Saturday, February 26, 2011

Color Trends: Think Spring 2011

Many of you may be familiar with the name Pantone in association with color for designers. "In 1963, Lawrence Herbert, Pantone's founder, created an innovative system for identifying, matching and communicating colors to solve the problems associated with producing accurate color matches in the graphic arts community. His insight that the spectrum is seen and interpreted differently by each individual led to the innovation of the PANTONE® MATCHING SYSTEM®, a book of standardized color in fan format." ( Pantone has become the industry standard in color matching for artists and designers of all kinds.

  Pantone also surveys leading fashion industry experts in order to determine the top inspiration color trends for each season and each new year. From this information they develop their Pantone color forecast chart with standardized hues that can be reproduced by professionals in graphic arts, architecture and home furnishings, paint manufacturers, fashion marketing, and industrial design. According to Pantone's market research, the 2011 color of the year is "honeysuckle," a vibrant reddish pink. Honeysuckle is described as "encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life."  (

From the Pantone website

According to Pantone, the top 10 fashion colors for spring 2011 as chosen by New York designers are honeysuckle, coral rose, peapod, beeswax, silver peony, russet, regatta, blue curacao, lavender, and silver cloud. ( Let's take a look at how BBEST artisans are using these colors within their chosen mediums.

Of course, we must have honeysuckle represented, as it is the main color theme for the year. 

Coming Up Roses Felted Wool Needle Book
by JN Originals

Waiting Cat  - Original Mixed Media
by Sixsisters

Hand Designed Silk Scarf
by Mystic Silks 

"Coral Rose" is said to be a sophisticated shade of orange that takes its inspiration from African, Indian and Asian influences.

Shades of Spring Original Watercolor
by Yankeegirl

Orange Sunflower Earrings
by ZudaGay

"Peapod" is a fresh, medium green tone meant to evoke thoughts of travel and adventure.

Bulgarian Sunflower Bracelet
from EverSoDear

Painting: Cute Chicks Series - Violet Green Swallow
by Backroom Treasures

"Beeswax" is a modernized ochre or golden tone which is cheerful and playful.

Amber Colored Glass Hearts Earrings
by Fantasy Creations 1

Fused Glass Small Amber Sushi Plates (Set of 2)
from Designs by Christine

"Silver Peony" is a pale and feminine shade of pink described as "ethereal" and "dreamy."

 "Russet" is a deep, earthy brown, considered a "new" neutral.

"Regatta" is a refreshing blue reminiscent of  the Mediterranean Ocean.

"Blue Curacao" is a lovely turquoise tone that reminds us of tropical locations.

from ByTheBy

"Lavender" is a soft and sensual shade of purple.

"Silver Cloud" is a brownish gray described by Pantone as the "quintessential neutral that consumers can rely on to coordinate with everything in their closet." (

Monday, February 21, 2011

Anfangen ist leicht, beharren eine Kunst

The new year and all its promises of resolutions and changes is almost washed away by the middle of February. How quickly we get wrapped up in the every day moments of life, how soon we allow our plans to melt softly into intention. Winter does that to me, I must admit. Although I do love the winter - all of the whites and sharp contrasts, all of the silence and stillness, all of the wonderful holiday and fun snowy times we get to share - and though winter fills a place of peace in my soul, about middle of February I really feel the longing for spring.

I feel it in my bones. I am ready for blue blue skies, yellow crocus, green grass, buds on the trees and bushes. I can't wait for the pastels of spring, creeping up to surprise me from under the brown fallen leaves. I begin to get antsy for the soft spring colors and longer days with lighter evenings for outside play.

And so it was with great delight that I went looking through the BBEST shops for hints of spring, and found it.

From Sassalynne's shop -

From The Filigree Garden - Forest Moonlight

From BytheBy - Pale Green Scarf

From The Creator's Palette -

These touches of spring bring back my smile and help me get through these still long winter days. My daughter is back from two weeks in Munich, where it remains cold and winter. She tells me of the cold, the numbness in her fingers, her desire to be inside, the feeling that winter is never ending this year. But I persist in striving towards spring, filled up by the inspiration of our amazing team of BBESTers, each of us continuing to create through our own personal dance.

And I feel in my heart the truth of the German saying Amanda brings home to me. Anfangen ist leicht, beharren eine Kunst.

To begin is easy. To persist is art.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Some of my BBEST team members will probably know that I am very lucky to spend regular amounts of time at a place in Devon, UK, which I call my ‘bolt hole’. It is a wonderful spot where cabins nestle amongst trees along the water’s edge of an old lake that dates back to Henry VIII. Apparently at one time a convent was nearby from which the nuns used to stroll around the lake in meditation. Perhaps this is why I love the peaceful surroundings whilst sitting on the deck overlooking the water. All you can hear are the birds ranging from wrens to geese! I have a few feeders up nearby so that I can sit and observe our feather friends as they dart in and out grabbing little tidbits.

Each country has there own special birds so I won’t bore you with all that I see here. However, it does give me a wonderful opportunity to show off some of the amazing items created by the BBEST Team.

Baltimore Oriole by Sixsisters


Hummingbird on the Fly by Hemlock Hollow


Bird in the Tree Notebook by MisterPenQuin


Two Birds by VanFleetDesign


Little Birdie Fused Glass magnet by Chris1


At Rest Watercolour of a Chickadee by YankeeGirl


Owl Pendant by Chauncey


Bird Verdigris painting by JohnieBelinda


Bird in Nest by pfd Original Artworks


Birds are fascinating creatures as they fly and buzz around. Especially at this time of year when they pair up as Spring approaches and start to organise their nesting sites. Can’t wait to see the baby Moorhens following their mother down to the water and the ducklings all trying to keep up in crocodile lines. Whoever, said they were ugly???

Whilst not all of the above images depict birds from our shores they do show off the amazing talent of the BBEST Team. Thank you for allowing me to show off the creativity here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Humble but essential tools for sewing

When it comes to sewing, I'm a tool junky.

Apparently there are many sewing enthusiasts out there with similar attitudes. Basically, we just want an easier way to "get it done."  Our need is the very reason that a young home economist named Nancy Zieman started a sewing notions business back in 1979. Nancy realized that the notions many sewers needed were difficult to find. She conceived the idea of a direct distribution company for sewing notions, and not too long after, a 12-page catalog called Nancy's Notions Catalog was born.

Today Nancy's Notions is much more than a mail order business. While sewing enthusiasts can still purchase notions by catalog from Nancy, the center of operations is a combined warehouse and retail center located in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. These days Nancy is an author, pattern designer, art quilter, television producer, educator, business owner and national sewing authority. Her sewing notions, fabrics, patterns, videos and books can be purchased in the retail center in Beaver Dam, online or via catalog. Her books include tips on how to use her favorite sewing notions, and are available through her business, in online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, and in quilting and fabric stores across the U.S. Her television show, Sewing with Nancy®, is a co-production of Wisconsin Public Television and SWN Productions and is the longest-airing television sewing series. Nancy now has a blog and an online video site called Nancy Zieman TV. In short, Nancy Zieman has become the Queen of Sewing Notions, and her kingdom reaches into the hearts and homes of sewers everywhere.

Though I cannot claim that I buy all of my sewing notions from Nancy Zieman, many of them were purchased in her Beaver Dam retail center, and so was my sewing machine. I own most of her books; one of them was even autographed by her when I attended one of her Sewing Expos. One fundamental tip I have learned from Nancy is that sewing tools do not have to be fancy to be helpful, and that simplicity often gets the job done best. That being said, I looked through my sewing room to find humble sewing notions that I consider essential. Can you name others? Add your favorite sewing tool to this list in the comments below this post.

The links and/or photos for the products below will take you to a page where these items can be purchased online. Obviously, there are multiple sources for these sewing notions; I have only listed one for each item.

Ezy-Hem® Gauge by Dritz is a lightweight aluminum gauge that is perfect to use as a hemming guide for both straight and curved seams. Lines on the gauge allow you to fold over fabric to the right depth, and simply press it with an iron before stitching the fabric in place. The gauge is also handy to use for pockets, collars, belts and waistbands, as well as pattern alterations.

Ezy-Hem® Gauge by Dritz
Cottage Mills Treasure Markers come in two varieties, one in graphite for light fabrics and one in soapstone for dark fabrics. Each marker fits into an aluminum handle and is  easy and comfortable to use. The graphite marks wash off, while the soapstone marks rub off. The markers last a long time, and may be sharpened with a standard pencil sharpener.
Cottage Mills Treasure Markers
Dritz® Bodkin Ball Point is one of my most frequently used sewing notions. The slotted end is perfect for threading trims and ribbons, for turning bias tubing for button loops, frog closures, straps and belts, while the ballpoint end is great for pulling elastic through a casing.  Either end is helpful as a point turner, or for poking stuffing into narrow areas.
Dritz® Bodkin Ball Point
Gingher 6" Applique Scissor. These scissors handle well and protect your fabric from accidental cuts during not only appliqué, but also any kind of trimming, especially when you are working with fine, lightweight fabrics such as chiffon or lace. They are perfect for grading seams. The duck-billed blade pushes away the bottom layer of fabric, allowing for controlled cutting, while the bent handle positions your hand comfortably above the fabric.
Gingher 6" Applique Scissor
Pin Curl Clips. Years ago a quilting friend gave me pin curl clips for holding quilt binding (or hems) in place instead of pins. You'll never prick your fingers while hand sewing, using these clips. If you have materials that you don't want to pin, such as leather or vinyl, these are perfect. You can also use Dritz® Binding & Hem Clips, or hair clips you can find in any drugstore. They look pretty much the same.
Pin Curl Clips
Post-it® Flags. Transfer pattern markings to the flags, not the fabric, especially when dealing with hard-to-mark or delicate fabrics. Mark the right (or wrong) side of the fabric. Use the flag colors to organize your fabric pieces before sewing. Mark buttonholes, or use the flags as a quick, removable sewing edge guide. The adhesive on the flags will not gum up your fabric, and any ink markings on the flag will not transfer to the fabric, either.
Post-it® Flags
Needle book, pin cushion, or needle nabber. There are many options for keeping track of pins and needles. Interestingly, a number of BBEST (Boomers and Beyond Etsy Street Team) members have come up with solutions, all of them different. Top row, left to right: Needle book by JN Originals, Needle nabber by Big Isand Rose Designs. Bottom row, left to right: Pin cushion by Asian Expressions, Pin cushion by kimbuktu.
Needle Book, Pin Cushion or Needle Nabber
Dritz Quilting Measuring Gauge 14 in 1. There are 14 different measurements in this double-sided aluminum tool. Anytime you need to check a small measurement while quilting or sewing, this tiny gauge will be handy. Measurements range from 1/8 of an inch to 2 inches.
Dritz Quilting Measuring Gauge 14 in 1
Clover® Seam Ripper. Not all seam rippers are alike. This one cuts cleanly through seams, basting threads, beneath buttons, or even through buttonholes.
Clover Seam Ripper

© 2011 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Creative Challenge: Color Play

Continuing with the theme of creative inspiration, introduced in an earlier blog post, it might be fun to try an artistic exercise by means of a monthly challenge. This month, let's play with color by using our favorite paintings or photographs to set tonal palettes for our creations. I gave this method a try last fall during a hands-on lecture given by weaver Sarah Saulson ( who spoke at our local weavers' guild meeting. For one of Sarah's creative exercises, we were instructed to bring a picture that caught our eye for some reason; a painting or photograph that appealed to us in some way. We also brought an assortment of yarns in various colors to share as a group. Using our favorite pictures as visual inspiration, we chose yarn colors from the group stash and assembled "wraps" - wrapping yarn around a cardboard rectangle - that reflected the coloration and feel of our photos. The idea was to use the hues from our inspiration material to create in a different medium. The group results were wonderful! It was amazing how well those simple rainbows of yarn conveyed the essence of the paintings and photographs.

So for February, I'd like to challenge you all to try a version of the above exercise using whatever method of artistic expression you prefer. Select a photograph or painting that you find interesting or pleasing, then try to create an object (for example, a sewn article, piece of jewelry, paper craft, or glass work) that reflects the color and feel of that visual illustration. If it is helpful, start by isolating the major color themes of your photo selection by looking at a color wheel. Then collect materials for your project in those themes; if you are making jewelry, for example, round up all the beads in your color themes and put them in front of you before you begin. For a few examples to get you started, take a look at "Color Inspiration from the Masters of Painting" at Let your preconceptions fall away and let your imagination take the reins!

Once you have finished, report back to us by leaving a comment on this blog post with a link to a photo of your inspiration object next to your creation; or leave a comment with links to each of these items separately. If you have a blog, write about your experience and show us what you made. If there are enough responses, we'll write another blog post to share your work. Most of all, have fun and let the color adventure begin!

Now, let's do a little reverse engineering on this exercise and match a famous painting with a BBEST selection, trying to convey the ambiance of the masterpiece within the palette of each artisan's item.

 The subtle lavenders in Claude Monet's The Artist's Garden at Giverny are reflected in this Purple and Lavender Beaded Crochet Bib Necklace by Imaginuity.

The deep blues and glowing yellows of Van Gogh's Starry Night are captured in these Blue Glass Toasting Flutes from GlitznGlass.

 The pale sea greens and swirling waves of  Aivazovsky's The Tenth Wave are captured by this Ocean's Dance Artisan Lampwork, Crystal Bracelet by Ever So Dear.

Fragonard's The Reader displays themes of gold and umber as in this Yellow Brown Eyed Susan Flower Pendant by Zuda Gay.

O'Keefe's Red Canna inspires the reds and oranges in this hand dyed Vegetarian Silk from Sassa Lynne.

Feeling inspired? We hope so! We can't wait to see where your color explorations take you.