Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things We Care About: Northfield Scholarships

We are alway amazed at generosity and the magnitude of the charitable efforts of the members of our industry. Jay, Christine and all the drapery and window covering professionals involved in the Northfield Project- Best Wishes!

Interested in getting involved? Read on........

Republished from Posted by Jay Helser

Christine Shepard, the tireless coordinator of the Northfield Foundation renovation and design effort, invited me out to see the project while I was in Virginia last week. She treated me to a wonderful tour of the house complete with details of the plantations’ extensive history, but what I found most fascinating were the stories of the people behind the Northfield project. Christine is clearly passionate about Northfield, and that passion was most evident as she fought her emotions to deliver heartfelt accounts of the selfless folks who had pitched in. I was profoundly moved by what’s going on out there in Virginia, so as soon as I got in on Monday I told Mark all about the experience and a conversation ensued about the best way to help. Christine had mentioned that there were many people who would love to attend the October 23-25 Educational Fundraising Event but are struggling to muster the funds, so Mark and I have decided to offer 5 “All Inclusive Event Package” scholarships valued at $345.00 each.
Nominate an industry colleague (or yourself) by leaving them as “comments” to the WHY HELSER post, and we will draw the winners from “the hat” on Friday Oct. 2nd at midnight. Each nominee will have one chance even if they have multiple nominations.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Since I first saw their bright colors peeking out of piles of textiles in the booths of Hall 1 at M&O, I have been obsessed with Suzanis. Those of you who know me, know that I am a fabric-oholic. I decided right then that I needed to add one of those fabulous specimens to my small, but growing textile collection.
So I cut out suzani inspiration and posted it on my office wall, read about them; dreamed about them upholstered on my reproduction Louis balloon chair; designed window treatments with them. After all, if I could use it as a sample; then I could maybe justify the purchase. As I coveted my suzani they became more popular and I watched them ride the trend curve. First showing up in the design affluents , then moving into the mainstream and showing up as printed textile pattern inspiration. I continued to obsess.

I came close to owning my first one in January pouring over the abundance of suzanis on my visit to M&O, but when you are presented with too many options, the paradox of choice kicks in. I decided not to decide.
This month when Susan went to Paris for the design shows, she asked if I had a Paris shopping list- I said to myself- I deserve it- and put the suzani on my list. I sent her my inspiration photos, my budget and left it in her hands. She did fabulously! I got a sneak peek via email last week and I can now say I am the proud owner of a suzani.

My Suzani

What is a Suzani?
The Central Asian equivalent to an heirloom quilt. Handmade, hand stitched and handed down.
A lavishly embroidered cloth ( suzan means needle in Persian) produced for centuries by talented needle workers as folk art and adorning tables walls, beds and horses. After the iron curtain lifted, we rediscovered them.

Corner Detail

The Backstory
Traditionally made on silk or cotton backgrounds; Suzanis are first taken to a baster who stitches together the narrow widths and draws the design on the seamed cloth. Then it is taken apart and each female family member embroiders a separate strip; working finely stitched s stylized designs with a kind of small crochet hook. Colors are spectacularly created with dyes from granate skins, walnuts, and indigo.When finished, they are reassembled. Because they were heavily used, the earliest examples we have are from 18th century, but the designs- palmettes, botahs, tulips-suggest the Greek and Ottoman Empire. Older suzanis were on neutral grounds; unlike today’s colored backgrounds of red, gold, pink and sometimes violet.

What to look for
Antique Suzanis run $3000 - $5000.
Outstanding needlework- look for overstitching with subtle differences in shadings in different light s
Changing designs with no set pattern repeats are more exciting
Large medallion suzanis from mid 19th century

What to avoid
Worn pieces. Hold up to the light for holes and wear marks
Overly bright colors could be synthetic
Over faded examples. Keep yours out of direct sunlight
Fragments; unless you are piecing.

Look at the floral facing on the reverse side

Monday, September 7, 2009

SPOTTED: Bag a Scraps

You might be familiar with the hip clothing company, American Apparel. They have always been in the forefront of new and innovative ways to make cotton knit more exciting. They were one of the first retailers in Second Life, Crowdsourcing is their middle name and their efforts to up the American consumer’s taste levels through innovative non-American products is admirable. But when I saw their latest venture all I could say is GENIUS! American Apparel will now be bypassing design and production altogether and opting to sell the Bag-O-Scraps, which the AA website describes as :

“collected cuttings from some of your favorite fun fabrics from around the
American Apparel factory to make one-of-a-kind bags of scrap fabrics. Use them
for all sorts of arts and crafts. Make clever jewelry, accessories, a card for
your grandma or a colorful hanging sculpture for your apartment. Each bag comes with a zine (printed on scrap paper, of course) with five fun and easy scrap
projects, complete with how-to instructions.”

Workrooms and designers take note- those plastic garbage bags of scraps and unwanted leftovers are your next money maker. If AA can do it so can you!

They also encourage buyers to then send off pics of their own creations to be featured and maybe have their chance at 15 minutes of fame.
Think about it- sell your scraps with a how-to booklet; set up a flickr account to upload images; run a contest; build a community- What a brillant idea! If you take this on please keep Trendspot posted- we’ll help spread the word!