Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ribbons and Things

Holey moley it has been ages since I've last posted anything on my blog! I should get a prize for blogging slacker of the year. And speaking of prizes.....I entered a bunch of my handmade things in the Minnesota State Fair this year....seven handmade things to be exact. Lo and behold, I won some ribbons.....seven ribbons to be exact!
But the most rewarding thing for me was sharing the stuff that I had made with others. The Creative Activities building was packed full of gorgeously hand crafted things: jams, cakes, pickles, quilts, knitting, crochet, carved wooden things, stained glass, doll houses, beading, embroidery, sewing and all sorts of other wonderful hand crafted treasures. I loved being a part of the greater creative community in Minnesota. I loved that so many people were willing to take the time to enter something that they had made so that they could share their accomplishments with others. It was wonderful to be a part of the generations of women and men before me who stayed up late working on a quilt or perfecting a pickle recipe so that they could exhibit something at the Minnesota State Fair.

I think it is a wonderful accomplishment for anyone who takes the time to make things with their own two hands. I truly feel that everyone who creates things should be proud of what they have made. Whether it's a simple loaf of bread, a knitted hat or a quilted masterpiece, anything that is made by hand has value and worth. I also think that sharing those things with others is important as well. It's not about getting your ego inflated or winning ribbons, it's a matter of making that connection with others who appreciate handmade things too. It's about sharing ideas, learning new things, teaching others what you know and exchanging feedback. It's about becoming a part of a creative collective, a group of people who are proud of what they have accomplished and who chose to share their creativity with others.

But enough of the philosophical stuff, let's take a look at the handcrafted goodies that I entered in the fair....
This is actually four of my Bead Journal Project pieces that I grouped in a frame. It won a second prize ribbon. If you want to see the pieces close up, I've got tons of pictures of them in previous blog posts.
I also entered three of my dolls which won two first place and one third place ribbon. The fairy doll from a few posts back won a ribbon as did these two dolls....My dearest lovliest Mama and I made Santa dolls together a few years ago. My Mama made a beautiful patchwork jacket for her Santa and I made a penny rug wool jacket for mine. The plaid fabric is from pair of wool pants that I found at the Goodwill. I ripped out the seams and then washed the pants in hot water so that the fabric would felt up. Santa (or 'Santy' as he's fondly called in my house) also has a handknitted hat, mittens and sweater. In addition to winning a third place ribbon at the fair, Santy also won an American Swedish Institute award for, I suppose, looking like a Swedish Saint Nicholas. After I found out that I was a recipient of a Swedish award, I immediately renounced my Italian/Basque heritage and now consider myself 100% Swedish. I am guessing that I am the only black haired, olive skinned, garlic loving Swede in the state of Minnesota.

This sweet little doll is an antique reproduction Greiner style doll.... She came as a kit that I purchased from Gail Wilson Designs. I hand painted her molded papier mache head, arms and legs and sewed and assembled the cloth body. I also made her clothes which are edged with wee hand crocheted lace. She's a tiny little thing, less than six inches tall and she fits so nicely in the palm of my hand. I am very fond of this doll and was delighted that she won a blue ribbon. Gail Wilson's doll kits are absolutely charming and are a great way to get started with making antique reproduction dolls. The instructions are very detailed and everything included in the kit is very high quality. I've made several of her dolls and have so enjoyed the the process as well as the finished result. Another Gail Wilson doll that I made won a blue ribbon at the fair last year.... She's a reproduction of an early American doll and is named Charlotte after Laura Ingalls' rag doll that her Ma made her for Christmas (I love the Little House books.)
Look who also won a ribbon....
My flock O' felted sheep! The judge wrote that they lacked personality without faces so I was bumped down to a second place ribbon. I happen to love them without eyes, I think that they feel more like folk art without their facial features. I love making these lambs, they're such compact, wooly little treasures. I'd love to add some embellished sheep to my flock. I think one of the little white ones would look very sweet with embroidered silk ribbon flowers, leaves and vines. That might be a fun winter project.
I also won a blue ribbon for this embroidered wool table runner....I hand dyed a lot of the wool myself. I use the 'lazy girl's microwave method' of dyeing wool. It's a piece o' cake and relatively mess free. I used Procion MX dyes with vinegar as the mordant. This punch needle turtle won a third place ribbon.... The judge didn't like the beaded border and said that she found it to be 'disturbing'. That comment kind of stung a bit but Adrian did a wonderful job of making me laugh over the fact that I had created something 'disturbing'. It is now a running joke in our house that many of my handmade things have a disturbing quality about them. I'm okay with that and as a matter of fact, I'm trying to think up something really and truly disturbing to make for next year's state fair. Anyone have any good ideas?

4 comments:

Sue Thomas said...

I know a State Fair Celebrity!!!!!! Woohoo!!! Congratulations on each of your ribbons, Pam! Your work is incredible and inspiring!!!

shanz said...

What does she mean disturbing? Like did it make her eye start twitching or something? I wonder if any of the judges have been "Tanya tapped"?
Seven out of seven is not bad Sissy.
Glad to see you back on the blog.

Plays with Needles said...

I agree that anything made by hand is to be cherished. Somehow I think they contain the energy and spirit of the maker which makes the item more powerful I think. Then, as a gift, Katie bar the door!

congrats on all of your ribbons...and I am completely in love with Santy and his handmade sweater, hat and mittens...

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog via Robin Atkins...lovely work, and so versatile! About a "disturbing" fair entry, I have a little story. I once knew an artist (landscapes in oils) who was disgusted with the judges at our state fair, so one year he took a bunch of spray cans of paint and lined them up on a fence, put a canvas behind them and then shot the cans of paint with a shot gun. Framed up the resulting splatter and entered it. You guessed, he won ribbons. The moral of the story is you just can't worry too much about these judges. I think the weight of trying to judge art pulls them out of balance.