Felting classes in Chicago

downtown Chicago

Getting around in downtown Chicago wasn’t very easy this year as Michigan Ave. and other streets were closed due to the shooting of the Transformers 3 movie. It was pretty wild seeing the “war zone” looking scenery and wreckage laid out all over Wacker Drive. Even though we didn’t stay in Chicago this summer as long as we usually do, I did manage to do one really interesting thing; I took a felting class with Deborah Pope, from the blog site Altered Threads. I’ve been following Deborah’s blog for a while now and I’ve always admired her felted dolls. What luck that she was in Chicago with the NIADA doll conference at the same time I was! I thought that I was signing up at the NIADA doll conference to take a needle felting class, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she doesn’t needle felt, she wet felts and is able to make these amazing dolls with the wet felt technique. I’d never wet felted before, so I learned the basics of wet felting and a few little tricks in the two classes that I took. Some really nice ladies from all over the United States and I each made our own adorable fish in the Dream Fish class and a  tiny hat in the Haute Chapeaux class. As a patient and friendly instructor, I’d highly recommend taking a class from Deborah; I thought she was a great teacher.

Deborah's Victoria doll
Deborah's Herr Hiram Rabbit doll

This rabbit is my favorite of Deborah’s dolls. She hand painted his eyes and meticulously sewed his clothes and shoes….and she made the chair he’s sitting in. I’m now thinking about how I can use my new found information and how I can combine needle felting and wet felting to make something unique!

Deborah and her Herr Hiram rabbit doll

Playing with the “imagination computer”

Playing on the "imagination computer"

I just couldn’t take it anymore! The blaring t.v., the fighting over who’s turn it was on the computer, the bickering over the t.v. channels, my kids were bored and glued to the mind numbing appliances again. So, I pulled out the “imagination computer” , (a laptop computer made from fabric and vinyl) that I made a while back and handed it to the two younger ones (8 and 11 years old) and suggested that they play “office” as I turned off all the mind numbing appliances. I gathered up some office supplies like paper, a stapler, tape, pens, envelopes and an old brief case.  Along with the “imagination computer, I set up an “office” at the kitchen table. My kids love to play imagination games, but sometimes I have to give them ideas and start them off. 

Imagination computer, open
imagination computer, closed

Sometimes both girls want their own computer (surprise, surprise!), so we quickly make another one by folding a piece of cardboard in half and drawing a computer screen on the top half and a keyboard on the bottom half. And now we have two computers in the office!

Laptop for pretend play

 The “imagination computer” looks real because I printed clip-art of a screen and keyboard onto cotton using a digital printing process. The mouse is a little stuffed animal; it’s tail (cable) is sewn into the side of the computer. The outside of the computer is made from silver vinyl. When your kids are not playing with the computer as a toy, it can be used as a frame by putting photos or drawings into the screen and the two small rectangles of clear vinyl under the keyboard. The computer works as an adorable room decoration as well as a great toy! 

The computer mouse is attached to the laptop by his tail.

Let’s talk about the weather

Super packed Tel Aviv beach

In America, I remember summer being such a fleeting season, it was gone in the blink of an eye. I never had many summer clothes, but I had tons of sweaters and boots. Here in Israel, it’s always summer and all I have are summer clothes these days. We’ve been swimming in the sea as late as the end of November before but you can find surfers (with wetsuits) surfing year round.

High rise view of the beach

I know it might sound nice to have summer all the time, but I really miss the change of seasons; my favorite being autumn. As I start to see pumpkins and Halloween decorations, Thanksgiving turkies, snow and Christmas decorations in the newpapers, t.v. and blogs, my heart aches for home. Now what I don’t miss at home is all the weather that comes after Christmas, the dark, dreary, rainy days and the black slushy snow you often find in January, February and March. In Israel, these three months tend to be the rainy season. It will usually rain torrentially for about 15 minutes or so, then the sun will come out afterwards. It’s rare that it will rain all day and I think I’ve pulled my big, Chicago, furry coat out here maybe 3 times in 10 years.

View of Tel Aviv from Jaffa

The summer months in Tel Aviv are like living in a sauna, with humidity. It’s hard to find something to do besides swim and still stay cool. Years ago, some cars didn’t have air-conditioning in Israel, now it’s mandatory that a new car has an air-conditioner. People were “loosing their cool” more than normal in the summer heat while they were stuck in traffic.

Evening at the beach

So I’ll try to take the “make lemonaide” approach to the weather: all these sunny days do make Israeli’s a more active bunch. It’s a lot easier to go out and do things most of the year here because of the pleasant weather and everyone seems to be pretty fit. Bonus!

My store 2005-2010

Marie Antoinette costume in my store window

I permanently closed my store a month and a half ago, the day that we flew to America for the summer. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was something that needed to be done. Everyone asks why I closed; there are many reasons for this decision. My all encompassing answer is: it’s time for me to start a new chapter. My store had become a destination spot for Purim costumes (here in Israel), my customers came from all over Israel to find the next great costume for their children. Some of my customers had collected every costume design that I had made and came back each year to find a new ones.

my design studio

Purim was “my big season”, like the Christmas season is in other places. I always carried a big selection of costumes throughout the year, but the rest of the year I also made things for children like, bear blankets, quilts, bear bibs, toys, puppets and dolls (you can see samples of these things in my website: press portfolio in the menu). People told me that they came to my store when they wanted to buy something special. The handmade things that I made brought back memories for many people;  I spent a lot of time listening to the stories of things that other peoples’ grandparents and parents had made for them when they were young. We ended our visits all warm and fuzzy. Every day I picked up the girls from school (just down the street from the store) and they would come back with me, do their homework and end up playing with the toys, costumes and props in the store. I would finish my day and the girls and I would all walk home together. The hardest part of closing the store was packing everything up. It wasn’t the five years worth of fabrics, sewing machines, and “stuff” that I had collected, but things that the girls left behind. There were little notes taped everywhere for me to find that said “mama I love you!”.  I found so many ” art projects” that they had made while I was working. There were height charts of the girls and their friends from years of past costumes and clothes that I had made for them and I found little, hidden scribble drawings  in out of the way places of hearts and flowers and stick figures of the girls and I.

my sewing room

 I learned a lot of things from my store like:

  • how to speak Hebrew (albite not very well)
  • the ins and outs of running a business
  • how to deal with employees and customers (not easy)
  • location is everything
  • have a good relationship with quality suppliers
  • a lot more about fabrics, sewing and pattern making
  • how to set up and do photo shoots and most importantly
  • I learned the importance of loyal customers: to those people who came to visit me to “just see what’s new” over and over again, who brought their friends to see the store, who gave me lots of ideas and most importantly to those people who praised my work, who gave me inspiration and really appreciated the work that I do…THANK YOU!

    My store front

 So if you know my work and you’re wondering what I’m doing, keep checking this site for updates. If you want to buy something I’ve made, look in my website and press shop in the menu. Currently I’m trying to re-adjust to being back in Israel, prepare for the new school year, trying to unpack and organize soooooooooo many boxes and trying to get back into the swing of art.

America 2010

The Chicago Theater sign, since 1921, Chicago, Illinois

We’re back from our trip to America, five hectic, fun-filled weeks of eating, visiting family and friends and shopping. I did a few things for the first time ever, like eating smores, I rode a jet-ski, I took wet-felting classes and I saw Las Vegas. No matter how long we’re there, it seems like there’s never enough time. Here are a few of the highlights.

70's wall design, Las Vegas NV
Slide ladder, American, Sawyer, MI
Inspiring Chicago architecture, Aqua Tower, Jeanne Gang, architect
Big catch, Galeena, IL
Big dots on sign, Las Vagas, NV
Black-eyed Susans, part of an authentic Illinois prarie designed landscape, Galeena, IL
Light & movement installment at the Sawyer MI children's museum.
Retro rug design from old Las Vegas hotel, Las Vegas, NV
Gold waffle wall, Las Vegas, NV
Having fun in Madison, IN
Flying kites in Sawyer, MI
Chicago's Navy Pier seen from lake Michigan
Kevin made strawberries dipped in chocolate for us!
Lili-mask, Madison, IN
Psycadelic bar in Las Vegas, NV
Sunset, the natural light show in Las Vegas.
Playing in the waves, Sawyer, MI