Purls of Wisdom

Upgrade Your Back-to-School Wardrobe! 10 Fun & Crafty Ways to Upcycle Clothing

Posted by Marjanna Smith on Sun, Sep 02, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

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                      Source: Google Images

Looking for a fun, unique way to be creative with your family? How about a cheap and eco-friendly one? Try upcycling, the perfect combination of originality, creativity, and sustainability for you to try with your kids. Read on to find out what it is and how you can do it at home.

What is Upcycling?

Upcycling is the reuse or repurposing of an old object into a product that is more useful or more beautiful than the original. Upcycling can be super simple and kid-friendly -- for example, instead of throwing out old CDs and magazines, you can make them into mosaic picture frames and woven coasters. It can also be more complex, such as repainting and repairing a piece of furniture instead of kicking it to the curb.

Why is Upcycling Important?

You may be thinking, “Why should I take the time to upcycle? Isn’t recycling good enough?” Well, there are a lot of reasons why upcycling is so important. First, let’s establish the difference between recycling and upcycling. While recycling involves breaking down material to be reused (which decreases the material’s value), upcycling is all about finding new, creative ways to reuse the material (thus increasing its value)! So, like recycling, upcycling reduces the amount of landfill waste you generate; however, upcycling also creates a new product that has a functional and/or decorative use.

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                        Source: Google Images

Next, let’s talk about waste. Remember that helpful catchphrase that everyone uses when talking about how to be more eco-friendly? Reduce, reuse, recycle! Well, I recently learned that these three actions are actually in order of importance. First and foremost, we should make the effort to reduce the amount of things we buy and resources we use (i.e., taking shorter showers and avoiding impulse purchases that we don’t really need). Next is reusing, which includes upcycling! Last is recycling -- so, while it's obviously important to recycle, it is more important to prioritize those first two steps over recycling.  

What Can I Upcycle? Why Should I Upcycle Clothes?

Upcycling can be done with any object or material you can think of -- if you can repurpose, modify, or personalize it, you can upcycle it. For this post, I decided to focus on a popular material of choice for "upcyclers": clothing. Clothing is a great medium for upcycling because it is versatile, available, and can be modified in an infinite number of ways. Clothing is also a big issue when it comes to keeping our planet clean. In 2014, the U.S. alone generated approximately 32.44 billion pounds of textile waste even though 95% of all textiles have the potential to be reused or recycled. This number will only continue to increase unless we raise awareness of this issue and the different ways we can reduce, reuse, and recycle clothing.

Now that you’ve learned how upcycling is an economical, eco-friendly, and creative activity, you must be ready for some inspiration! Whether you have thrift store finds, hand-me-downs, or old clothes of your own, here are 10 different ways you can upcycle them with your kids.

1. Tie-Dye

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Tie-dye is a fun, kid-friendly way to upcycle that never goes out of style. This easy DIY will instantly upgrade any plain, light-colored clothes (and it can camouflage stains). Dye a t-shirt, tank top, skirt, pair of leggings -- or even accessories like headbands or socks! Thinking outside the box is encouraged. Let your kids’ imaginations lead the way as they combine colors and patterns into their own custom work of wearable art. Check out this guide to tie-dye for plenty of tips, tricks, and pattern ideas.

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Don’t have any white clothes laying around? Don’t worry! If you have solid-colored clothing, try tie-dyeing with bleach for a new twist on this classic activity.

2. Freezer Paper Stencil

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Who knew that you could use freezer paper and paint to add a design to a t-shirt? I didn’t until I found this tutorial on how to do it, and it looks as simple and fun as the pictured results.

3. T-Shirt Tote Bag

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Basically all you need to make this tote bag is an old t-shirt, sharp scissors, and 10 minutes. This no-sew project is a great way to repurpose a t-shirt that is too big or no longer worn.

4. Patches, Pins, and Appliques

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Personalize an old hand-me-down (or even cover up stains or holes) by adding some 3D art to your clothes! You can buy patches, pins, and appliques at craft stores and online, or you can make them yourself! See this tutorial for no-sew felt appliques and this tutorial for no-sew fabric flowers. And if you’re up to the challenge, you can try making embroidered patches by hand.

5. Stamped Clothes

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To make your own printed clothing, all you need is a stamp and some paint! You can buy stamps of all kinds at your local craft store, or you can make a quick DIY stamp out of a kitchen sponge, sponge brush, or even a potato! Then simply dip your stamp in acrylic or fabric paint and press it onto any piece of clothing that you want to make 100% cuter.

6.Throw Pillow

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Your child doesn’t have to say goodbye to that beloved t-shirt that has become too small to wear -- preserve it as a throw pillow! Try the no-sew, hand sewed, and machine sewed version depending on your available equipment and skill level. Leave the shirt plain or embellish it with buttons, sequins, fabric stickers, or paint designs! 

7. Unconventional Dye Techniques

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Looking for something different from the average tie-dye or bleach methods? Try using some Elmer’s glue to draw a design or make a pattern with found objects and let the sun do the work!

8. T-Shirt and Tank Top Upgrades

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Cutting up a top is a surprisingly popular DIY project -- and there are sooo many ways to do it. Turn a regular old t-shirt into a cold shoulder top, workout tank, or tie-front tank. Also, don’t hesitate to explore the internet for hundreds of other ideas.

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If you're looking to use an old shirt in a completely new way, you can repurpose t-shirt fabric! From a simple headband to a woven pillow, t-shirt “yarn” has many colorful and practical applications.

9. Peplum Shirt

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Embrace the timeless style of a peplum shape in your upcycling endeavors! Convert an oversized t-shirt into a peplum top or increase the charm (and length!) of a shirt by adding a different colored fabric for a trendy color block effect. While this project can be created through hand sewing, it is also an excellent way to practice and develop basic machine sewing skills.

10. Denim Shorts Upgrades

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Cut an old pair of jeans into shorts and make them stylish using a variety of techniques! This video shows how to do modifications such as adding lace, bleaching, painting, and adding patterned fabric.

 

Have fun with your new, upcycled clothes! And don’t forget to share your upcycling projects with us on Instagram using the hashtag #SewMoreLove so we can see your wonderful creations!

If you and your family is feeling inspired after your adventures in upcycling, make sure to check out The Handwork Studio’s camps and classes so your child can continue to make more handmade art! Our students flourish in our nurturing environment, and we encourage creativity and original projects while developing handwork and needlework techniques for multiple skill levels.

Tags: kids knitting, crafts, kids programs, creativity, imagination, Fall Class, Fall Class Registration, How to Tuesday, fiber arts, teach kids to knit, stitch, embroidery, Machine Sewing, Studio, Fall, Sewing, Knitting, Fun, Teen Fashion Bootcamp, Fashion, kids, fun kids activities, project ideas, activities, camp, Fashion Bootcamp, Fashion & Machine Sewing, Fashion Design, Sewing Machine, Kids' craft class, Gifts, Kids' craft class, tie-dye, Eco Fashion, Upcycling, Inspiration, Kids Activities, Embroidering, sewmorelove, clothes, clothing, blogging, mom blogs, sustainability, DIY projects, t shirt DIYs, repurpose clothes, eco friendly, DIY, thrifting, back-to-school, blog, craft blogs, tutorial, upcycle, sustainable fashion, kids DIYs, DIY ideas, t shirt pillow

THS Amazing Kids Profile: Lizzy

Posted by Eva Laverty-Wilson on Thu, Nov 01, 2012 @ 11:00 AM

lizzy1Meet Lizzy: This Amazing Kid (or rather, young woman) started at The Handwork Studio in elementary school and by 15 she had 4 years of our Fashion Boot Camp under her fabulous belt. Now Lizzy not only sews, but has her own fashion business; in her spare time she works for us here at the Studio!
 
How have you taken crafting or sewing to the next level?
After a year of machine sewing and four years of Fashion Boot Camp I have made dozens of dresses, jackets and other forms of apparel for many people, local consignment shops and have started my own clothing label Tres Lizzy. I also have made a pleather jacket for the lead singer of 30 Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto, and a silk kimono for a singer called Grimes. I now 
 
help out as an assistant at the Handwork Studio and have a work study at Moore College of Art & Design and an internship at the Villanova Theater costume shop. 
 
What is your first memory of The Handwork Studio? 
Knitting my white cat for my first knitting project and Miss Laura would read us a storybook.  
 
What do you like about the studio? 
It is a safe haven for creativity in all ways. The instructors are easy-going and understanding and the sky's the limit to the skills and projects you gain from the various classes. 
 
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What has been most influential to who you are today? 
Fashion Boot Camp and being in Crissy Phillips fashion show for the first time. 
 
What are you working on now? 
I am making a fuchsia corset ball gown, a kimono/dress for myself, and my friends' Halloween costumes for the month of October. I continue to sew and have also gone beyond that and now make jewelry for my creations. 

 

Tags: fiber arts, amazing kids, teen designers, Kids Stories, education Growing Up, The Handwork Studio

THS Amazing Kids Profile: Hana

Posted by Eva Laverty-Wilson on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 @ 06:12 PM

hanaGodspellcuttingMeet Hana: This week's Amazing Kid started camp at The Handwork Studio in 4th grade. She quickly excelled in handwork and machine sewing, incorporating unique creativity into all her work. We're proud to have had Hana as a counselor at the Studio for three summers, inspiring campers to get creative! 

 

How have you taken crafting or sewing to the next level?

About a year ago, I participated in a national competition for youth entrepreneurs.  I entered my sewing business Hanacorn and was one of eleven finalists. I now have an Etsy store, and it's doing really well, especially in the Halloween season. Another way I've taken sewing to the next level is that in my high school theater program, Players, I'm the head costume designer for our musical Godspell.


What is your first memory of The Handwork Studio?unicornhoodieback
I remember going to summer camp in Narberth. I was going into fourth grade. I was nervous that I wasn't going to be good enough. But I had a really awesome time there and started taking more and more classes.

What is it you like about the studio?

I like that they have amazing teachers who really know what they're doing and are incredibly friendly. They can always help me out. I feel like it's a community, not just a place to take classes. 


What was most influential to who you are today?

My three biggest influences that led me to begin to sew and have a love of design and costumes are Doe Deere who is a blogger, Lauren who is my costumes mentor, and all the amazing teachers at The Handwork Studio. All of these people have helped me learn and take my work to the next level. 


What are you working on now?
I'm the costume designer for Godspellat Lower Merion High School. So we're making the costumes and getting ready for our show in November. I'm making a lot of unicorn hoodies for Halloween which I sell on Etsy. And of course, I'm working on my Halloween costume!

GodspelldesignsOriginal designs from Hana and her Assistant Designer, Rosa,
for Lower Merion's Godspell, showing Nov. 15th-17th

Tags: crafts, creativity, fiber arts, Kids Stories, education Growing Up

FiberPhiladelphia 2012

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 @ 06:30 AM

Hi there! Miss Melissa here for a double shot of blog posts. Last week I wrote about the American Camp Association's Tri State Camp Conference and while I was there I talked A LOT about FiberPhiladelphia and promised to share more details... Here they are:

FiberPhiladelphia 2012 is an international biennial and regional festival for innovative fiber/textile art. Exhibitions are happening at more than 40 locations including major institutions and independent venues during the event. They will include work by renowned international artists and a new generation of artists breaking into the field. The first shows began in January and they stretch until June.

Now, if you've been reading our blog, you'll know that March is National Craft Month. But did you know that on March 2nd May Michael Nutter declared by official proclamation that March is Fiber Arts Month in Philadelphia? Well, friends, it's true. At the opening ceremony which was held at Moore College of Art and Design we were treated to a welcome address by Mayor Nutter (at a yarn bombed microphone), an introduction by Dr. Happy Fernandez (President of Moore), another intro by Amy Orr (Executive Director of FiberPhiladelphia 2012) and finally, a keynote lecture by Elissa Auther. She is the author of String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (Minnesota, 2010). Click here to see photos of this amazing event and the opening that occurred afterward at the Crane Arts BUilding! 

Miss Melissa yarn bombing Mayor Nutter's microphone.  Mayor Nutter at said Microphone.

Yes, that's me yarn bombing the microphone that Mayor Nutter, et al, spoke at.


Now, at this point, you may be asking yourself why I am writing about this. What's the tie back to The Handwork Studio? Here's the deal: I work for The Handwork Studio year round as the Director of Curriculum and Education, but I'm also a fiber artist who makes and shows work in galleries. I was drawn to FiberPhiladelphia in January 2011 by a fellow fiber artist and the next thing I knew I found myself on the Executive Board of this fabulous festival surrounded by the most amazing individuals: artists, curators, students, designers and volunteers. Together, we created the single most important Fiber Arts event in Philadelphia in the last 20 years. I am so proud to be a part of this group and promote the exhibitions, support our business sponsors and spread the word.

So please stop by The Handwork Studio and pick up one of our directories and plan your visit to our shows around the city today! You can also find them at many locations around town; check the website for a list of our exhibitions and support your local fiber artists!

Full Disclosure / Shameless Plug:

I have a number of shows during the festival that I would love for you to share with your children, friends and family. Click here for the full exhibitions list and search for "Melissa". You can see some of the work I do when I'm not knitting bunnies and sewing marshmallows!

If you're reading this, chances are you have a little fiber artist at home and in that case I would strongly recommend that if you're in the Philadelphia area between now and the end of April, take them to see Cold Comfort at The Schuylkill Center for Envrionmental Education. This show has been delighting the little ones (and not so little ones) since January and is a real treat, both indoors and out!

little tree hugger at Cold Comfort.

Enjoy!

Miss Melissa

 

Tags: kids knitting, crafts, kids programs, art exhibit, fiber arts, stitch, travel, Workshops, website, National Craft Month, Narberth, Reccomendations, Sewing, Knitting, Crochet, Fun, kids, fun kids activities, project ideas, camp, Handwork, Narberth kids' activities

Greetings from ACA Tristate!

Posted by Melissa Haims on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 @ 12:58 PM

This post was supposed to be about FiberPhiladelphia 2012, a citywide international biennial of fiber arts taking place right this second. However, currently I am sitting in the Atlantic City Convention Center at the American Camp Association's Tri State Camp Conference and I am, as usual, blown away by the professional development that our staff at The Handwork Studio has the opportunity to take part in.

But because I promised a bunch of people that I would talk about FiberPhiladelphia in this blog post, i'll post a few photos at the end with a couple of links and then NEXT week I'll blog in more detail about that.

In the meantime, let me tell you how our staff is preparing for your children to have the best summer camp experience.... 

We are at the world's largest convention for camp professionals learning about the safest, smartest and most efficient ways of providing that experience. Each day we take part in workshops that teach valuable lessons and offer useful insites on topics such as Setting and Reaching Goals, Building and Maintaining Positive Parent Relationships, Creating the Best Possible Young Leaders and Helping Your Staff be the Best.  

The Handowrk Studio Staff (Miss Laura, Miss Julia, Miss Alisha, Miss Eva, Miss Amanda and myself) even taught a workshop about bringing needle arts into other camps and how important these traditional handcrafts can be to children both socially and emotionally (and they are all secretly about math!).  

The very last Keynote Speaker was Rosalind Wiseman, best-selling author and internationally recognized expert on children, teens, parenting, bullying, social justice, and ethical leadership. She is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World, the groundbreaking, best-selling book that was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. What an inspiring message she sent us, as camp proffessionals, about talking to our children and helping them make the best decisions for themselves. 

What an insightful and amazing experience for our staff!

Finally, here are the images and directions that I promised to a few of you while attending our workshops at Tri State:

Yarn Bombing (aka Knit Grafitti) 

Cold Comfort: Knit Graffiti by Melissa Maddonni Haims
At the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
in the Andorra section of Philadelphia
February 24 – April 30, 2012
Click here to check out more photos on their Facebook page.
 

This could be a great community knitting or crocheting project for your campers who are just starting out with their handwork and will feel a sense of unity when they join their works together to yarn bomb a significant tree or pole on your camp site.

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Yarn Bombing on chicken wire fences 
Shagging... new textile works by Kathryn Pannepacker (& community)
The William Way LGBT Community Center in Center City Philadelphia
March 8 - April 27, 2012
Click here for details about the show.
 
 

These are chicken wire fence peices that have been looped with various types of yarns that have been doubled or trippled and cut into 6-10" lengths. This could be a great project to do on a fence on your site! And you don't have to use yarn - be creative - you could use recycled materials such as old clothes, plastic bags, and maybe do them in your camp colors! 

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Another Project done by Kathryn was was on a loom that was an old garment rack that had been wrapped with a warp in front of the Library in Center City and a could of us Handwork Studio instructors happened upon it one day a few years ago - this is Miss Stephane and I. We pulled over on the side of the road when we saw this random loom chained to a bike rack and, well, we always travel with bits and peices of yarn and fabric so we jumped out and had at it! You could do this inbetween two trees!

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PLARN! Yarn made from plastic bags!

The photo below is of a plarn chair i created in the fall of 2011 that is currently in the Schuylkill Center Exhibitions. 

Here are some links for directions:

http://www.crochetspot.com/how-to-make-plarn-plastic-yarn/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Qq3-gppZKY

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Good luck and enjoy! I'll be back next week with more on FiberPhiladelphia 2012!

Best, 

Miss Melissa

Tags: kids knitting, Miss Julia, crafts, kids programs, fiber arts, teach kids to knit, stitch, Miss Alisha, Summer Camp, Kids Camp, Knitting, Fun, fun kids activities, project ideas, activities, camp

Handwork Is Where The Heart Is | The Handwork Studio

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, Feb 08, 2012 @ 10:25 PM

Camp fair season is in full swing, as Miss Julia wrote last week. One way to get all of that fabulous summer camp information is from the MetroKids parenting magazines that can be found all over the Philadelphia region. In addition to advertising summer camps and camp fairs, this resource also has interesting articles and fun things to do with your kids at home.

We were so pleased to be invited by MetroKids to submit a project to be included in the January issue and I'd love to share it with you - just in time for Valentine's Day. Homemade Valentines are always the best to create and to receive and you can make this one with your kids with just a few simple materials that you probably have around the house. Especially if you have kids who like handwork...

So while we are busy introducing new families to our family at camp fairs, you can get busy with your kids doing this fun activity, or any of the great crafts Miss Alisha creates on our website for How-To Tuesdays!

Happy Valentine's day from our family to yours!

Love, Miss Melissa

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Tags: crafts, How to Tuesday, fiber arts, Miss Alisha, Kids Camp, Fun, fun kids activities, project ideas, activities

Let the shopping for summer camp begin!

Posted by Melissa Haims on Wed, Jan 04, 2012 @ 01:00 AM

The holidays have come and gone but none of my shopping is done! As we enter the New Year, the best part of my job begins: sourcing for summer camp.

As the Director of Curriculum and Education, I spend the school year researching current trends and creating projects that your kids will love. After those projects are chosen we then begin the process of purchasing all of materials we need to make them. We have some really great local partners that we purchase from, as well as some national and global sources, who are always looking for the best products for us to bring to your children in the projects they make at class or camp, as well as the products we send them home with in their summer camp goody bags.

When I research the materials I am always looking for the most natural materials with the least amount of packaging - which can be a challenge. We want to expose the children to the most delicious yarns and fabrics available, especially items that they can identify themselves when they visit a fabric, yarn or craft shop. 100% cottons and wools are the finest, but we've found that blends are what's readily available. We strive to offer our children a great mix of fibers to get them thinking about their choices. Whether it's knitting or sewing, the process of choosing those materials will help your child become an anlytical thinker. And it will give them even more pride in their work.

For this blog post, I thought I would share a video that was sent to me from our local fabric company - it is amazing. The warehouse is huge and it's almost impossible to really see anything unless you're on a ladder or an electric lift!


 

Additionally, I thought I'd include a few images from some of my recent shopping excursions. It truly is one of the most exciting and fun parts of my job! 

We buy our yarn for summer camp and after school classes at yarn warehouses like this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

You cannot imagine how my heart skips a beat when I enter a yarn warehouse like this one. The potential for creation, the colors, the smell of sheep, they are all things that I wish I could share with our students.... if I were Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus I would be shouting "Field Trip!".

After shopping at the yarn warehouse! 

 

 

 

 

 

  

This is the trunk of my car after visiting the aforementioned yarn warehouse!

Melissa during a shopping trip for machine sewing fabrics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

This image was taken by Miss Alisha during one  of our recent shopping spree's!

 

 

 

Tags: fiber arts, Sewing, Knitting, kids, camp

Enjoying the Holidays at The Handwork Studio

Posted by Eva Laverty-Wilson on Thu, Dec 22, 2011 @ 08:03 PM

Winter Window Display
Despite the lack of plummeting temperatures and snowy scapes in Narberth, it sure is beginning to look a lot like winter at The Handwork Studio (just take a peek at Miss Julia’s fabulous snow-covered hills and wrapped presents nestled in the windows)! It’s hard not to get into the holiday spirit when events like this month's Dickens Festival, holiday workshops, and hat and scarf making with Alex’s Lemonade Foundation are happening all around us - not to mention Winter Camp this week and next week at the studio!
Julia, Eva, Alisha
Just last week I had the privilege of celebrating the holiday season with some of my favorite people: The Handwork Studio instructors, of course, at our annual holiday party. Amid piles of homemade cookies (we can bake, too!), twinkling lights and a life-size sewing machine cake, we all shared our stories about joining this incredibly unique and ever-growing family. Our team is a truly special group of women who are not only talented but who also share their love of kids. I am so very grateful to share the holidays with them.

As you all prepare for the holiday season, remember we are here to help you entertain your kids during your last minute shopping. Check out our Winter Camp schedule and join the fun, continuing next week. And if you’re still looking for last minute gifts for your favorite crafter, check out our list of this year’s holiday favorites.

Sitting behind the desk, chatting with you on the phone, and working with your children has been a great pleasure this year and I look forward crafting with you all in 2012!

Miss Eva

Tags: fiber arts, Narberth, Kids Camp, Fun, fun kids activities, activities, camp, Narberth kids' activities, Kids' craft class

At the Center of the Universe - Fiber Arts

Posted by Laura Kelly on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 @ 09:34 PM

 

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As I write this post, I just happen to be in South Beach, looking out over a glistening Atlantic, feeling a cool morning breeze. And it is stunning. Today I am a Fiber Artist.

I’m here in Miami for Art Basel, the country’s preeminent contemporary art fair, of which, I am pleased to announce, I will be a part of.

As a fiber artist and a project designer for The Handwork Studio I have been blessed to marry my love of textiles with an actual job – no small feat in our current economy. And equally lucky to have Laura and the rest of our staff as my biggest fans.

Fiber arts have exploded onto the scene in the last few years, graduating from the very “seventies” weaving and knotting work into a full blown storm of dying, wearables, large scale sculpture, embroidery on paintings – you name it. “Fiber Arts” encompasses so many diverse techniques that it truly is everywhere.

Even in my hotel lobby.

As I went for coffee this morning I was greeted by Tom Friedman’s “GreenYarnAlien” installed in the lobby of the W South Beach. What a perfect way to start my day. As the mom of a 9 year old who loves yarn (just like her mom) and is a handwork junkie (ditto the mom comment), I felt this was the perfect piece to blog about. I am constantly asked… What is Fiber Art?  Well, my friends take a peek at these pictures – your kids are sure to love him. And just think, maybe one day your own little handwork junky might be down here doing the very same thing.

Check out our Facebook page in the coming days to look at images of my own work installed during this 4 day frenzy of contemporary arts. And enjoy!

 

Miss Melissa

 

 

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Tags: art exhibit, b2c, fiber arts