Tuesday, February 25, 2014
a new venture
Later this year I'll be opening an etsy shop called Months and Years. There I will be selling heirloom-quality handmade baby clothes. Each will be unique; I will not be making multiples or runs of sizes. Each piece will have its own inspiration drawn from mythology, poetry, folklore, song, something; I'll include the story of each piece in each posting. I will post items in batches, a half-dozen at a time; and they'll be priced to move. My goal is to hopefully empty the shop almost as quickly as I fill it.
I'll be sure to post a quick preview shot of each of the six items here, as I finish them, and then I'll post an update about when they'll finally be available for sale.
Why am I doing this? Well, earlier this winter, I realized I wasn't satisfied with how I was spending my time. My evenings were long vacant swaths of TV-time - and I was feeling bored and a bit stifled. Sewing and embroidery are - I think - ideal evening activities. They require a kind of engineering-brain, able to follow instructions, and pay attention to details of measurement and construction, but they don't require the draining focus and observation and judgment of painting. So it's a good evening activity for morning-bird me, who is already pretty much done for the day, cognitively, by the time I'm having dinner.
So, what to sew? Well, my own weight is in flux, so I'm not really sewing for myself right now - better to wait and find out where my body will settle, THEN sew. And to boot, I have a lot of scraps in my fabric stash, as I tend to buy fabric in 3-, 4- or even 5-yard increments (so that I have flexibility when I sew - I can make whatever I want!). This leaves significant scraps - and as I only buy natural fibers, we're talking yards of silk, wool, cotton and linen here. This is not the kind of thing you just throw away.
So I settled on baby clothes. Plus, I've always LOVED baby clothes. I've always loved working in miniature in any medium; I love the fussy perfection of it, the detail, the smallness. I love that with very little material one can create a very rich effect. I even love the excess of it; what newborn child needs a hand-embroidered, herringbone silk twill dress (above)? No child, not really. Antonin Artaud, one of the French Surrealists, author of The Theatre and its Double, theorist of the Theatre of Cruelty, once wrote that excess without cause was the beginning of art. That pretty effectively describes the power of fascination that beautiful, artistic, tiny clothes hold for me - and why I like to make them; there's a potential to make the simple act of dressing into an art form.
So. Months and Years will be a kind of repository for periodic tiny collections of unique handmade clothes in a variety of sizes. The first piece of my first collection, above, is the "When the Violets Return" dress. It is inspired by an Irish prayer spoken when the gentians bloom in the Burren - and more on that when I finish the rest of the collection. It is a size 0-3 months, made from a warm and soft 100% silk herringbone twill (it has the weight and softness of a nice flannel shirt) with a cotton calico collar. The bodice buttons up the back, and the embroidered violets wrap over the shoulder and continue on the back of the yoke.
The next dress is inspired by line that I found very striking in a story from the Brothers Grimm; I'm still figuring out how I'm going to execute the ornamentation, but I'm excited to start cutting the fabric tonight; I have to measure my scraps and make sure I've enough cloth, but it should be a size 2T or 3T and made from fuzzy navy wool.