September 9, 2011 Design Studio Show Us the Goods If you’ve read my blog “Inspirations” you know that I have been creating and crafting almost all of my life. Creating things comes as naturally as breathing. It never goes away, sometimes gnawing at me, pestering me. I look at a tree stump and see a bench or a stool. I look at a seashell and see a pattern on a piece of furniture or a pot. Brainstorming is an hourly event; I am constantly thinking of new art projects or new books to write. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with my creative thoughts that I am stymied and cannot think what to start or where to begin. I can’t seem to prioritize because there are just too many projects on which I could work. If you ever wonder why some lines of clothing or shoes or maybe accessories seem lean or small, recognize that someone along the way figured out the solution to my very dilemma: concentrate on just a few items and do them well. Doing more will just frustrate and dilute the quality of the final products. When my three girls were small, I was not able to find all of the clothes I loved for them, so I decided to make them myself. I took patterns, adjusted them, and designed outfits. Later, when I couldn’t afford the beautiful window treatments I coveted, I asked a dear cousin and friend who designed for the public to give me tips on designing them myself. He complied, helping me search for the fabrics I could find nearby, and teaching me how to hang them once I had them finished. We spent many an afternoon roaming the aisles of Sir’s Fabrics in Fayetteville, Tennessee, a mill and seconds store frequented by designers from Nashville to Birmingham, Alabama. We found bargains and interesting fabrics and trims and designed treatments that rivaled any we saw in the stores, we thought. While I was sewing for my family I was also building my freelance word processing/editing business. Doing so kept my brain active. I later added furniture & accessory painting to my business, starting with commissioned pieces and moving to one-of-a-kind artistic renditions using unfinished and used furniture as my pallettes. I liked it okay because I understood the difference between the likes of gel stains, alkyds, glosses, semi-glosses, and satins. But having three small children and a dog playing around your furniture and paints doesn’t make for a stress-free work environment! Too messy, I decided. Next came my obsession with shells. It started with a trip I took with friends to Pensacola, Florida, where they hunted and collected shells almost to the exclusion of any other activity. Before vacationing with them, I had little interest in the beach. Afterwards, I learned the pleasure of sitting in the sand with a beer and a book and running my feet up and down in the grains until I came home with beautifully exfoliated heels! With more trips, I picked up an appreciation for shells in home décor and hunted them madly right alongside the others. I remembered a magazine article I had clipped of Christy Brinkley’s home on the beach in New York. I was impressed with her humble yet beautiful seashell designs on her fireplace and other accessories. If she could do this, I determined, I could do it too. Other sources of inspiration include Mary Emmerling’s Beach Cottages, Marlene Hurley Marshall’s Shell Chic, and numerous magazine articles and advertisements. For now the shells rest as I focus on my writing. They await me in my studio with a naked picture frame, poised to be transformed. A couple of years ago, my daughter and I came up with a name for the expanding line of products we designed—Robin Lane Goods. The name encapsulates our theme of Renew*Reuse*Restore. Our first logo incorporated a bird’s nest, a perfect symbol of reusing found materials (bits and pieces of hair, yarn, twigs, fur, grass, leaves) to build something cozy and new (nest). We too, scour Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and other thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets, and other resale avenues for items to recreate. We love to turn the worn and discarded into something lively and beautiful. Our new logo is being designed with the same theme in mind but a more male-friendly aesthetic. Look for Claire to unveil it soon!