SewExpo 2015 Washington State’s (and the Nation’s) largest retail sewing show

Today is the fourth and final day of the annual sewing and stitchery show at the Washington State Fair Grounds.  We are wrapping up our first time exhibiting at this unique event.  The last time I was at the fairgrounds  was as a newlywed visiting the 1995 Puyallup Fair (since renamed the Washington State Fair).  The scones, oh my the scones.  These amazing treats have been a part of the Fair since 1910 and I was happy to enjoy a warm one yesterday.   Twenty years ago Lori and I had just started our marriage and business.  Today finds us with a maturing business (and marriage) and thousands of dollars in hand dyed silks at a sewing show.  Next year we will be better prepared with small project kits for silk flower making and fabric embellishments.

Our silk customers have recommended this show for years and now we know why!  With over 30,000 paid attendance we were happy to find the aisles full of crafty customers.

The Sewing and Stitchery Expo SewExpo is the largest consumer sewing show in America.  There are more than 100 daily seminars, workshops and shows.  There are over 400 booths packed with tools, supplies and fabrics.

I spoke to attendees from South Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Idaho, California and Texas.  I saw a license plate in the parking lot from Tennessee!

You can buy a four day pass for $40 or visit one day for $12 to see a non-stop series of demos on the Free Stage and fashion models on the Expo Runway.  The daily hands-on classes always draw a crowd as participants learn a new technique and leave with a finished project.

We hope that if you found us there this year you will be back for more silk ribbon next year and if you have not attended this event before you will come see what all the fuss is about.

Our most popular item by far this year was our silk ribbon remnant bags followed closely by the five minute silk flower project found here: http://crazylittleprojects.com/?s=five+minute+fabric+flower

Family Photography – Photobomb, or how to take a bad family photo – tips from a product photographer

As a dad I love to look back at photos I took of my children. I enjoy seeing both my children and skills as a photographer grow with time. One thing I have been very grateful for is how my kids have tolerated my sometimes intrusive camera. I am not a fan of the staged photograph preferring to catch my kids ignoring the camera. I spent so many years snapping away gently asking them not to hide their faces, not to react to me at all that eventually they listened. They no longer mug for the camera, they just continue about their business, letting me get the shots that they enjoy flipping through on the annual family calender.

One down side to having a camera in your hands so often is that I am commonly the one asked to snap the family portrait. That is too much responsibility for me. I am always disappointed with the result, not happy with the light or angle or staging, never pleased. I always feel rushed, inadequate and unprepared. I don’t like the spotlight and holding the camera with everyone looking into the lens makes me uncomfortable.

I just received an email from family we visited in December. They sent a pair of the shots I took the last time they handed me the camera. We had just spent the last several days visiting their wonderful new home and were getting everyone into the car to head back to Seattle. They handed me their camera and asked for a quick shot of the cousins together and then one of their family.

Not happy with the camera glare, I should have stepped a little closer to get out of the direct sunlight. I don’t have the skills or knowledge to make that kind of automatic adjustment. I could have been better positioned, I could have taken a few more just to be safe but I wanted out of the spotlight quickly.

I guess not everything is passed down from father to son.

Kevin
farris2farris

 

Walking the New York Now Wholesale Gift Show 2015

Feb 3 2014

As I left the hotel this morning the brisk morning air quickly bit through my open buttons and found its way under my scarf, undoing the work of the hot shower in seconds. I saw a line of bundled up hotel guests entering the shuttle bus headed to the convention center, eight blocks away. I was momentarily drawn into line with them, eying the dirty slushy snow piled against the curb. But the sidewalk was clear, freshly salted and dry and I could not resist another walk to the Javits Center for day three of the gift show. I find walking to be very rewarding and cannot understand how more people do not celebrate their health in this simple way.

By the time I reached the convention center my body and mind were both ready to face another day of telling people about my work. I am a very private person by nature and have found this part of my job to be the most difficult. I do not value the work I do as highly as I am commonly told I should. I am very self deprecating, knowing that there are folks far more talented than me. Spending day after day, telling people why they should have our goods in their store is not my favorite. However, traveling to New York, walking the streets of this city, is a reward very worth the cost of being here.

Kevin Graham

Seattle Bride Feature – A question of etiquette for the modern couple

Seattle Bride Magazine Cover

As a wedding professional with 20 years experience, I am regularly consulted on proper etiquette.  I always reply with two things in mind; what I already know about the event in question and what would kindness dictate?

In most answers I attempt to influence my customer with kindness as the guiding principal.  Should we include everyone’s name on the invitation or just the bride’s parents if they are issuing the invitation?  If you risk hurting someone’s feelings, choose kindness.  Should we send thank you notes to every guest that attended or only ones that brought gifts?  Were you happy that they attended?  Send them a note to express your thanks.  Choose kindness.  Should we include information about our gift registry on our invitation?  Do you want your guest to feel like a gift is their admission ticket to your wedding?  Don’t mention gifts with your invitation.  Having your family and friends witness your wedding vows has nothing to do with loot and everything to do with supporting the new couple from the very beginning of the sometimes rocky journey that is a marriage.  Choose kindness.  Don’t cheapen your ceremony with the slightest impression of greed.

If someone is asking their invitation guy for advice; they are either trying to find out quickly without doing their own research or they are checking to see if their mom is really right.  In most cases, mom is right so listen to her first.  She represents half of the invited guests and knows what is common or appropriate for those guests.  You may need to temper what mom offers up as there are two families being joined and they may have different ideas of what is proper.  This can be based on cultural or regional etiquette that is best to work out with the families involved.  What this becomes is a learning moment for the bride and groom, one of many in the planning of the event.  You need to ask the question of each other “Is it important to you that we are formal or casual in our planning and execution for our event?  Once you agree on the tone you can ensure that you follow the etiquette that represents the proper level of formality.

To ensure that you follow proper etiquette for your event you really have to have a conversation (or several) with your parents, with your bride or groom to be, with your wedding planner, and even with your invitation guy.  Once you have gathered the myriad opinions I suggest you make your decision based on kindness.  There really are a million ways you can plan your special day and once you have decided what is proper for your event, there will be opinions contrary to yours.  If you do choose kindness, it will never be the wrong answer.

Kevin Graham

January 14, 2015

Of The Earth

A quote from this article was published on page 50 in the January 2015 edition of the Seattle Bride Magazine.

 

 

 

End of the year recap – Looking forward to 2015

This time of year always has us scrambling; rushing to pack and ship orders in time for the holidays, rushing to get gifts wrapped for friends and family, rushing to complete our end of year inventory, rushing up and down I-5 to visit our loved ones.

Now that the new year has begun the next rush is on.  Our annual local bridal show begins next weekend at the Washington State Convention center which was built right over I-5 where it passes through the center of downtown Seattle.  We have new designs to add to our existing line of plantable invitations.  We have new equipment going into this bridal season that we bought at last year’s Stationery Show in NY.  We have just 7 more days to put the finishing touches on the invitations that we hope resonate with our Seattle customers.

Once that show is over we begin building a new (sturdier) crate for the NY Gift Show that runs Jan 31 – Feb 4 at the Javits center.  At the end of February we are excited to be participating for the first time in the largest show of its kind in the nation: The SewExpo http://www.sewexpo.com/.  We are excited to be part of the show and look forward to meeting many of you there.

We are excited to see what these next few months bring but want to give a quick shout out to a couple of our 2014 customers who shared their photos with us.

Here is a photo of our Earth Silk ribbon that Heather Edgar sent.

customer photo2

She runs her own business: Evergreen Flower Co. of Columbus, Ohio and was kind enough to send these beautiful photographs.  Thanks Heather!

Earth Silk ribbon on a flower bouquet.

Earth Silk ribbon on a flower bouquet.

One thing we love about the Seattle Wedding Show is the special connections we make with our local brides.  We met Rebecca and Thomas at last year’s wedding show along with Rebecca’s mom.  They were that couple you meet who you can see married forever, their shared energy and enthusiasm were infectious.  We had a great time working with them on all of their wedding plans, this pair was doing it all!  They loved that we offered so many do it yourself options as they were planning to do just as much as they could (including making their own rings).  After their event they shared their wedding web site with us (which is where this photo is from).  You should take a look!

Seattle couple assembles Of The Earth invitations at home.

Seattle couple assembles Of The Earth invitations at home.

Lastly we were excited to work on these holiday cards with a great creative team from Darien, Connecticut.  Thanks for letting us share your project Jim!  GW Hoffman

Front of seed paper holiday card.

Inside of seed paper holiday card.

Inside of seed paper holiday card.

 

Earth Silk Hand Dyed Sash Wedding Gown Success!

We are so fortunate to have such wonderful customers!  We recently were contacted by a customer who celebrated a fall 2014 wedding who just wanted to say “Thanks” for our contribution to her wedding day.  We had worked with her to find the right silk color for her wedding, not realizing until receiving the photos just how prominent our Earth Silk ribbon would be on display on her big day.  It was so wonderful to have a window into her event and see the happiness on display.  Thank you so much for sharing!  We love how beautiful you made our silk ribbon look!

Earth Silk ribbon in beautiful fall tones.

The beautiful bride wearing a hand dyed Earth Silk ribbon sash of her own construction.

Hand dyed silk ribbon ties bride and wedding together

Earth Silk sash ties autumn wedding details together.

Wedding gown with an Earth Silk Sash

Earth Silk hand dyed ribbon sash on a wedding gown.

Photographer: R.T. Photography, Louisville, KY
Alterationist: Heather Brown Alteration, Louisville, KY
Flowers: By the Bride, Erin Tims

Pocket folds are finally here! DIY invitation pocket folders in Lotka handmade paper

Handmade paper pocket fold invitation

Lotka pocket fold invitation

Lotka pocket fold invitation 13 x 7

Handmade Lotka pocket fold invitation

We are loving our new die cut machine and all of the wonderful dies that we have to experiment with.  For our 2015 bridal season we hope to stun the brides with these unique, highly customizable, earth friendly invitation suite holders.  These are currently being made in all of our card weight stocks.  Both the cotton and the lotka handmade papers display wonderfully.  Pictured here are the lotka fibers.  We offer the seeded papers too!

 

Lotka pocket fold invitation

Lotka paper pocket fold invitation

Currently we have them sold only as single pieces.  Coming soon will be full invitation suites with reply cards, custom printed invitations and envelopes.  We will also be adding options for you to embellish these and make them more personalized with matching ribbon, belly bands and hand dip dyed edges.

 

You can find the new pocket folds here, invitation_pocket_fold order your sample or set today.

Earth Silk Sample Cards – At long last; longer lengths!

Silk ribbon sample set

Hand dyed silk ribbon sample set

Since we started our silk dying studio in 2010, we have known there was a need for this, now we have finally made it happen.  The Earth Silk Sample Set gives you a look at our 90 blends in a new way.  The 1 inch wide lengths will let you see how the dyes interact with the material in a more informative way than our 5/8″ swatches can.  The eight yard lengths allow you to see how the patterns that form on some of our blends, repeat.  Unlike the swatch card where the silk is grouped in numerical order, on the silk sample cards we have arranged them by color.

Earth silk sample sets

Hand dyed silk ribbon sample cards

You can find these sets on our samples page here  custompaper.com/samplesets.

We have numbered them on both sides, with the silk overlapping by a half inch.  You will notice that the ribbon’s number is centered on the correct color.  You can also use the web site as a quick reference if you are unsure.

 

The gift that keeps on giving

I love giving a beautifully packaged gift but struggle with the potential waste produced by feeding my pleasure in that.  Being a paper maker and ribbon artists I am surrounded by beautiful products and ever expanding combinations of colors, flowers and materials.  This year I have some new items to add to my packaging arsenal.  Plantable gift tags printed with beautiful water color designs.  Not only are they functional but they will biodegrade and produce an array of wildflowers.

flower gift tagFlower gift tag back

These tiny seed paper tags are printed with a watercolor reproduction of four of the flowers that will sprout from this paper. Three each of the four prints are included in each package for a total of 12 cards priced at $3.50 a set.  They measure 2.25″ tall by 1.25″ wide, and look lovely attached to a wrapped gift, bundle of bake goods or tucked into a bouquet of flowers being delivered to a friend.

 

 

Love blooms!

The staff at Of The Earth have been having a great time creating new products with our recently purchased dye cut machine.  One of our new favorite items are these plantable hearts.

hearts

printed forever heart

They come in plain or printed seeded white cotton paper (shown above) as well as seeded pink or purple larkspur paper .  Packaged in sets of 50 they retail for $11.00 a pack ($15.00 if printed).

pink larkspur heart

purple larkspur heart

All of our paper is tree free and produced in our studio in Seattle, Washington.  You can buy them here: heart_shapes and on Etsy www.etsy.com/shop/flowerseedpaper