Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Greetings from Steamy Rhode Island! 

Allison and I are both working on the transition from our Artgirlz life back to that of individuals. It has been a lot of contemplation and work, trying on ideas, organizing piles and I am happy and relieved to say that I (Tracy) finally launched a new blog this week. I kept trying to come up with a clever new name but ended up keeping it simple (I often forget that approach) and went with my name...Tracy Stilwell. The best thing is that I know how to spell it!!
I invite you to check it out, become a friend, tell your friends, add a know all of those things. I have been organizing ideas for fall classes here in my studio...former Artgirlz World Headquarters and will share that info as soon as it is ready.

Getting ready to prep some photos of my Blueberry Pin Cushion for the New and Exciting Tracy Stilwell Blog. Hope to see you there!!

Stay cool and keep making great stuff!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One of the best things about going to the Squam Art Workshops was just having the time to sit materials and play. The first day I did "Painting in a Day" with Marisa Haedike. After voicing fears and hopes, we picked up brushes, paint and a great 6x6 wooden canvas and got to it. There was painting, collaging, sharing, and satisfaction! Perhaps it was the green tree environment that brought out the greeny paints...I had a wonderful time layering colors, paints, crayons, chalks...

The following day Marisa was joined by teacher Christine Mason Miller and they taught us about putting books together. Most participants started with an old book that taken apart and reassembled with new innards. I brought three stitched pages that were started pre-Artgirlz. They have been sitting patiently for 6 years or so and got to go to camp. I made two book signatures out of wool felt, hand made paper and a piece of felted sweater. They were sandwiched with the stitched pieces that I brought along.
  I took a very fast and fun mobile class with Lizzy House. There were whimsical colorful items hanging all over the place. I immediately made some for home. Have to get better pics...

Meanwhile Back Home
The newest at home project was started a couple of weeks ago with Miss Linda. We started with a piece of muslin, used Modge Podge and or gel medium to apply tissue paper, paper and fabric scraps. I got back to it this week and went over it with some paints and gesso applied with an old hotel key or credit card. You can see the layer in the background. The face is stitched paper. Flowers applied with gel medium. She is a work in progress and will patiently await my return from Seattle. Heading out tomorrow morning with Sue for a vacation, graduation/wedding combo!! Midge and Al will be holding down the farm!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I left for Squam Lake, NH early on June 2nd. I was headed for Squam Art Workshops. The sessions were primarily focused on knitting, but there was also a mix of other options including mixed media, stitching, pattern making, yoga and painting to name a few. The event was beautifully orchestrated  by Elizabeth MacCrellish and crew on the grounds of the Rockywold-Deephaven Camps. As a stitcher it was amazing to watch the "knitters" enjoy the evening programs with needles flying and some never even taking a glance at the work!!! The link above has further links to the peeps that were teaching and entertaining.

I was feeling humble, inspired, excited, wired and exhausted. It was a great place to take it in the energy, take a class, focus on something for more than 10 minutes, see what's going on. No teaching or selling!
and then there were the roommates from Mapleshade...

Connie in from NJ with her coffee pot and Leslie (practicing her spinning) from the great Southwest met at Burning Man...who would have guessed? 

Polly (drove in from western MA) and Dominique our French Speaking Canadian brought laughs and stories of their adventures!
Mona a former local and now from Portland OR joined me on my porch sleeping location for coffee and chat very early each morning
The dynamic trio below includes singer Jonatha Brooke, new best buddy Polly, and Jen Grey. All three are fashion inspirations! Polly even brought her Muck boots to camp!! Clearly she rocks!
Allison and I used to rock out to Jonatha and our sewing machines when our studio was in Newport and we were the Weird Sisters...listening to her music over and over and over! ( I am listening right now!) I was a pleasure to hear her sing in person (and practice from her porch next door) and meet her little bad self around the paths of camp. Ms. Grey is another light beam and bundle of energy that was busy behind the scenes making everything fluffy and beautiful! It is so good for me to get out of the house and sweat pants every now and then!
 I will post info on the classes that I took tomorrow!
Packing for Seattle...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

OMG, I can't believe that it is June 1st...and we haven't checked in here since March...Did more inside painting and have been sculpting the garden most recently. I've actually had time to sit down at my sewing machine and stitch!!! What a miracle!! And, I had fun and satisfaction!!

Sue and I went to NYC with our friend MT Silvia to see a sneak preview of her movie "Atomic Mom". It prompted me to finally do the jacket that I promised her. She had a great light weight wool jacket that I stitched the name of the movie, text from the website and a picture of her mom. All were pleased with the results and the movie is an amazing piece of work! Check out her website if you haven't already!! There is also a trailer for the movie on YouTube!! Nice work MT! 

I had fun doing a "found by the side of the road" chair for Sue's B'day but I haven't taken any pics of it yet. I am getting ready to go to NH for 3 day event...Squam Art Workshops. I am very excited to just be taking some classes, relaxing, meeting new teaching, no selling for a change. It is hard to leave my girl, the chickens and the gardens but I think it is a good thing!

Will take pics of the chair and post it. It is one of my favorite things...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

 WOW it's March. 
It has been cold here in Florida and no one from up north wants to hear my complaining. 
But I didn't move far away from those I love to have cold weather here in sunny Florida.
I have been busy entering information into Artgirlz books to be able to close them soon. 
It is still a bit sad except the extra time I have to do creative stuff. 
Imagine that. 

Midge and I loved going to estate sales when we first moved here.
Bargains usually abound because the kids want to sell all their parents junk and get back home. 
One of our first finds was this mid century chair we purchased for a $1. 
We refer to it as our dollar chair.

Well, in perfect Artgirl style, not knowing what I was doing, 
I reupholstered the dollar chair.
I painted the legs and arms black.
I covered the icky old chair with polyfil and then covered that with muslin. 
That allowed me to work out some of the problems. 

Not being patient was one of the them. 
Not having enough fabric was another. 
Tracy and I rarely buy more than a half yard. 
But with the help of Google I found more fabric at  Cia's Palette.
She even had the heavier weight I was looking for. 

The red cotton ball fringe was the perfect kitschy topping. 

I also wanted to add some of the color from chair to the rest of the living room 
so I worked up this big pillow with a giant flower.
It still needs some finishing touches like filling 
and definitely some red ball fringe.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The frustrating and disappointing news is that our "deal" fell through...aakkkkkkkk...
attempting to take a zen, calm, stay in the moment mode I realize that I have hit the Artgirlz Wall...
coming up with the next step seems exhausting...
so an emergency vacation is in order...
Sue and I are off to Providence (just up the road a piece) until Sunday. She will actually commute to work tomorrow and I will have a day in our fancy hotel to do what ever I want...away from the house...will leave in a couple of hours...Christy will be our loyal and competent chicken/rabbit sitter!
As thoughts of my, our, the biz future whirl around my busy brain we have
been doing one of the things we do best...painting a room! 

This is the bathroom connected to our bedroom which has had a recent lovely pink update!! The bathroom is lavender...well was...and we picked out a dark red paint. This was the first time I had used a tinted primer...what a miracle thing that is!! Nor did I know that it would be grey...
The lovely little girl pictured above lives in the corner of the bathtub tile project...
Bathrooms are small but extremely tedious to paint...and we had to be very careful around the little tiles above the sink and around the tub. Nothing like painting your bathroom with a quarter inch brush!
 The toilet is right by the short red wall front left.
To the right of the sink is an open a cupboard without doors...
Both very challenging paint areas...but...4 dayz later...


So off to do a few sniggley things for the biz, put our travel goodies together and will head off to take a break from the action.
Thanks again to all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I just took what was left of our product off of the website...not much I am happy and sad to say...
We have officially entered a new phase! I don't know how to thank everyone for their support and kind words. 

And since it is Presidents Day I thought that I would do a brief bit about the President of Artgirlz (Pictured above)! I don't remember just how Big Al became the President...Maybe it was because her name started with "A" or because she is taller, or because she is bossy or because she is the smartest but President she has been and a fine one at that! We have had our moments, but considering, they have been very few...we could barely stop doing product development...ideas always flying around with no time or money to carry them out.

We flew many miles, ate piles of bad food, drank gallons of Starbucks, put lots and lots of product in bags, spent hours at the computers together. She spent more time than I can personally imagine putting numbers into QuickBooks and making spreadsheets. She mixed easily with the rich and famous! She made upc calls...crunched numbers for gross margins, discounts, shipping, ordering. 
She was at her best standing behind me telling me where to move little shapes here and there as I put packaging, copy, catalog sheets together!
Always on top of fashion and never missing fashion forward moment even at the airports of the world! What's better than a "Best Tail in Town" Rhode Island sweatshirt!!
Always an artistic inspiration I miss her very much and am grateful that we took the chance to take this adventure together. Our mother would have proud!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day to all of our lovlies!!!
Have been shipping, organizing, cleaning, and have to venture out into the cold to the post office.
Sending lots of love out into the world!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Greetings Earthlings! Oh No, Oh Yes...What will I dooooooooo?????
stop selling at
Valentine's Day.
We still don't know what the next step is going to be. We are waiting patiently...sort of. 
We will let you know as soon as we know!!
Actually Allison and Midge are driving (as I write) to Jacksonville, FL to see the Black Eyed Peas in concert tonight! That should be a great shaking up of the senses!!

In the mean time, we in the great northeast are awaiting a snow storm and putting bundles of Artgirlz Goodies together. Linda is cutting felt and collecting little gems to combine and send out into the world. They will be tied together for your creative pleasure. Just let me say that we are down to it...I don't think that I can conjure up too many more...Sue is taking care of nagging little details with credit cards and Paypal, and doing some shipping...I can hear the tape ripping off of the roll.
I have been enjoying working on a sweater that I started when Artgirlz was just a glint in our eyeballs and hadn't touched since...except to move the basket around when necessary. I visited our local yarn shop and with some guidance jumped right back into knitting and pearling. It has been very relaxing and a soothing way to get back to making things. I have missed having a project to take along with me .

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I don't know why Sue and Linda were laughing at yet another one of my "clearly I don't live in Florida outfits"! What's better than striped fingerless gloves with a skulls and bows with coordinated stripy dotty hat...inside...

so it was the chicklet pictured here that went to the bank yesterday and paid off our business loan!!! We are $%#@***&^ psyched about that situation!!!!

and it is the same one that is picking hundreds of charms one by one (with the back up of the two mentioned above) trying to get it right...packing orders, inputting everyone's addy and printing the labels, visiting our friendly post office and answering emails, and getting cc info and fixing glitches, making charm orders trying to keep ahead of the game, staying calm and in the moment most of the time...

I just want to assure everyone that we won't be "going away" until everyone is happy, so if you have an "issue" please don't fret!!

We continue to be very touched by the support and love that has been flowing our way! Thanks again and we will be keeping everyone informed about any important news!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wow is all that I can say...I have been picking and packing charms and beads for dayzzzzzzzz...that is the good news and I want to thank everyone for all of your support and so many kind and encouraging words!! Practicing being in the moment and practicing gratitude!

We wanted everyone to know that we are working on a deal to keep the wool product and our zany charms out in the world. It is the goal to #1 come up with an agreement and #2 make the transition as quickly and cleanly as possible. We will keep Artgirlz Nation informed as we get details!! This is a particularly important opportunity to practice the above mentioned items!!

In the mean time, we will decide just what to do with the shrinking pile of goodies left in the Artgirlz Mother Stash!!!

Allison is teaching a class in Florida this morning...I am sorry that I don't know the name of the Bernina Dealer, but she can fill you in on all of the details! I am sure that it will be a wonderful experience for all!

I am taking a break from shipping today and I am going to clean the is 8 degrees outside and the house is screaming for a dust rag and vacuum!!! Who knew it had 2 "u's"!!???
So stay tuned...thanks so much!! We love you!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I think that I have been avoiding writing this little paragraph relating to the ending chapters of Artgirlz as we have grown to know and love it! MANY people have worked LONG hours to help us get things in and out of the doors. We have traveled far and wide...met amazing talented, funny, smart, irreverent, hardworking folks always willing to share, support, advise...and to all of you I am very grateful.

It seems like I was always exhausted quickly moving from one event onto the preparations for the next...designing and producing products, catalogs, dealing with import issues, pricing, shipping, websites, email, customer service issues, photographs, blogs, class proposals, class prep, class teaching, clean up and shlepping of materials...setting up booths, cc machines, cash registers, products, give always, business cards, membership cards, bags, props, price tags, samples, snacks, pens, accounting, money in money out...packing up booths and organizing the shipping of the goods back to world headquarters...filling out the paper for each box leaving on the pallet...airplanes, taxis, hotels, convention centers, bad food, too many snacks, no exercise, no oxygen...
Trying to stay emotionally stable...hoping, wishing, expecting, not getting, getting, trying another way...

So now that the decision has been made to close the business, I have been organizing and counting product that is left...Al has been working on a proposal to keep Artgirlz Charms out in the world...time will tell on that it seem like the next step is to put what we have on sale. What a perfect opportunity for the creatives of the world to add to their ever shifting pile of supplies!

Although we don't know exactly what we will be doing next, we will still be around doing our thing and keeping you posted right here! We will actually have "time" to do creative things...something that has been hard to come by!

Stay warm. Thanks for all of the support and love that we have received over the last 6 years!!!!
Stay Tuned!

Check out our 30% Off Sale!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

 January has been flying by. Baby sister Beth has been visiting again. We spent lots of time crafting so that she would have lots of ideas to take to Alaska.

Beth's biggest project was a sweater she wanted to make for her grandbaby, Ivy. She had purchased a 100% wool sweater at a thrift shop and washed it well in hot water. We used one of Ivy's coats for a simple pattern. We marked it with large basting stitches and used our wonderful Bernina aurora 440 to lay a decorative stitch along the basting and then cut a quarter inch from the stitch. It was fun and simple and the hardest part was getting the courage to cut it.

Beth spent the evenings chatting and adding a blanket stitch around the edges.
She added a piece of felt for a pocket and embellished the front with felt flowers and leaves.

I took the scraps and made a simple bunny rabbit. I needle felted her eyes and nose and embroidered a big smile. The bunny insisted on having a sparkly skirt for dancing but if her new mom Ivy is anything like her grandmother and her sisters the skirt will end up as a curtain in one of her forts.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Wow, It is hard to beleive that we are entering the next decade already. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were all sitting tight, waiting for the start of this new century hoping the tech world didn't implode because of the huge date change.

And sadly as we head into this next decade, Tracy and I will be closing Artgirlz Inc.
It has been a great ride. We have met so many wonderful people and had many life changing experiences so that it has made this a very difficult decision. But times are hard and we are a bit weary of struggling and waiting for things to pick up.

Be on the look out for our news letter so that you will be in the know about all of the upcoming sales.

We don't have any big plans for our future but you can bet it will be full of art and scary babies.

It is also hard to write about the loss this weekend of Sue's father,
C. Shepard Desillier.
Those of us that loved him called him Shep. A wonderful family patriarch who lovingly embraced our nutty Stilwell family. He was an institution in his small community of Watch Hill RI.
He was wise, kind and inquisitive.

  We will miss you Shep.

Friday, December 18, 2009

One of our favorite employees, Rosie and her mom Laura have been chosen as finalists in a contest sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens...folks have to register to vote at the website and then vote for them and they are behind!!!
The Website isn't the most user friendly but these are the instructions that Rosie posted for her friends!

The Finals Voting period is December 16th- 21st.

    * You can vote once per day per log-in
    * Go to the site
    * Look for our team:
VOTE for "A Hoot Garden" by Rosie and Laura
    * Our quilts are pink with owls of course!!! See attached photos.
    * Register to VOTE! Remember your password so you can vote everyday!!!
    * Please note: Step 2 of registration asks for your address- you do not need to provide this info- once you complete Step 1 and create an ID and PW, you are all set to go to the link above and vote!

There are a few steps to take but if you knew Rosie, you would take them happily!!