Straw into Gold

IMG_1622 You know what totally ‘rocks my world’? I absolutely LOVE turning garbage into treasure, using discarded things as materials to be creative. The most empowering part of my making process, is to ascertain textile (and sometimes other) waste and find creative reuse for that discarded material. Today, most of the raw materials used in my making process come from local thrift stores and kind donations from friends and strangers. (Keep an eye out for my next Clothing Drive.)

The idea of creating with new material  overwhelms me. It is hard to imagine what would be worthy to add to the plethora of stuff in a world so full. Utilitarian recycling works for me.

Mountain of Textile Waste in Bangaladesh

My life has come to include teaching, speaking, and creating goods made one by one with discarded clothing and scrap fabric as my raw material and inspiration. As my Limited Access social experiment continues, I work to establish the most productive use of my online time, which amounts to the best way to nurture and build my business.


This online journal is fulfilling, and the focus helpful. It is a tool for selling my wares, spreading the word about my classes, events, and engagements.  A sounding board for my wildest goals and grand efforts to change the way the world sees waste.  May my work encourage all sorts of people to support hand-makers, creatively-reuse, and teach and inspire by example. It is my hope that together we can have a shared impact great enough to be noticed.

Freak of the Week - Kristen Parker

Hey, Hey, hey!!! The FREAK OF THE WEEK is BACK!  Come see what makes Kristen Parker tick and check back next week for more! super dad - screen print on paper - Kristen Parker 2016

  1. Tell our readers a little about you, and your history, your passion, your work.02.05.16 KP portrait

Hi!! I grew up in the eastern part of Massachusetts. I moved out here to the Berkshires about 8 years ago. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to stay long, but then I found great friends and had a ton of adventures. I now have an awesome family and couldn’t see myself anywhere else!

I started making art at a young age. My mom is a seamstress/pattern maker and when I was little I would stay up late with her in the studio. cutting holes in fabric, making button covers.. pretty much admiring her skill set.

I studied photography in my early 20’s and completed a two year program at The New England School of Photography. Although I consider photography to have stolen my sole, I have a really hard time staying focused in one medium. When I want to explore new things.  I don’t really let anything hold me back. I haven’t found many mediums I have disliked working with, frustrating.. yes, but I just seem to love it all and feel there is always room for new ideas and processes.


  1. Tell a story, have we met? When? Where? Who introduced us? Oh, maybe you are my niece, well, just give a little history here. People love a setting.

Oh we’ve met!! At a bar.. lol!! I first met you at The Dream Away Lodge. I think I bought one of your skirts (I still have it). We just got to know each other over they years and when I found myself preggos a couple years ago.. you hired me as a hand stitcher.. which for me was great.. because I wasn’t sure how I was going to stay active artistically, since most of my projects at the time weren’t too fit for a pregnant lady. I was very thankful that you took me in and kept my hands and brain busy!

bikes - handprinted photo - Kristen Parker 2013

  1. Imagine a story. It is 2030, what are you up to? What is the world looking like?

OMG! I’ve programmed robots to update my website, track my inventory, update all my paper work on a bi weekly basis! My daughter Pippin is off exploring the underworlds of the earth (whatever that means). I'm home my with husband.. in a home we built ourselves.. with our pigs, cows and goats. My studio is off in the back and I'm still showing art. Along with that, I have an awesome art center I run with my friends offering residencies /workshops / classes whatever our young hearts put our minds to!

  1. If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be?

I would make everyone stop blowing each other up.

elephants - screenprint - Kristen Parker 2015

  1. What are you most passionate about?

My family, my art and seeing all the world before I die.

  1. How did this passion come to be?

I don’t know. I’ve always been a family kind of gal, I’ve always made art, and I’ve always had travel in my life. I owe that to my parents for exposing me to the idea of seeing the world, and exploring other cultures.

  1. Who/What has been most influential in your work/life?

Again.. lol.. my family. On my mom and dads side, my family is filled with designers, painters, drafters, writers.. And my daughter keeps me moving. I want her to see me as a role model showing her that hard work pays off and she can fulfill any passion she has. The way she sees me means a lot to me and how I work.

free range - handprinted photo - Kristen Parker 2014

  1. Where do you find your inspiration/motivation?

Books mostly. I love books!

  1. Aside from working, how do you spend your time?

I try to walk a lot with my dog and my daughter. (although this cold weather would prove me a liar right about now) I play frisbee golf with my hubby every once in awhile. He’s really good at it so when I play the competitive side comes out for sure. I also love to cook from scratch!

  1. Tell about a life transformation you have experienced.

When I experienced child birth for the first time.

  1. Do you have a prized possession? What is it? How did it come to you?

My moms drafting board. I don’t use it as much as I use too, but she gave it to me years ago, and I’ve just kind of held on to it. She also handed down 2 of her really nice sewing machines to me.

  1. Tell about a magical moment that comes to mind when you look back on your life experience.

When I held my daughter for the first time. I know, so cheesy, but the funny part was I couldn’t stop looking at her.. The nurse brought me a turkey sandwich at like 4 in the morning, and at that point, I asked her if it was ok to put my baby down.. because I really needed to go to sleep. I had this terrifying moment thinking that I wasn’t going to have free hands again for 18 years.. lol. The nurse laughed at me, and put my baby in her bassinet.

  1. If you were able to spend an afternoon with anyone – dead or alive, who would it be? What plans would you make for your outing?

Idk…. Probably Irving Penn, a well known fashion photographer.. I don’t know what I would say to him.. but I would probably want to have coffee with him.. and just pick his brain about life.

  1. What is your favorite place and/or way to spend time?

On a large body of water.. Ocean or Lake. Getting in and out of the water! Maybe body surfing with my sisters..

  1. What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months?

I'm trying really hard to organize my life as an artist. I’ve put together a website and have been making a lot of new work.. and want to continue with this. I’d like to expose myself to new places to exhibit and sell my work. Im ready to take this side of my life more seriously.

  1. Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please.                                                                                      YES!! You can view my new work on my website and at Shire City Sanctuary's BINGO! gallery for the month of February at 40 Melville St. in Pittsfield, MA.  Come to the opening on Friday Feb 5th 5-8pm -  So friggin excited!!!postcard_front

2013 Holiday Shindy Applications CLOSED!

Are you an artisan, making and selling notable items including but certainly NOT LIMITED to wreaths, jewelry, bow-ties, chocolates, elixirs, and ornaments, to stuffed toys, wooden spoons and/or shoes?  If your product is remarkably original, and handmade, apply to join us for the Berkshires' most MAGICAL Holiday Sale! December 13, 14, 15, 2013 marks the 25th year a growing collection of amazing makers gather from across our region and beyond to sell in the wonderful cathedral turned artist space at 40 Melville Street in Pittsfield, MA.  Application fee is $20, Booths are $200.  Walk About Vending opportunities too ~ Click HERE and apply.

First Wednesday FREE GIVE-AWAY

The first Wednesday of each month I conduct a FREE-GIVE-AWAY!  Winners are chosen at random from those who leave comments, here - on my first Wednesday Blog post.  Winners must not have won from me in the last 12 months and must have a US address for shipping their winnings.  

This month, a pair of my favorite fabric cutting scissors – Mundail, 8” bent trimmers are up for grabs.  They are tried and true and last for years with proper care.  Proper care involves using them for fabric only, keeping them clean, by wiping them off with a soft cloth after use, adding a drop of sewing machine oil to the center screw every once in a while, and never dropping them on a hard floor.

I use my Mundial 8" Bent Trimmers for most of the hand cutting I do in the studio.  (Rotary cutters save my tired hands for straight cuts.)  These are the scissors supplied to students in my workshops and were used in every aspect of production when my studio was a whir of employees.  They strong and durable, they keep a sharp edge and are big hit! At my workshops students often purchase a pair after using them for the day.

Speaking of workshops, stay tuned for a calendar chock full through the end of the year with all sorts of options for making and learning, in studio and off-site.  In the meantime, try your luck, leave a comment below detailing what you could use a nice new pair of awesomely sharp fabric scissors to cut.  Snip-Snap, Tick-Tock, Chop Chop.  The winner will be announced on Friday, March 8 sometime around noon.

This Weeks Treasury - Earthday Shindy

'Earthday Shindy' by Crispinaffrench

With our First Annual Earthday *Shindy right around the corner I am scouring Etsy for possible vendors. Some of these makers are far flung to come to town for our Environmental Craft Sale on the weekend of April 19-21 but take a look at their fresh ideas!

*Shindy ~ shin·dy [shin-dee]  noun, plural shin·dies. Informal.  1. a rumpus.   2. a shindig.

Jeans sandal boots, han...

Messenger Bag Laptop S...

Rag Fabric Crocheted Ba...

Shelf made by recycled ...

Skateboard Yoyo

No.366 - Recycled skate...

Plarn -- Handspun Plast...

3/4 length superhero lo...

Mason Jar Speakers - Un...

Steampunk Lamp

Paper Bead Jewelry- Upc...

Orange 8 Buckle Mosaic ...

Recycled Bird Sculpture...

NYC Subway Map Coffee T...

Library Card Notebooks ...

Upcycled Suitcase Pet B...


Every week we gather a handful of treasures around a theme, from Etsy - an online marketplace featuring handmade wares, vintage items, and supplies for making. Weekly treasuries are featured here on Mondays. You can click on the images above and be taken to a place on Etsy where there is more information and pictures about that item. Crispina's online shop is located on Etsy along with a whole ton (like over 800,000) of other handmakers, vintage resellers and material retailers. If you have a minute, leave a comment about your favorite featured item - it is always so nice to hear from you!

Treasury tool supported by the dog house

Holiday Shindy Spotlight

Shire City Sanctuary will host what grew out of my annual Holiday Studio Sale - The Shire City Sanctuary Holiday Shopping Shindy* on December 7, from 5-8pm and December 8&9, 2012 from 10-6 both days.   Each of the 40 vendors and notable musicians will be featured here between now and then so stop back and see all about it.  Make your list, and check it twice.

*Shindy [shin-dee] noun, plural shin·dies. Informal.  1. a row; rumpus.  2. a shindig.

Today's featured vendor:


I am trying to remember the first time I met Richard Bourdon.  It was probably with my dad when I was half grown.  There is some sort of connection that Europeans share with their bread.  As I dig through that section of memories in my head, there is an air of rejoicing associated with Richard coming to town and opening Berkshire Mountain Bakery.  He makes what my father called REAL bread.  It is delicious, made with wholesome natural ingredients in a building and process that time forgot.  One tastes the tradition and love.

Years ago, my dear friend Shari Trnka came to visit my Housatonic studio which was just a short hop from Berkshire Mountain Bakery.  We swung into the dirt driveway to get a couple fresh loaves as they came out of the oven.  Shari was so happy to have found, in my home village, the source of the bread she snapped up at her Coop in Newark, DE.  She couldn’t believe her good luck – not only to have Richard’s unmatched product in her hands still warm from the oven, but to meet it’s maker.  Now Shari lives out in Olympia, WA and writing this post reminds me that I forgot to overnight ship her a couple loaves of her favorite everyday varieties for her birthday (last week!).  I guess that is testimonial enough to say you should make a point of getting to our Shindy and loading up on the most amazing traditional holiday Panettones and other special treats Richard conjures up for just a short time every year!  Don’t miss out.  Add this noteworthy Berkshire delicacy to your tradition.  Yummm.

Oh and Shari, get ready, there is a box on its way, leaving here on Monday.



Shindy Spotlight on MUSIC - Elena Erber

Shire City Sanctuary will host what grew out of my annual Holiday Studio Sale - The Shire City Sanctuary Holiday Shopping Shindy* on December 7, from 5-8pm and December 8&9, 2012 from 10-6 both days.   Each of the 40 vendors and notable musicians will be featured here between now and then so stop back and see all about it.  Make your list, and check it twice.

*Shindy [shin-dee] noun, plural shin·dies. Informal.  1. a row; rumpus.  2. a shindig.



Every year we hire musicians to play at our Holiday Shindy, they stroll throughout the space playing minstrel-style acoustic music adding a level of magic to the event.

I first met Elena Erber of The Pamelech Klezmer Orkester at a Sweater Chop Shop at Kripalu.  She was the Creative Director there and enrolled as a student.  As her instructor, it was plain to see, that she was going places with the process I was teaching!  Since those first few days creating together we have become good friends sharing many interests from wool and handwork to an eclectic taste of music.  While she is a talented player, I am an only an appreciator.  With that in mind, it is so exciting to have her on the docket on Saturday, December 8 from 10-2pm for The Shindy. She might even have a couple of her band members with her.  Either way we are in for a real treat!

Elena came to help me in my booth at the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival last month and brought her music along.  People were stopped in the aisle enjoying her festive, skilled, accordion playing.  It was a wonderful setting for to combine her valuable skill set with mine.  If you love Klezmer music and supporting all manner of regional artisans come to The Shire City Sanctuary Holiday Shopping Shindy on December 8 from 10-2pm.  The event runs Friday, December 7th 5-8pm, and Saturday and Sunday, December 8 & 9 from 10-6 both days.