Tag Archives: Abuelita

My Owls and the Today Show…

Sooo… a wonderful friend wrote to me not long ago to suggest that I enter my embroidered owls in a contest being held by the Today Show. They were looking for the best in “Made in America Style.” The winner was announced and it’s fair to say that my little owls never stood a chance. They’re just in a different category of “hand made.”

Not wanting the 1,000 word essay that I wrote in the hour before the application was due go to waste, I’m  posting it here for your reading enjoyment. Hope you like it…

Rainbow Owls custom ordered for two lucky little girls.

My “American Maker” Story:

First, a little family history. My grandmother is a seamstress. Not in the way that most people’s grandmothers are seamstresses, though. She worked for Bob Mackie and Nolan Miller. So while my friends’ grandmothers were making dresses for their Barbie dolls, my grandmother was making dresses for Cher and Carol Burnett.

My abuelita came to this country as a Mexican immigrant with very little. And, like most people who grew up poor and having to do without, she was (and is) very careful not to waste things. So it really bothered her to watch scraps of beautifully beaded lace swept up with the trash at the end of every work day. In fact, it bothered her so much that she would collect these scraps and bring them home. To this day, she has dozens upon dozens of tiny jars filled with beads that she cut free from these scraps and then sorted in her limited free time.

As a child, I marveled at these little jars of “jewels” and would watch fascinated as they made their way onto Christmas ornaments and delicate table runners. My Abuela can make magic with other people’s “trash.”

When I picked up a needle for the first time since childhood, I was a graduate student in need of a hobby to help me unwind (and give me something to do during Minnesota’s brutal winters). I was far from my home in Los Angeles and terribly homesick. I think that sewing made me feel a little more connected to my home and my family.

Picking up a needle wasn’t easy. My grandmother had tried to teach me how to sew when I was a kid– but I wasn’t very good at it and she wasn’t very patient. So I abandoned the trade and, in the subsequent years, forgot almost everything she’d taught me. Now, more than twenty years later, I found myself buying a “how-to” book to teach myself some basic stitches and wishing that I’d had more perseverance as a child.

The first projects I remember being really proud of were felt sugar skulls. A friend of mine liked them so much that she offered to sell them in her boutique candy shop during the Halloween/Day of the Dead season. They were a hit. I couldn’t believe that people were actually willing to pay for something I had made with my hands.

Feeling gratified and encouraged by my modest success, I opened up a little Etsy store and started selling other pieces of my artwork. Everything I made was a reflection of who I was and of my family’s immigrant experience.

The felt owls that I have submitted for your review are inspired by the brightly painted owls crafted in Southern Mexico. Many of them boast a “sugar skull” tummy panel in homage to their Mexican roots. They are cut from 100% wool felt and are completely hand stitched and embroidered. Best of all, they are embellished with the beads and sequins that my grandmother “rescued” from Bob Mackie’s studio floor.

I like to think that these owls represent what can be done when you don’t give up on learning. I hope that you like them.

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Happy New Year!

I won’t begin the year self-flaggelating by saying that I am the “worst (craft) blogger in the world”… but I will admit to perhaps not being the most attentive. I’m glad that blogs aren’t people with feelings because this one might start to feel a little neglected. And the less said about my Twitter account the better. If Twitter were a person, @AndCorazones would be dying of loneliness and talking to itself while rocking in a corner.

It should go without saying at this point that I’m not the most media savvy person around.

That said, it should also come to no one’s immediate surprise that I managed to travel 1,933 miles home for Christmas WITHOUT A CAMERA. “Surely,” I reasoned, “someone at home would have one that I could borrow.” Alas, in this age of cell phone cameras, that turned out not to be true. And really, what’s a craft-blog without pictures? So there you have it folks: my sad, pathetic reason for not updating this space in so long comes down to my inability to pack even the smallest of digital cameras into my suitcase.

Luckily for me, my good friend Renata showed up with her trusty, blinged out, Hello Kitty iphone (iphone cameras are NO JOKE) and took a few pictures for me so that I would have something to share with the two people who read this blog and here they are:

1. I never get as much done as I think I will when I go home, but one of the things that I DID finish was this little blue and white owl. He (She? I think Renata might have decided that it was a girl-owl) was a New Year’s gift for the aforementioned lovely with the iphone.  The body was constructed entirely out of 100% wool felt– which was really a pleasure to work with– and trimmed with vintage beads and some new sequins.

On her way to her new home...

And 2.

Go ahead and laugh if you like, but I Love (with a capital L) the thing I’m about to show you after the cut:

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