Thursday, July 30, 2009


5 o'clock crows cocktail napkins and linen tea towels were featured on Bright, Bold, and Beautiful yesterday. If you've never visited this blog before, you should stop by. So much eye candy!

Thanks, Laura!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

new things and a bit of inspiration

I've sewn up a few new things for the shop during the last few days. New patterns, new color, oh my!

linen tea towels
100% linen
trellis stripe / as yet unnamed hot pink cherry pop

linen / cotton blend
binary /
unnamed hot pink cherry pop

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I've loved Japanese prints for as long as I can remember. Technically, they're amazing. To be completely honest, I'd love them on their technical merits alone. Add the formal elements: the line, the composition, the picture plane- so interesting, so masterful, so wonderful! And then the fact that they're beyond beautiful- who could resist?

Lately my favorites have been images of courtesans.

Harunobu Scene at Midnight

Chuban, Nishiki-e 28.7 x 22.2 cm
Publisher: unknown. Date: c. late 1760s

--A night scene in the gay quarters. A girl attendant (kamuro) drops her head and dozes.
A futon (quilted coverlet) is seen behind the courtesan.
-- *
(for a bigger image with more detail, click on the print)

There are so many amazing things about this print. I'm obsessed with the layering of pattern on pattern. And what's going on with the picture plane? The contrast between the diagonal lines / receding space and that horizontal wall that sits in the foreground of the picture plane and blocks half of it... I can't stop looking at this.

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Of course I have to add a shameless plug here. If you like to name things, and you like to win fabric- you should enter my contest! For more details, read the original post.

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* Japanese print image and caption information:
Neuer, Roni, Herbert Libertson, and Susugu Yoshida. Ukiyo-E: 250 Years of Japanese Art. New York, Gallery Books, 1979.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today's 3-for Tuesday features the work of Juli of rukkola. I noticed Juli's pillows on etsy when we were in a treasury together. After looking at her shop, I felt like I was in very good company, indeed! A week or two later, we were in another treasury together. After seeing Juli's wonderful work again, I went into full-on covet mode.

In her shop intro, Juli says, "Rukkola, which got its name from the well- known Italian plant "rucola", is the brand of my design studio based in Hungary, Europe. In harmony of the sharp green color and freshness of its Italian fellow, Rukkola presents an eco-friendly and innovative approach to design!"

My favorite of Juli's items are her pillow cases. They really grabbed my eye the first time I saw them. The fabric manipulation is so tactile and interesting, the colors are crisp and fun and there's a cleanness to the look that I really love. Gorgeous.

Check out Juli's etsy shop to see more.

Monday, July 27, 2009

odds and ends and my first contest

Today is a bit of odds and ends, which seems appropriate since I feel like I've been jumping around from one thing to the next for the last few weeks.

First off, thanks to Lori at Handmade Highway for featuring 5 o'clock crows batik cocktail napkins on Friday. I get so excited when someone features my work- it's like a giant pat on the back. Yay! Thanks Lori!

I've sewn up some of my new fabric into cocktail napkins. So fun! See more in my etsy shop.

Which brings me to my first contest! Are you excited? I am.

I've been naming things right and left. To be honest, I'm burned out. Pattern names, color names, I'm on the verge of calling things 072309-v2.5, and that's really not the direction I want things to go in. So I'm asking for help.

This poor colorway is being called "hot pink". Which is not cool. I've tried all my usual tricks for naming- looking in the dictionary, thesaurus, dictionary of etymology, associative writing, and still, all I've got is "hot pink". Both meh and blah. I LOVE hot pink, I love this colorway and I need a name to do it justice.

Come up with a name for this colorway! I'll pick the winner next Monday, August 3 (A lucky day for sure- 09/03/09!). Your prize, aside from bragging rights, is a fat quarter of binary in hot pink (shown above), batiked and hand dyed by yours truly, wrapped up and mailed right to you.

To win, just submit your color name in the comments and become a follower of the blog. It's just that easy!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

new fabric

The last few weeks have seen a lot of work on new colors and patterns. I admire two color patterns and constantly aspire to designing more of my own, but in my own work I always want to fill up all available space and saturate the picture plane. My two-color work lacks the richness that I love and that hand-dyeing is particularly suited to. Instead of fighting against myself, I'm embracing my aesthetic and going with it.

So, without further ado:

I really like the colors on these first two pieces. Both are good starts but they're missing the layering and richness that I'm looking for.

I love the tone-on-tone blues in the second piece but the value range needs to be rounded out with a deeper blue.

My favorite of the group is definitely this hot pink. Full and saturated, perfect!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

little lost bird

This poor little bird. I'm not sure whether he fell out of the nest, or whether PeteCat was up to no good, but somehow he ended up on the ground by the fence.

Needless to say, he couldn't be left where the cat could get to him, so he was temporarily relocated into this sink outside.

( I love these bird feet.)

The story ends happily. The day after I took these pictures the sink was empty. Little bird must have flown home- there was no evidence of PeteCat's involvement.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Today's 3-for-Tuesday features the work of dye diana dye. Diana, the artist behind it all, uses shibori processes to create her gorgeous designs. Shibori is a resist process, like batik. But whereas batik uses wax to resist the dye, shibori uses the fabric itself. Dye does not penetrate as much into fabric that's bound to itself, and where it does penetrate, it's likely to separate, creating variations in the color.

To quote Diana, "Shibori is the ancient Japanese technique of creating resists for dye. I use hand-stitched resists, such as ori-nui (running stitch over folded cloth, for spirals, stems, and other lines and curves), hira-nui (running stitch on a single layer of cloth, for lines), maki-nui (chevron lines), awase-nui (intersecting arcs, for leaves), ne-maki (little circles), maki-age (bound fabric within a shape for flowers), and mokume-nui (parallel rows of running stitch, for wood grain like striations)."

You can see more of Diana's lovely work on 1000 Markets and etsy.


For more information on shibori, check out the Shibori Museum, and there's always wikipedia.


Monday, July 20, 2009

everything's all a-boil

The past few weeks have been all about new colors and patterns here at 5 o'clock crows. Yards of fabric have been waxed and dyed; now it's time to remove the wax. This part is a little bit like my birthday- I may have some idea of how the fabric will look, but I never really know until the wax is boiled out and the fabric is dried and pressed.

So much of my dyeing process is about changing the state of something and combining opposites. Start with white fabric, add wax, add salt, water, and dye, drain, add fresh water and boil, end with yards of saturated colors and different patterns. I often fancy myself some sort of an alchemist.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
- Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1*

I have no doubt that the magic in the process is what keeps me so hooked. I really don't know what I would do if I couldn't have this level of engagement with adding wax and color to fabric. Preposterous, undoubtedly! But how I love it...

I've been boiling out yards and yards of fabric over the last few days and will continue to do so for most of this week. I'll be posting some preview pics as I get them.

In the meantime, here's a shot of some unboiled hot pink fabric. You can see the top piece from this picture in the boil photo at the top, all friendly with the orange.

I'm loving these hot summer colors. Yum!

*Shakespeare, William. The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works Annotated. Howard Staunton ed. New York: Gramercy Books, 1993.

Friday, July 17, 2009

orange batik fabric

I've been caterwauling to myself for way too long about how much I love orange and how I need to come up with some orange fabric. I've also been working with some new pattern ideas.

This seems like the two great tastes that taste great together, killing 2 birds with one stone, and whatever other cliches come to mind.

Voila! Orange batik fabric, fresh from the rinse water, dripping dry.

Looking at these pictures makes me think of Popsicles and summertime when I was little... smile.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

homemade butter- tasted and approved

I recently discovered angry chicken. if you haven't seen this blog, you should check it out.

There was a post about homemade butter, and since I'm a lover of homemade bread and often have leftover heavy cream hanging around in the fridge, I needed to try it.

Here's the recipe I used: food processor butter . So easy! And so tasty. I didn't use quite enough salt in my first batch, but other than that, perfect!

I wanted to use the food processor because I read about buttermilk splattering out of the stand mixer all over the kitchen when I was researching recipes. Too messy for me! I needed to do this in a closed, secured environment. And boy, I'm glad I did. The buttermilk part was sudden and potentially super-messy.

This is perfect with my homemade bread. I HATE to throw away food, especially spendy heavy cream, which I never can seem to use up before it turns. I love it when things are all pocketbook friendly and delicious.

Speaking of pocketbook friendly and delicious, you should check out this cooking blog: recession recipes. Great, great stuff. So much I want to try! (via photosmashing)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

speeding into the digital age

Spread the love!

Become a fan of 5 o'clock crows on facebook* and I'll love you back with special sales. And no spam, I promise!

*(yes, I know, I no longer have any shame.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Russian Textiles, printed cloth for the bazaars of central Asia by Susan Meller as a Christmas gift. This book is brimming with beautiful textiles.

Right now, these robes keep catching my eye.

Women's Munisak. Khiva (Khorezm region), early twentieth century.
ikat, lined with Russian printed cotton. 47" x 54".

Roller printed cotton cloth. Russia, early twentieth century.
This was an
fabric to print. It required eight copper rollers (one for each color).

Women's Munisak (shown inside out).
Probably Uzbek, late nineteenth- early twentieth century.
Chartreuse handwoven silk, lined with four different Russian printed cottons, 47" x 60"

Roller Printed Cotton Cloth.
Russia, late nineteenth - early twentieth century

I really like the art nouveau influence in the fabric above, as well as the "meatiness" of the leaves. The combination of the sinuous lines and yellow outline, the tonal gradations, the colors- so gorgeous!

Boy's Coat. Bukhara, late nineteenth- early twentieth century.
Silk brocade (probably Russian) with metallic threads,
lined with Russian printed cotton. 30" x 42"

Roller-Printed Cotton Cloth.
Russia, late nineteenth - early twentieth century.

***All images and caption information are from
Russian Textiles,
Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia.

Meller, Susan. Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia, Harry N Abrams Inc, New York, 2007.

Monday, July 13, 2009

monthly goals

I've been working on my business plan over the last few weeks, following along with the Retail: Brick by Brick feature over on Modish Biz Tips blog. I'm so happy to find this, and so grateful for it, since I'd most likely avoid anything that even smacked of business plan if it weren't for Lili Nedved and Henry Sinha telling me exactly what to do. The whole thing is so accessible and do-able. I can't say enough good things about it.

Anyway, while I was looking around on Modish, I discovered this monthly goal setting feature. I decided to participate on the sly.

After a week, I realized why I really need to participate out in the open.

I love to make lists. More to the point, I love to add things to lists. I say to myself, well, if I can have 4 goals for July, I can certainly add 2 more. And then 3 days later, when I've thought of some other things I want to get done, well, I can get 6 things done this month, and then why not 10? And on and on until my goal list has become my master to-do list and I've totally defeated the point of goal setting or prioritizing.

So I'm coming out and posting my goals here for all to see. Visibility and accountability will be my friends.

July Goals

1. double sales from last month
2. diversify product line- design 2 new patterns, choose 2-4 new colors
3. tea towels and napkins in new colors & designs made and ready to post in the shops
4. business plan
5. apply to 1000 Markets
6. apply to arts market
7. organize! paperwork, daily to-do list, schedule, finished product storage

And now I'm not allowed ANY MORE ADDITIONS! This is absolutely plenty to do this month. Anything else on this list is getting into unrealistic territory.

We'll see how I did on the first Friday in August, when I evaluate my progress and set new goals.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

in the garden

I had just finished watering the back garden when I saw the way the sunlight was filtering through the cypress tree and highlighting these leaves.

...a moment of bright light and water.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

new in the shop

All of the new cotton/linen napkins will be in the shop by the end of the week. Yay! In the meantime, here's another teaser.

cocktail napkins
approx. 6" x 6"
linen / cotton blend
bubble chain / gold sand + white

By now I'm sure you know my feelings about making stacks of things and taking pictures of them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I discovered the work of Barb Wills when I was looking through past award winners in the Quilt National show.

In 2007, Ms. Wills won the Lynn Goodwin Borgman Award for Surface Design with this piece.

Layered Structures 64
Silk printed with original relief plates in multiple layers, linear elements created with various bamboo sticks that were inked and printed numerous times, back is sheer fabric printed with inked bamboo sticks, hand stitching with perle cotton.
38" x 52"

The surface treatment reminded me so much of etching, I had to find out more.

It turns out Barb Wills is a printmaker /fiber/ mixed media artist! Sound familiar? I love it.

Here are two more examples of her work.

Layered Structures 93
Shibori Process printed silk on canvas
30" x 30"

Layered Structures 70

relief plate printed silk on mixed media canvas
15" x 30"

You can find out more about Barb Will's quilts and her creative process here.


Monday, July 6, 2009


I have some new sets of napkins that I'm working on getting photographed. I've been taking tons and tons of pictures over the last few days and apparently got a little creative with some of the buttons on my camera.

This shot is totally overexposed but I really like it. It seems appropriate- it's so sunny and bright here, everything seems a little washed out and overexposed.

Friday, July 3, 2009

this and that

So, I've been laughing all morning at the stories on craftfail. If you need a laugh, you should take a gander. The story about the marigold perfume is the best.

In unrelated and exciting news, 5 o'clock crows linen tea towel is featured on yahgie interiors blog today!

Have a great holiday weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

napkin preview

Of course I couldn't resist taking of picture of this stack of cocktail napkins once they were all sewn and finished.

cocktail napkins

approx. 7" x 7"
pattern: bubble chain
from top: gold sand / perse / poppy / lake
hand dyed, batik
cotton/linen blend