Fashion illustration

Jul 30, 2010

In my last post, I featured Tina Berning's illustrations of women.  Fashion plays an essential part in Berning's art, which is one of the reasons I'm drawn to her work.  When I was thirteen, I desperately wanted to be a fashion designer.  So I spent countless hours sketching new outfits and even sewing my own clothes.  (The first article of clothing I ever made was a hot pink jumpsuit!) 

My mother knew that I was really into fashion, and one day, she came home with this amazing Japanese book.  This book full of fashion illustrations became my prized possession.  I studied the drawings and would try to copy every little detail until it was perfect.  I couldn't begin to tell you how many times I drew this face:

Unfortunately, I can't read Japanese, so I don't even know the title of the book or the name of the illustrator.  Here's the biographical page of the author.  Maybe you can help me out?

Artists I like: Tina Berning

Jul 28, 2010

I have 15 tabs open on my browser right now, nearly all of them having to do with art. One of the tabs currently open features the work of Berlin artist Tina Berning.  I find Berning's portraits of beautiful women to be alluring yet so haunting.

Much of Berning's work is done on vintage and found paper.  A few years ago, a collection of her sketches were made into a book called 100 Girls on Cheap Paper.  You can view the 100 drawings on Berning's website.  And while you're there, be sure to check out her diary of daily drawings.  I just finished looking at all 387- what a treat!   

My creative process this week

Jul 25, 2010

Here's my latest mixed media piece called summer at the lake.  This work evolved from a lot of editing and problem-solving.  Originally, there were more details around the lake, but I didn't like the direction I was going.   So, I decided to cut out only the elements of the art work that I liked and glue the pieces to a birch panel.  When using a rotary paper trimmer, I miscalculated one of the cuts and sliced through a part of the drawing I wanted to keep intact.  Funny enough, I actually liked the horizontal line effect and made a few more horizontal cuts (as seen in the top portion of the work).  

I debated on tinting the birch panel.  Ultimately, I decided to keep it natural, which complements the warm tones of the sky and the water highlights.  To enhance the wood a bit, I used Gamblin Gamvar varnish.  Gamvar is normally used to varnish oil and acrylic paintings, but I apply it on mixed media works as well.  The varnish seems to give colors a little more pop. 

Although I do love drawing at my desk, most of my creative time this week has been spent on this embroidery piece:

I'm almost done with the embroidery part.  I'm wondering if I should add a city monogram to the design like I did in this piece.  Your thoughts?

Show and Tell: new stuff

Jul 23, 2010

Here are a few items I got this week that I'm excited about. 

1.  Manimal Fringe Booties.  I have been drooling over these for a long time now.  These shoes are handmade by Kristen Lombardi in her Brooklyn studio.  As luck would have it, I found a brand new pair on eBay in my size! Check out all of Manimal's fantastic styles here, which includes the most adorable baby moccasins.

2.  Embroidered apron. My mother recently took a trip to Korea. She loved the embroidered aprons that the flight attendants were wearing and brought one home for me.  There are straps that cross in the back, and it's a button closure versus a tie.  I like the full coverage, but it'll be sad when the apron gets its first stain.  It just seems too pretty to be used as a grease guard.

3.  Canon A35F My vintage camera collection keeps growing.  This is my latest addition.  It cost me $12.50 at a thrift store.  It just needed a little cleaning and new batteries, but it looks to be in great shape.  Currently I have film loaded in four different cameras.  I'm anxious to see how the roll in the Canon A35F turns out.

The art of pojagi

Jul 21, 2010

[image sources: Jung Yul Park, London Korean Links, Sri Threads]

A pojagi is a Korean wrapping cloth, normally hand-pieced together from fabric scraps.  For many centuries, pojagi wrapping cloths have been used in common and royal homes.  In this post, I mentioned digging out from the cedar chest the pojagi my grandmother gave me (top right photo).  My grandmother was a teenager when she made it, so I'm guessing it dates back to the 1920s.

When she first showed me the pojagi, she pointed to the center and said the flower was one of her first embroidery works.  I was amazed by the precise and even stitching.  Embroidery has a long history in Korea, and it's not uncommon to see it adorning household items and clothing.  I recently read here about a debt that a Korean ruler owed the emperor of China during the medieval times.  The emperor requested that the most skilled Korean embroiderers be sent to his court, and this settled the debt.

Whenever I see a tied pojagi, it brings back a lot of childhood memories of my grandmother wrapping containers of food and articles of clothing.  I didn't realize there was such an international following of the art of pojagi until just a month ago!  I was browsing art blogs one morning when I came across two separate posts on pojagi. The Brooklyn-based textile gallery, Sri,  posted these beautiful images on their blog:

And here's a video on pojagi that the Rhode Island School of Design put together.  If only they offered  a class like this when I was in school!

Etsy treasury: street smart

Jul 20, 2010

OK, this treasury thing on Etsy can be addicting!  I've got to limit myself to one treasury a month . . . well, maybe every two weeks is fine.  Here's the new collection I just put together.

New work, "Dreaming of Oregon"

Jul 18, 2010

Dreaming of Oregon is a new mixed media piece just added to my Etsy shop.  I was sitting by a lake while working on it.  You should be able to see some elements in the drawing that were inspired by my surroundings.

I'll be posting an update on my second embroidery drawing later this week.  I've been spending more time stitching than drawing.  Sometimes the two mediums seem to blur together.  Here's a drawing I did yesterday. 

Easy to make family silhouettes

Jul 16, 2010

Silhouette portraits are timeless and treasured additions to any home.  You can find an abundance of options for custom silhouettes on Etsy.  I have been wanting to make silhouettes of my daughters for awhile now and finally got motivated yesterday to tackle the project.  Making the silhouettes was so easy, I made one for each family member, including the family cat!  Here's how I did it:

Some of the materials and tools needed for the silhouette project.

First, I gathered the materials I needed. 

digital camera
computer with photo editing application
fabric in natural (9" square for each portrait) and black (4" square for each portrait)
embroidery hoops (7" diameter)
sharp fabric scissors
fine tip felt pen
tracing paper
fabric adhesive (or a sticker machine)
hot glue gun

Using a digital camera, I took pictures of each family member's profile.  (I recommend that long hair is in a ponytail.) We have a large bright window with a translucent shade that was perfect for a white backdrop.  A white wall can work, too.  Import the images into a photo editing program and increase the contrast of the photo. 

Before tracing an image, make sure it is about 3.5" - 4" in diameter.  Placing a sheet of tracing paper over the computer screen, carefully trace the outline of each profile with a felt tip pen.  (You can print the images in lieu of tracing.)

(My ten-year-old stepped in as photographer as I worked on the project.)

Iron your fabric, and then pin the traced image to a piece of the black fabric.  Cut out the image with sharp fabric scissors.  Next, adhere the centered silhouette onto a 9" fabric background using iron-on adhesive. (I used my handy sticker machine that was a recent craigslist find.)

Loosen an embroidery hoop and center the image in the hoop.  Pull gently along the edge to create some tautness.  Tighten the hoop to secure the fabric, and then trim the extra fabric to 1/2" (or at least shorter than the width of the hoop).

Glue the fabric edge to the frame using a hot glue gun.  If you want to create a more finished look, you can glue a ribbon over the fabric edge.

In about an hour, I was able to create five custom silhouettes.  And since I had most of the materials for the project, it cost me very little.  I thought about embroidering names below each silhouette but decided to keep it simple.

Feeling the love

Jul 14, 2010

Thanks to Kate Singleton of Art Hound for my first official interview on the internet!  It's been a joy getting to know Kate the past year.  I follow her art blog daily and appreciate her insight on classic to contemporary art.

This past week, I've also had my art featured in three different treasuries on Etsy.  I was so inspired by  everyone's collections, I decided to create my own treasury.  It was a lot of fun; it reminded me of my retail buying days! To see the entire collection, go here

Artist Interview: Kathrin Achenbach of Annekata

Jul 12, 2010

When I first came across Kathrin's blog last month, it was one of those new-favorite-blog freakout moments.  I was engrossed in every post, quickly falling into the "how many hours just passed before me" state.  You might remember me first mentioning her blog, Annekata, as the catalyst to my recent fabric tape frenzy.  And the fabric tape idea is just one of many clever projects that Kathrin demonstrates on her blog.  Having lived in cities all over the world and with a background in theater, Kathrin's craft and artistry is unique and refreshing, yet classic.  Her method is slow design, and her material of choice is salvaged. . . music to my ears!

How would you describe your work?

It is timeless, with the time trapped within,
low to no footprint,
recycled, and in some way, unfinished.

What inspires you to create?

I'm fascinated by the relationship people have with their "things" and the role that "time" plays. Two of my preferred mediums to explore those relationships are hand-sewing and embroidery. They're slow and let me explore the details of what's decorative and functional, and create a visual/tactile representation of it.

Some of the questions I ask are:
What is our time worth?
Why do we value our time more than other people's time?

And inspiring me are all the people who spend time making "something from nothing".

What artist tool/material do you love using at this moment?

Fiber. Always loved textiles. My grandparents had a small convenience/notions store when I was a little girl and I fondly remember the inventory. The old cash registers, the yarn spools, embroidery threads and the stacks of fabric. I still have some beautiful starched linen from this now long-gone store.

The store also sold paper goods: ledger forms, envelopes of all shapes and sizes and spiral bound notebooks.  I love paper for many reasons and am curious of its uncertain future as it seems to quietly fade away. Paper also lends itself to a myriad of different and exciting applications: decoupage, fashion, decoration etc.

As for tools, I love the simple ones. The ones I can manipulate with my own hands and repair or replace easily. I have a difficult relationship with my camera. It seems indispensable in our virtual world, but I'm not a fan of digital photography (even though there are some amazing artists out there). And my relationship with the sewing machine is simply neurotic.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I feel very much in charge of my life. I live where I want, with the people I love and do (for the most part) what I please.

My intention is to spend as much time as I can with my daughter, husband and my work. What I remember of my childhood is that my parents always had time for me. And how important that was.

Who are a few of your favorite artists?

Oh my, there are so many. As for writers I love Emily Bronte, Juan Ramon Jimenez and Garcia Lorca. Some of my favorite photographers are: August Sander, Dorothea Lange. And I like Ramon Masats a documentary photographer from Spain. Painters: Nicolas de Stael, Andrew Wyeth.  Gunta St√∂lzl produced fantastic work as did Hannelore Baron. And I love Joseph Cornell's boxes.  Andrew Goldsworthy makes me think and in the world of fashion I admire Rei Kawakubo and Alexander McQueen who sadly left this world too early.

What inspired you to start your blog, and what is the origin of the name Annekata?

I am not a very organized person, so many ideas and projects were either discarded or forgotten or given away, and I felt that it was time to create a visual file cabinet of my work. A blog seemed a great format to accomplish this. It forces me to be more disciplined in my creative process. Every morning I sit down and write. It seemed that the blog took on its own character and became another child (begging constantly for attention). We are figuring out together where to go with this. The feedback of readers has been most helpful and insightful, and I want to integrate that spirit into my work.

The name Annekata is an abbreviation of my full name: Anne Kat(hrin) A(chenbach). I wanted a name without defining my blog too much so it could go in any direction. The other domain names I came up with, unfortunately, led in some way or another to "inappropriate" content.

Apart from your creative work, what else do you love to do?

Traveling. On top of my list. And food. And the combination of both. I've been recently interested in the raw food movement. Primarily, because of its very artistic approach. The bigger the constraint, the more creative possibilities people come up with. And the presentation of raw food (done with care) is often incredible. (You won't believe how artfully one can arrange salad greens!)

If you had a spare hour in the day, how would you spend it?


Thanks, Kathrin, for such lovely photographs and a wonderful interview! I feel so inspired to embroider now- and eat a few raw broccoli while doing it. 

My week

Jul 11, 2010

good to be gardening

my first attempt dyeing fabric in the sun using lavender and sage

post vacation reality: loads of laundry, and my work desk is just a few feet away
. . . . . . . . . .
just starting on my new embroidery piece

(most of these photos were taken with an iphone; love the camerabag app)

Show and Tell: Old things made new

Jul 9, 2010

1. My friend takes Reader's Digests and turns them into journals.  This one was my favorite.  It's from 1970.  I'm using it to log my hand dyeing trials. . . so far I have one page filled. 

2.  My father bought this wall clock forty years ago.  When my mother gave it to me several years ago, I wasn't too keen on the fake gold gilded frame look.  So I painted it ivory. 

3.  My summer earrings.  I love how the recycled leather strips dance in the wind.

Getting ready to hand dye fabrics

Jul 8, 2010

[image source: shiborigirl]

Last week, I wrote a post on how to make your own twill tape labels.  When I was looking for some visuals, I came across this image of dyed twill tape.  It's absolutely gorgeous, don't you think?  I just love indigo, especially when paired with natural tones.

Finding this photo has only affirmed my latest obsession with hand dyeing fabrics.  I've been casually storing ideas and resources in my head the past month or so, and I think I am ready to start experimenting.  My plan is to make natural dyes from plants in my garden.  And with the sun blazing down on us for the next few days, this seems like an opportune time to dye fabric.  Expect an update soon!

Marianne Hallberg's hand drawn ceramics

Jul 7, 2010

I have always loved blue and white ceramics.  And after seeing the delightful work of Swedish artist Marianne Hallberg, I love it even more.  Hallberg's ceramics can be found at the gallery Sintra- if only it wasn't 4500 miles away!

[image sources:, fine little day, design sponge]

My Week

Jul 4, 2010

playing on the beach in southern california

"the happiest place on earth"
i had a disneyland hangover the next morning

squeezed in an event on our way back home

a few new small drawings, new stickers perhaps?
. . . . . . . . . .
sticker set added to etsy shop; shop reopens tomorrow

Creating labels with twill tape

Jul 2, 2010

My dear friend Katie likes to make things, whether it’s soap, rugs, skirts, journals, or homemade bread.  Recently, she’s been sewing pencil pouches made from vintage and reclaimed fabrics.  She needed some labels for the pouches, and I suggested stamped twill tape as a simple solution.  Twill tape comes in a variety of widths and colors, is easy to adhere to fabric, and is very affordable.  (The .5 inch tape shown above just cost 25¢ a yard!) 

To create your own labels, all you need in addition to twill tape is a stamp, ink pad, scissors/pinking shears, and iron-on adhesive.  For a more custom look, you can have a stamp made at an office supply store for a reasonable cost.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you’re near Sisters, Oregon tomorrow, come see Katie’s creations and my art at the Sisters Summer Faire tomorrow.  We’ll be sharing a booth at the event all day Saturday.
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