Friday Favorites: Meg Callahan

I am inspired by so many things, I decided that on Fridays, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.

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The other night I was at a Seattle Modern Quilt Guild meeting, sitting next to Season (another interviewee here on the blog, coincidentally), and who should sit beside me? Meg Callahan. Meg (who is the cutest, by the way) is a quiltmaker whose work I have long admired, and I think I was the last person to realize that she’d moved to Seattle about a year ago. (I’m so lucky to be around such talented people!) Anyway, I really wanted to know more about her work and she agreed to let me dive a little into her process.

Meg Callahan

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Friday Favorites: Completely Cauchy

I am inspired by so many things, I decided that on Fridays, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.

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Friday Favorite Chawne by Wise Craft Handmade

I’ve very excited to share a little bit about Chawne Kimber of Completely Cauchy today!

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Friday Favorites: Bari J.

I am inspired by so many things, I decided that on Fridays, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.

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Bari J interview at Wise Craft Handmade

I’m so excited to share a little about my friend Bari J. on the blog today! Bari has been a fabric designer for Art Gallery Fabrics for years, and recently did a complete brand makeover to reflect her love of color and beautiful design. A self-proclaimed Curated Maximalist, her creativity is ignited by florals, beautiful electric colors, and pattern. Every time I look at her feed on Instagram, or check in on her new products, I’m always left smiling. Bari seems to really love what she’s doing, and I’m so happy she let me ask her some questions about her process.

Bouquet by Bari J.

Bouquet Series #7 by Bari, acrylic on canvas

Blair: Bari, I’m so excited to talk with you for my Friday Favorites series! You describe yourself as “Wildly addicted to color” on your website, and I just love that description, it seems to fit you well. Please tell us a little about you, what you do, and how color inspires your work.

Bari: I think that color is the most intuitive part of what I do. It’s the thing that comes most natural to me. And in design and decor, I love to look at a lovely white space as much as the next gal… clean lines are totally awesome. But for me, it’s the bursts of color in the white space that bring me joy and peace.

Rose Wallpaper by Bari J.

Graphic Roses removable wallpaper, designed by Bari for Wallternatives

Blair: You have seem to have focused your work and the look of your brand recently, it has a very cohesive feel and a strong message. You have taken some things out of your product line and added some new things in. Can you tell us a little about your work and brand has evolved?

Bari: Thank you! I have done a lot of work, and I’m glad you can see it. First in regards to just the product line: I realized over the past year that there are things I like to do and things that I don’t like to do very much. The things that I don’t like are really just not my strongest suits anyways. For instance, I did not love creating sewing patterns. I can do them, I think the ones I have done are done well, but really, I just don’t LIKE creating sewing patterns. So I simply pulled them from my offerings. Meanwhile, I LOVE creating art. I love color and composition. Those are my strong points. I decided that’s what I needed to focus on. At first it was because I was simply done doing anything that made me miserable in my life in general. But then I realized that as a business person doing the things you don’t like isn’t going to help your business one bit. And certainly having a miserable time creating a product means it’s not going to be a very good seller, if it sells at all. Employing “do what you love” as a strategy has been a really great route for me, and I’m much more successful working that way.

     As for brand messaging, I consulted with a professional branding company and through the work we did I realized that my brand is really truly a reflection of who I am. We worked on picking out key messages and how to implement them. I’m really proud of the work we did because there’s a deep truthfulness to it. It tells my story and focuses on who I am as a designer and a person. There were lots of “aha!” moments during this work where I was like, YES! That’s it! That’s what I’m all about. Having someone else look in at what I was doing and point out the things that I couldn’t see because I was too close was invaluable.
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Bari’s bedroom, filled with her beautiful paintings

Blair:  I’ve loved your gorgeous fabric and patterns for years, but now I’m also in love with your original artwork and prints! Have you always painted? What is your favorite medium- watercolor? acrylic?

Bari: I hadn’t always painted. When I started designing fabric, I worked on a Wacom graphics tablet in photoshop exclusively. I was very much afraid to put anything on paper or canvas. I wasn’t a trained artist. However, now I realize that I was painting all along. I was simply doing it electronically. When I finally picked up a paint brush a little over two years ago, it felt extremely natural. There was just such a joy to it. I couldn’t stop. I wish I could accurately describe the feeling… I guess I could say it was like coming home to a place that I never knew was my home and knowing right away that this was MY place… and also wondering why I had never been there before.
Peacock by Bari J

Peacock Diptych original painting by Bari

BariJ Interview at Wise Craft Handmade

Bari in her studio

Blair: Do you work in a dedicated space? A studio outside the home? How has your workspace evolved over the years?

Bari: Yes, I have a studio in our home. It’s right across from our master bedroom. The studio started out being mostly dedicated sewing space. Now it’s kind of run over with easels, paint and canvases… though there is of course still sewing space because I absolutely love to sew as well.

FeistyFloral by Bari J
Feisty Floral #1 original painting by Bari

Blair: Describe a perfect work day. One that feels like you gave the “have-to’s” and the “want to’s” adequate attention.

Bari: Recently I read a book called “The Miracle Morning”, and it’s really changed how I start my day and what gets done. I highly recommend the read. I currently start my day at 6 am by throwing my workout clothes on and going for a long walk. When I get back I sit silently for just about five minutes… honestly, I’m a terrible meditator, but I’m giving it a massive go, and it truly helps to just have that five minutes. Then I read for about fifteen minutes (a self-help book of some sort… I’m currently reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “The Woman Code”). By 8 am I’m having breakfast and coffee and heading into the studio. Then anything can happen. But because I’ve focused on myself for the first two hours of my day, I get am far more focused while I’m working as well. I usually clear the email box first, and then focus on a list of tasks that I set the night before. I use a paper planner. I have a long term running list of items I must do, and I take no more than five items from the long term list and put it on the daily list. I say no more than five because I’ve figured out that 4-5 tasks is really all I can accomplish. When I put more than that on I end up with stuff on the list at the end of the day and that annoys me. It’s all a mind game. I do need to add a caveat: I do sometimes get distracted by paint. That’s a true story.

Blair: You recently painted the prettiest hashtag I think I’ve ever seen! I love the tongue-in-cheek aspect of images like that. How do you stay inspired and creatively ready for each new piece of work you do?

Bari: Ha! Thank you! That hashtag came from someone saying they were irritated with hashtags. I am a confessed Instagram addict, and I believe in the power of hashtags. Intentional, focused hashtags as opposed to random hashtags, I should say. I could quite honestly talk about hashtags and Instagram for hours on end. I’m passionate about Instagram! But I digress… what did you ask? LOL… I guess I stay inspired creatively by focusing on what inspires me as a person each day. For instance, one painting, “Microburst”, came from a crazy weather system we had here last summer. That sucker was WILD. I had to paint something focused on it.

Blair: Tell us about the “Something Beautiful Tribe” and where can we sign up?

Bari: Something Beautiful Tribe is my free newsletter. Each month I send subscribers a free screensaver for each of their devices (computer, phone, iPad) and a free printable calendar. I’m now adding more content so that subscribers get free decor and wardrobe tips, sewing tips and much more at least twice a month. If you go to my website, there’s a popup to sign up. And it’s all free… my gift to subscribers. I feel like since they let me into their lives via their inboxes, they should get something great out of it.

Spring Soiree by Bari J
Spring Soiree original painting by Bari

Blair: If you could give one piece of advice for creatives who want to grow their business, what would it be?

Bari: I know it’s trite, but I’d say be yourself. I once heard someone say that “your brand is the exhaust fumes of your life”. I take that to mean, no one else is you. If you focus on what your life is, people will be engaged and they will become fans and eventually buyers of your brand.

Thank you so much Bari!
Find Bari at

That Summer

You Cannot Make Everyone Happy

You guys, writing this book is no joke. Seriously. I’m either making quilts, creating quilt layouts, researching quilts, shipping quilts, dreaming about quilts, stress-eating while avoiding making quilts, or otherwise consumed by quilts. My manuscript deadline is looming and if I break a finger, bust a sewing machine, or have one single hiccup, everything could topple.
But on the other hand, I am so gloriously excited about this project! Part of the reason I’m thinking about quilts when I’m not actually making them is because I am TRULY in love with this book! I wake up every morning and am excited to get to the studio and HAVE to make quilts! I have had amazing emails from readers telling me their quilt stories, ones that have encouraged me and cheered me on. I want to produce something that will inspire you all as much as you have inspired me.
The other night I rewatched the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. The first time I saw it I cried like a baby because I’m super sappy. He pulled himself out of what seemed an impossible life situation to accomplish what he’s done, it was unbelievable to me that this actually happened. I wanted to watch it again, to remind myself that everything can seem impossible until it’s done. The actual act of doing it can seem monumental, but once it’s done, it was worth it. And this book, my friends, will be done.
My family has been incredibly supportive of me and what I’m doing this summer. I thanked them on the Wise Craft Facebook page the other day, when I was feeling incredibly lucky to be able to have them. Without them, I couldn’t do this. Some days I feel like I’m in my vacuum, trudging along with my ideas, and then I see images like this one on Instagram, by my photographer, and I am reminded that there are people in my life who are helping me every step of the way.
I could not be luckier.
I imagine looking back on this summer will make me incredibly nostalgic one day. There was not a lot of travel, fun day trips around the city, or movie marathons this summer. It has been a simple summer. That summer I wrote a book I was in love with. That summer I would skip showering in the morning if it wasted too much time that could otherwise be better spent in the studio (I actually can’t believe I just typed that). That summer that I constantly carried around a thick notebook filled with illegible scribbles and scratched drawings, important pages marked with tiny torn post-it notes. That summer my kids learned more to be more self-sufficient than every before, out of necessity (for I am not pizza). That summer that I felt a kinship with quilt makers who made out of necessity, with little or nothing, yet still took the time to make it beautiful.
There are big things on my list, I can’t wait to share more. Thank you all for supporting me on this journey. I feel giddy and grateful.
But first, I will take today to celebrate my son, Ian’s 14th birthday. I can’t believe this kid is 14 (this photo is from 2006, it’s the way he still is to me).
Ian- 2006

That summer my kid suddenly wasn’t a kid so much anymore…
xo,
Blair

Learning to Make Repeating Patterns

blue fans by Wise Craft Handmade
I’ve wanted to feel comfortable using Adobe Illustrator for a while now. Back in what feels like the Ice Age in computer technology (the 90’s), when I worked in apparel design, I used a Computer Aided Design (CAD) system extensively, to make sales pages and color way mock ups, and I loved doing it. I was good at it, I loved being creative on the computer. My need to work on that type of system ended when I left the industry, and I haven’t really done more than dabble since then, rather clumsily too.
Scattered Flower on Dark Blue by Wise Craft Handmade
Last month, I took Jessica Swift’s Pattern Camp, with the intention of really sitting down and learning what I needed to know to use Adobe Illustrator and design repeating patterns, “cram for exam” style. This class is really everything it claims to be, a bootcamp for surface pattern design. Two full days of intensive Illustrator work (a little Photoshop too). If you do the lessons and put in the time, you come out of the two days knowing how to create a repeating pattern in Illustrator. It was the much needed push I needed, and since then I’ve been practicing daily.
Dutch Tulips by Wise Craft Handmade
It’s so addictive! Once it clicked in my head and I finally got it, I wanted to see everything in repeat!
Ditsy Flower by Wise Craft Handmade
These are definitely humble first attempts, but it’s exciting to realize that a few weeks ago none of this made sense!
Pink Flowers by Wise Craft Handmade
I have vowed to continue daily practice until it all really sinks in. Already, what took me an hour at first can now take half the time.
Diamond Flower by Wise Craft Handmade
I don’t know where I will go with pattern design, or if it will go anywhere, but for now, it’s fun to feel confident at navigating my way around the program, and create pretty patterns. The excitement of learning something new never gets old!

Britex Fabrics

Britex front Entrance, Wise craft Handmade
We took the kids on an urban vacation for Spring Break this year, San Francisco. While we were there, I visited the four floors of unbelievable awesomeness that is Britex Fabrics.READ MORE

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