Woman Crush Wednesday: Margaret Kilgallen

This week’s #wcw is artist Margaret Kilgallen.

She created murals indoors and on the streets that pay homage to American folk art, printmaking, and letterpress, and recall a time when personal craft and handmade signs were the dominant aesthetic.

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margaret_kilgallen_kms002I like her statement from the PBS film about her and her husband Barry McGee (also an artist):

“I do spend a lot of time trying to perfect my line work and my hand.  But my hand will always be imperfect because it’s human.   If I’m doing really big letters and I spend a lot of time going over the line and over the line trying to make it straight, I’ll never be able to make it straight.  From a distance it might look straight, but when you get close up you can always see the lines waver.  And I think that’s where the beauty is.”

margaret_kilgallen_kms003Margaret died of breast cancer in 2001, less than a month after giving birth to her daughter, Asha.  She was 33 years old.  It’s tragic that her daughter had less than 30 days in the presence of her mother.  On a hopeful note, Margaret leaves behind an incredible collection of imagery for Asha to connect with.

margaret_kilgallen_kms004Margaret Kilgallen is one of my all-time favorite artists and her legacy is undeniable.  Photos of Margaret and select pieces of her artwork are below.

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Left: Barry McGee with daughter Asha. Right: Margaret Kilgallen

 


fiber art crush

Every time that I sit on my couch I think of artist Sonya Young James.  She is a textile designer and fiber artist based in Atlanta, Georgia and she inspired me to make a wool, hand-felted throw that hangs over the back of my couch.

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The throw has been on the back of my couch for some time now so it now more “matted” but when I first finished the piece it was much more fluffy as you can see in the photos below.

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sheep curl sky scape

I hand-felted and needle felted the entire piece with roving wool and sheep curls.  I purchased all the wool that I used from an Etsy store called La Tea Da Designs based out of Southern California.  Felting is a process that I really enjoy because I like the smell of wool, warm soapy water, the repetitive motion of needle felting and the magic that transforms loose wool combined with a bit of soapy friction into one solid piece.

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Although I made a bunch of pompoms as well they didn’t seem right for my throw so I didn’t include them.  However, they make great hairpieces for kids.

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Alex with a pompom hairband

 

Below are photos of five of Sonya’s finished pieces that first inspired me to make a wool, hand-felted throw:

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Her wool throws are warm, inviting, and somewhat quirky.  I fell in love with them instantly and knew I had to try to make one, too.  I researched Sonya’s work and found that she documents a lot of her process in her Flickr account.  I particularly love the photos where she’s felting the wool by dragging it behind a van and drying her finished pieces out in the sun.  Sonya is a “maker” and it’s obvious that she’s a true lover of nature and all its wonderful shapes, colors and textures.

Below are a few of my favorite photos from Sonya’s Flickr account.  You can buy some of her work from her Etsy page or through Anthropologie.

 

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And lastly, this is not one of Sonya’s pompoms below, but how cute would this addition be on your couch!?

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paper backdrop tests

While conducting some inventory overhaul at work I came across a piece of tattered, gold paper.  I could still see some beauty and potential in this paper and used it to conduct some initial backdrop test shots with product placed in the foreground.  I used an X-acto knife to cut a triangular pattern in the paper and worked with my photographer friend, Michael, to create lighting and shadow effects that would add more depth to the overall pattern.IMG_6753_goldI really liked the results of the first test, but I wanted to take it further because I knew that a monochromatic backdrop would be more subtle and allow for more lighting experimentation.

kms_background_test0001I chose a charcoal roll of paper for the second backdrop test and I literally had to work on top of it in my tiny studio.

IMG_7179_resizedThis is Michael (below), my photographer friend who helped me conduct the backdrop tests.  Here he is standing in front of the backdrop against a white wall.  I like the sense of scale that this photo provides…and I love his smile here.

kms_background_test0002The results of our second set of tests are below.  We were both really happy with the results.  I styled the flowers and Michael lit the paper from several different angles which changed the look dramatically.   The possibilities are endless and I love how light and shadow interact with a simple piece of paper to create such variety and depth.  I will definitely experiment with more paper backdrops and also devise a way to make them more durable for reuse.

 

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kms_background_test0015Here’s what you can do with the paper scraps when you’re all done.

 

Jude + Alex with backdrop from Katie Maeve Scott on Vimeo.


Homemade deodorant project

I have made a few coconut oil-based deodorants from scratch in the past but I was disappointed that they turned into a runny mess the moment that the temperature rose above 72 degrees Fahrenheit. While in Los Angeles I found a sample of Fat + The Moon Deodorant Cream at ReForm School and realized that the key ingredient for solidifying the deodorant is beeswax.

I found the perfect, beeswax + coconut oil based deodorant recipe on a blog called Becoming Peculiar. I asked my two nieces, Dara + Keira, and my friend Renee to test out the recipe with me this past weekend. We spent Sunday morning making unique, herbal blends of deodorant and even designed our own labels so that we could give some of the jars away as gifts. This was a great project to work on together, especially because it drives home the power you have within your own kitchen to make clean, healthy alternatives for body care.

The homemade deodorant recipe and some photos from our day are below. As an added bonus, the essential oils that you use in your recipe will fill the kitchen with their delightful scent while you’re heating the batch.

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Recipe for Homemade Deodorant

  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch (or corn starch, but arrowroot starch is nice if you have sensitive skin)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp grated beeswax
  • 5 drops tea tree oil (*essential ingredient due to its antibacterial properties)
  • 5 drops of some other essential oil (i.e. bergamot, clary sage, grapefruit, etc.)

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Begin by melting coconut oil and beeswax together over a double boiler. Rest a heatproof bowl inside a small saucepan of water and heat it gently, stirring constantly, until the beeswax and coconut oil are melted.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir it all together into a runny paste. Pour the deodorant into two 2 oz. jars (alternately you can also use an empty deodorant container). The mixture will begin to thicken right away so you’ll need to work quickly. Allow the open jars of deodorant to cool to room temperature.

When the deodorant has fully cooled, secure the lids and make pretty labels for your jars.

Give one away as a gift and keep one for yourself.

To use: Warm a bit in your fingers and apply to your pits.

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clever way to sniff test the essential oil blends

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We unanimously voted that our favorite title for our homemade deodorant line was this one, “None of Your Beeswax”

 

 


rainbows, bananas and boobs

I’m deeply saddened by the departure of a co-worker friend.  Today was the first day that I did not have her by my side at work.  I miss her support, her laughter and her impeccable eye for detail.  I saw that her name tag was still up, her cube empty, and I felt hollow inside.  I was tempted to take her name tag but the facilities personnel would probably discover me clinging to it desperately.  Her departure leaves an empty space and I honestly felt like crying today at work.  At least she is moving on to an exciting opportunity and I’m very proud of her!  It’s amazing how having someone that you click with can make the toughest work load seem light.  Not too long ago we took a moment to escape from a hectic-microsoft-excel-overdosed-day and enjoyed the view of a double rainbow outside our office.

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On another day she left a banana sitting out on her desk and I drew a sweet little face on it to greet her when she arrived.  She snapped this photo below.

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And she also helped rekindle a favorite hobby of mine- making burlesque-esque costumes!  She asked for some assistance with a Halloween costume that she knew she wanted to wear again, but it needed a few more finishing touches.  Here are some shots of her Katy Perry-esque bra (I sewed and glued on the furry “icing” with some remnant fabric).  We could not stop giggling when we saw this costume come to life. I want to make more of these and I’m thankful that she rekindled my passion for this craft.  Thank you AEL!

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we could NOT stop laughing!

Recently I also came across some photos that another friend posted on a social network site of some burlesque bras that I made for her a few years back.  I was so pleased to see that not only are they still being used for burlesque performances, but also that they’ve held up to the wear and tear over the years (they’re 3 – 5 years old)!

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bear bra

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robot bra (Photo courtesy of Timmy Samuel at Starbelly Studios Photography, http://www.starbellystudios.com/)

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robot bra

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Christmas bra

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Christmas bra (Photo courtesy of Timmy Samuel at Starbelly Studios Photography, http://www.starbellystudios.com/)

Making more burlesque costumes will definitely keep my spirits up!

xo


down the tube…

This is a crafty way to get rid of any toxic cosmetics that may still be polluting your makeup bag.

Make a five-minute art project out of it.  It’s much more fun that just throwing it away.

Can you smell the “fragrance?”  Adiós a los tóxicos!


The Seea Swimsuit

-The Seea Swimsuit-

-An amazing Birthday gift from my love-

It’s a one piece suit, and like their website says, “These suits are made for you ladies, so enjoy them and play often.”

See more of The Seea’s amazing styles here.  For anyone who burns easily in the sun, this suit is for you.  It is so comfortable and well-made.  Not to mention, a locally crafted and 100% Californian product.

Ahhh!


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