Tag Archives: family

Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – September – Susie Blair – Store – Urban Prairie Girl

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My name is Susie Blair, and I have been sewing all my life!  I am a one woman business located in Sebastopol, California. I was born in Eritrea, and have also lived in Kodiak, Alaska, and Venice Beach, CA.  I have been married for 29 years to Gary, who is a high school teacher, and I have an 19 year old daughter named Hannah, who is a competitive swing dancer, and a college student.
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I am in Delhi and I seem to have grown the extra set of arms a crafter needs to do it all!

I have two shops currently, both on Etsy.  Urban Prairie Girl, which features handmade and custom fitted clothing, cloth napkins, dish towels, my ever popular pillowcases, and handmade curtains, all sewn up with Indian prints which I bring back every year from India.   I opened my first clothing shop because a friend once said to me, you know, if you spend as much time working as you do playing on the internet, you might actually make some money. (Thank you, Tony Angel!)
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My second shop on Etsy is called UPG FABRIC ANNEX, which carries my entire line of hand selected Indian fabrics that are simply the most unique and beautiful fabrics that you  will not find in the USA.  I created Urban Prairie Girl to feature my handmade clothing, to provide custom fitting clothing for ALL sizes of women, and of course, an outlet for my prolifically creative mind! I want my clothing to feel comfortable and beautiful, to be long lasting, to fit you well, and to make you feel like the free spirited woman that you are!
I would have to say, that the fabrics I choose each year for my collection, definitely lead me in whatever direction I take off in, creatively speaking.  The fabrics are my paint, my canvas, my inspiration.  I have been traveling to India for 16 years, and my fabric collection has grown so large I had to open the fabric shop, which was another dream of mine come true!
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My 2015 shipment has arrived!

Then, I have a handful of timeless designs that seem to work for all sorts of body types, which is definitely a goal of mine.  Properly fitted clothing is quite a challenge.  You know, a lot of women feel like there is something wrong with their bodies because when they go clothes shopping, nothing fits! Clothing manufacturers make clothing to fit the “average” figure, which, guess what? Practically NO ONE is that size!!! Clothing manufacturers also choose to NOT make full flowing skirts and dresses which actually fit over hips!!!  The average woman hip measurement is 38-40”!  You will not find a skirt in a clothing store like my handmade skirts, which are generously cut and made to fit your body.
You might think this is crazy, but I have never had a sewing room or workshop. Since I was 6 years old, I have been sewing in the kitchen, and cutting out my garments on the living room floor.  I am 54 years old, and I still crawl around on the floor cutting out stuff!  I sew on the kitchen table, my three trusty Berninas fit nicely there. Unfortunately, that means, no kitchen table, ever! And, no cooking super smelly and oily stuff in our kitchen because of the fabrics.  My patient family is constantly working around fabric piles, cutting boards, and that ever wobbly ironing board with precariously perched hot iron which never seems to get turned off.
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Me On a train In Sri Lanka, December 2014

I find that working at home sometimes prevents me from getting on a roll, but on the other hand, I don’t have to commute, or pay rent on a workshop or store, and I get to work in my pajamas all day if I want to! (like now!)
Anyway, sometimes, I am sewing a custom fitted garment to someone’s measurements, and other times, I just wake up in the morning and ask myself, “what do I feel like making today?”  In fact, today I am making some really cute fabric storage boxes for makeup and other small items, just because I got some very cute zippers I am dying to play with. Sometimes I just sort my fabric into piles that “go together” which inspires me to take off on another  project.  Now, lets talk about those piles of fabric.  At this point, there are mountains of fabric in three, ok, four places in my house.  Most are organized into see through plastic boxes because I do not want them to get dirty or dusty, are not prewashed, and I can see most of the fabrics through the boxes. There is one, ok, two piles that are not in plastic boxes, and all of those fabrics have been prewashed and preshrunk, and ready to be played with. I both sell the fabrics  (www.upgfabricannex.etsy.com) and use them to my hearts content! And in case you are wondering, my average shipment from India each year is around 400 pounds, that’s weight, not money.
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I grew up in a home with two very handy parents.  My father was an electronics technician in the US Navy. He was a genius and would build clocks, televisions, radios, sheds, sidewalks, patios, as well as have a hell of a good time rewiring our entire house, his way! ! He was always tinkering, building, fixing, and making stuff. We never needed to hire a handyman, or a cleaning woman, or a house helper, or babysitter, because my parents did it all! Man, they were handy!  My mother would sew a lot of our clothes, curtains and mend our stuff of course.  There was always a sewing machine around.
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In school I loved all the art classes, all the dance, all the sewing classes! It was in high school that I had an art teacher, Mr Rousey, who saw a connection that could be made with my artistic self and my sewing self, and he challenged me to make a piece of art using fabrics.  That was the first time I ever realized that art and clothing and sewing and textiles could all be bundled up into one wonderful form of expression!   Mr Dale Rousey, my favourite art teacher, and Mrs Margaret Belmar, my favourite home economics teacher, both played an enormous part in helping me find, ME!
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I have not had a “day job” for a very long time.  But when I did work for de man, this is what I did…I was a children’s photographer, a salesgirl in various mall shops including a fabric store, a bank teller, an ESL teacher, a campus supervisor for a high school, a teachers assistant.  I have also worked as a seamster for a hat company, a motorcycle luggage company, a futon company, and other designers. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, My husband and I used to have tie dye factory, probably not unlike a lot of you! Paid for those dead shows!
I once had a boyfriend that told me, take what you do best, and what you love to do, and do it. And he loaned me $1,000. so I could quit my bank teller job and try to make a living doing custom sewing, in Los Angeles.  LOL, I cannot tell you how many perverts came to my home wanting me to make them kinky clothing.  I was just 23, and not really knowing how to handle that sort of energy.  I just wanted to make stuff that I wanted to make and have people like it and buy it!
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Now, I have to take a minute here to tell you how Etsy has changed my life.  Prior to learning about Etsy, rather belatedly in March of 2007, I struggled to make money doing alterations and custom sewing around town.  It was really ungratifying and required a lot of customer contact, meaning a lot of time. I was raising my child at the time, and sewing at home was really the best way for me to make it work.  A friend of mine told me about Etsy and that I ought to try having a shop there. On Etsy, I have developed a clientele that keeps coming back for custom fitted clothes.  Then last year, I opened my fabric shop on Etsy, and wow! That is a dream come true.  I love sharing my fabric collection with the entire world. I love India, I love Indian fabric, and I love Etsy for changing my life! Thank you Etsy, and thank you to my friend, Donna, for turning me on to Etsy!
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As I said before, It must have been the influence of my parents, constantly puttering, fixing, building and making stuff around the house. I cannot so much remember what was being made, but the memory of my dad, cigarette in hand, plotting and puttering, and making another creation.  And, my mom, sewing our stuff, cooking, cleaning, fixing, shining! Always, always busy!  I remember though, one Christmas in about 6th grade, we had gotten some crafts projects as gifts, and, while the entire Christmas day happened all around me, I sat under the tree, all day, all dang day, completely absorbed in my felt kitty art, and my paint by numbers, and my new doll clothes that my mom had made for me.  I remember a feeling that day…it was.. “I AM A MAKER!!!”
Let me tell you about those doll clothes, which I still have to this day!  My mother would sew for my sister and I, every Christmas, an entire doll wardrobe for one of our dolls.  One year, an entire Barbie wardrobe! Another, a sweet baby doll wardrobe,  The next year, my Beautiful Chrissie doll received the most swingin’, hip 70’s clothing collection ever!  Funny, how in writing this, I am remembering some of the first things I remember being made as a child….

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Well, one of my favourite pieces ever is a quilt that I made in 1990, all crazy patchwork, with a purple back and extra stuffing.  I will tell you why I still love it. My daughter snatched it for her own when she was in elementary school. She even made a painting of the bed and quilt.  I noticed how much she loves the weight, the comfort and familiarity of that quilt now as much as she did when she was a small child. It has always warmed my heart that my girl ran off with my handmade quilt and has used it on her bed most of her life. Now that she is 19. the quilt is still on her bed, although ragged!
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My inspiration comes from the fabrics I collect in India, the color, the people and the designs of India. Traveling is definitely an inspiration, not only for my creations, but also for my spirit.
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Getting a fresh cut pineapple after Chamundi Hill, Mysore, India

I’d have to say, that I am stimulated by the excitement, colors, madness and beauty of India and other travels, and am calmed, nourished and
at home in my quiet, beautiful apple orchard in Northern California.
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Working in my fabric factory in India

I’m also inspired by travel, the people, the food, and the excitement of never quite knowing what to expect, including the selection of my fabrics.  While I always return to my same fabric sources, I am constantly delighted by the textiles they have made for me during the previous months.

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During each yearly visit to India, I am always sure to tack on some great adventures.  For example, last year my husband, and a Scottish pal accompanied me to India, and Sri Lanka.  I also really enjoy the satisfaction of making something for someone that really appreciates it! I love it when I get a message from someone telling me how beautiful they feel in their new skirt!

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I’d have to say, that not having any orders, can really make me feel like a loser.  I have to really try sometimes to push myself to be creative, to stimulate my shop, to make something new. If all else fails, I start scrubbing and cleaning my house.  I also will paint a wall, or clean a closet, a drawer, or make something I don’t need to make…I just have to always be making stuff or doing stuff, it is what I do best. I think its more important to me than the money I make.
Fortunately, I have been married to my partner, with a “real job”, for a very long time.  I confess he makes the bulk of our money.  My income makes it possible for us to travel, buy ourselves things, and go out to dinner or little trips now and then.  It supplements our families income, but I confess, with the competition in the clothing market, I would not stand a chance against Macys, etc etc, and I will not die trying! I am fortunate to not have the need to feel desperate in my attempt at making a living with my art.
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I like to travel, I like to walk and walk and walk.  I like to spend time with my daughter, my cat, and my husband.  I like to play bright and fun games on my iPad. You are going to think Im weird, but I like to sew in my free time, too!

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I love to read Indian literature, and travel writers, like Paul Thoreaux. My favorite travel story, The Naked Hand, by Thoreaux. (If you just wanna check out Thoreaux in quick style, read Elephanta Suite, a collection of short stories)  My favorite Indian author is Rohinton Mistry, my favorite Indian book, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.
favorite quote     “It Is Written”
-and this is not for religious reasons, but because I believe that whatever happens is meant to be, and yes, sometimes is already in the cards.
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So then, since we are the Deadhead Art Alliance, I think I ought to tell you about the Grateful Dead show which would change my life, but not for a few more years to come…..It was at the Grateful Dead, Ventura County Fairgrounds, 1984 that I met my future husband, best friend and life partner. Of course at the time, he was really more interested in my best friend. . She, and the bottle of champagne we had between us on the beach after the shows.  Gary and I remained friends until 1986, when we found ourselves on a road trip together.  Somewhere in Kansas, Gary puts on Bob Dylan’s Desire CASSETTE TAPE, lol (it is 1986)….heh, that sly devil. By the time we got back home to my beach shack in Venice, I had a new boyfriend!  We were married in 1988.  Now, the thing is, while I was content enough to  see the Dead once or twice a year in Irvine and Ventura, Gary needed to go to ALL THE SHOWS!!! LOL, so eventually we got married, a dead cover band at our wedding, our first dance to Sugar Magnolia, and our honeymoon tour was summer of 1988 Dead shows all the way to the east coast and back!  Now here we are….30 years later!
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I met my husband at a dead show in 1984, and our honey moon was dead tour, 1988…

There is something as a clothing maker I would like the world to know, the artist part is more personal and really, its just me expressing stuff, nothing else to know.  As for the clothing…well, here I go on a rant…. Did you know that the main reason clothing is cut so un-generously and tight? Money.  Why is everything see through? Sex. Ok, so those are the two main focuses in the clothing industry. Money making and sex.  The sex part, whatever…..but the money part, wow!  If you have ever taken a look into my shop, you will find skirts that are generously cut using 3-6 yards of fabric, pants that fit all sorts of bootys, dresses that don’t make you look like a ho, and all made with fabrics that are 100% natural cotton, and sometimes silk and rayon.  Of course, if you did the math, you would see the skimpy mini skirt in Wet Seal, sewn by slave labor, would show quite a bit more profit than a handmade gypsy skirt sewn with 4 yards of handmade fabric. That is why you cannot buy my stuff in the mall, its not profitable.  So, what I am getting at is, the fashion industry dictates what you will wear, what colors, what styles, how short, how tight, how cheap, how expensive, how ugly, how slutty, how synthetic, how dare they!
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I have a dream to one day have my own line of sheets, comforters, bath and kitchen items, Indian style, of course.  This is a very large project, and if it is meant to be, it will happen. Thank you for taking the time to read my stuff!
Peace!
Selling Venues: Sebastopol Farm Market Sebastopol, CA Sundays 10-1:30
                        www.urbanprairiegirl.etsy.com
                        www.upgfabricannex.etsy.com
Artist Contact info:  Susie Blair  _facebook
                              www.urbanprairiegirl.etsy.com
                              barefoot_one200@Yahoo.com
Social Media Links:  upgfabricannex on Instagram
Forever Grateful, Deadhead Art Alliance Team
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Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – January –Selena Gribbin Barefoot – Store – aRecurringDream

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Deadhead Art Alliance Artist of the Month – January –Selena Gribbin Barefoot – Store – aRecurringDream

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Selena Photo Credit: Ashley Gribbin

Hello! My name is Selena and my shop is ‘a recurring dream‘. I am

a stay at home mom living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh with my husband and our

two children.

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My shop takes materials that are unwanted from my local

community and I have been making quality home goods and accessories,

and started adding clothing this year.

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As a young woman, I had sewn patchwork dresses, skirts, bags, purses,

etc for many years that I would vend at local concert lots and festivals.

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In my mid 20’s I wanted to move to the city and started working for a

young restaurant group. I grew into adulthood along side an innovative

and maturing local restaurant group that emphasized the importance of

farm to table food, craft beer and spirits, and embracing and utilizing

the individuality of each of its employees to its advantage. I spent a

decade managing restaurants for them.  The demanding schedule did

not afford me much time for sewing and once I started a family, I realized

the schedule did not allow much time for them either.

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So I said good-bye

to my home away from home and a couple of months later dusted off my

sewing machine and picked up a gig doing piece work for a local clothing

company to make money for Christmas. I slowly began finding and

unpacking my sewing items and making space for them in my home. Then

I started making gifts for people and trying to come up with ideas of items

to make with materials I had on hand, or could source inexpensively, and I

found myself building a small inventory of items.

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A new street fair started

that year and they were looking for vendors. I had just enough inventory

to send photos of my work along with the application and I was accepted

to vend the street fair, and started sewing A LOT in order to have enough

items to fill my vending spot!

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Vending regularly was not reasonable for me with my kids in tow, and I had

researched Etsy shops for months before opening my shop.  Once I started

I felt so lost!  I had zero experience with internet sales.  I tried finding teams

for support with little luck in the beginning, then,…. One of the articles in the Sellers Handbook

suggested using an interest as your search keyword when trying to find

a team.  I searched “patchwork” and that is how I found the DHAA and I

was thrilled!

This team has been such a source of knowledge and support

for me and has truly been a comforting support that has kept me on Etsy.

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I also never would have guessed that there would have been an online

market for patchwork clothes, but maybe that is just me showing my age.

I work mainly with up-cycled clothing and de-stash items that I collect from my

community. I have an overwhelmingly diverse stash of fabric, and it can

make it hard for me to focus on one project for a very long time.

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When I

get a new idea, I have no problem abandoning a project in progress to start

on a new item. I always have a collection of items in progress…sometimes

I go back and finish them, and sometimes I take them apart to use the

materials for something else. I rarely feel committed to finishing a project I

am no longer enjoying. I find inspiration from so many places in the world

around me. It sometimes surprises even me the things I will suddenly

decide need to be made next!

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I grew up with a very crafty mama who loved to sew and craft with

whatever materials we had on hand. She always encouraged us to try

new things and was never afraid of us getting dirty or making a mess. It

was a wonderful way to grow up. I was never allowed to use her machine,

but when I was a teenager and started showing interest, she was quick to

find me a hand me down machine to call my own.

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I taught myself how to

sew and quickly burned through a string of hand me down machines.  In

the height of my young adult sewing days my parents helped me purchase

a refurbished metal Singer machine.  I was always concerned about the

quality of my items and the following year my parents gifted me a serger.

Their support meant the world to me and I still sew on the same machines

today.  What a great investment they turned out to be…when I think of what

I have made on them it is almost unreal to me that they are still keeping up

with me!

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Making patchwork was a natural fit for me. When I started sewing, I

made a basic dress pattern and made a couple of simple a line dresses from

lightweight vintage curtains I had found at Goodwill. My friends mother

gave me a box full of scraps she had collected over her years of sewing,

and I decided to make a pattern for a patchwork dress for myself. As a

child I had often been mesmerized with Holly Hobbie’s beautiful apron,

and wanted a dress that was a grown up version of that amazing childhood

image. After some drafting and a lot of math…I did it! I couldn’t believe

that I had actually made it! It is still my favorite item I have ever made.

I made well over 50 dresses from this pattern and never upgraded my

personal dress from that original, and I look forward to handing it down to

my girls. I have always been so proud of it, and I am hoping to revive the

pattern this Spring.

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My children are the most amazing force to have ever touched my life. I

am a very active parent, and enjoy my time with them immensely. I am

also committed to my community, and spend time volunteering at my

children’s schools, helping with coat and food drives, and volunteering at

our community garden.

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Our community garden is one of my favorite places

to be!  In addition to our own plots, my husband, children and I spend a

lot of time helping to tend the common grounds, and tending the donation

garden. All of the harvest from the donation garden benefits our neighbors

through our local food pantry.

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My family and I also love taking advantage

of all of wonderful things Pittsburgh has to offer. Pittsburgh is a beautiful

and exciting city, and we particularly love our time spent at the Carnegie

Museums and all of the surrounding State Parks. The woods are truly my

home. I like to be busy and active, and I am never at a loss for things to do

in my area.

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I always loved vending at festivals and shows, and I was excited when I

started vending at the Artisan Market in the Strip District neighborhood of

Pittsburgh this year. I love people, and love getting to talk to people about

my work. I find having an internet shop to be so isolating, and it is always

nice to come face to face with someone who truly appreciated what you are

creating.

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Music has always held an important role in my life. My father is very

passionate about music and ensured it was part of our daily lives. He took

me to my first concerts, and to many more later in life. The concert that left

the biggest impression was attended when I was about maybe 12 years

old. It was a music festival at Camp Lejeune Naval Base during Operation

Desert Storm. The energy in the crowd was unlike anything I had ever

experienced. I remember that Chicago was the headliner and that Sinbad

was the MC for the event. It was my first experience seeing how music

could bring people together and give them hope, joy and a strong sense of

togetherness.  When I first moved to the city in my early 20’s, there was an amazing

theater that had live music almost every night. I went there just about

every evening, I didn’t feel the need to go anywhere else. Some night

they had national acts, sometimes they would even have high school kids

who raised enough money to rent the theater to play for their friends and

family, and everything in between.  Often times the younger bands playing

were my favorite nights. They always played with a passion that I truly

appreciated.

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My favorite quote is by an author named Richard Bach from No Such Place

as Far Away.

“Not being known doesn’t stop the truth from being true.”

                                                                      Richard Bach

This resonates deeply with me. It is a simple statement of truth that I feel is

too often overlooked.

This past year I have had opportunities to do so many things that I never

would have imagined. I have made my first full size quilts, I have started

making bereavement items to console the families who have lost love ones,

and have written my first tutorial to be published in a national magazine this

Spring. It has been such a whirlwind and I am looking forward to what lies

ahead.

Selena: A Recurring Dream Vending  by John Colombo Photography

Selena: A Recurring Dream Vending by John Colombo Photography

“Many thanks to all of you who have supported me on this journey”  Selena

Artist Contact info:

aRecurringDream.com

selena@aRecurringDream.com

Social Media Links:

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/aRecurringDream

Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/arecurringdream/

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/_RecurringDream

Wanelo:
http://wanelo.com/arecurringdream

Forever Grateful, Deadhead Art Alliance Team

Explore, Escape and be Free! Leda May Jones

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Explore, Escape and be Free!   Leda May Jones

iusa_75x75.26070303_90hj il_170x135-1.481719703_m6jz il_170x135.591766197_b3f8 il_170x135.547433707_cvah il_170x135.416682668_gidj il_170x135.496700995_oci3 iusb_760x100.13632476_tbbz il_170x135.596290515_13d7 unnamed-5 il_170x135.481675630_8ehp unnamed-2 unnamed-4 unnamed-3 unnamed-7 unnamed-8 il_570xN.585105421_e9ac unnamed-1    Hello my name is Leda May Jones.  My store name is Ledamay.  I live in a small town of Willits in Mendocino Ca. I would have to say I love Northern California and hope to own my own little piece of it someday. I am a mother of three beautiful daughters and one son that is adored by all the lady’s in the house.  My shops philosophy is to create everything with love and passion and to never get tired of what I’m making by always making it unique and different giving each piece Life!

My purpose with it all is to share a piece of myself with the world

My creative process is forever changing.  I love finding old beautiful fabrics that inspire me and because I have four children and am homeschooling one …waking up early is the time I do most my creating.  The kids will wake up for school and I will have fabric flung all over the house with sewing machine running and a cup of coffee in hand or will be twirling around in my newest creation and my daughters will tell me “ Mom I think that one is the prettiest one yet” haha ( they tell me this with each one.)

I am always changing my work place but I realize I prefer not hiding away I have to be near my children when I’m working and sometimes I think the background noise helps.

I love finding perfection in imperfection I use new fabrics when I can’t find something I need, But the older fabrics just have more character to me ,creating with them is so much more fun!

After I had my first two children I was a single mom needing a career so I decided beauty school was something attainable for myself so I finished and passed state board where then I got a job at Shag salon and would have to say I enjoyed being a hair artist for many years.  It was after I got married and had my third daughter that my husband bought me a sewing machine for our anniversary.

 

           I found the love for sewing and I haven’t put my sewing machine             away since …………………..today is six years later……….wow………………

I would have to say the joy in creating for me is not the in the pieces I’ve made its who I have made them for, like this beautiful lady that came to see me from Oakland I created a dress for her wedding and now on the 25th she wants me to come and do her hair and makeup at the wedding, she has become a friend, and who could ask for more , I am just so blessed to know what I make brings these lovely peaceful people into my life .

  Going back to thinking about my childhood and the first thing I saw being made …My mom had five children and we lived in many different trailers and pieces of property growing up, I was in awe that she always could make a home out of nothing.  We would make furniture out of old tires, rugs out of old rags.  She was definitely ahead of her time with creating things out of old T shirts but we never had a sewing machine and I always thought boy what I could do with one of those!!!!

 

“What you do really does reflect you and what you reflect comes back”

                             You ask what inspires me to create……… Love inspires me

I mostly sell my handmade art on Etsy and I have only done one vending booth and I loved it .

I would have to say you should give artists working out there some major credit because it is… very hard work!  I think once my children are older I would love to do more.

I am very lucky to have a hardworking husband that has a job that allows me stay home with the kids.  The only hard part is that it can be seasonal work so it always seems when he slows down with building my shop picks up the slack, but my dream is to own a home of our own someday that is definitely a driving force when I get tired I just have to pick myself up and find my creative flow.

I love to paint, cook beautiful food ,play on the beach and go hiking with the kids … but I am sad to say I haven’t gone to any music festivals yet.  Growing up we all just played music by the campfire every night we never really had the money or transportation to do so,  and having a baby at sixteen… I never got to explore that life, this team has definitely made me realize what I have missed all these years so I do hope to experience one someday !! I will be thirty this month I better get movin Time goes by so fast !

       What would I like the world to know about me?

                                                   I would like to let the World Know I am a Dreamer

I never dreamed that I would be making women’s clothing let alone wedding dresses My shop on Etsy has been truly magical to me in how it has transformed and created this web of imagination and creativity in my soul I can say I am just excited to see what happens next !!!

My favorite quote is

“ everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree , it will live its whole life believing it is stupid “ (Albert Einstein)

Selling Venues:

Artist Contact info: Ledaandfamily@gmail.com

Etsy Store:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/ledamay

Social Media Links: on facebook L.may gowns, and Leda jones photography

https://www.facebook.com/leda.jones.5?fref=ts

Forever Grateful, Deadhead Art Alliance Team