Working the stress out of your system - in the studio

Working the stress out of your system - in the studio

"you take socially unacceptable behavior or ideations and channel them into something that is socially acceptable like art. In other words, you reach the studio fuming over the sexism that you had to put up with at work. Then you and your studio mates share pizza and beer and discuss how sexism affects you on an everyday basis. You take those emotions and make a mug that says, ‘male tears.’ You leave the studio not wanting to yell at the next innocent man you see on the street. Bam, Sublimation!”

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Learn how to spin

I am very happy to announce that I will be teaching Spinning Circle, a six-week course on hand spinning on spindles and spinning wheels at the Richmond Art Center this fall.

If you are interested in learning how to turn wool, cotton, silk, and other fibers into yarn, and how to create your own blends for spinning or felting, take a look. All levels welcome! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at info@thefono.com

Registration starts today! Go to http://richmondartcenter.org/class-catalog/ to sign up. 

Vera Totos

 Drop spindle with camel hair fiber and yarn

Drop spindle with camel hair fiber and yarn

Designing a weaving project - Swedish Lace place mats and napkins

I love weaving functional, useful things. Dressing up the dining table is especially close to my heart. I love the "experiences over stuff" ethos and it is inspiring to think about a life spent snorkeling around a Caribbean Island instead of folding the 798 t-shirts our family seems to own. BUT! When I dig a bit deeper and think about the experiences that just scream "this is me! this is us! this is the tribe of people whose love and friendship defines my life," what comes to mind is our first Thanksgiving dinner in America, being grateful for the warm welcome from near-strangers who generously shared this wonderful tradition with us; I think about the many art projects we made with my son and his friend when I picked both of them up from kindergarten and hung out at our house until his parents could come and pick him up; I think about the feverish nights debating and planning with my husband where we should move when he finishes his advanced degree, I think about the christening outfit I sewed to welcome my beloved friend's baby into the world. Those experiences all happened around a common backdrop: a sturdy, warm brown dining table.  

Hand woven napkins, place mats, runners and such always make even a regular, unremarkable table very special for me. The first thing I  design when I try out a new loom is usually a set of napkins. 

So I threaded the loom with a gentle off-white cotton thread (warp) and selected a few different colors with different intensity for color blending and contrast in the cross threads (weft).  

 

Then came researching the weaving pattern, that is, the weave structure, as weavers call it. In the spirit of allowing tradition to live and breathe in our 21st century lives, to be an active part of it without being stuffed away in a glass case of a museum, I chose a traditional Swedish lace pattern and adapted it to fit my four-shaft loom and my napkin's width. 

This is what that pattern (draft) looks like on graph paper, along with my weaver-ish side notes: 

 

These are just the notes for myself. Translated to plain English, the lace pattern is formed by having the threads on the loom (warp threads, marked white on the draft) float over up to 5 cross threads (weft, marked blue on the draft) at a time, and vica versa. These little floating threads give the square patterns and also allow the threads under them to move closer to each other and form the little rhythm of space and holes characteristic of lace. 

Threaded 9 inches wide and with a fine weft thread, weaving 9-inch squares makes sweet little cocktail napkins, perfect for lunches, picnics, and parties. 

There are few things I find as soothing as the neat order of the stretched out warp threads on the loom, lifting according to pattern, opening and giving way to the shuttle darting back-and-forth, back-and-forth, as it lays down the weft in between. 

Spreading the threads out to 13 inches and using thicker cotton for weft however makes the perfect fabric for place mats.

I tested many different yarns and colors to find the best ones for the place mats, both to get the most practical fabric (sturdy, lies flat on the table, doesn't slip under the place setting, easily machine washable!) and the best, subtle colors. I settled on matching the trusty cotton with a thin metallic thread that adds a hip modern spark, silver for the turquoise and copper for the white. 

To avoid sewing hems for those who do not like to sew, I designed cute little knotted fringes. If you can tie a knot, you can weave this place mat at a work shop. 

Test drive needle felting and painting

Front Finished.jpg

Join us for an evening of social creativity at an El Cerrito Thai restaurant to unwind, sip some wine, and create something beautiful. Test out our newest needle felting and painting projects free of charge and give us feedback how we did. 

Want to try your hands on needle felting?

We will make a cute little phone sleeve out of wool with pockets for cards and IDs and a 3D polar bear on it. You can order gourmet Thai bites, sip some wine and exercise your creativity. 

Sign up for our mailing list and get a chance to win a free ticket to a felting party.  We will announce winners  on Monday, June 5. All we ask in return is that you fill our a feedback survey at the end. 

When: Tuesday, June 13th at 6:30-9:30pm

Where: Atcha Thai Bistro in El Cerrito, 10558 San Pablo Avenue. 

Have you always wondered why some paintings look like they could just step off the canvas and enter real space? We can show you! We will paint a white rose using a single-color underpainting and several transparent color layers to create a effect of vibrant light and a sense of depth.

Sign up for our mailing list and get a chance to win a free ticket to a painting party.  We will announce winners  on Monday, June 5. All we ask in return is that you fill our a feedback survey at the end. 

When: Thursday, June 15th at 6:30-9:30pm

Where: Atcha Thai Bistro in El Cerrito, 10558 San Pablo Avenue

 

 

Sneak peek: Frosty Rose

Sneak peek: Frosty Rose

We’re developing a series of fun projects for our launch early next year. Take a sneak peek at our upcoming painting party subject.

In this party we’ll walk you through step-by-step how to use a monochromatic (single color) underpainting to achieve more vibrant colors and a greater sense of depth than the flatter effect you get when using a single layer of mixed color. We’ll be building up our rose from several layers of transparent paint. 

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COMING SOON!

COMING SOON!

We are working to bring you the best craft parties in the San Francisco Bay Area starting in early 2017. Expect weaving, needle felting and painting, along with good drinks, like-minded company, and beautiful things to make. 

Have an idea? Share it with us! Need a question answered? Drop us an email! Want to request a craft, a location, or a project to be offered? We want to hear from you! 

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