Friday, May 19, 2017

Hats, Rainbows, Sunsets and Breaking up with Facebook


What a week it's been.   I made hats, I sold hats, I received heartwarming messages from happy customers, gardened, walked my dog, talked to the man and the boy and, oh yeah...I broke up with Facebook.

 After years of screaming at my screen, I decided to take control. I'm tired of a world that steals my ability to read a book,  think, work and like people.  I'll still use it to share my blogs and I'll glance over the latest gossip, but I'm going to reclaim my long form life. It's been about a week and I can't tell you how much happier I am without it.

But enough about that.  Let's talk about Beautiful Jamie, instead. These photos are courtesy of Eyes on Windsor.  Jamie participates in the annual Tweed ride, in Windsor, Ontario.


She asked me to make this hat for her to match her handmade vest.  I love everything about her outfit and am completely covetous of her boots.  Her man is also dashing, but really, you can't compete with Jamie.


Speaking of wonderful customers.  This is Amy, in Michigan.  A true starlet.  I think this is Amy's fourth, maybe fifth Hat Junkie hat. It's really been so much fun for me to develop long distance relationships with my customers.  The ability to connect with people far away is the sunny side of the internet.


Connecting to people near by is also a sunny thing.  And what better place to chat with my neighbours and tourists alike than at The Lunenburg Farmers Market.  You can find me there every Thursday morning from 8-12.  In my humble opinion (which is not really that humble) we have one of  the best Farmers Markets in Nova Scotia. It has everything.  Two large bakeries, several smaller ones, a coffee roaster,  two butchers, cheese makers, two hatters, artists, a knife sharpener, two florists, painters, a potter, sometimes a weaver, a wood worker, maple syrup, honey, jams and Kimchi, and now Danette from Seadog Bags will be back next week.  You see what I mean? It's simply amazing.
 Beautiful Sydney walked by my booth yesterday and this hat literally jumped on her head.  Really, I'm not making that up.  It jumped off the mannequin onto her head and they lived happily ever after.

Although I think that everyone should come to Lunenburg and prance around this pretty town, I know that life sometimes gets in the way.  So, if you live in Halifax, I just shipped a batch of Suitcase Sally hats to Lady Luck Boutique.  They now have two stores, one in The Hydrostone Market and one in Dartmouth.  I'll also be doing a Trunk show in the Hydrostone store on June 3rd. (Don't worry, I'll remind you.)


I'll leave you with two Lunenburg shots from this week.  Sometimes you can just tell that the sky is about to show off.  I saw this one coming and ran out the door, phone in hand, screaming, "I'm off to chase the sunset.  Be back soon."  I was right.


This one I owe to Tony.  I was in a cranky mood when Tony beckoned from outside.  I shook my head... No.  
He nodded his head.... Yes.  We repeated this a couple times and then I relented.  I was rewarded by a double rainbow.  Hard to stay cranky for long around these parts.  


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Learning from Maud Lewis


Yesterday Tony and I went to see the movie, Maudie, about Maud Lewis' life.  For those of you who are not familiar with Maud Lewis, she was a very well known Folk Artist who worked from her tiny home in Nova Scotia before tiny homes were trendy and before folk art was cool. 

This morning I woke up still moved by the film and I realized it is very much because I love everything her work and life stands for and in some ways I could see my own artistic journey reflected in her life. 

 So, about these pictures here.  Obviously they are not by Maud Lewis.  I painted this little table when I was in my twenties.  I painted tons of stuff in my twenties.  This is the only thing I still have because I had it in my mind that I would keep this table for my own child.  You can see that years later my own child added stickers and I believe a robot doodle.


When I was 22, I was a dancer and I had a pretty nasty back injury.  I had to have surgery and it took me 6 months to be able to properly walk again.  Fortunately, right before my back gave out I met my first husband, Evzen.  We are still great friends.  

I had spent my whole life dancing and had never considered doing anything else, so when I found myself injured there was a period where I couldn't see a way forward. 

Evzen worked as an illustrator, so there was always paint lying around. With nothing else to do, I would pick up his brushes and play.  I had zero skill.  But Evzen really encouraged me to keep painting.  He liked the charm of my zero skill painting.   I painted on anything in front of me, all our furniture, walls, whatever.  We started going to the flea market and buying old furniture.  I would paint it and then we would have weekly yard sales.  I would sell each piece for about $30. They always sold.    I remember this chair that I had covered with flowers.  It had not occured to me to first paint the chair before adding the flowers, so after I had spent days painting the flowers, I carefully painted around them.  Took forever.  I sold it to a woman in a Mercedes who beat me down on the price.


I am not comparing my primitive painting to Maud Lewis, but her story really brought back the time in my life where I first learned the joy of creating with my hands and I also learned that if you put love into what you are doing, people will be drawn to it regardless of your skill.   My back did heal very well and I was able to dance again, but I never stopped making thing. 



It was around 4 years after first picking up a paint brush that I walked into a hat shop and made the connection that hats were also made by hand.  I was smitten.  I didn't know how to sew, but how hard could it be?   My first hats were crooked and primitive and charming.  I set up a homemade hat rack on the street and sold my hats for $30 a piece.  I was amazed that people bought them, but as long as people kept buying them I kept making them.


 I have always been enamoured with vintage hankies, embroidery, quilts and all other simple acts of beauty.   The world is filled with women like Maud Lewis.  Women who have quietly made pretty things just because they love to.   

Hat making is no exception.  While off in Paris, there were milliners making hats for aristocrats, simultaneously some woman in rural Nova Scotia was plaiting yellow birch shavings and hand sewing the finished braid into hats for women in her community.  Folk milliners, using whatever was at hand.   These women of the past are the ones I most identify with. 

If you haven't seen Maudie, please go.  I hope she inspires you to go ahead and put beauty into the world.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Heidi Jirotka, BP (Brilliant Photographer)


Every year or two I get together with my favourite photographer, Heidi Jirotka, and we spend the day frolicking.  It has been a time honoured ritual since 2012. Heidi's website is being updated right now, but you can find her on Facebook by clicking HERE.

The photo below is from our very first photo shoot.


We always have so much fun working together.  Heidi has this huge grin on her face while she takes photos.  I asked her about this and she admits that she can't help herself.  Well, that kind of happiness is contagious and it shows in the photos.

  I think of our meetings as play dates.


I just let the artist do her work.  The minute she gets that camera in her hands she starts directing.  Oh, go here, put your left hand here, big toe there....do you think you could twist your knee behind your shoulder, tilt your head slightly and stand on your elbow?

 Every photo shoot we go somewhere new to play.  This time we headed to Blue Rocks, just a hop skip and a jump from Lunenburg.  That place is a photographer's dream.  Since it was off season, we took some liberties with locations.  My apologies if any of these buildings happen to belong to you.  We stayed on the outside, I promise.


I firmly believe that you should wear the hat that represents the day you wish to have.

Really,  I'm a very serious person...Heidi just brings this out in me.

Silly of me to be holding this map because I had no desire to go anywhere.

I know...lots of pictures, right?  This is actually just a tiny portion.  Even after four hours, Heidi kept seeing one more great shot.
My bike...my beautiful bike.

Newsboy cap in the pines.  Hey, did I mention that the fabric for my newsboy caps is woven right here in Lunenburg by Double Whale Handwoven Designs?

I'll leave you with this one.  I adore this little shanty, owned by Jenny from Jenny Jib.

These days it's easy to be a photographer, but if you are looking for an artist I can't recommend Heidi enough.   She's guaranteed to make you smile.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mom's Buy and Sell in Lunenburg



Nova Scotia is a bit of a snowy place right now and what with endless school cancellations and general shack wackiness, you might be looking to hop on a plane and head south.  But if that option is not available to you, there is another cure.  Come take a day trip to Lunenburg.


I'd be lying if I told you that Lunenburg escaped the last two consecutive blizzards.  This here is my own house and I'm happy to report that we did manage to dig our way out.


A few years ago you would have had a hard time finding an open shop in February, but times are a changin' and now, even on Sundays, there are beautiful shops open where you can find a dose of colour.
Mom's Buy and Sell on Linclon St.  is really more than a shop.  It's an emporium.  The space is huge and you could easily spend a couple of hours getting lost in beautiful vintage rugs, textiles, clothing, furniture, and everything you didn't know you needed until you saw it.


....like these vintage rolling pins...



...or this antique clothes wringer....

...or all this fun vintage jewelry....


or some milk paint for that Do it yourself project that you have been contemplating for the last 20 years.

The snow clearing crew is hard at work, so that when and if you find your way out of Mom's Buy and Sell, you can walk a couple block down to Montague st. and....

Have a great cup of coffee at No. 9.    

Lots of other shops in town are now open, too. Hope you can make it.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lunenburg Winter


Lunenburg in the winter is really a pretty good place to be. When the leaves and flowers are gone, the sky and the colourful buildings will sustain you until spring.

Pretty much every morning starts with a walk through the cemetary.  I love these two trees.  I think of them as an old married couple.

Beautiful St. John's Anglican Church.  Home to plenty of beautiful music.  The inside is as beautiful as the outside.


The entire town is a hill, so there are so many places to see the roof tops.  I love going into people's houses and looking our their windows.  A different perspective from every house.


Lincoln st. Not seen in this photo is the very patient dog who wonders why its human stops so many times and doesn't even bother to sniff anything.


Every once in a while I leave town.  Well, I crossed the town line.  This photo was taken in Garden lots which is one step past Lunenburg.  (25 minute walk from my home.)


There's something geometrical going on here.

I have been walking through this town for over eight years and there is not a day that I don't see something new.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sewing with a Syrian Refugee


Oh, I just can't help myself. I've got to tell you a bit about my few hours sewing with Rezan, one third of Mahone Bay's Syrian refugee family. I was a little worried about communication because they just arrived here in September and they are just beginning to learn English. But it really wasn't a problem. Sometimes he didn't understand me, but it was never something that needed to be understood. For someone with very few words, he told a lot of stories.
It was funny because he has been here so short a time that everything he notices becomes his experience of Canada. For example, "In Canada, sewing machines small." (he's used to sewing on industrial machines.) I'm afraid I have now added, in Canada scissors are dull to his observations.
He told me how in Turkey (where they have been for the past four years) that the president didn't like the Kurds, but the people were good. (Man, that goes for so many places)

He asked if I liked Trump. I said, no. He laughed and he said, No Canada like Trump. Teacher (his English teacher) ask 8 (the eight students) Like Trump? No like, No like, No like...She ask, Rezan, like Trump? I say, Yes, like Trump. And he laughed again. Everyone say, Rezan bad. More laughing. I get this man. He's enjoying messing with their minds.
But he also told me, Muslim no (pantomimed slitting throat) Muslim no (pantomimed shooting) Muslim no (pantomimed explosion) Alkaida bad, no Muslim. I know, I said, I know.....
I said, Istanbul big city. Damascus, big city. Mahone Bay, small town. You like? Yes, he said. I like Mahone Bay, but I like work.
He's been sewing for someone else in Mahone Bay, but the work is sporadic. I had to break it to him that it's the same for me. So hard, I wish I could keep him busy, but there's no guarantee. Must be difficult to be idle when you are a worker by nature. I tried to explain that this is how so many people make a living in rural Nova Scotia. Lots of little jobs.
Oh, the label. Why the picture of the label? He called it, Made in Anna, although he pronounced it, Mad in Anna. I sent him home with a few hat bodies to sew and I had forgotten to give him the labels. He said, Excuse me..Mad in Anna? I ran and got the labels and his eyes twinkled with laughter. He's a keeper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You Drive Me Crazy. Happy 14th Anniversary.

"You drive me crazy, with all the things you do and do not do.  But, I love you so much, Baby, I'm going to drive you crazy, too."  Greg Brown

This photo is from mine and Tony's wedding day, August 23rd. 2002.  Yes, we also have photos of adoring stares and passionate kisses, but this one's my favourite.

At some point in 2001, I remember confessing to my dear friend, Anna Vojtech, that I had thought many times that I should really be with Tony, but I knew we couldn't possibly be compatible because he didn't recycle. Anna is a few wisdom years ahead of me and I remember how she laughed and assured me that people could overcome much worse hardships. Well, it's true.  She was right.  Now in 2016, I'm proud to say that Tony is a very enthusiastic recycler.  He recycles absolutely everything, whether it's recyclable or not.  Styrofoam, candy wrappers, dirty tissues, you name it, it goes into the recycling bin. It makes my sorting job a bit tricky, but he's worth it.

We eloped.  I really wouldn't have had it any other way. We invited one friend each.  Tony's mom, one of the greatest women to have ever walked this earth, crashed the wedding.  It was a truly wonderful day and it was uniquely us.  Our plan was to get married at Gloucester City Hall, but when we arrived, there was an unexpected council meeting and we had to think of a plan B.   We walked over to Fitz Hugh Lane Park.  There were several homeless people hanging out in the park and they were all quite keen to witness a wedding.  And so it was that we got married in the park, with cheers from its residents,  overlooking a city that was near and dear to both our hearts.  The name of the man who married us was Bob Whynot.

Walking through life with another is challenging, to say the least.  We do regularly drive each other to distraction, but mostly, we hold each other up, make each other laugh and best of all, he makes me coffee in the morning.    Fourteen years later, I'm still smitten and as lucky as lucky can be.