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bits and pieces

Oof. Without Photoshop, it’s really hard for me to edit pictures of drawings without messing up colors and line work. So please just assume these look more delicate in person than they seem here.

patterns by Christina Kwan

Oh well, you get the gist at least! These are two patterns I’ve been messing with; shapes and lines just pour out without thought. To get these bits and pieces out is like a momentary cleanse.

patterns by Christina Kwan

Seemingly random, perhaps they represent thoughts or memories needing to be sorted out and categorized for me to make sense of them. I can’t really say definitively, but I do feel like they’re somehow weird little manifestations of internal currents – I guess really, all art is that.

skewers

There is a place on Buford Highway that Ben and I so lovingly nicknamed “skewers”. It sits in one of those random Asian-dominated commercial plazas, so conveniently next door to Quickly (where I get my regular taro milk bubble tea). At Bei Jing Kabobs, you can get a variety of clear-your-nose-water-your-eyes spicy kebabs.

Beijing-Kebab-Buford-Highway-Atlanta-1aUnfortunately my spice level tolerance is pretty much zero so I can’t enjoy about half the menu, but it sure does look attractive. You can get a variety of spiced meats and seafood on kebabs or submerged in this steaming and delicious-looking stew. I mean, look at it! Has broccoli and asparagus ever looked so delectably lethal? 

creative makers: rachael riedinger of neva opet

I began my Creative Masters interview series in order to feature creative entrepreneurs who are a shining example of manifesting your goals and dreams. However, I quickly realized that there is just as much inspiration to be found in a newcomer – particularly because their decision to pursue passion over practicality is recent and fresh in their minds and hearts. I now present to you a “sister” series that I will call Creative Makers: a showcase of artisans, performers, and business owners who are new to the game and ready to give it their all. 

Within five minutes of meeting Rachael at Thread Count, I knew we would become fast friends. Her infectious laughter and evident love for all things well-made really made me feel like she was a kindred spirit from a previous lifetime. After only meeting me once, she so graciously opened up her home and studio to show me where the leather magic happens. That’s right people – leather. magic! Rachael Riedinger is the creator of Neva Opet, a line of hand-crafted purses and accessories that exemplify a modern take on the marriage between functionality and form. Her gorgeous array of leather and canvas bags were enough to make me swoon, but after getting to know her over iced lattes (made by Rachael herself) and scrumptious pastries, I knew I wouldn’t go home without one of her beautiful creations. Her work is dripping with passion and can be found via Neva Opet’s website, Etsy, and Facebook. Be sure to keep tabs on this one, ladies. I’m sure in a few years you will have wish you had bought one of her bags today!

Neva Opet: leather working tools | tide & bloom

First things first. Describe the personality or type of woman you make your bags for.

I make my bags for myself and for women like me. I like minimal things done in great materials that will last a lifetime. A woman like me is someone who appreciates art, design, and minimalism – likes things a bit more understated. I think shopping habits have taken a change and people want to purchase things that they will keep forever. I’m hoping people won’t treat my bags preciously or baby them because they are meant to live and mature with their owners. The materials I use only get more awesome with age.

That’s a cool way to look at an accessory – like a lifetime companion. So how did you learn to make what you make? Where did the impulse come from?

Well I started sewing when I was 14 years old. My mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and I started sewing all the vintage silhouettes and patterns I couldn’t find in stores at the time – like peg leg pants (skinny jeans) or just band patches onto my jackets. It just snowballed from there so I’ve been sewing for 11 years now. I just really enjoy making things and after one really awful job, I decided that I wanted to do something that I love. Even if it pays half as much, I’m still so much happier. In regards to the leather work specifically, I’m entirely self-taught. It took a long time to figure out the ins and outs of leather and I still learn something new every time I work. But because of that, each bag I make is better than the one before it.

Neva Opet: Rachael Riedinger | tide & bloom

Neva Opet: Rachael Riedinger | tide & bloom

Which part of the crafting process do you enjoy most?

Hmm. That’s tough. On one hand, I really love the transformation of materials – seeing the fabric or leather become a finished product. But I also really love it when I see that someone else enjoys the bag as much as I enjoyed making it. It’s just such a gratifying thing to see a stranger say “I love this,” and it makes me want to design more. Otherwise, I’d probably just end up with a bunch of bags in a room. 

yum bunz

When I saw the “dim sum fast: coming soon” sign over in West Midtown, you can bet I was already salivating. Dim sum in the heart of the city?! Imagine that. The mere thought of the convenience made me giddy like a schoolgirl. I dream of the day when Atlanta has its own Chinatown, but for now I have to settle for the 20-minute-minimum drive outside of town to get my Asian food fix. Enter in Yum Bunz.

Yum Bunz in West Midtown Atlanta | tide & bloomAfter I finally managed to make a Yum Bunz date with my friends, we were all pretty darn excited. I mean, even just saying the name is fun, but I was seriously thrilled at the idea of how this place could possibly change my life. That’s how much I love dim sum. I arrived to the sleek location first and as per usual, couldn’t decide what to choose. The decor is contemporary and cute, as expected, and the menu was surprisingly streamlined. Thankfully they had some combo formulas that allowed me to try a variety of items! Which is exactly the way dim sum should be – easy, fulfilling, and quick. 

southeast fiber arts alliance

In the spirit of doing cool and cheap things off the beaten path, Ben and I decided to go to an open house at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. We had both never heard of it before and the term “fiber arts” was all we needed to be interested. He and I share a love of textile, patterns, and tradition.. so why not? Tucked away in an unassuming office building complex, we found a bustling room full of small local non-profit organizations who had some incredibly interesting objects to share.

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From silk painting to lace making, I was amazed by my lack of knowledge on the processes that transform fiber into the beautiful garments we wear every day without a second thought. Take a look at that small strip of white lace in the photo below. That took TWELVE HOURS to craft using those wooden tools. Seeing the blue lace come together was like watching swan lake; the effortless precision used to create this incredible thing of beauty was simply extraordinary. It had never occurred to me that lace was made string by string like this.

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Ben and I learned how to work the loom! Again, what a painstakingly long process to make a seemingly simple piece of fabric. The woman who showed us the steps said she saw it as more of a meditation than an art considering how simple it truly was. I beg to differ though, seeing as how I consider my own art a meditative process as well. Repetition and simplicity does not diminish a craft, but merely emphasizes the importance of the passage of time and dedication utilized to achieve the goal product.

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I want a yarn-bombed tree in my new place or yard pretty badly.

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west & mill

There are some places that I want so badly to be good, but no matter how hard I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, I just can’t deny my disappointment. I really don’t enjoy writing negatively, but keeping my writing voice honest is very important and in order to do that I also need to share my experiences that aren’t so perfect.

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I’ve visited West & Mill twice now and both times were for a leisurely brunch, free of pressure or expectation. On Sunday mornings, I just want something that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Sometimes all it takes is a good coffee and a bagel and other times I need a tad bit more effort. West & Mill is at a great location in West Midtown, right across the street from Octane. It has a cute and quaint little dining room which is a slightly weird, but cool mixture of European bistro and contemporary industrial. By looks and looks alone, all signs point to a pleasant dining experience.

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discovering east lake atlanta

There are way too many effin cute neighborhoods in Atlanta. It’s wonderfully overwhelming and keeps me feeling alive to discover all the little gems scattered inside the perimeter. A recent Saturday took me to East Lake in search of Thread Count, a unique vendor’s market focused on raising awareness for local craftsmanship, sustainability, and design. In other words, it pretty much had my name written all over it plus there was no cover charge at all. I expected the typical Atlanta craft market experience where you come, covet, eat, and leave. Little did I know that East Lake’s neighborhood would charm the pants off of me. Why?… Just look.

East Lake Urban Farm in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

On the way to Thread Count, Ben and I stumbled upon the East Lake Urban Farm. Due to our impending move to a duplex unit with a backyard begging for a garden, I’ve recently become obsessed with nurseries, farms, and vegetable gardens. Perhaps it’s the farm to table trend seeping into my blood. Perhaps it’s my desire to save money. Either way – it’s a healthy new interest and I’m looking forward to what I might be able to pull up from the earth with my own two hands. In the meantime, I’ll just keep ogling cute places like this.

East Lake Urban Farm in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

East Lake Urban Farm in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

The event was held in the East Lake Community Garden which is filled rows of blooming vegetables and a den of weed-eating goats (even little ones). Though there weren’t many vendors in total, each one was dripping with a genuine desire to share the love of their craft. Not to mention there was also free beer from New Belgium. Did I mention that I like stuff that’s free?

East Lake Community Garden in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

Thread Count at the East Lake Community Garden in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

I met a number of darling artisans who were just beginning their creative journey. Like KJo – audiologist by day and jewelry maker by night! She scavenges for vintage items and reclaims them into sweet little pieces to wear. Her display felt like the awesome attic of an eccentric aunt who has a taste for the feminine along with the slightly strange.

KJo at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

KJo at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

KJo at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

And Rachael of Neva Opet, who hand-crafts elegant leather accessories. She’s an absolute doll and more on her later!

Neva Opet at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

Neva Opet at Thread Count in Atlanta, GA | tide & bloom

Do you need any more convincing to go see East Lake for yourself? Just a little drive around the neighborhood will do you a world of good, but a visit to the garden and farm will be enough to make you want to plant your own roots here.

sunny stuff

We’re officially in the dead heat of summer, but cool stuff keeps happening.

Stuff is blooming.

Atlanta hydrangeas

Stuff is ripe.

strawberry

Stuff is going on sale.

Buffalo Exchange in Atlanta, GA

Stuff is .. festival’ing?

Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival

Stuff is sunny.

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