May 30, 2012
Put two talented, creative, energetic, and driven women together and you're bound to be amazed. Debra Immergut and Nicole Blum have, in more ways than one, "made it." Not only have they published their book, Improv Sewing, this year, but those beautiful clothes they're in: they've made those too. Improv Sewing, in their words is "A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques; 101 Fast, Fun, and Fearless Projects: Dresses, Tunics, Scarves, Skirts, Accessories, Pillows, Curtains, and More." Basically, it'll make a maker out of anyone who tries. So--how fun, fearless, and successful (not to mention so sweet and charming) can this duo be? Prepare to be amazed:
Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut
How did you get started?
Nicole: I really started sewing like crazy when I got a new machine that worked well. It was like everything got out of my way and I was able to be much more creative - I didn’t have to contend with the crankiness of an old and difficult machine when I tried to do even the simplest project. Ah, good tools. I think that was the genesis of this book project for me, but I didn’t know it at the time.
Debra: I have a lot of creative energy and have always loved making things, but I’d never been all that confident about my skills – I always refer to myself as having “klutzy crafter syndrome.” Nicole and I worked together at FamilyFun magazine in Northampton and I was looking for a project to use up some of that excess creativity. Nicole always came in to the office with gorgeous clothes she’d stitched herself, so together we decided to make a book. I figured we could teach people like me how to get over themselves when it comes to making stuff.
What do you love about your job?
Creating something that has never existed before, whether it’s a book, a skirt, or an idea.
Where do you find inspiration?
First, nature. Second, our kids. Third, the many amazing makers, artists, and sewists out there.
What is your dream project?
Debra: Starting a gorgeous craft store and studio like Fancy Tiger, a place that recently hosted us in Denver. Or an organic flower shop. Or an artists retreat in Big Sur.
Nicole: I’ll skip the flower shop, but I’m on board for the other two!
What are your plans for the future?
Sewing, writing, convincing people who consider themselves “not crafty” to ingore over their inner critics and start making stuff and having fun.
If I wasn’t doing this, I would be...
Debra: A neuroscientist
Nicole: That’s funny. I recently told my husband that if I was a completely different person that had taken a completely different path in life, I would love to be a neuroscientist – crazy fascinating. But, I actually hate to think of a life not doing what I’m doing now.
If you were a piece of clothing, what would be and what color/pattern?
Debra: A pale blue cashmere sweater that’s just a little bit frayed and patched.
What's the first line in a book about your life?
Nicole: She decided to change her mind about herself and then she began to run.
What's your go-to "happy" song?
Nicole : Yo La Tengo’s version of Autumn Sweater. I actually haven’t listened to it in ages, but it kept coming to mind when I thought about this question. So good. I will go listen to it now!
Debra: Anything from the Carolina Chocolate Drops
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Debra: “Bash it out now, tart it up later.”
Nicole: “Fake it till you make it.”
They’re both so quippy!
What super power would you like to have, and why?
Telekinesis—we’d like to be able to do the dishes while lying on the couch watching movies.
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
Nicole: About 2 weeks ago. The reason would not translate to anyone outside my family, but every time I laugh that hard I feel like something so good just happened to me that I have added and extra year to my life.
Debra: Last night. Private joke.
What inspires you?
Debra: I am obsessed with watercolor painting and when i have time I love to make my own. The image is a packing list made by the painter Adolf Konrad in 1953 for an upcoming trip--it inspires me not just because I love the painting technique but also because I find list-making one of the most calming and hopeful things you can do. Also I love the things he plans to pack—he's getting ready for making art and traveling—two of my favorite ways to spend time and gather inspiration. Plus, I like his outfits too.
Visit Nicole and Debra's "Improv Diary" blog to learn more about their book, projects, and, well, just more of Nicole and Debra (we can't seem to get enough).
May 2, 2012
Pam Reino is a name synonymous with goodness. Every time we see her--at Ode, on Main St., around town--she is always doing two things: 1. wearing fabulous boots, and 2. planning a way to help someone. From organizing a toy drive for families all over the Valley or finding a way to provide shoes to a teenage boy who has been wearing his sisters' hand-me-downs, Pam is making a difference in people's lives. Her heart is so fully in the act of generosity that she winds up thanking us for helping her help others. We think it's time to introduce you to Pam Reino, and it's time to thank her for all she does.
Can you tell us about CSO and the kind of support the organization offers?
Clinical & Support Options (CSO) provides social and behavioral health care services to the residents of Franklin, Hampshire, and Worcester counties. To learn more, you can check out the website at www.csoinc.org. My current role at CSO is to provide outreach services. I provide individualized support assisting people in accessing the community and gaining supports in the area of life skills. Services offered are as follows: providing emotional support, symptom management, assisting in obtaining good medical care, conflict resolution, budgeting, advocacy, service coordination, and crisis intervention. Prior to this, I worked for The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
What are some of the events you helped organize?
This past year I coordinated a children’s Christmas toy drive for CSO, with several local businesses including Serio’s Market, Ode, and The Northampton Athletic Club. My sister-in-law, Karen Boyden, was instrumental in assisting by asking her church (Faith Baptist) to sponsor specific families.
In the 1980s, my dear friend William Conroy was diagnosed with brain cancer. I organized a benefit in his honor, to assist with his medical costs. This was the starting point of the fundraising I have coordinated.
Aside from my work at CSO, I have coordinated numerous fundraisers and benefit concerts. These were to benefit people and animals who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, and the people in Haiti after the earthquake. My most recent collaboration has been with Richard Richardson of the Goodtime Stove Company and The Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen, MA. Musicians have included the incomparable Charles Neville, Peter J. Newland and his band Radio Exile, Andrew Woodland & Appalachian Still, Matt Hebert, the Drunk Stuntmen, the Lonesome Brothers, Michael Gregory and Robert Markey and Lalit. The proceeds from these benefits went to the Humane Society of Louisiana, the Red Cross, Pure Water for the World, and Noah’s Ark.
What is one of your favorite stories from work?
Paul from Michelson Galleries told me that Leonard Nimoy was in Northampton to promote his upcoming project and was looking for people to photograph for his book. I was able to convince one of my clients to sit for some photographs. Although she didn’t make it into the book, just meeting him made a great impact on her life.
What are some of your goals for the future?
I plan to continue to coordinate with Richard Richardson of the Three Sisters Sanctuary, to plan summer fundraising events. We are particularly interested in working with the Wounded Warriors Project, Homes for Heroes, Shriners Children Hospital, and the Boston Children's Hospital Oncology Unit.
Are there any upcoming events or programs you would like to mention?
Richard’s website will include information of upcoming events: http://www.threesisterssanctuary.com
Three Sisters Sanctuary
Who are people who have inspired you?
Doctor Roy DeLamotte, my mother’s cousin, who fought for desegregation and civil rights, Cleveland Amory (The Fund for Animals), Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Emmylou Harris, Dana and Christopher Reeve, and Andy Chapin (the Association, Steppenwolf, the Rick Nelson Band) for following his dream.