A small group of neighbors gathered on Sunday morning to attend the Melrose Garden Tour. Our neighborhood's location, terrain, and microclimate present unique challenges to us gardeners. We have to deal with the following "limiting factors" in our gardens: steep slopes, heavy clay soil, no rain in Summer, nearly constant wind, cool and foggy Summer weather, drought, Winter weeds, wily gophers, and last but not least...houses that are attached on both sides so all materials coming in or going out must be carried up or down many stairs.
First up was Lonnie and Greg's lush downslope backyard oasis. This garden showcases Greg's mad plant skills and Lonnie's "Outsider" art. It is jam-packed with flowers and color. Above, Greg points something out to Bill.
Lonnie created these two sweet ceramic totems for her garden that are an homage to her pets, both the ones who live with her now and those who have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. Peaches the dog is in the center on the left. They fit perfectly in this setting.
This kitty and bird look like they are diving into a pool, but in reality, it's a lawn removal work in process.
Left, another of Lonnie's ceramic pieces, inspired by a visit to the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, showcases succulents. At right, a pretty combination of rudbeckia, echinacea and sweet peas.
Next on the schedule was John & Nina's modern and architectural upslope garden. Above is a shot of their front yard where a large variegated agave plant is the focal point of Nina's succulent collection.
I just love this Crassula capitella "Red Pagoda," don't you? I think I'm going to have to ask Nina for a cutting from this plant.
John and Nina hired a landscape architect to design and build their terracing which includes a cozy sheltered low maintenance sitting area near the house and decks with views as you go up. They win the Steepest Slope award for this garden tour. Their prize for this is a commanding view from their upper levels which ranges from the San Mateo Bridge to the ocean. (This photo was taken on a different day. The sun didn't come out until after our tour concluded.)
Dorothy & Steve's upslope "little slice of paradise" provides a nice view from their kitchen window. Dorothy's focus is on California native plants and providing habitat for native birds, butterflies, and bees. Raised beds on the second level provide space to grow edibles such as: potatoes, lettuce, carrots, chard, beans and rhubarb.
A small rock garden with Dudleya farinosa and Lewisia longipetala, both California natives, is located at the top level of the garden.
While the rest of the U.S. is sweltering in August heat, we San Franciscans have to layer up.
Last up was Susan and Myron's downslope garden. The numerous flowering containers out front featuring Susan's famous pink poppies are merely a preview of what awaits after you pass through the garage and down the long staircase to their tiny sheltered backyard. It's almost like being in a garden center, there is such a diversity of flowers and a lifetime supply of bagged compost out there.
Susan has found creative ways to tuck even more plants in by growing succulents inside cement blocks.
It was a surprisingly delightful morning sharing tips, cuttings, and lemons with our neighbors. I found myself impressed by the creative adaptations people have come up with in order to enjoy these lovely, somewhat private little urban oases.
This week I received a custom order from a man in the UK who will be attending his brother's wedding next weekend. He wanted a small green boutonnière to coordinate with his wife's dress. I made him one using this emerald green dupioni silk and this beautifully patterned cotton print from Japan. Then I looked through my collection of vintage buttons to find the perfect one for that flower. I always cut more fabric than I need, so I decided to make a couple more. I have just posted these in my Etsy shop. Click here.
I think this one is my favorite. It's 2" (5cm) in diameter, which makes it a nice size to grace the lapel of a jacket. Click here to go to the listing on Etsy.
I think I got this button at a vintage show in Alameda, CA about 2 years ago. It features graceful gold metal leaves and silver faceted accents, which catch the light.
Here's the other lapel pin. This one has a cool vintage Czech glass button with a cluster of gold luster (ooh...that rhymes)...flowers on the bottom. You can see it on my Etsy shop by clicking here.
I also had a custom request from a piano teacher, which prompted me to dig out some musical themed fabric from my stash. My sister is a piano teacher, and I bought this fabric thinking to make something for her. Well, the custom order did not pan out, but I'm making some flowers with this fabric and a couple of others with musical notes, so stay tuned. Ha! That's sort of a pun...I'm just on a roll today...
I've been spending a lot of time working on my garden lately, planting and growing real flowers, rather than sewing fabric ones. My focus has been on California native wildflowers. I want to provide a little slice of habitat for the native birds, butterflies and bees. Above is a shot of Lewisia longipetala which is growing in my tiny rock garden.
Baby blue eyes are my favorite wildflower. Love the blue. These are almost gone from my garden now that we're really into dry season and almost August. The gophers keep getting them too.
These sunny little flowers are called Tidy tips. The visitor is a Painted lady butterfly. I was thrilled that she stayed still long enough for me to capture her photo.
These graceful pink flowers are called Clarkia. This is a wild form that I grew from seed. I had no idea that they would get so tall. They start blooming from the bottom and continue up the stem. These are still going strong. The common name for this flower is Farewell to Spring.
I'm hoping that these flowers will inspire me to create some new fabric ones.
The above photo is my booth at this past weekend's SF Etsy Indie Summer Emporium at Pier 35, which was co-produced by PopUpsters. This is the second fair hosted by the two groups. The first one was in November 2014, the weekend after Thanksgiving. I was not able to be a vendor at the last one, but I attended and shopped. It was a great show.
Pier 35 is located on San Francisco's Embarcadero, sandwiched in between the Alcatraz Ferry embarkation point and Pier 39, which is mostly a big tourist trap. So, as you can imagine, many of the people walking the show were tourists.
I set up some little "trees" on one of my tables with flowers displayed on the branches. Everyone was drawn in by the display of my Rainbow Pride and Marriage Equality flowers. Lots and lots of people picked them up, some took photos, but only 1 person actually purchased them (thank you, Amy Chow!) I was a bit surprised, since San Francisco's Pride Weekend is only a few weeks away, and I thought there would be more sales. Many people did read the sign, which tells the story of Daniel and Richard from Australia, who had been together for 20 years. Daniel bought 2 of my Rainbow Pride flowers a couple of years back. They traveled to New Zealand, which had just legalized same sex marriage, for their wedding. They were kind enough to send me a photo of the two of them in their matching suits and rainbow boutonnieres and also allow me to use the photo on my site. There were a lot of smiles after people read the story.
I made a lot of new Kanzashi flowers in pretty summer patterns and colors for the show. I'll be photographing and posting the new designs soon. I also designed some new stands to display the flowers. My brother-in-law did the woodworking (thanks, Pete!) The new stands were a big hit. One couple from Spain wanted to buy the stands. They said they had been looking for something just like this to display photos at their upcoming wedding. I gave them my card.
My French ribbon wild roses and pansies were a hit. A woman from Japan was very taken with them and purchased a purple and yellow pansy pin as a souvenir of her trip. A nice woman from Florida bought herself one of the wild roses.
One of the other SF Etsy vendors said that many people at the show were grilling her and not believing that she made her products. They insisted that she must have them mass produced. Rude.
I had one woman from China who wouldn't believe that I made all the flowers. She asked incredulously, "Made in USA?" "Made in San Francisco?" "YOU make all these?" She just couldn't wrap her mind around it. Oh well... One little boy asked me, "Did you make all of these?" I answered, "Yes." He looked me straight in the eye and said, "They're Awesome!" Very cute.
So, will I do the next SF Etsy show in November? Maybe. But I think I'll get a smaller booth to cut down on my costs and exhaustion level. I'll keep you posted.
I started taking classes in Sangetsu Flower Arranging. It is a "branch" (no pun intended) of Ikebana. Today we got to work with some branches of Fremontodendron, (the yellow flowers pictured here,) which is a California native plant. I'd really like to get one to plant in my yard. The orange flowers are Protea.
We tried creating an arrangement that can be viewed from 3 sides. Mostly these arrangements are designed to be viewed from one side. The deep salmon pink flowers here are Godetia, another California native plant.
I like taking these classes because I have to think about asymmetry, which is not what I'm usually drawn to.
I'm working on a custom necklace order for a friend. She is going on a cruise and wanted to have something to dress up her outfits for dining on the cruise. It's a long trip, so she didn't want to pack too much. She's bringing some black dresses and tops, so we are working on something to go with those.
I made the elements and just tacked them onto a piece of crinoline for placement and size. Then I took a photo of the necklace and a photo of a black sweater and made the composite at the top of the page in Photoshop. I hope she likes it! I'm going to finish this necklace with a black velvet ribbon and a small extension chain so she can adust it to fit with her different necklines.
Today I drove across town to one of my favorite shops in all the world, The Ribbonerie. I needed to pick up some French Wired Ribbon in reds for a custom necklace order. Paulette has a wonderful collection of all sort of ribbons. She is very helpful, knowledgable and encouraging. I love this ribbon display where the racks sort of rotate.
In the middle of the shop is a huge display board of fabric flowers. Can you spot the Dorothy Designs flowers within this display?
I'm also quite partial to the satin ribbons. Look at all the rich colors here on display. It's hard to settle on just a few.
If you find you're on Sacramento Street in San Francisco, be sure to stop in at The Ribbonerie and say hello to Paulette for me.
After digging through my stashes to find green fabrics and matching buttons for a custom order request (see previous post,) I decided to go ahead and make some flowers with the fabrics not chosen to see how the combinations turned out. I'm very pleased with the dark green satin, Japanese fabric and gold buttons. I'll be finishing them up and listing them in the shop soon. I think the lighter green fabric with the chevrons print might look better with a chevron print button, so I'll try that next. I'm looking forward to seeing how the custom order brooch turns out, but I'll have to wait for a shipment of dupioni silk for that one.
It's not too late to place an order for St. Patrick's Day.
This morning I've had two custom order requests. The second one is from a woman who wants to buy a brooch for her grandmother's 90th birthday. What's not to like about that? I love it when I find out that something I made is going to be used/worn/given for somebody's special occasion.
Apparently Grandma likes green (so do I!) so I dug into my stashes and put together a few suggested combinations. This first one is a beautiful fabric I got from Japan paired with a green dupioni silk (which happens to be the Oakland A's green) from an Etsy shop in India. I thought it looked nice with one of the mid-century Czech black glass buttons with gold lustre or maybe with the vintage pavé rhinestone button set in gold.
Second choice is this graceful William Morris botanical print fabric I found at Scrap. I think it looks nice with this apple green dupioni silk and I like the vintage carved mother of pearl buttons with it. They might even be from William Morris' era. I've been wanting to use this fabric for some time now. I may have to make this flower brooch even if the customer doesn't choose it.
Chevrons or zigzag patterns have been a fashion "thing" for a while now. I have a lot of chevron fabrics. This green and grey one looks nice with the celery green dupioni silk and I'm showing it with a few of my green vintage "house dress" plastic buttons. I think this would make a fun flower. I might just have to make all three combinations just to see how they will turn out.
Anyhow, custom orders give me ideas of things to try that I might not have thought of on my own and an excuse to look through my fabrics and remember some items I may have forgotten I had.
Tarang Gala and Dorothy Reinhardt in front of his display showing me and my Etsy Story
at CCA show last night
I was invited to attend the opening of the Interaction Design Junior Review at California College of the Arts, San Francisco last night. Last Spring a team of students interviewed me for a class project. They needed to do research to find a problem and design an app to solve the problem. This team chose Etsy sellers as their research group. After interviewing a number of sellers, they made their initial presentation to the class and decided to pick me as their subject.
It was fun getting to work with a team of enthusiastic young art students. Kirk Draheim, Tarang Gala and Kelly Stucky spent a few afternoons filming me at work in my tiny studio. They designed an ios app called "Etsy Stories" so that Etsy sellers could film short videos on their smart phones to show their work, process and the story behind it to better engage Etsy buyers.
You can watch the video below, or go to Tarang Gala's webpage for a better version with explanation of the project.
On the last day of filming, I asked Kirk for his email so I could send him a photo he wanted to use in their presentation. I noticed his last name was unusual. I took a pattern design class from a woman with the same last name about 10 years ago. I asked Kirk if he knew a Teliha Draheim. He replied, "You mean my Mom?" Small world...anyhow, I got to see Teliha again at the show last night.
I managed to wear the same scarf that I had on when they did the filming without planning it.