Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Art for Change

My grandmother gave me a bag of clothing from the late 60's early 70's and there were some fabulous things in there. Some of them were so fabulous that I had to, um, tone down their fabulousness. Today I cut up a pair of brown plaid polyester/wool flared pants and I made it into a nice long scarf. I lined it with some Indian sari fabric that I found in Doha. All I have to say is somebody better buy this scarf on Sunday because if they don't it's mine. I took this picture at night and it does not do the scarf justice. Oh, did I mention there are elephants on the sari fabric. 

Meandering Design will be at Art for Change this Sunday, November 4th in Logan Square. Come out and support local artisans. A portion of the proceeds will go to support Crossroads Fund. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Changing perspective

I was listening to a Ted talk given by Phillippe Petit and I was inspired by something he said, "Faith is what Replaces Doubt". Now, Phillippe Petit must have a whole heck of a lot of faith because he is the gentlemen who has done amazing feats on the highwire, including a high wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. 

I believe his statement resonated with me because it acknowledges that we do have doubts. It is what we choose to do with those doubts that make us choose a life of status quo or to live a life full of passion, or joie de vivre. I am going to work on replacing my doubt with faith.

I figured this photo was appropriate for such a quote because it was taken at my friend Pat's church, Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She took me there at a time when I was in need of fellowship and faith. She also took me there because it is a Saarinen designed building that has been beautifully preserved, including a room full of mid-century modern furniture. I was like a kid in a candy store. 

This photo was taken using my vintage Ilford camera (that I found on Portobello Road in London) and Ilford film. KMC

Friday, October 26, 2012

“But I like shiny new things!": thoughts on how to ease yourself into upcycling and handcrafting (part 1)

Start with what you already have at home or what you could use – Look around your living space.  Chances are that you already have projects awaiting your attentions.  That really awesome pair of wool pants is waiting for you to adjust the length and redo the hem, the boring scarf could use some colorful accents, the pieces of cedar that some one left in the back alley (yes, I do live in Vancouver, BC) could be used to make the key holder that you need, and on and on.  Look around and get started!

projects and more projects
Plan before you gather - Be realistic about your storage and work space…especially if you live with others.  When you let your creative side take charge, chances are that you will come up with thousands of ideas for projects.  That is a great thing, however, you may find yourself gathering the materials that you need for all those, and other projects, all at once.  Clutter will take over and soon you will be wishing that you had space to work on your projects except the materials will be in the way.  If you are going to be working on more than one project, it helps to work on multiple ones that use similar materials and/or tools.
Sharing = Learning - Sharing ideas, knowledge and materials are great aspects of upcycling and handcrafting.  This community of interesting people with which to network is a cool bonus.  That is how you get to learn new stuff, save time by learning from others’ mistakes, and maybe even get to score free materials for your next project.

-by KQ

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blogging and food

There is a reason why I am not a food blogger-I like to eat. While I love to cook and I do ascribe to the mise en place philosophy of cooking I want it to be done so I can eat it. I did have to share this recipe because it is delicious in its simplicity. Goat cheese, tomatoes, chives (I used rosemary), crispy bread and an egg are baked to crispy goodness. I should point out that this was delicious even without the prosciutto.

The only reason there was an after picture was because it had to cool down for a moment before I ate it.

I highly recommend that you subscribe to What Liberty Ate Magazine. It is a gorgeous online magazine full of photos, information and recipes. I found this recipe in the Spring/Summer second issue. I think I'll be trying the Pavlova with honey cream and strawberries soon. KMC

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"What are you going to do with it?"

So far, I have heard that question every time I tell people about one of my newest projects.  I guess that it is a valid question, yet I do not understand why I get puzzled looks from them when I reply, "I am going to write on it."

You see, I recently decided to make paper using the cardboard cores of toilet paper and paper towels as the source of fiber for pulp.
I love paper!  In fact, I love it so much that some times I hold onto certain sheets of paper for years until I get just the right pen to write on it, or until I get the perfect idea to sketch on it that would jive with the awesomeness of the paper, or I wait until my handwriting changes to a font that would fit the look and feel of the paper. Sometimes, I just wait. 
My love for paper started early on in life.  Back in 1986 (give or take a year), I made my first batch of handmade paper as an assigment when I was in art school.  The process was great fun, that is until I burnt the motor of our neighbour's blender... which I then replaced it using my allowance money.  That event prompted me to add an item to my "notes to self" list under the "handmade crafts" category... "When getting the pulp ready for paper making, (1) soak the fibers ahead of time and (2) blend with lots of water."

Now fast forward to 2006 and there I am in Tasmania (yes, in that little island south of Australia) driving to the Creative Paper Tasmania Mill/Studio ( to take a tour as well as participate in their hands on demo.  It was great and definitely encouraged me to keep paper on the top five list of craft skills in which I want to focus.
It does not come to my surprise that I am at it again.  This time however, my focus is on using 100% post consumer recyclable materials for the pulp, and especially since it rains so much here in Vancouver, it seems fit to use rain water for the paper making process... a process that does require quite a bit of water.  More over, the attached plan to this ever growing project is to apply book binding techniques such as this awesome one, by Molly Brooks of, to make neat notebooks and sketchpads.
So this is the part where you get to ask "And what are you going to do with the notebooks and sketchbooks?"  Well, I am going to write on the one I keep and the rest will be up for grabs at our Meandering Design shop.  I will keep you posted and let you know when they go on sale.

sheets of paper hanging to dry

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Brilliant Night

Last week I went to Mignonette Bridal on Belmont for Craft Bar's First Friday. Another Fear Experiment member invited me and I'm glad I went*.  It was fun because there was one area where people could take a strip from an old tshirt and make it into a flower and another where there were ribbons and buttons and sparkly bits and bobs. I found a piece of blue stiff tulle and folded it up and wrapped it with ribbon and put some buttons on it. I then attached it to a hair clip. It was fun to fuss with a bit of fluff and make it into something wearable. 

After that I went to the Cornelia Arts Building for their monthly open house. I got to see my friend Doug Birkenheuer's photography. His work is beyond words. Keep an eye out because they will be having another open house on November 16th and if you have the opportunity to go, please do because there are so many fabulous artists gathered under one roof.

*Fear Experiment has been amazing, exhilerating, tiring, scary and every contradictory thought I have rolled into on. What it has been overall though is fun and within only one month I have met some wicked amazing people. Please come to the show. Tickets are available here and the show sells out so buy now-

Also, if you are interested in going on this crazy, mad fun adventure applications are being accepted for the next round-

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Something old becomes something new

 My grandmother gave me a bag of her old clothes from the 1970's and it was a treasure trove. Most of the items are just a little too 70's to keep as they are and I will be revamping them and they will be available to purchase through Meandering Design. Except, I could not bear to part with this one because I absolutely adored the print.

As you can see, as a dress, the print practically screams 1970's polyester.

The wide lapel gives you an approximate idea of its age!  

Yet, when I take off the top of the dress, the skirt that emerges is quite lovely and actually au courant in its color scheme and pattern.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm squishing your head

Some of you may have noticed a new addition to Meandering Design. I'm pleased as punch to announce that my friend, and maker extraordinaire, Sheska will be creating fabulous things for the shop from her perch in Vancouver. I think her bio best describes why I'm so happy to have her join me in this venture-

Krusheska (Sheska) Quiros, whose alternate persona is "Razorwinged... more than just a little butterfly", is the Usable Crafts Maker and Spatial Logistics Director at Meandering Design. Sheska has an insatiable need to collect and apply knowledge, and to make usable things. That combination meant she: pursued a Masters degree in Anthropology and an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts Accredited by Le Cordon Bleu (just because), sewed custom backpacks and bags for her brother, dad and others, built a greenhouse, drafted sewing patterns, made holiday cards using the traditional printmaking form of etching, utilized open source software for various projects, patched her favorite jeans to keep them going and altered them so they were better for bike riding, traveled the world cooking for an international circus, took up crocheting like a duck to water with intense concentration and perfect stitches and in her free time she goes bouldering. She is not constrained by one medium but utilizes everything at hand including paper, fiber, metal, food, beverages (she makes a mean Mexican hot chocolate), electronics, software and whatever she can manipulate to do her bidding.
Sheska and I share many of the same values. We both believe that we can do good for the environment by upcycling, we have a strong respect for artisans, crafters and makers, we both love to share our passion through teaching, we both have a voracious appetite for new knowledge, and we are both constantly making things. Sheska brings a more utilitarian aesthetic to the table, and while she can appreciate my love of 1960's floral polyester, she isn't going to be wearing it anytime soon. 

I think I summed up our partnership best on our "About Us" page when I said-
Together Kandy and Sheska make up Meandering Design. An engaging clash of Victorian and modern, romantic and industrial, and Luddite and technophile. These two individual design styles create a harmonious tension within Meandering Design. Regardless of style both designers are influenced by their need to repurpose items and give them a new life, along with a new story, and by a profound respect for good design.
You will also start to hear her very unique voice on the blog, on facebook, and on twitter.

Monday, October 15, 2012

All new

Meandering Design's website has been updated to include a calendar of events and a link for classes. If you were thinking about taking a class, now it is easy to sign up for one. You can continue to follow this blog, or you can come follow over at It will be the same content, but the other site has the links to my outline on world domination.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Find out what happens... when really brilliant people... start getting real...While I completely changed the narration to MTV's Real World (it amazes me that I watched the first season on MTV) that is the best way I could sum up the Entrepreneurs Unpluggd event I went to the other night at the Chopin Theater. It was an evening of sparkling wit and scintilating presentations.

The first presenter was Emerson Spartz who is the founder and CEO of SpartzMedia. The man is a bloody genious. No, he really is. I'm not going to go into his bio, except to say that he accomplished a lot by the time he was 12, and just continued on that trajectory. While one would think that brilliance is intimidating, Emerson Spartz has so much passion for what he does, he is also a self-proclaimed nerd, that you can't help but be inspired by him. He spoke about opportunities and ideas, but those need to be backed up with data. The man loves data.

Jill Salzman is the founder and CEO of Founding Moms and she is a pistol. She also did a Ted talk, which makes her a rock star in my book. Jill saw a need, women who were mother's and entrepreneurs were isolated, and she started a Meetup group. Then she just kept expanding even when conventional wisdom said expansion was wrong. As she said, go with your gut.

Matt Matros is, as he stated, the Managing Member of an LLC, for Protein Bar. His message was similar to Jill's, he saw a need, followed his passion and now he's expanding his business. Matt advised us to set goals and follow them. He said to look at the data, but you only need 80% of the data to make a decision, so go do it. Matt noted that Paulo Coelho in the Alchemist says “When a person really desires something, all the  universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” That is how I am trying to live my life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mighty Life List

I've been meaning to make a list of dreams and goals and things I want to do for awhile. I learned recently that when you put things out in the Universe that they happen. Partly because you are doing the leg work to make it happen, but also partly because when you say something like "I want to open a Crafty Coworking space in Chicago" people say that's a great idea and sometimes they even ask how they can help make it happen, or they connect you to people that can help make it happen. I am seriously blown away by the craft/indie community here in my beloved home town. Blown AWAY! Then I was reading Inward Facing Girl (a blogger I admire and I love the layout of her blog) and I clicked over to her Mighty Life List and I had an "Aha" moment. Awhile back I had a small life list and I actually did many things on that list, but I have grown and changed in ways I could never imagine and that list needs to grow and change as well.

Mighty Life List
  1. Find a vintage building and restore it.
  2. Open a Craft Coworking space in Chicago to teach classes, host events and have studio space.
  3. Design the quiet zone in the craft coworking space. 
  4. Spend a month traveling throughout France collecting textiles, craft knowledge and speaking French.
  5. Visit Norway so I can visit Marimekko and some of the other fabulous places with textile.
  6. Speak in public about something I love.
  7. Teach a craft class in the UK.
  8. Draft a line of my own patterns.
  9. Write a book.
  10. Be a guest contributor on a blog.
  11. Finish a quilt.
  12. Take a vacation to a place where I can incorporate bike riding.
  13. Be a guest lecturer at a university.
  14. Finally get my tattoo.
  15. Release a seasonal clothing line.
  16. Create a line of home accessories. 
  17. Create a fabric line. 
  18. Sing at the Park West. 
  19. Take a horseback ride in Hyde Park. 
  20. Have a booth at Renegade. 
  21. Finish reading Moby Dick. 
  22. Go to Angola and Morrocco to learn new craft techniques. 
  23. Get a proper mint tea tea set.
  24. Return to Iraq to visit friends. 
  25. Only say yes to something if the response is Hell Yes.
  26. Create space to do the things on my life list.
  27. Clear out my closet and replace it with things I love
  28. Buy only what I love and what will last.
  29. For every thing that comes into my space, something must go.
  30. Take a cooking class.
  31. Cook once a week. Just cook something.
  32. Go for a motorcycle ride. 
  33. Write a poem
  34. Send someone a letter
  35.  Make a little something and give it away
  36. Leave an ATM (Always Trust magic)note
  37. Fly a kite
  38. Do yoga (this is another just do it!)
  39. Make it to the Etsy front page. 
  40. Write a business plan.
  41. Help others with their life lists or connect them to someone who can help.
  42. Be featured on a design blog- any of the one's on Mighty Girl's list will do!
  43. Be more patient/kind
  44. Swim in as many seas as possible
  45. Find out where my family was from in Poland and visit their town.
  46. Bake Macarons
  47. Get myself a kitchen aid mixer
  48. Learn how to use Twitter
  49. Take a ballet class
  50. Give back through Meandering Design
  51. Ride a scooter in Italy.
  52. Be a guest on Ted
  53. Scan and organize the family photos
  54. Carry my camera more
  55. Be an active feminist.
  56. Play soccer
  57. Get a 1950 Ford F-1 Pickup truck and paint it turquoise.
  58. Have a dinner party and serve Iraqi dolma (with the caramelized onions on the bottom-mmmm)
  59. Spend a week doing absolutely nothing at Canary Island.
  60. Take a train ride through the slavic countries.
  61. Reupholster my  favorite chair in vintage grey tweed.
  62. Have another girls weekend
  63. Drink more champagne
  64. Visit my nieces and nephews
  65. Find art for over the fireplace
  66. Crochet more in public
  67. Feel less self-conscious 
  68. Have a rainy day fund
  69. Learn how to develop film
  70. Go on a creative retreat
  71. Have people over more often 
  72. Live a life that allows for constant travel
  73. Go to Scotland
  74. Fall in love again
  75. Get all of my sewing machines working
  76. Have a sewing class for men
  77. Get the contact information for at least one person for each event I attend
  78. Reach out to people that I admire
  79. Use my Liberty of London fabric.
  80. Organize my fabric and sewing notions
  81. Go to New Orleans
  82. Make ice cream again
  83. Try to eat seasonally
  84. Finish the Prezi presentation I started
  85. Make all the electronics in my house work properly
  86. Create printed materials for Meandering Design
  87. Get a loom
  88. Make a rug
  89. Dye my own wool/fabric
  90. Take a sewing class
  91. Take a drawing class 
  92. Refinish Poppies workbench
  93. Give away the crafty things I will not use to someone who can use them
  94. As much as possible, buy handmade
  95. Rewatch Amelie
  96. Make a hat
  97. Sew curtains for the kitchen
  98. Always have something on hand for visitors (snack and drink)
  99. Slow down and enjoy my food
  100. Leave town at least every 3 months.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My first fest

I spent a weekend at Helium Gallery with a group of amazing artisans. It was my first time having a booth and I had a blast thanks to the fabulous people who were selling at Helium.  Thanks also to everyone who came out. It was a delight to look up and see my friends standing at my table.

The booth before....
What truly made the weekend amazing, besides the fact that I survived my first art event, were the talented people I was surrounded by. I was right next door to Laila from Stylish Girl, who I bought a very disco queen pair of earrings from, and Margie from Red-Belly, (she makes some beautiful jewelry using upcycled wood and also great belts and gifts for the men in your life) who provided me with some useful tips and redecorated my booth,  Kate from Strong Wear (fabulous winter hats with beautiful trim) was so kind and brought me some 1970's plaid fabric (seriously-plaid fabric!!!), and Mike from versed apparel (witty tshirts from the self-proclaimed Poet, Designer, Owner) was kind enough to take some photos of my booth for me.

I had a moment where I realized that I was sharing space with some of my favorite indie vendors and I'll admit I got a little emotional. To take Meandering Design from some flight of fancy out into the public arena was a big step and one I am very glad to have taken.

The booth after Margie reworked it and made it possible to tell I was in fact selling skirts. Photo credit Mike Ruzicka.
Please visit the vendors below because they have beautiful, fabulous, unique and sometimes eccentric products that will make wonderful gifts for the special people in your life, or simply for yourself.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 20th Wardrobe Revamp Class

"Love the One You're With"

Interested in learning how to mend it, hem it, button it, zip it, and nip it? Then come to Meandering Design on Saturday, October 20th* from 3-5PM. This course, taught by Kandy Christensen of Meandering Design will teach you how to fix your tired or ill-fitting clothing and will focus on teaching you how to use what you have and turn it from something lackluster into something worth your spectacularness (yes, I just made that word up). The focus will be on hand sewing so you can take what you learn home with you and not have to invest in a sewing machine. I will have the instruments on hand to resuscitate your item of clothing, but please bring one or two items that you would like to fix up.
Classes are taught at Meandering Design which is located in Lincoln Square. The class costs $40 and includes two hours of complimentary studio time. Studio time is on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30PM at Meandering Design through December 19, 2012. Come and hang out for a couple of hours sewing with Kandy Christensen who will be on hand to assist you with your projects.

Click "Buy Now" to enroll in Wardrobe Revamp.You will be redirected to Paypal.

 *The October 13th class has been rescheduled to October 20th