Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MC Funk and Flash | Update 2

Feather stitch is where its at right now, no doubt.

And of course I know this is not perfection - by no means is this exquisite, refined and technically masterful embroidery. But that's not the point.
This is about doing what you love.
This is about doing what makes you happy.
This is about doing what leaves you feeling rested, recharged and alive.

Monday, March 22, 2010

MC Funk and Flash | Update

Long work days should be following up by restful and relaxing evenings. While we unwind and watch movies or listen to records, the perfect comfort for my hands is the free form and FUN decoration of my jeans. Here's an update after a weekend's work.

My new friend Kue King is such an inspiration. His pants - which have now been a work in progress for years - are always in mind as I add new patterns to mind. Here he is in his pants and donning heaps of Alex and Lee jewelry.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sweet Inspiration | Yoko


On the anniversary of the passing of my husband, John Lennon,
I would like you to share an affirmation with me.
Think it, say it, with firm belief,
knowing that we are all one.

In the name of truth, peace and love:
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Our planet is healthy and whole,
We, the people of Earth
See clearly, Hear clearly, Think clearly.
Make the right judgement, right decision and the right move
For the benefit of our planet and others.

We are now bathing in the light of Dawn,
Standing in the Heaven we have created together,
Sharing the Joy
With all Lives on Earth
And of the Universe,
As we are all one, united with infinite and eternal love.

For the highest good of all concerned, So be it.

With all my love,
yoko ono lennon

December 8, 2009
Tokyo, Japan

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sweet Inspiration | Tattoo You

Why ugliesttattoos.com added this to their archive, I don't quite know. In my estimation its quite brilliant and not ugly at all.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Rosie's Funk and Flash | Quilt Powers | Sweet Inspiration

I'm feeling so alive and refreshed and ready to begin a few phase of exciting work. Part of this is thanks to our studio change. Part of this is due to Seattle's sunshine and the great burst of energy that comes along with the spring sun finally arriving to inspire us all, pulling us out from our winter slump. And part of this is thanks to a steady stream of inspiring objects around me and the gifted souls who take the time and care to make such exquisite, spirited works of art.

After a great day in the sun with my dear friend Rose Powers, our conversation led to her telling me about a quilt she had begun over 36 years ago when she was 25 years old and caring for her baby Zak.

A quick aside: Zak has since grown to become a brilliant photographer and the trusted wingman of legend Elliott Erwitt. Such a talented and artistic mother could only raise a son with equal creative potential!

As we chatted and walked home, Rose told me of the quilt she labored over for months - a quilt that was designed to not only be a beautiful addition to her home, but also a document of her life up until that point with embedded tales of love, struggle, heartbreak, joy, and the fabrics, decorations, patterns, objects and designs that were part of the experience. I, of course, had to see it...and asked to do just that!

I met Rosie over a cutting table at the Seattle Opera, as we both stitched away on costumes for their production of Don Giovanni in November of 2006. The work was good, and the setting was ideal for becoming fast friends. Our workday chatting and laughing turned into nighttime dancing at our favorite honkytonk or disco. And during my first visit to her home, a glance at her vast book collection brought fourth a copy of Native Funk and Flash...a book I had long forgotten about up until that point. I hadn't seen it since high school - but of course remembered it well - and was thrilled to see a copy again and also hear Rosie say "I love this book....I know some of the people who are in it." Agh! Amazing. Moments like these remind me that I moved to this coast for a reason. This sort of thing doesnt really happen in Wisconsin.

May years of good karma pour onto the free-thinking librarian of Wausau West High School who purchased a copy for their stacks in 1974. I enjoyed it weekly from 1995 until I graduated in 1999 and can only hope it still has a home on their shelves.

Since reconnecting with the book, I have regained access to a powerful source of inspiration and important American history. Hell, I've even corresponded with Scrumbly thanks to that moment!

36 years ago was 1974 - the same year the book was published, the same year the librarian in Wisconsin purchased a copy for the school, and the same year Rosie was stitching away at this quilt to archive the turns of her life. It all lines up quite nicely, no?

It was also in 1974 that a less-than-excellent boyfriend told Rosie the quilt wasn't worth much; a big ole waste of time. Most anyone emotionally and artistically invested in something knows the power of such harsh criticisms and unkind words. So the quilt got boxed up and has stayed that way since. Unfinished. Untouched. But thankfully, Rosie still has it and we capped off our sunny Saturday by taking it out and having a look at it.

I could only smile when seeing it, and it felt so good to know that its still here and in such great condition. We laid it out on her livingroom rug and she walked me through its many parts and layers of meaning.

Years in art school surrounded by academics and mentors who think a lot about textiles offered me a number of potent lessons, but one of the biggest is this: Domestic textiles are one of the most powerful documents of the lived experience we have. They document each and every move our culture makes. They live with us, grow with us, change with us, and offer their functionality and beauty right along side the complex lives we lead. In the end, these materials can't help but accumulate the spirit and nuance of their owners amazing lives.

I was reminded of this in such a big way when seeing this quilt. Most impressive of all was hearing Rosie tell the stories and talk about the role the quilt played in her life at that point. "I always felt so safe and happy when I was working on this and I'll never forget that. Everything else around me could be a mess but this quilt was like therapy...my way to make something that I felt really good about."

Today Rosie is an absolute master seamstress, making exquisite works for area theatres by day and for friends and family in extra hours that remain. This level of refined craft is something I have always been in awe of and hope to bring to the work I do in my own studio. Its the type of work that takes time. Its the type of work that takes care. Its the type of work that takes love and patience and the will to invest oneself in a project that may not have heaps of technological power or pragmatic fervor, but instead gives back through its beauty, longevity and untouchable artistic life.

We ended our afternoon by playing with new fabric scraps on the unfinished quilt. I'm hoping this re-visit inspires Rosie to finish the work she started, and bring such an exciting piece to a more finished place so it can be displayed and viewed and enjoyed. The work we do as artists deserves just that, at the very least.

The full quilt in all its multi-colored playful glory!

The surface is still so alive and full of movement.
A bodice from a velvet dress set into the surface with lovely embroidered details dancing around its edges.
The piecing and playful layers are to be celebrated, and the careful handwork to decorate and embellish the edges is exquisite!

Here's a handbook of stitches that were Rosie's resource on this quilt. In the midst of an ever-changing lifestyle without a whole lot of possessions, this little book was carried with her all along and brought to the table all these wonderful hand-sewn decorations.
Tucked inside the small book was this folded magazine tear - another bit of inspiration that got the ball rolling.
Rosie and I dancing at one of our favorite spots, Seattle's Little Red Hen.

Friday, March 05, 2010


Reclaiming the Essential | Work Balance | MC Funk and Flash

Major changes have been happening here at our studio. For those of you have walked past the space you have seen the windows papered over with a simple announcement of "Our new look coming soon." That new look is a more private one, and one designed to help me refocus and reclaim the creative spirit here at MC...just in time for spring.

The space here at MC is much different than it was 2 weeks ago. We've closed down our retail front, repainted, moved every scrap of cloth, rack and rail in exchange for more studio space, more creative spirit, and more clarity to make the work we need to make.


And before I get into much more, I want to proudly announce that MC's ready to wear is now on the racks at Velouria's new location on Capitol Hill, just a few blocks from our studio and in the heart of a lovely and active part of the neighborhood. Tes and the gang have been absolute dolls in their willingness to showcase my work and I'm excited to offer you all even more access to what we're doing thanks to their open minds and new boutique. Check it out!


Being self-employed as an artist is hard work. I knew that going into this deal, and the rewards are great. At the end of the day, the thing that makes it work is a lovely balance between business and art - a balance between the creative spirit and the pragmatic needs of any small, growing business. I'm not certain I have found the perfect balance quite yet, so I spend my days making constant adjustments to the scenario to make sure it can all continue.

This new change is perhaps the biggest one yet. We've white-washed the walls of our space, put in new shelves, material storage, and stripped the space down to its essential elements for one main reason: the creative process and the energy of an artist is what drives it all and makes me happiest at the end of a day. Without that, we're nothing. My wonderful studio mate Rachel and I are delighted to announce this reclaiming of ourselves. As an artist, my work is my identity; I am my work and my work is me. For better or worse I never I really leave work - it comes with me everywhere I go and this has been the case for at least the past 20 years. At the moment I can't manage to think of a point in my life where a creative impulse didn't follow me around all day every day - and I can't remember a time where the will to make something had ever left my side. I like living this way, and don't suppose I could have it any other way even if I tried.

My sewing machine sits beneath the skylight in the studio and the morning light is superb.
My cutting table is in the round with miles of walking space around its perimeter.
My fabric piles have been winnowed down to a precious few, the rest being placed in the hands of others who will make good use of them.
My design board shows all the potential in the world, tho at the moment it offers a mere glimpse into what the forthcoming collections will deliver.
My mind feels clear, open and ready to work.
My hands are also ready; ready for new materials, new ideas, new techniques and new modes of working.

This afternoon's sunshine forced me to break from my swatch-juggling and number-running to just play. The stack of jeans atop my dresser at home made it to the studio for repair, and the last box of scraps (in addition to a kind donation from Rachel) made for a great chance to decorate and play. With the turn of the seasons in full swing, and my desire to open up, explore, and celebrate a re-claimed artistic practice, I've started a bit of funk and flash of my very own. MC Funk and Flash pales in comparison to the glory of my heroes and champions from the past, but it sure does feel good!

The ass of the artist covered with the very beginning stages of his MC Funk and Flash. Progress updates promised.