Thursday, December 29, 2011

reflections and musings

I simply cannot believe that 2011 is nearly over. I just looked back over my blogfeed as I've not had time to catch up and got so caught up at all the excellent Christmas ideas everyone had until I remembered that it had already passed. This year has felt a bit like a dream. So many amazing things have happened, bad things too but I don't care to dwell on those any longer... I guess that is the good thing about a new year starting. Really nothing changes when that ball drops but we all feel like we have a bit of a fresh start. 
Proudly standing in my booth at SOAR! :D
In 2012, I'm not going to have a fresh start, I'm going to continue growing and changing along with Bricolage Studios.

I've been putting my house in order bit by bit after all the neglect during first my busy early spring while still working two teaching jobs, the store, and juggling the shop. Then show season began with lots of travel from May through the end of October. Then the holidays had slammed me before I knew what happened. I've even already hung a few of my Christmas presents in their new homes.

Awesome vintage finds from Mom

Most awesome clock EVER! Also from Mom :D

After quitting my day job this past May I was apprehensive about whether I could make it. I'm still not sure, but things are starting to look up and become more clear to me. Putting the house in order gives me time to think and be out of the studio (unless I'm sewing new curtains of course...) The absence of guilt for being out of the studio is erased by doing something around the house that NEEDS to be done and helps put things in perspective. Ever notice how much more efficient and happier you can be when your space reflects the same characteristics? 

I've always loved the personal aspect of doing shows far more than the grind of impersonal  photographing and listing on etsy and with the addition of wholesale accounts (I love that people can pick up my fibers from a REAL brick and mortar shop :D), I have decided to back off from online business a bit. For those of you who follow me, you've probably noticed more than once that I've tried to set up an update and cancelled at the last second. I'm making a promise right now that it will not happen again.

By this I mean I will not be actually announcing updates, at least not for a while. (never fear, they WILL STILL HAPPEN!) Scheduled updates were not how I started on etsy, and looking back, that is what worked better for me. I used to card and list at my leisure for the shop out of necessity because of working around my job and when that BECAME my job, I hated it. Not the making mind you, just the photographing. Funny thing is, I listed about once a week then so if all goes well, I won't be back off so much as just changing back to what worked best for me. I do plan on eventually starting a email newsletter though! :D

I accomplished a great deal of the goals I had set for myself last year about this time, and most of them were nothing to sneeze at. I'm hoping to continue that trend this year. I know with the amazing connections I have made and with the support of those I love that I can accomplish anything. Thank you all, I feel so blessed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One picture, two very exciting things :D

So I've been waiting to announce this for some time now (mostly cause I can't believe it happened!) but, you can now find select Bricolage Studios goodies at The Spinning Loft!!!! Thanks to owner, Beth Smith, for taking a chance on my goods, I'm very excited to be a part of her lovely shop! She snapped a photo of me today after we stuffed a shelf (my very own shelf! ... yes I'm a dork, :D) and I realized that it is the first time that another exciting thing got photographed.
You see, I get asked all the time if I knit my yarn into anything to which my normal reply is, "Well... I'm really not a knitter. I crochet it sometimes!" Well, after lusting after a particular pattern from Tiny Owl Knits, the Orchids and Fairylights hat pattern to be specific, trying to convince actual knitters to make it for me, (yea I bought the pattern and the yarn and was too chicken...) I finally jumped in with the help of my friend Michelle and made myself that damn hat. You can't see it very well in the photo, but I'm pretty pleased with myself. It only took about a week and a half of absolute obsession with it but I did it, baubles, cables, dpns, and all (ask anyone, until a few weeks ago, I had a serious fear of dpns!)

I'm working on another one already. :D

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas Update

What's that you say? Maybe only die hard Muppet fans are familiar with this movie but it has always been one of my favorites.
 Next week on Thursday evening I will be having a very special themed update capturing the essence of the holiday spirit according to all the magical characters from Frogtown Hollow.  Emmett's jugband, his Ma, and even the River Bottom Nightmare Band (though technically not from Frogtown Hollow :D)

Just curls, batts, fleece mixes, and some hand pulled roving. yaaaaaaaaay!!!!!! (if you're really into it that was a kermit yay. :D)

Speaking of those amazing Muppets. Thank you Jason Segel for setting Disney back on track with perhaps one of the most beloved things from my childhood (and still to this day.) After the turd that was Muppet Wizard of Oz I was reluctant but could not have been happier leaving that movie theater the other night. If you are a Muppet fan, please go see that movie. I giggled a lot and fought off tears more than once at the perfect amount of sentiment and from laughing too hard in a few parts.

Pure awesome.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

, December 3 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the Yarn Hollow Studio at 3041 Broadway SW, Grandville.

QUICK! blog before the internet goes out again!

I've been trying to blog about the event I'm participating in this weekend for days now. Seriously. If it wasn't that comcast just felt like not allowing me to have the internet, it was the first serious snow fall that we just finally got. Not the pretty sugar snow that falls softly, Oh NO, the nasty super heavy wet crap that makes branches fall all over the place.

Anyhow, THE event! :D Rita, the amazing fiber rockstar behind Yarn Hollow, is holding her second annual open house in her studio this weekend and kindly asked me if I'd like to be a part of it.

There will be several other fiber artists there as well, including my wonderful friend Gloria of X-stream Fibers with her super gorgeous scarves. My pal Heather who is lucky enough to work for Rita (super jealous! :D) will also be selling her wares. I'm very excited for this event and to meet all the other talented fiber artists who will be there. Hope to see a lot of YOU there as well!

December 3 
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Yarn Hollow Studio 
3041 Broadway SW
Grandville, MI

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mid November Update

Remember that update I mentioned a few posts ago? It's almost here! :D

Tomorrow night, Thursday, November 17, 2011, I will be having a shop update at 9:30 PM EST

What's gonna be in the update?

Handspun yarns:

Handpulled roving from my hackle:

Signature Bricobatts:
 Depending on how the rest of the photographing goes, there may be a few extra goodies listed!

Wanna see more previews? Look here!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I often get asked at shows first how my name "bricolage" (bree-kuh-lahzh) is pronounced and then almost immediately I'm asked what it's meaning is. Bricolage has a lot of meanings but for me personally the following definition is in the context of what I do.

bri-co-lage n: a construction achieved by using whatever comes to hand; also: something constructed in this way

  I've had the pleasure of meeting Jillian, the editor of knittyspin at the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo the past two years. This year when she came to my booth, she said she had something really dorky for me and after digging through her bag for a moment, she pulled out a word of the day calendar page. I'm sure you can guess the word of the day. :D  

Being a bit dorky myself I thought it was sweet more than anything that she saved it a few days to give to me. It had some interesting history about the word bricolage that just confirmed that when I chose my business name, I chose something that will be evergreen for me. 

the following is taken directly from Workman Publishing's Page-A-Day Calendar:
According to French social anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, the artist "shapes the beautiful and useful out of the dump heap of human life." Levi-Strauss compared this artistic process to the work of a handyman who solves technical or mechanical problems with whatever materials are available. He referred to that process of making do as bricolage, a term derived from the French verb bricoler (meaning "to putter about") and related to bricoleur, the French name for a jack-of-all-trades. Bricolage made its way from French to English in 1966, when Levi-Strauss's The Savage Mind was translated from his native tongue to ours. 
I like the idea of bricoleur roughly translated meaning a jack-of-all-trades. I certainly don't fit into any one category and am constantly learning different techniques and media from jewelry/metalworking, to spinning, dying, sewing, felting, carding, and some occasional printmaking. I guess you could say I'm a bricoleur in my own studio. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

something to blog about :D

First, I'm having an update Thursday night. Time TBA with photos in my future sneak peek post!

What will be in that update? New handspun, signature batts, hand pulled rovings from my hackle, and some other assorted goodies. :D

Second, I had the pleasure of having lunch with my friend Kathy, the Warped Weaver, a few weeks ago while she was in town. She is a very talented weaver who also spins, felts, and is a true bricoleur* like myself. She came to visit when I was vending at Castle Farms wool festival where she purchased a few of my felting batts (which are heavy on Icelandic and Romney wools for their excellent felting capabilities.) Well, as so often happens in the craft world when you sell supplies, I rarely get to see what has been created from my work, so I was very pleased that Kathy had brought with her the lovely cobweb felt she had created from those batts. She let me snap a few photos so I just had to share at least one! :D
Cobweb felt by Kathy, The Warped Weaver from Bricobatts
I also was very excited to receive my first diz commission through etsy. Up until recently I had only been doing these for friends for fun. A few months ago I listed a few that I had made for the shop along with a custom listing. I was very pleased that my first custom order came from a lovely lady who I'd "met" through Tour de Fleece this summer in laigrai's group. It is such a creative joy to make these little buggers because it is yet another area where I can combine my passions between metal, fiber, and color to create something extra special and one of a kind. I really like to incorporate logos, text, and the overall feel of a person's shop when I get these requests. I hope I captured the soft, elegant style of sofTrope's aesthetic in this custom diz. Of course, you can be the judge if you visit her shop, I'm sure you'll find some irresistible goodness there!

Like what you see? Visit the shop to see how you can get your own custom made diz!

*bricoleur: what you'll read about next time!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chasing Whimsy Part III: From New Hampshire to Tennessee and home again...

My solo adventure began the moment I left our cozy hotel room the Saturday evening after packing up my booth from SOAR. Michelle, Rita, and I all went to dinner at a little Irish pub. We thought it was a good idea until our food took what felt like years to come out to us. As if that didn't already make me run quite late indeed to get on my way, the thought of driving 16ish hours through the night was one that I was not too keen on. I was exhausted and felt much happier about sitting around chatting with Rita. She kindly pushed me out the door after an hour or so. Sometimes it is good when your friends aren't so subtle with you when you NEED to do something.

After a small fight with my borrowed GPS I was on my way. Barely 2 hours into the drive I was too sleepy to go on and slept in a McDonald's parking lot for a bit. Back on the road a few more hours and I could not go on yet again and stopped at a rest area for some much needed sleep.

Hours later and I'm running low on podcasts, McDonald's wifi to the rescue!

In the meantime, my good pal Mandy from college has called me to say that her and another friend are hanging out in Gatlinburg until I arrive so that we can hang out. Gatlinburg is CRAZY! It is like a mini Vegas with all of it's lights and tourist attractions, I felt like I was suddenly in another world, which was made even more strange the moment I pulled into Arrowmont School of Art and Craft which was a tiny incubated world in and of itself.
Joanna's sample pieces
The Red Barn, where I stayed

Entryway to the classrooms. My class was just to the left of this lovely fountain.

I quickly dropped my toolbox in the classroom where my classmates lingered long after the orientation I had missed, threw my bags in the room and met my roommates and was promptly whisked off the local brewery by Mandy and Dave.
 We had beer.
Did I mention it was happy hour?
mandy peering around the beers!
Lots of beer. mmmmmm... :D Much needed after that looooong drive.

There was an exhibit up from the Enamelist Society who had had a conference at Arrowmont not long before from what I understood. I snapped a few photos of my favorite pieces. Unfortunately they didn't have any cards for the actual artists out but the exhibit was really a treat.
awesome fold formed piece
loved the shadow in this piece
Enamelist Society Exhibit
The class was AWESOME Joanna Gollberg was my instructor and it was basically about trapping objects. I had soooo needed to get back in the classroom as a student. I felt like my work had become really stagnant so some new techniques and instruction were really great for stimulating my creativity. Joanna was such an amazing teacher and every single person in that class was just phenomenal. My roomies were super great and also happened to be in the class with me. Just being around so many different women allowing their individual styles to shine through using all of the same techniques that I was using was truly and experience. Despite being in the classroom and eyeballing everyone else's bench, I was in awe when we put everything out for some show and tell near the end of class.
our amazing classroom!
We even had a bear pop its head into the room! If you look at the picture below, we were all sitting around that front bench area for a demo when this when a not quite full grown black bear got a little bit curious. I think we may have startled it just as much as it did us because it took off immediately.
The bear came in in the door just to left of this photo!
Our last night at Arrowmont was one that I will not soon forget. I've never changed locations so many times in one evening but my favorite was probably the cantina across the street. I enjoyed a few Negra Modelo's and munched on some pretty awesome nachos with several of my classmates, including my two favorites who also happened to be my roomies.
My roomies and I :D
Fiber even managed to sneak back into my life during a week of metal. I came across a stack of business cards for the Smoky Mountain Spinnery which I visited on my last full day in Tennessee.  What a lovely shop it was! The owner was a very sweet woman who shares the space with an Angler shop so there was something for everyone. She carried lots of really unique items in her shop as well as several types of wheels. My favorite things that she had were handmade stuffed animal alpacas made from pelts. Their sweet expressions were so whimsical and hilarious and each one had its own fiber activity. One had a large dyepot it was stirring with blotches of the dye on its fur, another was knitting two socks at a time, tooooo cute! :D I really admired the owner for her eye and also for the fact that she told me she had started the shop all on her own with no loans or anything several years ago and still seemed to be going strong. If that isn't chasing some whimsy, I'm not sure what is.
Such a great trip. The ride back wasn't so bad, the fact that all of the views I had heading north were gorgeous certainly helped.
view from the hill I slipped down one night
   After two weeks away, I came home with 6 pieces that I was really happy with and a so many amazing experiences. I'm so fortunate to have friends all over the country that I am able to see when I travel and the opportunity to travel and meet so many new and incredible people. It makes you feel so much less alone as an artist and allows me to continue to know that I am chasing whimsy every day.
WIP on my bench
all my finished pieces

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chasing Whimsy Part II: From Michigan to New Hampshire

Phew, finally have a few minutes to blog. :D
I last left you dear readers with my tale leading up to my super amazing trip at the beginning of October. I hustled about, stayed up far too late, accomplished those 42 batts I spoke of and thankfully already had my car packed up (because I'd never unpacked it from my previous show!)

My pal Rita of Yarn Hollow met me that Monday morning the week of SOAR and we took off on our joint adventure caravanning to New Hampshire together. At the time Rita and I barely knew each other and I could not have asked for a better travel companion and roommate for this trip.  I had never travelled further east that Sandusky, Ohio so this in and of itself was a great treat and adventure for me. We stayed the night in New York with Rita's best friend from school whose family was incredibly inviting and wonderful hosts. So appreciated for the money saved and great hospitality.

I have to say that I didn't expect the surrounding to be so beautiful on our drive. I am always reminded very quickly how absolutely FLAT lower Michigan is whenever I get more than about 4 hours out of state. It seems so sudden that mountains, rocky embankments and quaint valleys replace the corn fields and cow pastures that are so prevalent in the Midwest.

Sixteen plus hours of driving in two days may seem like something to dread but I can honestly say between podcasts to help "pass the time," my traveling companion just ahead of me the whole way,  and how gorgeous this great country I live in is, it was quite a treat.

We arrived at our hotel Tuesday evening in time to devour burgers from the hotel restaurant and take over our hotel room with wet fiber we had dyed last minute for the show.

Wednesday we set up our booths. It was so nice to have gotten there the night before and to have the entire day to get our spaces setup for the coming days.
This would become my booth in a mere 5 hours.
A shot of both Rita and I's booths before we got down to business.
Rita in the middle of setup with tons of tempting and gorgeous braids. If you have never spun one of her gorgeous braids do treat yourself to one... or twenty. :D
The market opened Thursday morning and I will be the first to admit, my stomach did a serious flip flop when the countdown came down to the last seconds and the doors open. It is an amazing thing to got from the buzz of nervous chatter between vendors to the whoosh of exciting customers rushing in before they had to get to their first classes.
I think this shot is actually the end of day one... I'm so happy so many people love my batts as much as I love making them!
because there were WAY more batts at the beginning of the day as you can see here....
...and here!
The people I was able to meet at this event were incredible. Eating meals next to mentors you have followed in magazines and books, chatting with superstar wheel manufactures in your booth, having equal fiber superstars compliment your work, and realizing that despite their "star quality" in the fiber field, they are truly awesome laid back people who are just as excited about your craft and that alone links you in ways that are not understood by your non fiber friends, spouses, etc. There is something really incredible about being completely immersed and surrounded by like minded individuals who don't care that every time you pick up a braid or batt of wool your first instinct is to press it right to your face and drink in the scent (yes I know, this is crazy to those of you who are not into the wool thang. :D) An event where you will see several people carrying around so many shopping bags you would think it was the Black Friday of fiber. A place where you will meet some amazing customers from all the way across the country you never dreamed you would and are so pleasantly surprised to turn and see them and feel like you've know them for years. Tearful hugs with a perfect stranger who has touched you because they realize your passion and show the same support and encouragement you would only have ever thought your own mom could provide (she is certainly my biggest fan! <3)

Finally, Interweave Press/Spinoff Magazine put on the show and were some of the kindest, personable and supportive people I have ever met. Their main concern was the happiness of each and every person involved in the event. Sarah Rovelli, the Advertising Manager with Interweave, personally came around on several occasions to each vendor to make sure things were running smoothly and went completely above and beyond my expectations of a show coordinator. I would not trade my experience for the world and had my best show to date at SOAR. I hope to run into the amazing connections I made there often in the future and I know I will continue to meet amazing people on my journey as an artist. Some of those people in the week that followed SOAR.

Next time: Chasing Whimsy Part II: From New Hampshire to Tennessee

Thursday, October 20, 2011

chasing whimsy part I

I've finally arrived home after a wonderful two week adventure.

Let's preface this adventure with the last minute scrambling that seems to always happen to me before a show. This time of course it was compounded with the enormity of the two week trip I was about to take from Michigan to New Hampshire and then New Hampshire to Tennessee and finally home again.

I had just finished up with Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival where I was greeted with a nasty cold starting just as I was packing up. That being said, the following week I was fairly useless and had a hard time getting much done until about Friday. I scrambled to meet my goal of at least 50 batts for SOAR and came up with 42 (not too shabby!)
Earlier that week my husband had introduced me to the joy of podcasts. I downloaded several for the trip but couldn't resist listening to a few during my mad last minute carding session. I was absorbing the incredibly funny and insightful "Joe Rogan Experience" with Kevin Smith as his guest when two words really struck me from Kevin Smith. Now we all know Kevin Smith as the creator of such films as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks, Mallrats, and the list goes on... Silly movies? Yes. Intelligent man behind them who is seriously insightful and inspiring? Also very true. He was speaking about how he started living out his dream and to be honest, without going back I can't tell you EXACTLY what he said but he left it at, "... I've been chasing whimsy ever since."

Now that is a powerful statement.

I've been mulling it over and thinking of it often these past weeks and I will not soon forget it. My whole trip I just kept thinking, "Wow, that is EXACTLY what I'm doing RIGHT NOW!" It is an incredible thing to be even attempting to live out your dream and I hope everyone has the opportunity to do so. With a few drinks in me I've rambled on about it with great emotion too. WHY is everyone droning on from day to day hating life? Go do something about it. Do I have any money right now? Certainly not. Am I happier for it, you can bet I am, because at the end of the day, I have no regrets and I can die tomorrow knowing that I tried. How many people can say that?

Next time: Chasing Whimsy Part II
From Michigan to New Hampshire

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beer and a lakeshore...

Could you really ask for anything more? 

The hubs and I had sort of a staycation for our second anniversary. I can't believe we've already been married 2 years!

We went down to Cincinatti and repeated our first anniversary trip to Brew Ha Ha. Caroline Rhea was headlining and was quite funny indeed. We drank lots of delicious beers from microbrews all over. My favorites were some from Goose Island out of Chicago that I had not yet had the pleasure of trying. While I did take some photos, most were quite blurry because it was dark... :(

We were joined by our dear friends the Benson's once again as well as both of their daughters and their sig. others this year. A good time was had by all and a cozy wonderful hotel bed awaited us after all that hoppy goodness as we somewhat stumbled back (all walking for us as the roo was safely parked in the garage next to the hotel. :D) We stayed with the Benson's and Jess did my hair which was a previous post. :D

Once Joe and I got back home we settled back in and I got some work done but I'd been itching to visit Saugatuck again (I dream of living in that area someday with a flock of various fiber bearing aminals.) So, when we hadn't gotten off our butts for a few days, I printed the directions next to Joe while he puttered on the computer and said, "HEY! Let's go, huh?"

We wandered downtown Saugatuck for a bit and went to a few galleries I'm HOPING to apply to get my work into. Did I have ulterior motives for a Saugatuck visit? Maybe. But beer and food were definitely on my mind. We did discover a lovely little spice shop that smelled absolutely heavenly while we were there though. :D

I had probably the most amazing French Dip sammich ever at Saugatuck Brewing Company. Joe and I split a sampler because it had been 2 years since we'd been and they had lots of new beers on tap. Super tasty stuff I say!

Did I whine after dinner and say that we cannot be next to the Lake Michigan and not let me go wading at least for a little bit? Um... duh. We went to a dune park and ended up walking off dinner on a helluva hike through the woods and down a dune but when we finally reached the water it was magical.

When we finally ventured back to the car Joe noticed a little message in one of the dunes. Hard to read in the picture but it says, "Will you marry me," in sticks. Pretty romantic to see when you are enjoying your anniversary. How fun to think of the happy couple that must have been there within the last few days... maybe even hours before. <3
All in all, I was thrilled to be reminded why I still live in the state I grew up in. Michigan is so full of natural beauty, it is where so many of my loved ones are... and damn do they know how to make good beer here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

blogging intentions and a great reorganization...

While I've had the best of intentions to blog, even remembering to not only bring my camera but pull it out and snap some photos, I have been too busy to get it done.

Seriously. I think I have about 5 posts in my head right now. Here is one of them. :D

One of the major things that has been bogging me down is that my studio was a WRECK! I finally started the reorganization and regretted it instantly but now that it is done there are absolutely no regrets. It went through a great metamorphosis. A very full carload and several trashbags later and it is a dream room. I even took several photos of the stages it went through. A fair warning though... when I just uploaded these the early stages put me in a state of panic that I feared would result in a heart attack... it's a wonder I made it through the real thing.

So the studio started out in this arrangement, but pretend the mess on the couch is on the floor basically... and well... yea, it was a mess. you get idea...  (I neglected to get and 'actual' before photo.)
 and then... as well all know, things get worse before they get better when you are rearranging/cleaning.
and worse...

sometimes it gets even worse again...
and then it finally starts to improve.
we're almost there!
Mooch was there for moral support. He likes the change.
Are you ready for it yet?
Here it comes!
Revamped carding station with MUCH better lighting above ^ as seen in the previous photo. It is blinding and wonderful to be able to actually see what I'm carding. :D
I'm a big fan of owls, hence the artwork and vintage love above my carding station. :D  I was called Hootie when I was little. I still have a cousin who insists on calling me it. I secretly love it. :D We won't get into where Hootie came from though... The owl print on the left if from Marmee Craft. I'm lusting after a few more of her owlie prints.

Jewelry Bench area with my inspiration board redone with room for pinning up projects (that is another post! :D) New lighting above here too! Thanks dad! yay! My Black Apple  prints of my "alter egos" ever present down here.
Sewing Station!!! Probably the only messy area at the moment because it is a catchall for wool until I get done with shows and can start sewing again. (yet another post.....)
So there is the tour! I took loads more pictures but they were seriously scary town!

Man, it feels soooo good to have it all done! I've finally put my wheel down there at least for the winter time so I can get all cozy on the couch, put hulu on the ipad and just spin away the winter hours.

OH! btw... SOAR is next week! If you are in the New Hampshire area you should definitely come and shop the spinner's market!