30 August 2009

Inspiring Spaces: Alabama Chanin

With our recent Tour of the South, I spent an afternoon in AL receiving hospitality, inspiration, and appreciation from another creative spirit whose work I am in awe.

it is not the length of life, but the depth of life.

These words are carved into this old chair at the Alabama Chanin @ The Factory, in Florence, AL. Natalie Chanin, author and designer, impresses me so much with the details that go into her work. In the chair above, she has woven men's ties, leaving the ends to hang underneath the chair. I love her quote as seen above, which is likely to inspire a new block print or drawing in my upcoming quotes/mantras series. So lovely.

A glimpse of one of the table spaces in The Factory. So much of what we vintage-loving gals enjoy: silver, glass jars, milk glass, wooden spools of thread, scissors, and worn wood. The assortment carries me to the windows in my grandmother's home, with the glass elements catching the light.
A wedding dress with so much detail. Really lovely.

A headscarf, as seen in Natalie's book Alabama Chanin. You can attend workshops in The Factory where you can make one of these great pieces.
the simple beauty of strips of cloth hanging near the cutting tables.

A burst of rainbow colors from the stores of t-shirts. The cotton jersey fabrics are so soft. You just want to run your hands over them or possibly curl up in one!
Inspiration. I love to see so many good books lining these shelves. Some of these are on my wish list and I was so pleased to preview them. STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books are just so good. (All that I have & have previewed have been good. Really good.) What makes me happy is to see that our library system carries many of them, and if they don't you can request a library purchase, just as I did for Natalie's book: Alabama Stitch Book: Projects and Stories Celebrating Hand-Sewing, Quilting, and Embroidery for Contemporary Sustainable Style.

My favorite finds: vintage quilts reclaimed, repaired, and loved. Natalie has written in script on the quilt and then it's hand embroidered. I love that these quilts are tended so well and cared for through repair. They are given a new spirit, transformed through the details & work going into them. Such artistry inspired me to transform my women's retreat with a quilting projects The Work of Our Hands to include an existing quilt in need of love as a part of the project. Inspiring spaces. Inspiring women. And don't you love that a quilt says buttermilk?

Inspiration flows from hands a century ago to hands today. I love the work of many hands that touch these pieces of art.

Like the art and the space the folks at Alabama Chanin are a treat. Hospitality was shared. I was attended to effortlessly as the work day continued for these folks. Busy, busy bees. I found inspiration and learned a great deal through Natalie's success and style. Natalie is as gracious as her team. I appreciated the moments meeting her. My time there was well spent and continues to inspire me. I'm sure that as I continue to make way re-creating my studio upstairs, I will be inspired by my visit to Natalie's wonderful space. Thanks, Alabama Chanin!


  1. how awesome!!! i must go there!

    it was so good seeing your beautiful face during your trip. i only hate that it was for only two hours!!!! but don't fret...we will spend a day together at thanksgiving!! i promise!

    love you. mean it!

  2. What is the entire quote on that quilt? It seems fun?!

  3. Sorka,

    truly, i wish i knew. i didn't spread out the quilt. in that moment, i was much too timid to do so. today, i'd spread it on the table and write down these words. if i can, i'll see what i can discover from the factory & post here if something becomes known.