Category: musings

Discovering Rufus Porter

Discovering Rufus Porter

My recent design rabbit hole started with a desire to create a historic looking mural for our home. Somewhere in my search for folk art painting techniques I stumbled upon one Mr. Rufus Porter and the rug hooker in me took over. His motifs struck a chord. While I’ve yet to paint anything, I’ve been enjoying designing rugs inspired by his work. This little footstool is the first of many to come.

I’ve been dabbling with woodworking lately. This primitive little stool paired beautifully with my Rufus Porter inspired rug.
It took some trial and error to get the background colors just right for both mood and visibility, but I love how it came out.
The knot in the wood became the perfect little accent to the “legs” of the stool.

Dye Trying

I swore I’d never dye.  I have so many stashes and work stations and the rest, I just didn’t feel like taking on one more endeavor.  But a dearth of sunny yellows and primitive reds for some of my post popular designs, in addition to a pile of unsuitably colored specimens culled from my cashmere box lots, pushed me over the edge.  The days are barely warm enough to venture outside for more than a bit at a time, so I hunker in the workshop and hobble together tools and supplies.  I barely follow the directions, but am feeling successful with my first efforts nonetheless.

My first attempt at capturing my desired yellow tones for the sunflower pillows was a success!
I kept adding various wools to the dye pot over the course of an hour and ended up with a range of red tones that I am quite happy with.
February Tease

February Tease

It was an unusual early February day yesterday. The temperature hit the 50s. It was sunny and beautiful. So much so that I left the oversized slider in my studio open so I could enjoy the balmy air. My dogs clustered on the threshold as one side or the other of it would show too much commitment on their part. I worked at my hooking bench– I hook standing up– barefoot with a mug of hot vanilla milk tucked nearby. And I finally figured how to handle the border of a loosely geometric design.

Primitive Trencher

Primitive Trencher

We are renovating an old farmhouse.  There is a lot of very cool stuff ending up in the dumpster.  So, yeah.  I’m the crazy lady dumpster diving in her own dumpster to salvage cool things.  I also needed a way to display a new yarn I’m designing with AND I was home alone with the workshop all to myself.  So I made a Primitive Trencher.  This is the first of several that ended up happening…

Doesn’t it look like I know what I’m doing??
Clamp-ons.

Wax on.
Complete. The perfect yarn trencher for Loch Lomond, a beautiful and very earth-friendly yarn by BC Garn. Both the Trencher and the Yarn are available at The Barn at Todd Farm in Rowley, Ma.

Red Work Embroidery

I’m not sure if these all should be considered embroidery samplers or embroidery doodles, but I do know I’m having fun.

I don’t plan or draw anything in advance. The Red Work Chics just evolve as I take needle and thread to antique flannel.
Each chick is weighted so it can easily make its own stand.
Swedish Fish! These are each filled with organic french lavender.
The Swedish Fish are designed to be hung or used as bowl fillers. Serve them up your way.
New Year, New-ish Me

New Year, New-ish Me

It’s a whole new baby year and I’m just beginning to emerge from my post holiday season recovery period.  After the last show was broken down and packed away into the barn, I nestled in to a short but much needed period of reflection.  My tendonitis needed me to pursue activities outside my normal routine, too.  As a result, the web site got an extreme makeover and I couldn’t be happier with it.  I’ve added a new domain, as well—  JessWrobel.com .  I know this probably seems like no big deal to you and that it probably even makes more sense, but for me this is huge.  This is me shedding off some of my anonymity and stepping out from something I’d been hiding behind.  My business name has long been Jwrobel.  The reason?  Back when I got my very first apartment and my very own phone (this would be a land line) it was considered safer to use a gender neutral initial for your first name rather than advertise that you might be a single woman living alone in the phonebook–remember those??  Have the times changed?  Gender equality and sexual harassment are certainly being talked about more than I recall in my lifetime, but it is too soon to say if this national conversation will be enduring or where it will take us.  I’m encouraged and for now I’ll welcome my own little bit of personal growth.  I’m Jess Wrobel, and I make things.

Must Love Kale

Must Love Kale

I kid you not.  We are something of kale junkies around here.  Veggie junkies, really, but we have our soft spots.  I haven’t had a garden for a few years now, but we are starting to feel settled in our new digs and decided to literally put down roots.  I have never attempted kale before, but took the plunge this year.  After a tiring but hugely successful weekend as vendors at The Vintage Bazaar of New England this past weekend, I’m now ensconced in Home.  A glass of wine, dogs at my feet, hubby contentedly sipping his cocktail while the thunder softly rumbles and the rain comes down.  Earlier today I tended to the garden that was abandoned over the weekend.  When you are doing an outdoor show, you pray for sunny and dry.  My garden was definitely dry.  But it made weeding easier and the generous soaking we are getting now is refreshing everything.  Two armfuls of kale were harvested.  I’m investigating kale recipes with a focus on slaws.  It is all remarkably wonderful.

Under the Apple Trees

Under the Apple Trees

Never has a photo session been so inspired. I threw open the doors and hauled a favorite chair out under the apple trees. My dogs padded behind me befuddled, but delighted with the diversion. And never was I happier to be taking care of the business end of business.