Happy Thanksgiving

It’s Boris’s first Thanksgiving in a vegan household so there will be no human turkey leftovers for him this year. (Don’t worry. He eats a premium vet-recommended cat food. Cats are carnivores after all.) Still, this little cat has a lot to be thankful for, as do his humans. Happy Thanksgiving to you all

NextFab North Philadelphia

I first wrote about NextFab, which offers membership-based maker spaces, when I toured a branch in South Philadelphia. They opened another branch in Philadelphia North American Street in 2020. North American Street, in the Kensington section of the city, continues to grow as an artist and maker mecca with its old factories and cheaper real estate. It’s already home to the Crane Arts Building, The Resource Exchange, ML Woodworking, and is soon to be home to The Clay Studio.

NextFab has a fiber and sewing studio

A 3D and laser printing workshop

A jewelry workshop

A wood shop

They also offer space for metal working and welding, electronics, and offer access to design software. Plus they offer business incubation services and product development assistance services. They offer different levels of membership for people who are interested in exploring what they have to offer and classes for all levels as well as basic safety instruction. To get started, read their FAQs and schedule a tour yourself.

A Walk Around Bok Part 2

This is a continuation of last week’s post my wanderings around the Bok Building during this year’s POST Open Studio Tours in South Philadelphia.

First I landed at the studio of Lynn Snyder and Scott Woyak.

Lynn Snyder

 

Lynn Snyder
Lynn Snyder
Scott Woyak
Scott Woyak
Scott Woyak

Lynn is a teacher and Scott is a pupil at the Studio Incamminati for Contemporary Realist Art, which was my final stop for the day.

Studio Incamminati, which is located on the top floor of the Bok Building, offers fine art instruction that includes degreed programs, high school programs, continuing adult education, and open studios.

Student in the sculpture studio

If you’re interested in seeing what Studio Incamminati has to offer, go to their web site or subscribe to their newsletter, here.

A Walk Around Bok Part 1

I feel as if I am getting behind in my blog posts although I’ve been posting regularly. It’s just that there’s so much going on around me that even if I don’t feel particularly inspired lately, there’s no shortage of creative people around me. That and my penchant for taking pictures everywhere I go.

If you’re anything like me, you love to peek into other people’s creative spaces. Every year, The Philadelphia Open Studio Tours, or POST, gives me the chance to do that without feeling like too much of an interloper. This year, I went back to the Bok Building in South Philadelphia to see some new art studios. WC Pottery sure got my attention!

WC Pottery is aptly named because potter Erik Wright set up a working pottery studio in a small bathroom in the Bok Building. Maybe he played a lot of Tetris as a child?

I live in a small house and I know a thing or two about working in small spaces. But WC Pottery’s space is a model of efficiency beyond what I would have thought possible. I was impressed.

Not an inch is wasted. There’s a sink, a glazing area, and storage, too. And some very attractive pottery you can see on Erik’s Instagram site here and web site here.

I’ll be writing about more artists I met on this years’ POST tour. Stay tuned.

Happy Halloween from Gold Star Park

I was back with Color Wheels this weekend helping kids to decorate Halloween trick or Treat bags in Gold Star Park in South Philly. We had quite a crowd! It was nice to see people out and about on a beautiful Autumn day.

Upcycled Cuff Bracelet

The Fire Mountain Gems website describes upcycling as taking something that is destined for the trash bin and transforming it into something of value and beauty. … This can be as simple as taking a piece of waste paper and transforming it into beads or other useful jewelry-making components.

This is a project from a while back that I made while I was waiting for hand surgery and couldn’t do any projects that involved a lot of banging or prolonged fine work.

First, I ironed some screen printed fabric onto fusible interfacing and sewed it into a tube,

I cut up an aluminum can to the proper size for a cuff bracelet, wrapped it with masking tape, and slipped the fabric tube over it. Then I trimmed the fabric and tucked in the ends.

I sewed the ends shut and attached another piece of screen printed fabric for contrast.

I wrapped the bracelet with some gorgeous vintage rayon embroidery floss and searched my stash of scrap metal and glass for additional embellishments.

And here’s the finished product. That’s a fabric necklace in the background, also made from upcycled materials.

The Center for Creative Works

The Center for Creative Works serves people with intellectual disabilities by helping them to achieve their creative potential. CCW started as a sheltered workshop model in the 1970’s and evolved into an arts program where participants could gain art skills, and sell their art.

You can support this wonderful organization by making a purchase from their online gift shop.

Looking for Inspiration

I must confess that I am feeling particularly uninspired as of late. I’ve been making ceramic mugs in the pottery studio and decorating them with underglaze, but even this seems forced.

The Penn Archeology and Anthropology Museum has been a great source of inspiration for me in the past. Flea Markets are a great source of inspiration, too. If those don’t work for you, the Huffington Post offers a few suggestions to stoke your creativity. I find that the best thing for me is to take a long walk and to try to look at things differently.

So last week, I revisited a Philadelphia neighborhood I lived in years ago which happened to be hosting a vintage flea market on a beautiful fall day. Even if the walk didn’t open the inspiration floodgates, I figured that at least I would get some exercise since I walked to Powelton Village and back from my South Philadelphia neighborhood. And got to look at Center City Philadelphia architecture from the west rather than my usual eastern view. Architecture can be another source of inspiration.

I’m not feeling inspired yet, but when I do, you’ll be the first to know.

Reaching Out Creatively

I have to admit that the prospect of free food where I don’t have to go out with some creepy guy has always held a measure of attraction for me. So when I met the women pictured below at Art for the Cash Poor,

And saw the tasty baklava, and kolwashkor rolls stuffed with pistachio nuts, I was sold.

Seriously, they were there representing the Arab American Development Corporation which has a branch in Philadelphia. Aside from tasty desserts, and a henna tattoo on my hand, I came away with a better understanding of the Arab American community in my own backyard.

Their web site contains an abundance of information about Arab American identity and culture. Take a look. Below are some links to posts I’ve written about Arabic contributions to the arts.

Build Yourself Some Furniture

I don’t need any furniture. I have a house the size of a postage stamp and every space is taken. But if I needed a table or chairs or stools, it would be so cool to build them myself. I have to confess that I have a soft spot in my heart for women who use power tools and an even softer spot for power tool-using women who are small business owners. Michelle Lipson of ML Woodworking, who I met last weekend at Art for the Cash Poor, checks all the boxes.

Michelle

Michelle is a furniture maker who decided that she is happiest when she is teaching others how to make furniture. She relocated from Brooklyn to a spacious studio on North American Street in Kensington, and opened her school.

Michelle teaches classes and private sessions for all levels of woodworkers. No experience necessary is for most classes, and instruction on safety and technique are provided on all machines. If you are more advanced, you can also lease a workbench in her shop and work on your own schedule.

If you want to learn more, go to the website and sign up for the newsletter.