Purls of Wisdom

Mattie Solomon

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The Handwork Stories: Tim Pence

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Sun, Oct 28, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

In this series we have been sharing stories about the people and places where The Handwork Studio team members find inspiration for their craft. In order to expand our community we will explore the different ways that people got their start in sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts. This series explores the art that goes behind this craft and understanding the sources of inspiration for different people, and this week will be introducing you to Tim Pence! 

The Creative Type

Headshot1There can be this assumption within handwork that one is taught these skills at a young age and has then stuck with that craft ever since. For some, however, needle arts can come later as a result of their passion for creativity and art. For regional camp manager Tim Pence, his connection to needle arts did not come until more recently. Before he found his passion for sewing in undergraduate school, he seemed to dip his toe into many different creative fields within the world of visual arts.

Tim’s creativity was discovered at a pretty young age as he and his brother became big fans of the He-Man cartoon and the Oz book series. “We took this to another level by creating elaborate storylines for our toys and improvising the outcomes,” and Tim said that ultimately, he loved being able to create a different world to play in.

Headshot2In his earliest memories, Tim fell in love with drawing and the kind of limitless places that it could take his imagination. He specifically really found a passion for drawing comics. When he was in third grade, Tim says that two of his friend in elementary and middle school would spend a lot of time creating comics. He and his friends “took this pretty seriously,” and in that time wrote and drew many different stories that seemed to spark a slightly embarrassed laugh from Tim even today.

Although Tim mentioned that these were maybe not the most groundbreaking pieces of work, he stated that it was a great way to get his ideas out when he was younger. This love of drawing and creating comics was just the beginning of Tim coming to understand not only what art means in a general sense, but what art means to him.

Cowboys and IndiansAs mentioned, Tim says that when he was doing needle work in college that was the time he felt really connected to needle arts. Now, as a MFA candidate in Theatre Set Design at Temple University, Tim feels as though he is finally being able to draw all of his influences into his work in lots of new and interesting ways. His program has been a great way to apply what he has learned to incorporate all of the senses into his work, and he feels as though he is able to reach a larger audience. “I think I have done a lot of exploring with different materials, processes, and mediums. Theatre design sort of gives me a context and a way to process all of it. I have been building up a vocabulary and now I have been finding a place to use that vocabulary,” said Tim.

sewn print on spongeWhen asking what has inspired his work, he said that one thing that he really looked to for inspiration was the music of Kate Bush, which he discovered in his early twenties. Even though he has never worked with music himself, he thought that her use of metaphor and the way she talked about her music was something that helped him “discover what art was.” It is interesting to see how music could inspire his work with visual art. Tim said, “I’m most transported by music as an art form, though I’m not a musician. It’s my goal to transport others in the same way, but through an immersive visual experience.” Along with her music, Tim said he is also inspired by relationships, nature, and the different materials he encounters.

Making art has become a huge part of Tim’s life, and something that has ultimately brought him to The Handwork Studio. While working towards his degree, he has loved being able to teach kids to hone in on their own creativity and introduce them to handwork. Allowing kids to access their own creativity is something that Tim sees as being very important. “It’s not something they would be learning in school to this degree. So, to be teaching them so many different things and watching them do things for themselves is really rewarding.” While teaching kids today how to grow in their creativity, he is also always looking for ways to improve and grow within his own craft.

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Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns

Tags: The Handwork Stories, sewmorelove

The Handwork Stories: Ana Castro

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Sun, Oct 14, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

In this series we have been sharing stories about the people and places where The Handwork Studio team members find inspiration for their craft. In order to expand our community we will explore the different ways that people got their start in sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts. This series explores the art that goes behind this craft and understanding the sources of inspiration for different people, and this week will be introducing you to Ana Castro!

Artful Thinking

AnaAndLinusWhen asking studio administrator Ana Castro about the moment she caught the crafting bug, she paused for a moment, and attempted to trace herself back to that singular moment. After lingering over the thought, she responded, “Well, I never wanted to be anything other than an artist,” which truly speaks to the meaningful way in which Ana has viewed the journey of her craft throughout her entire life. Some people can pinpoint an exact moment when they were taught a certain craft, or maybe trace it back to a certain person, but for Ana, it seems that creativity has been at the forefront of her life from the very beginning.

Ana has always been surrounded by creativity, and a lot of her inspiration today comes from her Costa Rican background. The colors and textiles that come from that area really inspire a lot of her work, and she loves to infuse the styles of their traditional interior design into the pieces she creates. Along with her Costa Rican background, Ana also finds a lot of inspiration, especially when it comes to her color palate, from the style of the 90’s and the different toys she had when she was growing up. So, while one side of her pulls her towards the image of the traditional Central America home, another brings her towards her childhood in the states.

Growing up, Ana said she spent a lot of time by herself, therefore finding imaginative ways to express herself. “I’m an introvert, and you know a lot of people wouldn’t realize that when they meet me,” said Ana. A lot of her work is then inspired by the kinds of activities she did when she was younger, while discovering who she was. Most of her work is inspired by the body, and by movement and dance specifically. She says that a lot of her pieces mimic this sort of fluffy and plump feeling. Although never fully realizing it, Ana sees now how her childhood has found its way naturally into her work today.

AnaDressingLoomAnother part of who inspired Ana’s creativity growing up were her parents. Both of her parents are chefs, and she said that seeing them be creative helped foster creativity within herself. “They were so resourceful, and everything had to be made a certain way,” mentioned Ana, and it was the ways in which they always thought outside of the box which allowed her to think that her career as an artist could be what it is today.

Ana got her degree in crafts from University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2014, where she fell in love with the entire creation process. During a critique for one of her earlier pieces, she realized that the work she creates has more meaning than just its materials. “I found that everything has a connotation whether you want it to or not. That was an inspiring moment and I chose to pursue that kind of craft after that point.” Then after University, Ana was drawn to the vision of The Handwork Studio, saying “I thought it was really lovely that they were expanding the audience [for needle arts] and that they were fostering a community.”

AnaArtworkNow, Ana embraces the meditative practice of her craft and loves being able to pass on these fiber arts techniques to kids today. “The projects they make become a part of their life in a much different way than store bought toys. We give kids the autonomy to pick every single part of their piece out, and that way they will value it so much more highly,” she said. By giving kids the opportunity to make these crafts a part of their life, Ana believes that more and more kids will be able to find ways of expressing themselves in the creative ways she did growing up.

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Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns

Tags: The Handwork Stories, sewmorelove

The Handwork Stories: Alisa Cavanaugh

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Sun, Sep 30, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

In this series we have been sharing stories about the people and places where The Handwork Studio team members find inspiration for their craft. In order to expand our community we will explore the different ways that people got their start in sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts. This series explores the art that goes behind this craft and understanding the sources of inspiration for different people, and this week will be introducing you to Julia Yosen!

A Family Affair

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 3.08.00 PMFor Alisa Cavanaugh, her connection to needle arts has been somewhat of a family affair. After learning crafting skills from her grandmother when she was younger, Alisa continued that legacy and passed those skills onto her own children. Teaching her kids how to tap into their creativity is something that Alisa values a lot and finds super important in any kid’s life.

“Kids don’t always have the opportunity to express themselves, but at The Handwork Studio, a child can learn something no matter their age, and walk away with something that they created ton their own. I think every kid needs some sort of outlet to be creative,” said Alisa, and it has definitely been a creative outlet that has struck a chord with her eleven-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son. Both of Alisa’s children have really connected with The Handwork Studio, but their journey and passion with needle arts is very different from one another.

Alisa’s son has more of an eye for detail and does not mind the kind of patience it takes to complete some projects. He has really loved to do embroidery because of the time and skill it takes to complete this. Alisa has also recently taught him how to corner to corner knit, and he will often stitch alongside her. This image really reflects the moments Alisa shared with her grandmother, who taught her how to cross stitch. “I ended up spending some time with my grandparent when I was young, and I remember sitting with her on her sun porch and just stitching with her. Her walking me through it and explaining the counting. I liked that it was kind of like a puzzle.” Even though her son may not be able to complete as many stitches as her, he loves figuring it all out with her.

Her daughter on the other hand, will have a project in mind and want to complete it right on the spot. Alisa said she really likes machine sewing, but sometimes has trouble with the amount of time that goes along with it. A few weeks ago, at sew tech, she was super excited to make an otter from all of the kinetic threads involved. Even though the project took some time, Alisa said that seeing each step be completed and having an end goal within each day helped her feel motivated and excited about coming back to the same project day after day. Alisa’s daughter ended up being super proud of that and loved all of the conductive pieces that allowed her to really see her progress. Alisa says both of her kids, however, love to do these things because it allows them to be creative.

Before becoming a Program Manager at the Narberth Studio, Alisa worked just down the street from the Studio. When she discovered the program, she thought about how great of an idea it was. She loved the idea that kids who were not learning these types of skills could have the opportunity to see what they could accomplish and what they could gain from learning needle arts.

When asking about her own connection to The Handwork Studio, and the impact she thinks it has on kids today, Alisa said, “It’s a great place because I enjoy what they do. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn something a little different, and you know? It’s something my kids enjoy too!” So after sending her own kids to the camp during a winter workshop, Alisa let her career lead her back to the program her children loved so much.

“It's always been about a gift of love for me,” said Alisa. Creativity and this love of creating things through handwork is something that lies very close to home for her. After learning how to cross stitch and do other arts and crafts from her grandmother and aunt, Alisa loves being able to find a way to pass these kinds of skills onto her own children and all of the children who discover The Handwork Studio.

__________________________________________________________________________Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns! 

 

The Handwork Stories: Julia Yosen

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Sun, Sep 16, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

In this series we have been sharing stories about the people and places where The Handwork Studio team members find inspiration for their craft. In order to expand our community we will explore the different ways that people got their start in sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts. This series explores the art that goes behind this craft and understanding the sources of inspiration for different people, and this week will be introducing you to Julia Yosen! 

“For the Love of Teaching”

After graduating college with a fine arts degree, Julia Yosen found herself at a quarter life crisis asking herself, “What am I supposed to do with this?” This all too familiar end of college standstill is something that a lot of art students face, and leaves many with the question: well, what about teaching?

164085_512037776023_2250635_n (1)For Julia, teaching seemed to be the best option, but in that choice lies a path that she believed to be quite limiting. Julia moved from Vermont back to her hometown in Pennsylvania in 2006, and it was while she was working at a Joann Fabric, that The Handwork Studio fell into her view.

An almost serendipitous job opportunity was presented to her, and in that job, she could connect some of the many things that she feels connected to and is so passionate about. Melissa, a teacher at the Handwork Studio, connected with Julia while she was working at the cutting counter at the Joann Fabric. Melissa opened up an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that would “revolutionize needle arts.” With a dream to connect a new generation of kids to needle arts, Julia jumped at the prospect of being an instructor for one of the first workshops and programs The Handwork Studio ever held. That was when her start with The Handwork Studio began, but her connection to needle arts and crafting goes back a little earlier.

Julia first fell in love with crafting as she walked through the aisles of an A.C Moore. The arts & craft store’s endless creative possibilities excited the crafting gene in Julia. Two of her best friends and her would go down into her basement and move from one project to the next, which mimics the kind of collaboration and creative exploration that she would be facilitating at The Handwork Studio camps some years later.

Whether it was making clothes for their American Girl dolls by cutting up a box of their old clothes or making pig puppets they found in the back of the book, The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jigs, they were never short of crafts to tackle. “It was always the three of us in our basement, making all of these terrible projects. We would stay down there for hours,” said Julia, and it was here that she caught the bug for crafting.

As a kid who would always be starting her next project, Julia believes that there is something so empowering about creating something on your own. When you use your own hands to create something, there is a lot of pride that goes along with that. Julia did not discover her love for arts and crafts on her own but dedicates a lot of it to the things her mother and grandmother taught her when she was young.

Julia said her mother was always crafty, and her grandmother was a great painter who also taught her how to cross stitch. Although she says she was not that great at it, there is still something so powerful when having someone teach you a craft such as this. Although she originally thought teaching was something quite limiting, Julia has now come to understand the power of teaching needle arts to those who may not have had the same childhood she did.

“You want to be that inspirational person for these kids, and you want to create that environment where they are going to be excited about what they are doing,” says Julia while discussing her passion for working with The Handwork Studio. Even though it may not be where she thought she would be, having the ability to inspire a new generation of crafters fills Julia with an undeniable excitement. Julia believes that a lot of this creativity starts off “when we were little, and we are crafting and exploring,” and over the years, Julia has helped many little ones find their own creative gene within.

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Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns

Tags: The Handwork Stories, sewmorelove

The Handwork Stories: Homemade Halloween

Posted by Mattie Solomon on Fri, Jun 08, 2018 @ 02:44 PM

Creating a Larger Picture

Whether it is a grandparent, a teacher, a parent, or a friend, the people that make up The Handwork Studio all have a person or a time that can be linked to that first moment they were inspired to pick up a craft. Where one finds inspiration is often a personal story, and this series will work to uncover some of those amazing stories. I will be having conversations with members of The Handwork Studio’s team about the places where they gain their inspiration from and then sharing those stories with you! With each story, we will weave together a picture of the team here at The Handwork Studio by hearing from some familiar faces and some new ones. 

To start off this series, I thought I would introduce myself, and share some of my own connection to needle work. My name is Mattie, and I am a blogging and Social Media intern for the Handwork Studio. I am a senior attending the University of Maryland, where I study English Literature and Professional Writing. When I am not studying in College Park, or creating content for The Handwork Studio, I love to flip through fashion magazines, watch excessive amounts of HGTV, and count down the days until my next adventure.  

Stitching Together Generations

D61137A5-69A7-4303-B67D-FC1B4EA61A86Crafting is a special kind of art because it is not necessarily something that you go to school for or learn about in some art history book. For me, it has been something passed down from the generations of women who came before me, and it is exciting to think how I can pass it off to loved ones in the future. The women in my life have always been handy with a needle and thread, and anytime they mention something that they have created with their own two hands, you can see the undeniable joy and love that seeps through every seem.

Growing up, my mother used to make all of my siblings and my Halloween costumes. It seems impossible to me that she hand made all of these while having four young kids and still working, but I think for my mom, it was only natural to create and sew together things for the people she loved. She said that it would take her weeks to make all four of the costumes for my siblings and me. I cannot imagine thinking about Halloween all the way back in August! One of her favorite costumes to make was one where I was a flower bouquet. She said, “I made you a bonnet with all of these silk flowers that I had to individually hand sew onto the fabric. I loved the way it turned out, and you looked so cute with your tuffs of blonde hair and dimples.” Taking the time to make a butterfly or batman costume was done out of love, and that has been the lens through which I have viewed the art that goes behind needle work.

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My mom was not just handy with a sewing machine, but also seemed to effortlessly succeed with every craft or art she set her mind to. The scrapbooks that line packed book shelves, the hand painted furniture adorned with ornate floral designs, and the carefully planted flower pots on our porch have filled my family home with the love and care my mom has showed with everything she does.

Seeing these symbols for family around my house inspired me to be like my mother in these ways and ask her at every moment to teach me whatever she was working on. After learning how to knit and sew from her mother, it seemed completely normal when I asked her if she could teach me how to knit when I was about 12 years old. Maybe this itch to create is something I inherited from my mother and grandmother, but I think it is also a product of being around such inspirational and hard-working women.

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My mom always tells me about the times that I would imitate my grandmother as she would knit. I think this kind of imitation has infected me with the passion to create, and the passion to create for those that I love. I am working to be as good as my mother and grandmother, but for now I do not mind sitting on the sideline and watching them weave together what they love most in the world

Stories like mine are shared among so many people and across so many generations. If my story reminded you of someone in your life who inspired you to pick up a craft or art, share your story down in the comments below. We would love to hear your story and see how we can grow this community of thoughtful teachers and learners! 


Click here for a look at our summer sewing camp options for your child. Also, be sure to check out our store and our new partnership with Simplicity Sewing Patterns

Tags: Summer Camp, Summer, Fashion & Machine Sewing, The Handwork Stories, Inspiration