Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Eye on Artisans - The Chameleon's Attic / Dancing Bears Tea House

This week's featured artist is another wonderful member of the Homefront team. Patricia has two shops. The Chameleon's Attic, an eclectic mix of handmade envelopes, toothbrush rugs, and much more; and Dancing Bears Tea House where her husband and herself create tasty tea blends. Her spunky sense of humor, helpful advice, and constant support of myself and the other members of the team has earned her a top rating in my book. Add her beautiful crafted and creative products and you've got someone you've got to get to know better in your sights. Enough from me, let's hear from her:

What are your favorite materials to use?

I'm a very textural person, I like how things feel. When I'm searching for fabrics to use in my rugs I have to touch everything. I love the feel of soft cool cottons and they make a beautiful rug. Sheets are so fun to work with in a rag rug; you never know what the prints will translate to until you start to work the rug. Textured fabrics like loose weaves, wools and denim are a great way to add dimension to the rugs.So I like all those wrapped up in recycled fabrics. I like to work with recycled fabrics because there is so much out there. I never have a problem finding what I need in colors and textures. Not only do I end up with a great creation but, I'm also repurposing an item that may end up in a landfill.Trust me there is a lot of great fabric out there to be repurposed.

Which crafting tool could you not live without and why?

I could never be with out my locker hook, it travels with me. It's the most multi-use tool I have. It looks like a crochet hook with a needle eye on the other end and longer. I was driving across Kansas and stopped at a quilting shop. They had this great locker hook rug. I stayed for a couple of hours and the wonderful ladies taught me how to make their beautiful rugs. These rugs are not anything like the rugs I make but they were beautiful and I was fascinated with them. I picked up a few of the locker hooks and brought them home with me. Now I use them with my toothbrush rugs and so many other things. I'm still mastering the locker hook rug and hope to add them to The Chameleons attic soon.Oh, and they would make a great tool in mummification to remove brains!

You use a lot of recycled materials, where do you get them all?

I love working with recycled materials. Most of the materials I use in my rugs are sheets. From time to time I use jeans, cotton shirts, and a lot of flannel, a few curtains, and some table linens. Most of my fabrics come donated to me by friends and family. They have learned nothing is to be tossed out before I get to rummage. Last week my mom even mailed me sheets she wanted to get rid of. She used them to wrap a breakable vintage vase she sent. I got the vase and a sheet! I've already made it into a new rug. My husband is in on the search as well. The guys at work bring him all their old jeans and t-shirts. I wish they would bring me their old camo blouses; wouldn't that make a great rug? When I'm short on materials I scavenge the thrift shops. I wait until they do a big holiday sale and hit 4 or 5 shops in one day and I'm set for a few months.My paper selections started just for fun. I needed some envelopes for a special event at school and I wanted them to be very science like. I had this out of date science encyclopedia set that was falling apart. So I made the pages into envelopes. It was so fun and they were a huge hit. So I added them to the shop. Now I search libraries for books they are tossing out due to damage and I repurpose them in to new novelty paper products.The notebooks are all made from post consumer products. I gather cereal boxes, cake boxes, what ever I can find to make my covers with. I also use the covers from some of the books I make envelopes from. Again, most of these come from family and friends. The holiday notebooks are primarily made from used greeting cards I've received in the mail. I did get a lot of unused cards dropped off to me after the holiday’s season last year. LOL I'll use what I need for my Christmas card list and make a few notebooks too.

What got you into making tea?

I am a huge fan of iced teas and breakfast teas. My husband is a true Southerner and drinks sweet tea and after a year in Okinawa he developed an appreciation for Oolong and green teas. Together we have very specific tea pallets. The problem is we don't like the same things. We started blending our own teas to suite our tastes. Then they became a family project for Christmas gifts (we've tried to make a move to handmade gifts). Eventually it was my husband who pushed to open our tea shop, Dancing Bears Tea House. We would love to have a Brick and Mortar tea house but, we just didn’t know if our blends were good enough. Etsy gives us an outlet to try the blends and get feedback. It's something we love to do together. It's time we spend chatting over making a new blend, doing taste tests. I think my husband pretends he is a mad scientist and I am his side kick.

Are there any other artisans you really admire right now?

I honestly admire every artist on Etsy. I think anyone who takes a chance and puts the creations from their own hands out there for people to view is admirable. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that.There are several artisans I admire but, I have to really say the person I value most for their artistic ability is my mother. She can do anything in any medium and create something wonderful. I grew up with her sculptures and paintings all over our house and she made sure I had every opportunity to try new mediums or take classes when she did. We've learned needlepoint, cross stitch, macramé, pottery and even photography together. My mom's artwork is what I want displayed in my house.

Anything else you'd like to say?

Do you remember the commercials that came out a few years ago with the kids dressed in bland colors and bland expressions, reciting pages from dictionaries and financial pages? They talked about broadening your child’s education with art. Well...something like that. Anyway that’s how I feel about crafting. If I didn't have that outlet I would be bland and colorless. I want to be full of color and expression.

Creating anything with your hands engages all of your mind body and heart.

Thank you, Patricia, for allowing us this look into you as an artist and your lovely creations.


Sue Runyon said...

Great article!

LilacAve said...

great feature! Wonderful to read.

nikid said...

Beth - Great feature! It is nice to read about team-mates! Go shopping @ DBTH/TCA everyone - the teas are awesome!!! said... are anything but BLAND!!!
Great post!