Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fabric as Art, Art as Fabric

One of our new endeavors here at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks is fabric design. I’ve danced around the edges of this art form for years. I’m a kinetic learner and experience is my friend. I wanted to jump right in, get dye under my fingernails, dye everything at once with intense color. Can’t do that when it comes to fabric design.

One must first learn how fibers absorb color, how to prepare them, and think through the entire process of fabric design and dyeing. Like most things meaningful, it’s a process. When I found the new book Playful Fabric Printing by Carol Soderlund and Melanie Testa, I found my roadmap.

612+8-dgE7L._SX389_BO1,204,203,200_First I read through the volume, underlined, highlighted and added sticky-notes to places that I wanted further clarity or items I needed to purchase. Once I had all the supplies and equipment, making stamps and stencils became my first task. I was in creativity heaven. My first stamp, using craft foam and a square of plexiglas, was  design from my sketchbook – umbrellas. The stamp was designed so that there was a repeat every 6″. Once I had a few stamps prepared, fabrics soaked in the soda ash and salt vat, and a few sample Procion fiber reactive dyes mixed, I turned up my jazz music, printed fabrics, and …. played! And I invited friends! The designs and colors are fantastic.printing4
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STAMPS1     printing6  PLATYPUS.jpg  img_2782.jpg

Want to come play with us? Another class is coming soon!

Family visit and a nice surprise!

My cousins Nancy, Mary Ann and Theresa from Meridian MS and beyond came in the shop yesterday for a brief visit. I have not seem them in many years so always good to see family faces, familiar cheekbones, eyes and smiles. They brought me gifts. Press photos of my Great Aunts Neill and Jane, along with vintage newspaper clippings from the 1930s and ’40s. Along with all this was a stack of love letters that Jane and her husband Frank (Marine Corps General Frank Loomis) wrote to each other during their separation because of WWII – tissue-thin typewritten carbon copies, dated and numbered.

Both Aunt Neill James and Aunt Jane Loomis have been important to my existence – not just because they are my family – because they were strong courageous independent women at a time when women were encouraged by culture to be seen and not heard. Aunt Neill James was celebrated in her day (the ’30s & ’40s) as a writer, world traveler and amateur anthropologist of sorts, and I have written several essays about her life that have been published. She was my hero when I was a child. I did not get to know Aunt Jane until I was an adult and my husband Robert and I visited her, along with cousins Thomas and June Snowden, in San Diego in her home on Sunrise Circle. At that time, Jane was sinking into Alzhiemer’s and eventually needed an assisted living arrangement. Thus, Thomas and June stayed at length in Jane’s home to begin closing it up and settling where Jane’s and Frank’s belongings should go. While assisting them clean out the attic there, we found the stack of letters, still in envelopes and tied together. These were eventually stored in the Snowden’s home in Meridian. June has since passed from this world into the next and wanted me to have these letters.

jane neill lettersReading these letters was (and still is) somehow a feeling of violating Jane and Frank’s privacy. On the other hand, Jane saved these letters for a reason – perhaps to let the family know how they lived, what they did, where they traveled, and how much they loved each other. Like Neill, Jane was a world traveler and experienced cultures that most small-town girls (born in Gore Springs MS) did not.

Attic treasures. Threads of commonality. Story material.

What’s in YOUR attic?

Calling All New Orleans Creatives!

TO LAUGH, LEARN, CONNECT, AND BE EMPOWERED

Over a 12-week period this fall a group of creatives met each Tuesday evening for a couple of hours at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks to discuss and act on Julia Cameron’s book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.  The volume follows the basic formula presented in Cameron’s ever-popular bestselling, The Artist’s Way:  A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.  Through a set of exercises including morning pages, artist’s dates, memoir writing, and weekly readings the participants embarked on an exploration of their creative selves that in some cases had lain dormant for years.

At the end of the 12-week period in late November, those present wanted to continue the process and also invite others in New Orleans’ rich creative community to join.  Here were some of the group takeaways from the fall experience:

  • We liked the reflective practices such as morning pages, memoir writing, artist’s dates – and the opportunity and freedom to share (or not share) them in a group.
  • We liked the camaraderie of spirit in going through the process, making friends with other creatives, finding common interests, and acting as an incubator for ideas often bubbling in our heads for a while.
  • While we enjoyed following the pattern and content in Cameron’s book, we wanted a bit more flexibility in going forward and to place a greater emphasis on creative actions.
  • We also envisioned a process where folks could pick and choose those sessions they wished to attend and not feel the need to commit for a 12-week, 12-month or any other set timeframe. Rather, we envisioned participation to be guided based on interest in a particular planned creative area.
  • We wanted input from other creatives who might offer their insights, experience, and passions in the next phase.
  • Some of the creative processes suggested for the spring include making and exploring masks, encaustics, fiber arts, sculpting, headdresses, or anything else in which a group might like to participate.

Mark Your Calendar – Tuesday December 27th, 5:30 – 8:30 pm
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To launch our 2017 creative actions:

  • On Tuesday December 27th we will meet at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks from 5:30 – 8:30 pm for a brainstorming session on our next phase.  The get-together will be an opportunity to gather in an informal setting, visit, snack, drink, and most importantly consider the wants and needs for creatives that can be accommodated at the Uptown CraftWorks venue.
  • On the 27th we will also explore and create bullet journals as our first session activity (7:00pm-8:30pm).  This tracking/scheduling process is formally defined on the Bullet Journal website or more informally on Buzzfeed where we learn that Bullet Journals are good for:
  • People who have a million little to-do lists floating around
  • People who like pen and paper to-do lists
  • People who are into goal-setting and habit tracking
  • People who like stationery, journaling, scrapbooking, beautiful pens, etc.
  • People who really love planners
  • People who want to really love planners, or who want to be more organized
  • People who would really like to keep a journal/diary but are having trouble sticking with the habit

We had a discussion of bullet journals in the fall and wanted a return opportunity when we kicked things off this spring. We invite you to join us on Dec. 27th to visit, drink a glass of wine, meet with other creatives, and share your ideas on where this collective experience might go.  Though not required, consider joining us for the bullet journal exercise as well, or just come to visit and share your ideas.

We’ve created an Eventbrite private meetup for the gathering above. If you can’t make it to this event, please email us  (info at uptowncraftworks.com) if you’d like to know about future meetups.

Makers that we dream, plan, and collaborate with are doing some amazing things in New Orleans. Others with latent creative genes are ready to dip their toes in gently swirling creative waters. It is by supporting each other that we unite the head, the heart, and the hands.

In the New Year, let’s be a force for good.

Please forward to your creative friends that you think may have an interest.
Thank you,
Merry Merry and Happy New Year!
Emma & Robert Connolly and the Team

I found this interesting …. how needles and pins are made.

Holding Sparklers & Bottle Rockets?

Those of us who are creatives often feel as if there are fireworks going off in our heads. In a good way. Most of the time. I am happiest when I’m brainstorming ideas – and when I’m looking at options for a make – will this embroidered quilt square work with this color fabric? Will this hippo softie be cute made from this print? What type classes will I offer two women from Chicago who want a creative couple of days in The Big Easy?
Planning is not my strongest skill but it is becoming one of my most necessary. That’s when I use those “fireworks” to my advantage. Either by hand or on my laptop, I jot down all those thoughts (well, perhaps not ALL) that shoot out from those synapses and opposing sides of my brain. Of course these words and shorthand descriptions make no sense to anyone else, but to me it is likened to catching fireflies and putting them in a jar to be let loose after I’ve gathered them all together.
Only after I’ve gathered the fireflies can I proceed to a creative process of making something on my TO DO list, otherwise the lights may go out and the ideas may not make it back across the brain screen.
How do you “gather your fireflies” (or fireworks!)?

Meet Our Staff

Mollie

Mollie Wartelle

Can you believe we have been here for over six months? Time has flown by! Now that we are growing up a little, and we’ve hired 2 wonderful makers to help us part-time, I wanted to take time to introduce them to you. I asked them both the same 5 questions. We are fortunate to have them spend some time with us, and we hope you find Mollie and Abi as entertaining and talented as we do.
First up is Mollie Wartelle:  
What would you like for us to know about you? I’m an artist, reader, traveller, nature lover. One day I want to be an archivist or a curator–maybe of textiles or old films. I have six houseplants. I’m obsessed with my dog; I wish I could take her everywhere I go.
What are your favorite creative things to do? Weaving, crocheting, pottery, paper-making, dyeing. Anything messy and kind of free form. I like natural and recycled materials: wool roving, clay, scrap paper, vegetable dyes.
What is your most favorite thing about our shop? The variety of people that come in and their projects. I love helping people find the right material for a project! There’s also something really special about working in such a brightly colored, multi-textured place. When I get home, I’m still inspired by the patterns and colors in the shop.
What is one weird but true fact about yourself? I have four pairs of clogs in various heel heights. I think there’s a secret clog cult, because I always end up having a lot in common with other people who wear them.
What kinds of things do you hope to do at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks? Contribute to a community of creatives. Exchange skills and ideas with others. Empower children and adults to create more freely. Learn the names of lots of obscure fabrics and colors.

Abigail Wilson

Abigail Wilson

Next, meet Abigail Wynn Wilson
What would you like for us to know about you?  I started sewing in high school Home Economics and totally fell in love. I took every class they offered, all on quilting, then Independent Study and assistant teaching. I just couldn’t get enough!  I bought my own sewing machine my first year of college and immediately began sewing clothes, trial and error style. I’m the queen of seam ripping, especially when I learned I could take apart old clothes to use as patterns and/or “upcycled fabric.” I also became an avid thrift shopper, altering too-big, too-torn and too-ugly into totally new clothes! I started to fix items from thrift stores for other students: my seamstress business was born! It’s a joy for me to help people develop their style by making their clothes fit just right, plus I love that people come to me with style ideas and inspiration that I can help make reality! Clothes are so important to me because it’s our second skin, it creates confidence and helps us express our personalities, but there’s no reason to break the bank for a great outfit!
What are your favorite creative things to do?  Sewing is my first love, but I also like to write stories and poems. I often cut up magazines to make mood boards and colorful collages; it’s the best crafty therapy because you actually can’t make mistakes pasting paper, plus I always have happy ah-ha moments when I mentally let go and just make, in creativity and in life!
What is your most favorite thing about our shop? I absolutely adore the funky-fabulous dolls that Mollie and Jennifer create, they are so unique and uplifting! I’m also in love with our fabric selection. I’ve been to so many fabric stores in my life and I’ve never seen such an impressive selection of playful patterns and bold prints. It’s a potential project wonderland in here!
What is one weird but true fact about yourself? I moved to New Orleans.
What kinds of things do you hope to do at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks? I want to sew sweet things with all the fabulous fabric! I’ve always wanted to learn to knit! Right now I’m imagining some fun new projects like slip on slippers and zipper bags that could become fun beginner classes! I just want to encourage New Orleans to get crafty and creative; expand your individual style with your own two hands (and a sewing machine!). Just being inside Uptown Needle & CraftWorks fills me with excited, creative energy; there is no limit to what kind of wonderful things can come from that!
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Come see us! Peace Be,
Emma

Artist Talk, Antieau2