Making Things

Just as the calendar turned over to November, the weighty push of holiday marketing descended like clockwork. As someone who makes things, I am reminded that this is a good time to promote my own work. In post DIY times, there is an abundance of art and other handmade items for gifting in stores, online, and at the weekly art fairs that crop up this time of year. Although I am not doing that, I am reflecting on my history in this arena.

My collage painting of the last few years breaks into themed categories on my website:  Mindscapes, Rorschachs, Horses, Tumbleweeds, and Buddhas…

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Since 2010, I have also created four small books (and an additional two for artist J. Tim Raymond) at Blurb Books. All are available to preview and order through the Blurb Bookstore. 

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Back to making things…

Like most kids, my own making history began with coloring and drawing. That led to sewing, ceramics, and batik-dyed fabrics for wall hangings, t-shirts, scarves, and other items. I sold these at an outdoor art market located on the Embarcadaro Plaza in San Francisco.

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I discontinued the wax-resist dying process for designing with fabric paint on cotton that I sewed into blouses and kimono robes.

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I studied art in college in the early 1970s, a renaissance for the utilitarian handmade item, more ready to sell than a painting–an appealing idea for those of us wondering how we would make a living. Once photography and painting stole my attention, a different kind of “making” entered the picture.

During a visit to Mexico in 1981, I discovered the colorful mesh bags carried by everyone in the market and I returned to New York with inspiration to create my own version of an urban tote. I began sewing an army green mesh bag with black strap and marketed this one bag under the business name, Spare Product. I advertised it for mail order in a trendy short-lived magazine called WET. I do not have the bag or even a photo of it now, but many of these totes are still in use by people I know.

A few years later, I made a line of painted t-shirts for kids. The Birthday Shirt featured a number noting a child’s age and some were personalized with a name. Family photos show my nieces and nephews wearing their birthday shirts, my standard gift during that time.

A few year ago, I created Box of Haiku as a fundraising project, a series of self-made theme books, and my version of prayer flags.

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A couple weeks ago, a woman at a brunch told me she wants to be an artist when she retires in a year or two and asked me what that is like. Plan to invest a lot of time, but it’s a long story…to be continued.


May 2015


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patpendletonstudio.com