plastic vase
a rusty, soldered together wrench
tiger's teeth
picture frames
Japanese seed packets
a belt
a broken electrical outlet
an angel figurine

Quite an eclectic bunch! After I dyed the silk organza that I used as the fabric base, I bound each of the objects into the silk and subjected all the fabric panels to some abuse similar to a wet felting process. Once the fabric soaks and then air dries, the objects can be unbound and VOILA! Permanent echoes of the object remain in the fabric.

I decided to go this direction for several reasons.

1) It is a process I use in my textile art-to-wear, but I wanted to take it further and be surprised by the objects I would use rather than plan ahead of time

2) It is based on Japanese shibori. Japanese shibori fabric dyeing techniques use three dimensional objects to create two dimensional surface design on cloth. The traditional methods have been passed down for generations and use a specific community's location as inspiration i.e. shibori that comes from near the ocean looks like waves.

3) There is an underlying commentary on what objects those in my community choose to have around them. Tiger's teeth and old toys? Strange. And, why? I wanted those who gave me objects to look around and question their lifestyle even just briefly. And, hopefully, the art audience would do the same.

So, as you look at the photos (go to flickr for more) you can try and see what object may have been embedded in the fabric and imagine what object you would have contributed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's Time to Take Action

The Pennsylvania State Senate voted to pass a budget that provided ZERO money for the arts. It's archaic. Actually, now that I think about it, most ancient cultures did provide a venue and support for their artists. However, Pennsylvania in 2009 does not.

The fight is not over, though. Please take action. Watch and pass along this video produced by Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. If you do not live in Pennsylvania, check into the status of your own state's budget. Make sure to hold accountable your representatives. At this point, mine are not representing me. Are yours representing you?

Arts and Citizenship from Pittsburgh Filmmakers on Vimeo.

The Pennsylvania FY09-10 budget process is in full swing and state funding for arts and culture is in real jeopardy. I urge you, as a leader in the local cultural community, to take action. As you know, on Wednesday, May 6, 2009 the State Senate passed their version of the budget bill (SB 850) which eliminated funding for arts and culture. The House is still considering their version of the budget bill (HB 1416) which does include funding for both the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).

The budget process is far from over. Revenue projections are down and the economic crisis still looms over us. As arts and culture advocates, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to insure a place for the PCA and PHMC in the FY09-10 budget. This is what you can do to help:

1) Contact your state legislators today. If you’ve already sent them a fax or email in the last few weeks, send them another one and follow it up with a phone call. Even though the State Senate has already passed their version of the budget bill, they can still assist us in the fight for arts and culture funding when the two budget bills are discussed in conference committee (likely in June).

2) Rally others to action. Ask your staff, board of directors, donors, funders and others associated with your organization to take immediate action on this issue. Distribute the call to action through your email lists, web site and social networking ventures. Engage your audiences through curtain speeches, program inserts, gallery cards and other means. Harrisburg needs to hear from more than just the employees of arts and cultural organizations.

3) Answer this two-question online survey about the impact that zero state funding for arts and culture would have on your organization. It is important for us to be able to tell the legislators, the press and anyone else who may be interested that policy makers are not just voting to eliminate state funding for arts and culture, but nonprofit organizations that benefit the larger community and the jobs of those they employ. (take the survey)

For facts and figures about the economic impact of the arts, samples of letters and testimony, tips for communicating with legislators and other information visit the Save Arts and Culture in Pennsylvania! page of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council website.

THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW. Unless we keep up the pressure on the legislature, we may lose the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Please alert the Arts Council about any action you decide to take by sending an email to

Monday, May 25, 2009

May Featured Artist #2- Rise Nagin

What are the main materials and techniques you used in creating your art installation at the MF?
materials used for, "unwritten": silk organza, gouache and acrylic paint

The process for this installation was very much like making a painting. Techniques were very pared down and consisted of staining sheer organza with watercolor washes; then layering and draping the fabrics on the walls and inside of a closet with glass window. In addition, areas of the walls and closet interior were stained with gouache to make very subtle "markers".

What was the inspiration for using these materials and techniques?
The work was conceived as a response to the light and space in which it was installed. The light in the room is beautiful and very embracing. I considered the light itself one of the materials I was using. The textured, frosted glass panel on the closet door is another material in the piece. It is a conductor of light - translucent, as is silk organza -- these materials have a visual affinity. My intention was to use very economic means to draw attention to the qualities of light. Layers, veils and very subtle, glowing color are the vocabulary. The work exists inside the closet and outside in the room -- the viewer is drawn first to a soft silk scrim in the corner and tiny painted areas of the walls, then may see the image partly concealed behind the glass door -- he must open the door to see the entire image revealed. In addition to the quality of light in the room, I drew on my recollections of medieval churches in Amsterdamn and England -- on the interactions of space, light and iconographic traces one encounters in such places --- remnants of our attempts to visually articulate spiritual experience.

Here is my artist statement for the exhibition:
All buildings have an essential principle (spirit/character) that presents to those who enter and spend time there. The interior of 1414 Monterey Street invites one to linger, to pay attention.

In choosing a location for an installation, I wanted to develop a work in concert with the qualities of the house and the permanent collection: to follow the essential principle. What struck me was how each work in the collection relates intimately with the architecture, making use of some characteristic aspect of the room in which it is located. Subtle, economic, often beautiful installations wait to be discovered, emerging unexpectedly from the body of the building. The presence of the human hand is evident. Qualities of light and space that are taken for granted become central.

The second room of Alan Wexler’s Bed Sitting Room for an Artist in Residence is peaceful, flooded with light so beautiful it has presence. Time is suspended. Something shared but private, positive and embracing is sensed. unwritten employs the qualities of light, fabric and architecture to evoke the experience of this place.

What is an upcoming project you are working on?

I am currently working on a series of prints that I would like to develop into artist's books.

What is one artistic endeavor (exhibition, techniques to learn, etc...) that you would like to accomplish and have not yet?
I would like to continue to explore opportunities to make installations -- this is a relatively new endeavor that I find very exciting and from which I learn -- it expands the scope of what I think is possible. It is a different way of thinking and stretches me artistically.

I am also interested in learning more about how to use the web and digital photography, animation as an extension of the painting and prints I make.

Where can people find out more about you?

Here are some links to some more of Rise's work:

Rise Nagin photos

Youtube video

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Rise Nagin

May Featured Artist #1- Atticus Adams

Atticus Adams, Rise Nagin and myself were invited to create site specific art installations at the Gestures 12 show at the Mattress Factory- how cool!
So, the May Featured Artists are my fellow textile artists in the Gestures 12 show.

First, is Atticus Adams:

What are the main materials and techniques you used in creating your art installation at the MF?
I used coated and uncoated aluminum mesh along with monofilament, wire, grommets, and rubber. To make the forms I use a combination of unweaving, folding, twisting, pressing, and sewing.

What was the inspiration for using these materials and techniques?

I love the inherent beauty in these simple materials and that they allow me to create light and etherial work.

What is an upcoming project you are working on?
I'm working on a solo show titled "My Walden" for the Society of Contemporary Craft that will be exhibited next year.

What is one artistic endeavor (exhibition, techniques to learn, etc...) that you would like to accomplish and have not yet?
I would like to do some installations in an exterior environment - something very large!

Where can people find out more about you?
My website at

Monday, May 18, 2009

ReVamp your Wardrobe class!

I have been wanting to offer this class for awhile, so I am making it happen! Email me at with questions and to register.

ReVamp your Wardrobe!
using Japanese fabric dyeing techniques
with Textile Artist Amber Dawn Coppings

Why buy new clothes when you can revamp them? Save money and reinvent your wardrobe by dyeing your clothes using Japanese Shibori fabric dyeing methods.
Sewn Nui shibori and Folded Itajime shibori will be explored along with immersion, gradation and over-dyeing techniques. Shibori is a general term for hundreds of different traditional and contemporary fabric dyeing techniques that originated in communities in Japan. Imagine tie dye with geometric shapes, interesting details and a lot of innovation!

You choose which methods to use on your clothing. Low impact, eco-friendly fiber reactive dyes will be used with many colors available. Some color theory will be discussed to help you figure out the best colors to dye your clothes. Let me know any special color requests when you register- some can be accommodated.

When: June 27, 1pm-5pm
Where: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
$50/$45 for PCC and Fiberarts Guild members
All dyes, chemicals and preparation materials included in tuition fee.
Dye kits to use at home and silk scarves will also be available for an extra fee.
Cash, local check and Paypal are accepted. Payment is due upon registration to reserve your spot. A minimum number of students is required to run the class, maximum is 10 students. Full refunds will be given if the class does not run.

Email Amber at to register and for more information.

Important Details: Please bring up to 6 items of clothing/accessories that are made of 100% cotton, silk, rayon, or blends of those fabrics. Other blends are ok if they are less than 10% of another fabric. Number of items dyed in class will be determined by what everyone brings. Please bring plastic bags (grocery and/or gallon freezer bags) and a bucket with a lid (kitty litter buckets are ideal) to transport your items. Students will need to wash their dyed items at home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mattress Factory Installation is coming up!'s in 10 days. The opening...I still have so much to do! Sleep is not on my list of things to get done. It is going to be one of the best pieces I have ever made, though! I have been asking people from my community to donate 1-2 objects that they are "unseen". here's the official invite I sent out:

My installation is about the unseen objects that share our living space. You
know, those things you have kept around for years, but don't really look at, or use
anymore. Think Knick knacks, keys that have no lock, rusty nails, an old
shoe...I would love to have 1-2 items from people in my life to include in the

So far, I have 6 people who have donated some really interesting things: sunglasses with dust all over them, rusty screws, an old electrical outlet, a spiderman toy...I'll post more pics soon! In the meantime, put the opening on May 8 7pm-9pm on your list to do!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mattress Factory Art Installation

mmmm....I really like it when life comes and embraces me. For several years now I have been going down the wearable art road. I mean, fabric dyeing as a main medium does lend itself very well into making art to wear. However, sometimes an artist needs a push in another direction! So, just when it seems like I need to explore some new ideas, I get an invitation to create an art installation at the Mattress Factory, a world-renowned art gallery/museum that specializes in site-specific art installations. Perfect! My alchemist/mad scientist/visual artist side can come out to play even more!

I have been exploring using the typical processes I use (sewing, fabric dyeing, manipulation of cloth), but with a distinctive destructive edge to them. The photos show some of the process of sketches I created to get some hands-on ideas. I am using bleach, vinegar and rusting techniques to destroy and remove dyes in the fabric. It is so refreshing to get away from functional work! Though, I will probably miss it and run right back to it with new ideas after this is done.

I'll post more pictures as things progress!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April Featured Artist- Joan Dulla!

People ask me all the time where I learned to knit and crochet with wire. Well, Joan Dulla was my teacher! I volunteered to be Joan's helper one week at Touchstone Center for Crafts. I learned so much! I was able to catch up with Joan at the American Craft Council Show in February and she agreed to be my featured artist this month.

Describe your work and/or studio process.

I crochet fine wire, (fine silver, 18K gold, niobium and color copper wire ) into jewelry and sculptures. I make rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, collars, cuff links and do commissions.

How has it been for you as a metalsmith working with a traditional textile construction technique?

I started taking classes as a metalsmith in 1986. I was making pendants and friends were telling me that I needed to make handmade chains for my pieces. Traditional ways to make handmade chains are VERY labor intensive and not something I could do out of a studio. An old friend taught me how to use a crochet hook and a wooden skewer to "crochet" a chain. It was VERY difficult and my fingers were bleeding and my hands hurt after a very short time. And I had only made about an inch of chain. I knew there had to be a better way. Having made a sweater when I was 16 (and not a very pretty one either!!!) I knew that knitting stitch and purling were opposites. So, I played with the stitch my metalsmith friend has shown me, and magic happened. Once I got going, I could make a chain in about 3 hours, which is still expensive, but a lot less than anything I had ever done before.

Then I started playing with opening the tube (chain) up and making larger necklaces using pearls. This is the first award that I won with the 18K gold and 3mm and 10 mm pearls. It was a Niche Award Finalist and Won the Lapidary Joural's Best of Competition in 2001. I figured I was on to something. I play with the process some more, and have made beads, of all shapes and sizes, bracelets using the flat stitch and sculptures using all of the above.

In Recreating Myself, I used my toes as my form by making long sided beads, and crocheted them together using the flat stitch. The remarkable thing about this stitch is its ability to create a skeleton and a sturdy form i.e- Emily's Fine sculpture which is a
life-size human spinal column. And I am still learning about this process, as I figured out this February how to make a Heart shape. It is so exciting!!!

Any new creations you are excited about?

I love my new series using money. I started about two years ago making purses, as I had customers who collected them. I made "Pretty Penny," <"Dime Bag", Nickel Bag". Change Purse, when I realized that the weight that I was carrying around to shows had gone up significantly. So I decide to try using shredded money. I had a knee replacement last March and was on all kinds of drugs. Not the time to use a torch or hammer. So I sat happily in my chair, on my drugs and make millions of beads out of shredded money. I have made since coming off of the drugs :>) several more pieces in this series: Pot O'Money, ( a tea pot ) Money Collar, Bracelet, Ring, Necklace, Money Bag-x2 and am really having a blast.
What are your thoughts on Art, Craft, AltCraft/Indie Craft as categories or definitions in general and as they pertain to your work?

Art comes from some place deep inside us, and we need to nurture that more in our children. I find in the college classes that I teach and a lot of people have never touch pastels, or graphite, or paints of any kind. I think this is horrible as Art is a way to find out about your inner workings and how to express yourself. My students are so afraid of criticism and are locked into thinking that they possess no artistic talent. They leave with portfolios of beautiful things that they never believed that they could do. We need to bring more art back into the classroom for students who may not succeed at first with the usual ABC's but explode when they are given a paintbrush, or pastel. And as for Alt- craft.... I believe that ART is ART whether it is in a museum or on the wall in the classroom. It comes from the heart-- it is art!

Where can people find your work?

I do shows on both coasts, ACC Baltimore, and San Francisco, Contemporary Craft Market in Santa Monica, Washington Craft Show, Philadelphia Craft Show etc. The best way to find me is to go to my website ( and I have listed all the coming attractions.

I also have a web presence on Etsy at

Monday, April 6, 2009

I love my new camera

I do. I won't say anything else- just look! There's more on Facebook, too.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Recycling Fabric Project #1

I found this great book at the library the other day "Don't Throw It Out". It's awesome!
Such great ideas for how to re-use and upcycle all sorts of things.

I opened the book up to a fun Woven Tie Seat Cover. I have so many old ties in boxes in my studios that I don't know what to do with. Now, I think I do!

Here's a quick tutorial on how to make a woven seat cover made of old ties.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Cleaning Your Etsy Shop

I just wrote an article about how to spring clean your etsy shop.
Here's a snippet:

1)Analyze your shop. Do you have items that are only going to attract attention during winter months? Delete them, or discount them. However, if you ship internationally, consider focusing a part of your marketing budget on renewing or advertising for those in the Southern Hemisphere where Autumn and Winter is just starting.

2)Create images with a consistent look. Look around your shop- are all your photos really different? Consider taking some new photographs with the same colorful background, or outside with some spring flowers. People will think you have new items which is always exciting!

Check out my Amtextiles shop to see how it looks! I like it so much better now!

Want to read the full article? Go to How to Spring Clean Your Etsy Shop.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Featured Artist: Jen from Raeburn Ink

I met Jen from Raeburn Ink at the AltCraft section of the American Craft Council show. She had the table next to me and I fell in love with her "Pillow Rings" (see photo) and her creative use of color. I asked her to the the featured artist for March. Check out what she has to say about her work, textile art and make sure to stop by her shops as well!

1) How would you describe your textile work as it currently is being made?
My current processes are screen printing and patchwork. I create functional objects - pillows, bags, jewelry, tee shirts. My screen printed fabrics use images drawn from various sources - some recent collections are inspired by scientific imagery, office supplies, and my trip to Japan. In general, I'm interested in color, geometry, and abstraction. I try to bring a sense of adventure into my pieces through the use of bright colors, contrasts, and hopefully a sense of humor. My patchwork pieces evolved out of a desire to use every scrap of fabric that I create. I couldn't bring myself to throw away the tiny bits, so I created a whole new collection to work with them.

2) List some of your inspiration for your current work
I have recently been working on my Macro/Micro print collection, looking at similarities between the very large and the very small. It has a heavy geology influence. I've been working with delicate line drawings, which is pretty new for me.

3) Do you incorporate other media or non-textile techniques in your work? how?
The actual pieces I produce use very established techniques - sewing and printing. I do use Photoshop and Illustrator a lot in the development of my imagery. I create sketches and manipulate photos and drawings. I test colorways and ideas, which I can do much faster on the computer than I can otherwise. The computer is an amazing tool for me in the development of my work.
4) What are your thoughts on Art, Craft, AltCraft/Indie Craft as categories or definitions in general and as they pertain to your work?
I'm not crazy about the perceived divisions in the Art/Craft/Design worlds. I feel like there's so much overlap in these genres, and I've always wondered where I fit in - I feel like all of them describe my work to some degree. I am very interested in conceptual art, and that informs my work and aesthetic quite heavily. I choose to make functional objects, which aligns my work with much of the craft world. I really connect with and love the return to the handmade that is a main element of the Indie Craft world. I don't fit in entirely to any of these categories, I'm really somewhere in the middle.

5) Any new creations you are excited about?
I'm starting some new designs that are based on my test prints, I love the unexpected results that happen when images are layered unintentionally. I'm also studying clothing construction and design, and I am planning to work on a new small clothing collection. And some plans to experiment with digitally printed fabrics.
6) Where can people find your work?
The easiest place to find me is online at I travel a lot to exhibit at various shows, and I list my show schedule online. I also have an etsy shop, of course! Its

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

AltCraft, ACC and Amtextiles

Whew! I think I am finally recovered from the American Craft Council Show. What a great experience. Overall, the show was successful and totally worthwhile. Here's some highlights and lowlights:

The set-up was relatively easy. The layout was easy to understand, most things were taken care of beforehand and my specific needs were taken care of. Thanks Erika for your help with that !! One downfall was that exhibitors in this space had their backs turned to the main flow of traffic, or had their booths really close to smelly food. People also had a hard time knowing what we were doing in our own section since the signage was poor and, I think, no one really knows what AltCraft is. Even those of us in the section! More on that in another post.

There were plenty of great people to meet and great conversations to be had! I met several internationally known curators (one of whom bought a piece from me!), Wendy Rosen who is the author of one of my favorite How to run a Craft Business books and producer of the Buyers Market, other great artists and crafters who make glorious and creative work...the list goes on and on! I needed cough drops to make sure I could keep talking!

I got to spend so much quality time with my friend Jenn. She is my model as well as my friend (she's in the photo above), so every time I left the table she thought everyone must have thought she was so vain since her image is on all my promo materials! Really, it's just that she looks divine and is so cool to let me photograph her all the time.

The feedback about my work was really helpful. Actually, this was the first time I had unveiled amtextiles Bubble Wraps as its own line of work so I really needed to hear from potential and actual clients. Playful, colorful, funky, diva, formal, bridal, beautiful, fun...

I also had a wonderful time wandering through the rest of the show when I had time. I'll write a post about some of my finds a little later this month.

Thanks to all of those who helped me: Adam, Jenn, Josh, the entire Shreckhise and Coppings families, Daiga, Joan, Erika, Lou, Yoshiko, Erin, are my loves!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Smorgasbord of color

Smorgasbord of color, originally uploaded by ambermayhem.

My studio is currently filled with a multitude of hand dyed silk organza bubble wraps of various sizes and shades. One of the interpretations of shibori is "Memory on Cloth" since the techniques leave an impression on the cloth permanently. In this case, the silk organza of these Bubble Wraps has embedded within them the story of hundreds of marbles, bicycle parts, wire and other objects.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Winter sunset

After years of living on the down slope of a hill in well-populated areas of Pittsburgh, I am so happy to be able to enjoy sunsets in my new neighborhood.