The Fourth Wall

1.30.09 Stitching with Pixels

With the Blogosphere Christmas Police breathing down my neck for leaving my holiday lights up too long, I bring you the next post in our series: Pixels Are Everywhere. Sometime back, former staffer Sarah Ensminger posted about pixelated Army camo uniforms among other things that brought to mind the way designers have to think about images in these digitized times. This week, while we were iced in at home (no school! yippee!), and as I was ruining my eyesight by cross stitching on black fabric I realized: Aha! Pixels again! These suckers are EVERYWHERE. More about cross stitching in a sec.

Above, one of my earliest and most cherished Etsy purchases, a series of needlepointed portraits by the ingenius artist, Tiny Rat. Look at the edges of the curves here… they’re crude, just like when a missing image file pixelates. Along with being visually brilliant and humorous, the kicker with these is the subversion of an artsy craftsy activity of yesteryear… needle-pointing with childishly hued chunky yarn on plastic. But instead of kittens we have fabulous fat dead drag queens, snarling punk rock superstars, and pop culture weirdos. I LOVE IT! Who is pictured here? You tell me!

Here is one of my first cross stitch pieces, from a kit by another crafts genius, Julie Jackson of Subversive Crossstitch. I created this for my daughter Molly, who didn’t think it was nearly as funny as I did. Mooooooooom!!!! When Julie and I first connected we traded one of my custom charm bracelets for one of her subversive samplers. It’s too subversive for this blog, but you can see it at So Charmed by clicking on one our collaborative pieces.

This close up will allow you to see the pixels. What’s really cool is that (duh!) depending upon how many squares to the inch make up your fabric, the image will enlarge or reduce accordingly. Whatever was done on Aida 14 (cross stitch jargon for fabric with 14 squares per inch) which is easy on your eyes. Fabric is also available in 11, which seems huge when you finish with it but is a good way to learn the craft. Again, it’s the subverting of this old, traditional, “women’s work” craft that really makes me smile.

This is the sort of thing you probably think of when (if?) you think about cross stitch. Super cutesy, sugary sweet animal portraits, sometimes with annoyingly sentimental sayings like: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Yuck! (Although the doggies are kind of cute aren’t they??)

But make no mistake… like anything, cross stitch can get WAY (way) out of control. I love this partially completed Mona Lisa, which is, in a way, unintentionally subversive. What would Leonardo think? Probably not much!

And, BTW, just to let you in on the insanity of this craft, we are discussing counted cross stitch. What this means is that the pattern is printed (see above) on a piece of graph paper and you are left facing a blank white piece of fabric with which you will be counting each and every itty bitty square as you stitch. So, it’s not as mindless as it seems. It’s actually pretty challenging. In a semi-mindless sort of way.

Here is one of my works-in-progress. I’m using cross stitch on little pairs of mismatched cuffs created from reclaimed men’s shirts… adding lots of lacy goodness and other crap Jodi-ish embellishments. I’m selling these cuffs at So Charmed and Courtney Love Cobain bought one of the first pairs!

Here is a finished pair… I love the juxtoposition of the oxford shirt fabric with frilly ventian lace. Cross stitch alphabets come in all kinds of crazy fonts too, including lots of sans faces, Celtic-influenced calligraphy, and super fussy monogram styles. Alphabets, and other patterns are often available free on the Internet.

I’ll leave you pondering Stitching with Pixels with one last Tiny Rat piece (really, you MUST visit her shop). In this case, there’s perhaps less subversion… I think Andy Warhol would have absolutely LOVED this, don’t you?

5.30.08 Tee + Journal = FUN

Everyone who knows me knows I love clothes. Never completely content with the work of (most) other designers, I’ve been creating my own clothes for a long time. Sadly, I can’t sew worth a dang! But that, my friends, has not stopped my creativity… oh, noooooo. This little hurdle only means that my designs must be constructed from found bits and pieces, embellished, recycled, deconstructed, reconstructed.

Now that this kind of patched-together DIY fashion is all the trend, I’m happy to be able to make things not just for myself, but for other people too. The dear monsters from designfarm’s little sister company, myright2right.com were chosen to grace our fun, recycled-wallpaper altered composition book journals. But in my mind they were always begging–in their text-message kinda way–to be printed onto clothing!

Now, anyone who knows me also knows that I can thrift like nobody’s business. So off to Value Village we went (on a Thursday… 25% off!) to snag some adorable, gently used clothing that fit within the MR2W design aesthetic. Bright-colored tees…

Pink-striped drawstring pajama’s…

And super fun kid-friendly gear.

Each one-of-a-kind article of clothing is bundled with a mismatched (but adorably so!) journal and for each combo sold, we’ll donate TWO composition books to our recipient school, Piney Branch Elementary, located just 2 blocks from the studio here in Takoma Park. We’re doing a small range of these and they are selling quick!

To see the clothing up close and personal, visit us later this month at Washington DC City Paper’s brand new Silver Spring CRAFTY BASTARDS crafts show at Pyramid Atlantic, Saturday June 28. We are proud to have been one of a small group of 50 vendors selected out of hundreds of applicants!

5.14.08 New from MyRight2Write

New Journals

The Farmers have been busy crafting once again! Introducing the new (Not So) Plain Jane journals, clockwise from upper left, The Sarah (named after you know who!), Contesse du Barry, The Jessica (named after you know who!), Madame Eclore (Eclore means Bloom in French, get it?!), and Marie Antoinette (Jodi’s obsession continues). Made with new (instead of vintage) wallpapers some of which are textural and all of which are oh-so-cool, these are available in multiples, taking the surprise out of purchasing a OOAK journal… What you see is what you get! Also available in $$-saving six-packs. Check them out at www.myright2write.com.

3.13.08 Shop with a Conscience

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As was our custom every other Friday, on a quiet day in December, the 3-person staff of designfarm came together for a brown-bag lunch meeting about design. The meetings addressed not the smaller issues of design: font choices and color palettes, even project budgets or concepts, but rather Design Issues with a capital D: Creativity, inspiration, meaningful work that is also socially responsible.

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That particular week, designfarm’s tagline, Uncommon Solutions for the Common Good, was the theme of the meeting. Where might we locate exciting new ways to fulfill on this promise?

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The answer came as we explored the internet, checking in with explosive DIY communities such as Etsy, where many of the shop-owners (including designfarm’s principal, Jodi Bloom) are professional designers by day and makers of other things by night. We visited the sites of other businesses where creativity ruled, where the boundaries were only as restrictive as the creator’s imaginations, and where people were carving out a reasonable living designing and making a contribution to society.

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The seed for MyRight2Write.com was planted at that Friday meeting, was watered daily and grew during subsequent meetings on the beanbag chairs and around the tables at designfarm.

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In just 3 short months, we went from a vague and rough concept, through lots of changes and reinventions, to the freshly launched web site you can visit today. The product–altered composition book journals–has been perfected, and let me tell you: these things are SWEET! Each is one of a kind, features recycled vintage wall paper, cool graphics (of course) and the best part: For each journal sold, designfarm donates an unadorned composition book to a public school in the DC Metro Area.

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We’ll post more stuff about MyRight2Write.com in the future. For more information immediately (especially if you are media), download our Press Release. Brilantni