Hand or Machine

My hands. Photo by Rob Howard

(Photo by Rob Howard)

Lately, crown designs have been flooding into my head. In some ways, the drive to create has the potential to turn me into a crazed recluse. While the crowns are cut and then sewn by sewing machine (by my vendors), the surface design is up for grabs. Often I am inspired to do everything by hand. Handwork is special. And handwork allows you to be super inventive with nothing more than tracing paper and a needle and floss. 

During my first 2 years of making crowns for friends, everything was done by hand. If i had an ambitious design, it meant 10 hours of handwork and most likely watching a season of House of Cards. Additionally, hand-beading had become a passion as a result of visiting Natalie Chanin for one of her weekend workshops in Alabama. I became an obsessive beader and beading takes a LONG time. With every bead means a single stitch. It's what makes Natalie's brand, Alabama Chanin so special. 

Now that i have turned the crowns into a business, it has been important to consider time and of course, cost. Enter THE EMBROIDERY MACHINE. With the help of both an embroiderer and my own embroidery machine...it's a new world that includes newly found time and creativity. I mean, why can't a machine enhance one's creativity rather than burden it?

Now, with every idea and every design, i have to decide: hand or machine? This question generates other questions: What will you do if people LIKE the design? Are you prepared to make tons of these? Can you realize your idea with a machine? If the design is "all machine" will it look mass-produced (when it's not)? 


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The key for me has been to COMBINE the two approaches so that i can capitalize on the time-saving aspect of the machine and the spontaneity of the hand. I have done this with the Bloom Collection (machine-embroidered text, hand-beaded flowers). The machine-embroidered text and positioning looks elegant  and how else can you create the effect of flowers growing from the seams of the crown without doing it by hand? 

Future designs will be emerging exploring this balance. In particular, stay tuned for the Town & Country collection, an experiment in crown as landscape.

Ok, time to get back to work.



By the way, we are actually getting the hang of this social media thing so - are you following us on Twitter? following on Pinterest? following us on InstagramLiking us? We just tweeted this out and often pin things to boards like this and this. What is not to love or, should I say "like?"