Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fiber, Felt and Inspiration at the Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco

Recently I seen a few hours viewing an exhibit at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. I specifically went there to view an exhibit called Felt Decoded, featuring artist Janice Arnold.

As an instructor of Textiles at San Diego Mesa College's Fashion Program, I'm always interested to learn more about fiber and anything related to that. I had heard of this exhibit through an Italian filter friend, Lisbeth Wahl. Small world, that an Italian had to clue me in to an exhibit in my own state, from many miles away.

Here are a few images that were 'wow' moments.

In one area of the exhibit, there is this amazing microscope that you could place over a sample fiber in a container. I have no idea what the level of magnification was, but it as a LOT. Below check out a few fibers (on the left) and their close-up versions (on the right).

Merino Knit


Tussah Silk


Felted sample

Monday, February 6, 2017

Fashion and Food Trip, Cochenille Design Studio in Italy, June 2017

Need some incentive to come join us in Italy?

June 14th - 23rd, 2017

Verona, Italy, with visits to Milan and Venice.

Come join us this June in Verona for our Food and Fashion retreat.

How about yarn shopping for Italian yarns?

Or maybe some fantastic food, cooked just for you

Then, there are the fashions ... oh how we love Italian style. In museums...

and in the store windows.

We'll visit a weaving establishment in Venice where they weave velvet on traditional hand looms using jacquard punch cards. Customers include Dolce and Gabana, the Kremlin, etc.

bobbins... for color inlay.

And, maybe a cooking class with a chef, in the kitchen of his restaurant.

More temptations to come.  Details can be found at

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Creative Strength Training... my move towards creative focus

The new year is here, and with it comes resolutions and plans. As part of my new year doings, I decided to take an online class on Creative Strength Training from Jane Dunnewold, a fiber artist I have admired for a long time.

My goal is to attain greater focus in the creative things in my life. The ten-week class has weekly readings and exercises. The exercises involve writing at times, and most recently a design exercise. I really enjoyed this exercise, as I learned about a Japanese philosophy called Notan, the study of positive and negative or the dark/light principles of design.
Here is a book which is excellent for explaining the principles.

The general idea is to start with a square of black. You then cut out shapes from each side (or some of the sides), and mirror the cut-outs on the edge from which they were taken.

Initially, I started my expanded squares on an airplane, and this led me to do so with Adobe Illustrator which doesn’t require scissors, knife, glue, etc. Somehow that wouldn’t be too easy to do on a flight.  As I teach fashion students how to use the software, I thought it would be a good exercise of thought for me to figure out how to achieve the same actions with the computer. So, on to square tool, using the Pen tool and shapes to determine cutting edges, and then the Pathfinder panel to aid in cutting out the shapes. Lastly, I used the Reflect tool to mirror the cut-outs and then created a repeating pattern so I could visualize the imagery as fabric.. As you will see by some of the examples I’m including, it is pretty easy to explore an idea and take it all the way into a garment to get a real sense of how it looks.
Cutting Four sides shows you the same squiggled line taken from all four sides of the square.
Two Sides Only and Taking a Bite files show you other experiments.

 Later, when back home, I took time to hand-cut an expanded square or two. The file Hand-cut1 shows you the result (sent via phone photo to Illustrator), and an example in a garment.
Breaking the Rules..
Now for the fun… I wanted to try and use some sort of shape for cutting that had an extra or hidden meaning. So, in thinking and doodling, it came to me that I should use a sound wave. Since Valentines day is just around the corner, I decided to use a line from an Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem… “How do I love thee, let me count the ways”. You can see the sound wave screen captured on my phone, and then the resulting square where I broke the rules by introducing a new color (red) and not reflecting one of the sides.

I can't wait to try other ideas with this approach to design. And of course, these must be translated to fabric.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Planning for the Fashion/Food Design Retreat, Italy, 2017

It's that time again... planning for our annual creative retreat in Italy. This year it will be a combination of both the Food and the Fashion. The Dates are June 14th - 23rd, 2017.

Here are some highlights of past trips and a testimonial from a happy traveller who joined us in 2015.

The 2015 Fashion Retreat was a real trip of a lifetime. As an avid textile lover, it was a transformational experience! Susan’s fun and fact filled itinerary exceeded my expectations. We had such an organized agenda it seemed like we were on the go from morning until night. The array of appointments included quality museums, demonstrations, factory visits, fashion houses and many, many extras –Venice, opera, great Italian dining, terrific accommodations, and easy transportation. Susan was always there to guide and help us along the way. It’s difficult to say what my favorite experience was- it was all very exceptional.
“Eye opening, fun, educational, adventurous… not your ordinary trip!
Linda Perry
Click on this link for more info.. and enjoy the fashion and food photos here..
Painting a ceramic in Renaissance stle

Lunch at a restaurant in the Lake Garda district. We will have a cooking class here in 2017!

and of course... wine tasting in the Lake district outside of Verona

We'll have a felt workshop with Lisbeth Wahl, renown fiber artist

There are always the appetizers!

Lots of unique styles

Visiting a velvet weaving workshop in Venice

with Gloria..

and lots of relaxation!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fashion Cookies

Trader Joe's had a new version of the Gingerbread house. This was the Ugly Sweater Kit.
So... here are a few samples of decorated cookies.

My Instagram shot..

Different Styles


2016 Non-Traditional Christmas Tree

Petticoats hanging on display in LA Garment District
I'm a bit behind this season, and am long overdue with blogging.
But, annual tradition of the non-traditional Christmas tree continues. This year, the theme was somewhat Mexican.

Throughout the year, I'm scouting for a 'theme'. This year, the theme was found on a trip up to the Los Angeles Garment District in November. A group of women, who were here for the Fall Cochenille Design Retreat joined in on a day exploring fabric, fashion, and related in LA.

While walking the streets and browsing fabrics, I happened to notice this great storefront.. with hooped petticoats hanging from the ceiling... so that was 'it'.

Students and faculty from Mesa College assisted in putting the tree together.. and as you can see, we continued with the Mexican flavor.

Lights were placed on my metal frame,
and the hooped skirt was positioned above.
Dressing the head! Notice the eyelashes!

Testing the head
Hanging banners for the skirt
Almost-finished dress

 See the video above and forgive the group singing.