From Studio 109A: Artist to Advocate

June 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm (From Studio 109A)

artspacehighresLast month marked my eighth year at Artspace. At the end of this month, I will move out of a building that has come to mean so much to me personally and professionally.

In 2005, Fiber Artist Sharron Parker and Linda Ruth Dickinson welcomed me into Studio 217 with open arms. Madonna Phillips encouraged me to take my “funky” art on the road and apply for regional and nationally known juried shows.  Max Halpern gave me a crash course in art appreciation and history. Judy Crane encouraged me to develop my leadership skills, welcomed me to The Executive Board of Artspace, and exposed me to the business side of Artspace.

Catherine Thornton encouraged me to visualize outside the box. When I moved downstairs from Studio 217 to Studio 109A, Ann HarwellPat Scull, Susan SoperSusan Parrish, and Marriott Little  transformed a building into a community and a workplace into a home away from home.

Trapeziste Necklace, Collaboration with Catherine Thornton

Trapeziste Necklace, Collaboration with Catherine Thornton

One of my fondest memories and truly one of my finest hours professionally was the collaborative Through The Looking Glass exhibition with Susan Parrish and Emily Cash Wilmoth.

Alice in Wonderland Brooch

Alice in Wonderland Brooch

And not a First Friday has gone by in over a year when somebody hasn’t talked to me about the Studio 109A Project Runway Challenge, a project which marked my transition from jewelry designer to fiber artist.

The Art of the Matter - Episode Six

The Art of the Matter

I truly could not have taken this journey without my family’s love and support. When I moved into Artspace, my son was six and my daughter was two. My son is now entering high school and my daughter is ten. As I mentioned in my last blog post, my daughter was diagnosed with autism last February. The last few months have been challenging. The love, support, and friendship from my Artspace family and some new friends have made these last few months bearable.

In the art world, there are no labels and the artists within these walls, have been non-judgmental and accepting. The real world, unfortunately, is not so kind, especially to those who color outside the lines, march to the beat of their own drum, or are truly exceptional in their own right. A friend of mine says I have found my voice. I suppose that is true. Of course, I will always be an artist. But I am first and foremost a mom and now, an advocate.

So, with that, auf wiedersehen from Studio 109A. See you soon!

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The Road Less Traveled: Welcome to Holland (or not)

April 7, 2013 at 4:36 pm (The Road Less Traveled)

Miss Raleigh USA, Miss Teen Raleigh, and my daughter.

Miss Raleigh USA, Miss Teen Raleigh, and my daughter.

So most of the “Road Less Traveled” posts on this blog have to do with places I have traveled that have inspired me. Since February, though, I have been on a more emotional journey, one that has been compared to a trip to Holland and has made for some unexpected bedfellows.

Two months ago, my ten year old daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Soon after, many of my friends, as well as The Autism Society of North Carolina, shared with me Emily Perl Kingsley’s 1987 essay “Welcome to Holland”. While the Welcome to Holland essay’s sentiment is one I hope to embrace someday, I would liken these last two months since my daughter’s diagnosis to a different kind of tour. The catalyst for this “tour” analogy came after a therapist asked me if I was comfortable with my daughter’s diagnosis.

“I am riding a donkey down the Grand Canyon, slowly, poking my way down one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Some days something sets me off and steers me off course and my donkey goes plunging off the edge with me still on top. Some days your well meaning questions and comments compel me to grip the reigns tighter and dig my heels in deeper. So, am I comfortable the diagnosis? No. I am holding on for dear life so I don’t fall of the edge.” [From my own journal post, March 2013]

April is Autism Awareness Month and coincidentally enough, it is now that I finally feel that I, along with my family, have turned a corner.

At a friend’s suggestion, my daughter decided to turn her fear, anxiety, and sadness over her diagnosis into a project. She put together a team to walk for the Inaugural Triangle Walk Now for Autism Speaks next week. She also coordinated a spirit night/fundraiser to support Autism Speaks at Tijuana Flats, for which I ended up on the evening news to promote the event. Watching myself on NBC 17 that night made me realize how far we had come. Back in February, I couldn’t utter the word “autism” without crying. Last week, I was on the evening news promoting Autism Awareness Month.

I also have seen many of my friends, as well as some unlikely allies, step forward to show their support. Last week, Miss Raleigh USA 2014, Marcie Trivette, joined my daughter and I at Tijuana Flats to show her support and solidarity. Marcie’s passion/platform is raising autism awareness in honor of her 15 year old brother. Check out Marcie’s Blog Post on meeting my daughter and Miss Raleigh Teen USA, Lexie Qualle at Tijuana Flats.

Last Friday night, I was able to pay it forward, finally being on the giving end of “it’s better to give than to receive” spectrum. Studio 109A hosted an old fashioned bake sale to raise funds to send two deserving kids to Camp Royall, a camp for autistic children run by The Autism Society.

This summer, I will move out of my beloved Artspace and Studio 109A to spend more time at home with my family. Of course, I will always be an artist and perhaps someday I will return to Artspace. For now though, this Road Less Traveled is taking me in a different direction.

“So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place… But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.’

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.” [From Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley's, 1987]


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The Only Constant is Change

July 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm (Artist Musings) (, )

This week I returned to Studio 109A after about a three month leave. The Artspace I returned to is a very different place than the one I left. First of all, so many of my friends have left the building (literally). There will be no more group lunches, birthdays in the hallway, or cakes made of tin making the rounds from artist to artist.

The studios downstairs are now filled with new faces, emerging and established artists, who bring their own perspectives to Artspace. When I first moved into the building seven years ago, I was the only jeweler in the building. Although there had been jewelers working at Artspace before me, the sounds and smells radiating from my studio were somewhat unfamiliar, and I would venture to say, disturbing to the artists around me. Today, there are four other jewelers in the building, all of  whom have studios down the hall from Studio 109A.  Sandra McEwan and Sara West moved in this summer. Megan Clark, who has been at Artspace over a year, moved from her shared studio upstairs to her own studio space downstairs.

Textile Artist Mary Kircher is the current Regional Emerging Artist downstairs. She is joined by two other Regional Emerging Artists (Nancy VanNoppen and Scott Welsh). Andre Leon Gray and Emily Howard also moved into the building as The Community Artists in Residence. The Summer Artist in Residence is  Jonathan Brilliant, working in Gallery One.

Catherine Thornton, Talking Heads

Of course, there are still remnants of my friends, great artists who I have come to respect and know, lingering in the hallway, the lobby, and The Upfront Gallery. If you happen to make it downtown in the next couple of days, don’t miss Catherine Thornton’s solo exhibition, Talking Heads, a humorous commentary in clay on today’s election cycle. Also, be sure to catch Marriott Little’s Four Decades of Art exhibition, a retrospective highlighting her forty year career. And you can still find Ann Harwell’s work displayed outside her old studio, as well as Addison Paige’s art quilt hanging outside of Studio 109A.

I must say, the day I returned to Artspace, all of the changes were a bit unsettling. As the week has passed though, I have seen some of the old, familiar faces and have reacquainted myself with Studio 109A. It is true that the only constant is change. I believe how we react to the change reflects our character. It would be easy for me to be fearful, angry or even paralyzed by all of the changes around me. However, in the last couple of days, I made a conscious decision to embrace change and live by the immortal words of Alan Watts: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

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Empowering Our Girls One Stitch at a Time

March 15, 2012 at 2:48 am (Art Unravelled)

My grandparents, Ralph and Rebecca

When my grandfather moved to this country, he became a tailor. He created beautiful garments. My guess is he was taught to sew by his mother, Reina (who I have a picture of somewhere sewing). He started three sportswear lines named after his three children, Renee Sportswear, Estelle Sportswear, and Mark Sportswear. I suppose he dreamed of passing those skills (and businesses) down from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, like most children, my mother, aunt, and uncle had other plans and all pursued other professions. None of them ever learned to sew. So, last year, when I took up sewing, I inherited my grandfather’s scissors. When I am at my sewing machine, I often imagine him sitting next to me and smiling, whispering under his breath in his beautiful, native Spanish tongue, “hija mia” (my daughter).

Last month, my beautiful daughter, embarked on a project, which truthfully a year ago, I could never have imagined. She and her friend, two Junior Girl Scouts, both nine years old, started working towards their Bronze Award, the highest Girl Scout award a girl at this level can receive. They conceived of a project to help children at UNC Children’s Hospital (one of the girls comes from a long line of Tar Heels). But because of their young age, they were limited as to what they could do. They could host a collection drive, which would meet some of the Bronze Award requirements, but they wanted to do more.

Enter Diane Moore, Founder, President, and Executive Director of Striving For More.  In June of 2008 Diane’s family’s life was tragically turned upside down when her daughter Colleen died of Osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer).  During Colleen’s 9 month battle with this disease, the family had Colleen cared for at three different hospitals and saw distinctly different levels of care in the area of emotional and spiritual support for children and their families. After Colleen died, Diane created Striving for More and has dedicated her life to providing emotional and spiritual support for critically and terminally ill children and their families. Colleen was nine when she died, the same age as my daughter and her friend.

One of the programs Diane’s organization funds at both UNC and Duke is Beads of Courage. Beads of Courage are designed to let children with cancer  commemorate their personal cancer journey. Every time a child has a  procedure—whether a chemotherapy infusion, radiation therapy, bone  marrow aspirate, blood transfusion or other procedures—they receive a  special bead from a member of the medical team to add to their “courage  bead necklace.” During the course of treatment, many kids will receive as many as 1000 beads.

Diane teaching one of the girls about Striving For More.

Diane met with my daughter and her friend to talk about the Beads of Courage program. She explained to them that one thing they could do to help was to make a special bead bag for some of the 500 children undergoing treatment at UNC. Bead bags give children a special place to store the beads that they cherish when they are not able to wear them. They also give them a special way to easily carry them back and forth from the hospital or a special keepsake location to store them while they are off enduring difficult tests or procedures.

It seemed that within days of making contact with Diane, my daughter and her friend had chosen enough fabric to create 100 bead bags (in honor of the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts). The only obstacle standing in both girls’ way was their lack of sewing skills.

On a Sunday afternoon, both girls sat in my dining room for their first sewing lesson. Almost two weeks and fifty-one bags later, I think it is safe to say, that they have graduated and are well on their way to becoming skilled sewers. I have faith that my grandfather, along with Diane’s beautiful daughter, Colleen, are smiling down on them, encouraging them, and empowering them with every stitch.

Sewing a bead bag lining, wearing her gold ribbon supporting childhood cancer and Striving For More.

My daughter has been asking me to teach her how to sew for months. I always felt she was too young, but realize now that I was just being too lazy. We need to empower our children, especially our girls, which is the true meaning of the Girl Scout program in the first place.

It has to be fate that my daughter and her friend stumbled upon a project that represents a marriage between the sewing skills of my grandfather and my own love of beads.

There are 1000 children being treated at UNC Children’s Hospital and Duke Children’s Hospital combined. So far, only about 300 have bead bags. If you or your organization would like more information, or to download free instructions on how to make the bead bags, visit

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Our Lady of the Perpetual Party

February 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm (Art Unravelled)

“In desperation [Janis Jopilin] dumps her bag onto the floor of the limo. Its contents are truly awesome. Janis has a baglady’s compulsion to carry her whole life with her. There are: two movie stubs, a pack of cigarettes, an antique cigarette holder, several motel and hotel room keys, a box of Kleenex, a compact and various make up cases (in addition to a bunch of eyebrow pencils held together with a rubber band), an address book, dozens of bits of paper, business cards, match box covers with phone numbers written in near-legible barroom scrawls, guitar picks, a bottle of Southern Comfort (empty), a hip flask, an opened package of complementary macadamia nuts from American Airlines, cassettes of Johnny Cash and Otis Redding, gum, sunglasses, credit cards, aspirin, assorted pens and writing pad, a corkscrew, an alarm clock, a copy of Time, and two hefty books-Nancy Milford’s biography of Zelda Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel.” David Dalton, Piece of My Heart

Next May, I have a solo exhibition of purses at Artspace entitled Arm Candy. The purpose of the exhibition is to explore the contents of women’s handbags throughout history. When doing the research for my exhibition proposal, I came across this description of Janis Joplin’s purse, which got me to thinking… how have handbags (and their contents) changed throughout the years.

Writing up the exhibition proposal is easy. Coming up with a collection is hard. So, last week, I  created a story board to help guide me through the design process. For me, a story board consists of pictures that inspire me. It gives me direction and helps me focus on creating a cohesive body of work. Normally, I would create my story board in a sketch book, but thanks to Pinterest, I can research historical handbags on the internet and “pin” inspirational pictures to my virtual bulletin board.

I have to be honest, when I was introduced to Pinterest a few months ago, I didn’t understand it. According to the Pinterest website, “Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.”

So, here is the link to my virtual bulletin board. Now, it is off to the studio to create. Until next week…

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An Artist is Like an Athlete…

January 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm (Artist Musings)

An artist is like an athlete… An athlete does not dive into a sport without some sort of warm up. I am the same way. When I haven’t been working in the studio for a while, I do a warm up project before diving into new work.

So, after taking time off during the holidays to be with my family, I returned to Studio 109A earlier this month, dusted off my tools, and started working on my warm up project, a carpet bag.

When I think of carpet bags, I think of Mary Poppins  pulling her umbrella, a lamp, and even a hat rack out of her magical, red bag of tricks. I always wanted a bag like that, so I decided to make one.

Sew 70's Project Runway Studio 109A Purse

When I visited Mary Jo’s Cloth Store last fall, I purchased a cordurroy fabric with that Mary Poppins  image in mind. I used some of the fabric on the Sew 70′s Project Runway Studio 109A purse but saved the rest. The end result is my version of the carpet bag, which like Mary Poppins’ bag did for Jane and Michael, opened up my imagination to all sorts of possiblities.

With Project Runway Studio 109A behind me, it is  now time to look to the future and design my first collection, Arm Candy, which will be on exhibition at Artspace in May. I will continue blogging weekly as I did during Project Runway Studio 109A to document my progress and look forward to sharing my new work with you.

Carpet Bag

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Project Runway Episode 12: The Finale Collection

November 12, 2011 at 9:41 pm (Project Runway)

One designer, twelve challenges. This is the Studio 109A Challenge.

That is how I started this series of posts about the Project Runway Studio 109A Challenge back on August 10th, about one week after Project Runway Season 9 started. It’s three months later, and this post marks the end of Project Runway Studio 109A and the completion of my last challenge.

Project Runway Season 9 Episode 12 challenged the designers to create a mini collection that emphasized their overall fashion vision. The designers were taken to Governors Island in New York,where they drew inspiration from the beautiful sculptures, extraordinary views and landscapes.

Since I have never visited Governors Island, I decided to draw my inspiration from The North Carolina Museum of Art Park, which is home to over a dozen sculptures, wooded trails, and scenic paths.

Gyre, 1999, by Thomas Sayre

Crossroads, 2005, by Martha Jackson Jarvis

The Conversationalist, 1997 by Chakaia Booker

After spending a beautiful fall North Carolina afternoon walking the trails with my family, I came upon The Conversationalist  by Chakaia Booker made of interlacing repurposed tires. As an artist who has made a career of using repurposed objects in my work, I knew that this was the starting point for my final challenge.

I started with a black synthetic knit fabric. I was drawn to the texture of the fabric, with its woven silver metallic threads, which reminded me of how the the sculpture looked from a distance. I picked up a spool of imitation leather trim, a dark gray cotton for the lining, a lot of interfacing and fusible fleece.

The end result is an elegant evening bag, which even my Tim Gunn wannabe husband said was a nod to The Conversationalist sculpture. I would describe this bag as elegant with an edge, which I think definitely represents me as a designer.

Finale Purse - Project Runway Episode 12

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Armed with inspiration from all of the Project Runway Studio 109A challenges, new techniques, and a boost of confidence from selling my first bag, I am off to create a collection of handbags and accessories to show during a solo exhibition entitled Arm Candy, which will open at Artspace in Downtown Raleigh next May.

I will continue to blog about the collection, my work, and what makes me tick. And with that, I pronounce myself the winner of Project Runway Studio 109A and say my final auf wiedersehen.

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges.

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Back to School and Blogging for The National Postal Museum

November 11, 2011 at 2:42 am (Artist Musings)

I think it’s really important to give back, especially as an artist. Today’s elementary, middle, and high school students become tomorrow’s art collectors. This week I had the opportunity to blog about my experience teaching fourth grade art on The Smithsonian National Postal Museum blog. Below is a copy of the post. The original post can be found at the Pushing the Envelope Blog. This is the third time I have had the opportunity to be a visiting artist in the schools. I was proud to be a Visiting Artist in The Dade County Public School System in Miami for two consecutive years as part of my participation in The Coconut Grove Arts Festival. I spent a day each at Southwest Middle School and Pincrest Elementary School (the elementary school I attended).

Fourth Graders at Partnership Elementary School Love the National Postal Museum’s Curriculum

By: Guest Blogger Lauren Van Hemert, Parent Volunteer Teaching Art

I am a parent volunteer teaching art to 57 fourth graders at Partnership Elementary in Raleigh, NC. Like many schools, we don’t have a large art budget or even an art teacher, just a team of enthusiastic parent volunteers who coordinate art projects on a bi-monthly basis.

I am always on the lookout for free resources I can bring into the classroom. Since the fourth graders love using technology, online games, activities and slide shows are a big hit.

So, I was thrilled to find The National Postal Museum’s Design It! Giving Voice to America curriculum for upper elementary school students. Since we only have art twice a month, I was not able to divide the curriculum into four lessons, but used the online resources to create a 60 minute lesson plan, at the end of which the students designed their own North Carolina state commemorative stamps.


The Postal Museum’s curriculum and online resources not only reinforced the elements of art the students have been learning since the beginning of the year, but also tied into the Wake County’s Fourth Grade Social Studies curriculum, a bonus not only for teachers, but also for home school parents as well.




At the end of the lesson, one student suggested I call The National Postal Museum to say that this was a ‘fun and great’ class. The students were so enthusiastic about the lesson that one of the fourth grade teachers even asked me to provide her with a link to The National Postal Museum’s Activity Zone so that the kids could complete some of the online activities during their free time.

Many of our students may not ever have the opportunity to visit a Smithsonian Museum. My goal this year is to bring our nation’s great museums, like The Smithsonian, to them, a kind of virtual field trip made possible through the use of free, educational lessons, materials, and resources like that of The National Postal Museum.

As for me, a mother of two, I can’t wait to visit the museum the next time I am in Washington, D.C.

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Project Runway Episode 11: This Is For The Birds

November 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm (Project Runway)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a  quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“The Raven”, Edgar Allen Poe

There have been a couple of times this season when I thought the Project Runway people were a bunch of cuckoos (The Stilts Challenge). So it should have come as no surprise that one of the challenges quite literally was for the birds.

“We begin with our fourth Advertorial Challenge (but who’s counting!). This one is different. For starters, it’s L’Oréal. Second, there are birds waiting for the designers back at Parsons as their next challenge is announced: they must create a high-fashion runway look inspired by a cockatoo, a parrot, a raven and (if you look closely …) an owl!” [Former Project Runway Contestant Nick Verreos' Blog]

I was drawn to the raven and unlike many of the challenges before, I knew exactly what I was going to design before the episode was over.

Many months ago at a high end fabric store in Miami, Rex Fabrics, I found a black embroidered polyester fabric, which I fell in love with. Since then, I have found comparable fabrics at a fraction of the cost at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia, NC and even Joann’s Fabrics.

What I love about this fabric is its wavy texture, which gives the cloth an almost feather-like appearance (hence, the raven).

Fabric in hand, I set out to create an oversized clutch. I have played with the wristlet and evening bag clutch shape and size, but this time wanted to make something even larger.  The end result is a rectangular bag measuring 17 ” x 9 ” with a chainmail strap and white satin lining.

I have to say I love this bag and realized this past Friday night during the First Friday Gallery Walk in Downtown Raleigh how far my sewing and design skills have come from the first challenge.

For the Birds Purse -- Project Runway Episode 11

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So, one challenge to go. Until the next post (which I am hoping will be towards the end of this week), auf wiedersehen.

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges.

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Project Runway Episode 10: Sew 70′s

November 4, 2011 at 2:38 am (Project Runway)

And now back to our regularly scheduled program… Between being out of town for my brother’s weddidng and working on the “What Women Want” challenge, I got a little off track. Like many of the Project Runway contestants, I think at this point in the Studio 109A Challenge, I also lost my drive, but I am back on track and determined to finish out the season.

So, Episode 10 found our designers creating a modern look inspired by 70′s fashion. When I think of the 70s, I think of browns, earth tones, and prints.

“The ‘browning of the seventies’ was really a reaction to the psychedelic color  palette of the late sixties.  We’d had enough of The Magical Mystery Tour; now it was time for some marijuana infused color schemes of brown, light brown, dark  brown, red-brown, or orange-brown…. and maybe just a little bit more brown. Accent it with some Harvest Yellow, Avocado Green or more brown, and you’re in  business!” []

On trend, my inspiration came from a paisley corduroy print I found at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store. Christian Dior had his paisley 70′s ties, Guy Laroche his 70′s paisley skirt suit, and Yves Saint Laurent his 70′s paisley peasant blouse. Fast forward to Fashion Week’s 2011 Spring Collections and paisley was prominent.

Vivienne West Spring 2011 Runway Look

“As everyone is aware, the 70s has been the prominent trend on the runway this season.  Synonymous with the psychedelic 70s is the print of paisley.  To modernize the style, designers have been bringing new colors into the print and adding bits of color blocking.” [Cleveland Free Press, May 15, 2011]

Corduroy paisley print in hand, I created a crossbody bag, which is on trend for Fall 2011. I love incorporating hardware on a purse, so I added the twist lock and grommets (from which the strap is attached) to give the paisley print a modern spin.

“Here’s one fashion trend that’s high on style and function. Cross-body purses are cute and stylish, and they’re also the Bluetooth of bags (they keep your hands free).” [Speaking Chic Blog]

Personally speaking, having two kids and needing to keep my hands free, the crossbody bag is my day-to-day bag of choice.

Project Runway Episode 10: Sew 70's Bag

Of course this bag and all of the other bags will be on display this Friday night during the Gallery Walk in Artspace Studio 109A in Downtown Raleigh’s City Market. Also on display at Artspace is the “What Women Want” inspired 25th Anniversary Commemorative Bag and all of the other silent auction gala works of art.

So, two more challenges to go. Until next week, auf wiedersehen.

Hosted by supermodel and fashion maven Heidi Klum, the hit reality series Project Runway provides budding designers with an opportunity to launch their careers in fashion, under the watchful eye of mentor and Liz Claiborne Chief Creative Officer Tim Gunn. In August, Lauren Van Hemert launched her own version of Project Runway in Studio 109A (her Downtown Raleigh Artspace Studio), in which week after week she is creating accessories inspired by each of the Project Runway Season 9 Challenges.

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